Council of Florence

The Seventeenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church was convoked as the Council of Basel by Pope Martin V shortly before his death in February 1431 and took place in the context of the Hussite wars in Bohemia and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. At stake was the greater conflict between the Conciliar movement and the principle of papal supremacy.

The Council entered a second phase after Emperor Sigismund's death in 1437. Pope Eugene IV convoked a rival Council of Ferrara on 8 January 1438 and succeeded in drawing the Byzantine ambassadors to Italy. The Council of Basel first suspended him, declared him a heretic, and then in November 1439 elected an antipope, Felix V. The rival Council of Florence (moved to avoid the plague in Ferrara) concluded in 1445 after negotiating unions with the various eastern churches. This bridging of the Great Schism proved fleeting, but was a political coup for the papacy. In 1447, Sigismund's successor Frederick III commanded the city of Basel to expel the Council of Basel; the rump council reconvened in Lausanne before dissolving itself in 1449.

Council of Basel–Ferrara–Florence
Accepted byRoman Catholicism
Previous council
Council of Constance
Next council
Fifth Council of the Lateran
Convoked byPope Martin V
PresidentCardinal Julian Cesarini, later Pope Eugene IV
Attendancevery light in first sessions, eventually 117 Latins and 31 Greeks
TopicsHussites, East-West Schism, Western Schism
Documents and statements
Several Papal bulls, short-lived reconciliation with the Orthodox Church, reconciliation with delegation from the Armenians
Chronological list of ecumenical councils
Martin V
Pope Martin V convoked the Council of Basel in 1431. It became the Council of Ferrara in 1438 and the Council of Florence in 1439.


The initial location at Basel reflected the desire among parties seeking reform to meet outside the territories of the Papacy, the Holy Roman Empire or the kings of Aragon and France, whose influences the council hoped to avoid. Ambrogio Traversari attended the Council of Basel as legate of Pope Eugene IV.

Under pressure for ecclesiastical reform, Pope Martin V sanctioned a decree of the Council of Constance (9 October 1417) obliging the papacy to summon general councils periodically. At the expiration of the first term fixed by this decree, Pope Martin V complied by calling a council at Pavia. Due to an epidemic the location transferred almost at once to Siena (see Council of Siena) and disbanded, in circumstances still imperfectly known, just as it had begun to discuss the subject of reform (1424). The next council fell due at the expiration of seven years in 1431; Martin V duly convoked it for this date to the town of Basel and selected to preside over it the cardinal Julian Cesarini, a well-respected prelate. Martin himself, however, died before the opening of the synod.

The Council was seated on 14 December 1431, at a period when the conciliar movement was strong and the authority of the papacy weak. The Council at Basel opened with only a few bishops and abbots attending, but it grew rapidly and to make its numbers greater gave the lower orders a majority over the bishops. It adopted an anti-papal attitude, proclaimed the superiority of the Council over the Pope and prescribed an oath to be taken by every Pope on his election. On 18 December Martin's successor, Pope Eugene IV, tried to dissolve it and open a new council on Italian soil at Bologna, but he was overruled.

Sigismund, King of Hungary and titular King of Bohemia, had been defeated at the Battle of Domažlice in the fifth crusade against the Hussites in August 1431. Under his sponsorship, the Council negotiated a peace with Calixtine faction of the Hussites in January 1433. Pope Eugene acknowledged the council in May and crowned Sigismund Holy Roman Emperor on 31 May 1433. The divided Hussites were defeated in May 1434. In June 1434, the pope had to flee a revolt in Rome and began a ten-year exile in Florence.

When the Council was moved from Basel to Ferrara in 1438, some remained at Basel, claiming to be the Council. They elected Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy, as Antipope. Driven out of Basel in 1448, they moved to Lausanne, where Felix V, the pope they had elected and the only claimant to the papal throne who ever took the oath that they had prescribed, resigned. The next year, they decreed the closure of what for them was still the Council of Basel.[1]

The new council was transferred to Florence in 1439 because of the danger of plague at Ferrara and because Florence had agreed, against future payment, to finance the Council.[1] The Council had meanwhile successfully negotiated reunification with several Eastern Churches, reaching agreements on such matters as the Western insertion of the phrase "Filioque" to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the definition and number of the sacraments, and the doctrine of Purgatory. Another key issue was papal primacy, which involved the universal and supreme jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome over the whole Church, including the national Churches of the East (Serbian, Greek, Moldo-Wallachian, Bulgarian, Russian, Georgian, Armenian etc.) and nonreligious matters such as the promise of military assistance against the Ottomans. The final decree of union was a signed document called the Laetentur Caeli, "Let the Heavens Rejoice". Some bishops, perhaps feeling political pressure from the Byzantine Emperor, accepted the decrees of the Council and reluctantly signed. Others did so by sincere conviction, such as Isidore of Kiev, who subsequently suffered greatly for it. Only one Eastern Bishop, Mark of Ephesus, refused to accept the union and became the leader of opposition back in Byzantium. The Russians, upon learning of the union, angrily rejected it and ousted any prelate who was even remotely sympathetic to it, declaring the Russian Orthodox Church as autocephalus (i.e., as having its "own head"). Despite the religious union, Western military assistance to Byzantium was ultimately insufficient, and the fall of Constantinople occurred in May 1453. The Council declared the Basel group heretics and excommunicated them, and the superiority of the Pope over the Councils was affirmed in the bull Etsi non dubitemus of 20 April 1441.[1]


