The Memoirs of Sylvester Syropoulos is a text written by a Î’yzantine ecclesiastical official in the 15th century. Syropoulos participated in the Council for the union of the Greek and Latin Churches held in Ferrara and Florence, Italy, in 1438-1439. As a high-ranking official and an eye-witness of the union, he offers a unique perspective on this important political and religious event that would so decisively contribute to the political, military and religious development of Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Experts in different fields - historians, philologists, art historians and archaeologists - have come together in this volume to explore the actions and motives of the various political and religious groups that participated in the council. With Syropoulos as their starting point, the contributors of this volume reconstruct the living conditions, cross-cultural interaction, artistic and commercial exchange in the 15th-century Mediterranean. At the same time, they discuss the text as an invaluable source for political and diplomatic affairs at that time, as a travel account, an eye-witness narrative and as a literary work. Emphasis is placed on Syropoulos’s Section IV where he describes the journey of the Byzantine delegation from Constantinople to Italy, their stay in Venice and in Ferrara, the diplomatic contacts with the doge and the pope, and finally the beginning of the council’s proceedings. An annotated English translation of the text is included as an appendix to the book. The papers bring out the richness of the information in Syropoulos’s writings about the people involved in the Council of Ferrara-Florence and especially the interaction among different social, religious and political groups throughout that event. His work is unique because it is a rare eye-witness account, deriving from personal experience, rather than an objective historical narrative.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Sylvester Syropoulos: the author and his outlook, Mary B. Cunningham; The Ottomans, the Greek Orthodox Church and the perils of the papacy, Elizabeth A. Zachariadou; Precedence and papal primacy, Richard Price; The logistics of a union: diplomatic communication through the eyes of Sylvester Syropoulos, Vera Andriopoulou; City, marquis, pope, doge: Ferrara in 1438, Trevor Dean; Labelling images, venerating icons in Sylvester Syropoulos’s world, Annemarie Weyl Carr; What did Syropoulos miss? Appreciating the art of the Lippomano chapel in Venetian Negroponte, Nikos D. Kontogiannis; The logistics of a union: the travelling arrangements and the journey to Venice, Fotini Kondyli; On Syropoulos’s Dalmatian and Istrian route, Neven Budak; The colours Sylvester Syropoulos saw: the ideological function of colour in Byzantine historiography and chronicles (thirteenth-fifteenth centuries), Eirini Panou; Appendix; Index.
"All in all, we could safely deduce that the present volume...sums up our knowledge on Sylvester Syropoulo’s life and times, with insights regarding his personality, offering at the same time reflections and portrayals of his era in a vivid description of 15th-century Mediterranean politics and art, while another crucial denominator of the volume deals with the background contrast between Greeks and Latins in view of the Ottoman threat." - Photeine V. Perra, Johannesburg
"...scholars will benefit from the book's demonstration that polemical works, such as Sylvester's memoires, can provide details and information not found in less biased sources." - Hortulus