The democratic character of the assembly at Basel was a result of both its composition and its organization. Doctors of theology, masters and representatives of chapters, monks and clerks of inferior orders constantly outnumbered the prelates in it, and the influence of the superior clergy had less weight because instead of being separated into "nations", as at Constance, the fathers divided themselves according to their tastes or aptitudes into four large committees or "deputations" (deputationes). One was concerned with questions of faith (fidei), another with negotiations for peace (pacis), the third with reform (reformatorii), and the fourth with what they called "common concerns" (pro communibus). Every decision made by three "deputations" (the lower clergy formed the majority in each) received ratification for the sake of form in general congregation and, if necessary led to decrees promulgated in session. Papal critics thus termed the council "an assembly of copyists" or even "a set of grooms and scullions". However, some prelates, although absent, were represented by their proxies.

Nicholas of Cusa was a member of the delegation sent to Constantinople with the pope's approval to bring back the Byzantine emperor and his representatives to the Council of Florence of 1439. At the time of the council's conclusion in 1439, Cusa was thirty-eight years old and thus, compared to the other clergy at the council, a fairly young man though one of the more accomplished in terms of the body of his complete works.

Attempted dissolution

From Italy, France and Germany, the fathers came late to Basel. Cesarini devoted all his energies to the war against the Hussites until the disaster of Taus forced him to evacuate Bohemia in haste. Pope Eugene IV, Martin V's successor, lost hope that the council could be useful owing to the progress of heresy, the reported troubles in Germany, the war that had lately broken out between the dukes of Austria and Burgundy, and finally, the small number of fathers who had responded to the summons of Martin V. That opinion and his desire to preside over the council in person, induced him to recall the fathers from Germany, as his poor health made it difficult for him to go. He commanded the council to disperse, and appointed Bologna as their meeting place in eighteen months' time, with the intention of making the session of the council coincide with some conferences with representatives of the Orthodox Church of the Greek East, scheduled to be held there with a view to ecumenical union (18 December 1431).

That order led to an outcry among the fathers and incurred the deep disapproval of the legate Cesarini. They argued that the Hussites would think the Church afraid to face them and that the laity would accuse the clergy of shirking reform, both with disastrous effects. The pope explained his reasons and yielded certain points, but the fathers were intransigent. Considerable powers had been decreed to Church councils by the Council of Constance, which amid the troubles of the Western Schism had proclaimed the superiority, in certain cases, of the council over the pope, and the fathers at Basel insisted upon their right of remaining assembled. They held sessions, promulgated decrees, interfered in the government of the papal countship of Venaissin, treated with the Hussites, and, as representatives of the universal Church, presumed to impose laws upon the sovereign pontiff himself.

Eugene IV resolved to resist the Council's claim of supremacy, but he did not dare openly to repudiate the conciliar doctrine considered by many to be the actual foundation of the authority of the popes before the schism. He soon realized the impossibility of treating the fathers of Basel as ordinary rebels, and tried a compromise; but as time went on, the fathers became more and more intractable, and between him and them gradually arose an impassable barrier.

Abandoned by a number of his cardinals, condemned by most of the powers, deprived of his dominions by condottieri who shamelessly invoked the authority of the council, the pope made concession after concession and ended on 15 December 1433 with a pitiable surrender of all the points at issue in a Papal bull, the terms of which were dictated by the fathers of Basel, that is, by declaring his bull of dissolution null and void and recognising that the synod as legitimately assembled throughout. However, Eugene IV did not ratify all the decrees coming from Basel, nor make a definite submission to the supremacy of the council. He declined to express any forced pronouncement on this subject, and his enforced silence concealed the secret design of safeguarding the principle of sovereignty.

Pisanello, john viii palaeiologus drawings
Sketches by Pisanello of the Byzantine delegation at the Council

The fathers, filled with suspicion, would allow only the legates of the pope to preside over them on condition of their recognizing the superiority of the council. The legates submitted the humiliating formality but in their own names, it was asserted only after the fact, thus reserving the final judgment of the Holy See. Furthermore, the difficulties of all kinds against which Eugene had to contend, such as the insurrection at Rome, which forced him to escape by means of the Tiber, lying in the bottom of a boat, left him at first little chance of resisting the enterprises of the council.

Issues of reform

Emboldened by their success, the fathers approached the subject of reform, their principal object being to further curtail the power and resources of the papacy. They took decisions on the disciplinary measures that regulated the elections, on the celebration of divine service and on the periodical holding of diocesan synods and provincial councils, which were usual topics in Catholic councils. They also made decrees aimed at some of the assumed rights by which the popes had extended their power and improved their finances at the expense of the local churches. Thus the council abolished annates, greatly limited the abuse of "reservation" of the patronage of benefices by the Pope and completely abolished the right claimed by the pope of "next presentation" to benefices not yet vacant (known as gratiae expectativae). Other conciliar decrees severely limited the jurisdiction of the court of Rome and even made rules for the election of popes and the constitution of the Sacred College. The fathers continued to devote themselves to the subjugation of the Hussites, and they also intervened, in rivalry with the pope, in the negotiations between France and England, which led to the treaty of Arras, concluded by Charles VII of France with the duke of Burgundy. Also, circumcision was deemed to be a mortal sin.[2] Finally, they investigated and judged numbers of private cases, lawsuits between prelates, members of religious orders and holders of benefices, thus themselves committing one of the serious abuses for which they had criticized the court of Rome.

Papal supremacy

The Council clarified the Latin dogma of papal supremacy:

"We likewise define that the holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, hold the primacy throughout the entire world; and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, and that he is the head of the entire Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter by our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church."[3]

Eugene IV's eastern strategy

Benozzo Gozzoli - Procession of the Middle King (detail) - WGA10260
A figure in Benozzo Gozzoli's 1459 Journey of the Magi is assumed to portrait John VIII Palaiologos.

Eugene IV, however much he may have wished to keep on good terms with the fathers of Basel, found himself neither able nor willing to accept or observe all their decrees. The question of the union with the Greek church, especially, gave rise to a misunderstanding between them which soon led to a rupture. The Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaiologos, pressed hard by the Ottoman Turks, was keen to ally himself with the Catholics. He consented to come with the principal representatives of the Byzantine Church to some place in the West where the union could be concluded in the presence of the pope and of the Latin council. There arose a double negotiation between him and Eugene IV on the one hand and the fathers of Basel on the other. The council wished to fix the meeting-place at a place remote from the influence of the pope, and they persisted in suggesting Basel, Avignon or Savoy. On the other hand, the Byzantines wanted a coastal location in Italy for their ease of access by ship.

Council transferred to Ferrara and attempted reunion with Orthodox Churches

Argyropoulos (detail) Calling of the Apostles
John Argyropoulos was a Greek Byzantine diplomat who attended the Council of Florence in 1439.[4]

As a result of negotiations with the East, Emperor John VIII Palaiologos accepted Pope Eugene IV's offer. By a bull dated 18 September 1437, Pope Eugene again pronounced the dissolution of the Council of Basel and summoned the fathers to Ferrara in the Po valley.

The first public session at Ferrara began on 10 January 1438. Its first act declared the Council of Basel transferred to Ferrara and nullified all further proceedings at Basel. In the second public session (15 February 1438), Pope Eugene IV excommunicated all who continued to assemble at Basel.

In early April 1438, the Greek contingent, over 700 strong, arrived at Ferrara. On 9 April 1438, the first solemn session at Ferrara began, with the Eastern Roman Emperor, the Patriarch of Constantinople and representatives of the Patriarchal Sees of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem in attendance and Pope Eugene IV presiding. The early sessions lasted until 17 July 1438 with each theological issue of the Great Schism (1054) hotly debated, including the Processions of the Holy Spirit, the Filioque clause in the Nicene Creed, Purgatory and papal primacy. Resuming proceedings on 8 October 1438, the Council focused exclusively on the Filioque matter. Even as it became clear that the Greek Church would never consent to the Filioque clause, the Byzantine Emperor continued to press for a reconciliation.

Council transferred to Florence and the near East-West union

With finances running thin and on the pretext that the plague was spreading in the area, both the Latins and the Greeks agreed to transfer the council to Florence.[5] Continuing at Florence in January 1439, the Council made steady progress on a compromise formula, "ex filio".

In the following months, agreement was reached on the Western doctrine of Purgatory and a return to the pre-schism prerogatives of the Papacy. On 6 July 1439 an agreement (Laetentur Caeli) was signed by all the Eastern bishops but one, Saint Mark of Ephesus, who, contrary to the views of all others, held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism.

To complicate matters, Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople had died the previous month. The Greek Patriarchs were unable to assert that ratification by the Eastern Church could be achieved without a clear agreement of the whole Church.

Upon their return, the Eastern bishops found their attempts toward agreement with the West broadly rejected by the monks, the populace, and by civil authorities (with the notable exception of the Emperors of the East who remained committed to union until the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turkish Ottoman Empire two decades later). Facing the imminent threat, the Union was officially proclaimed by Isidore of Kiev in Hagia Sophia on 12 December 1452.[6]

The Emperor, bishops, and people of Constantinople accepted this act as a temporary provision until the removal of the Ottoman threat. Yet, it was too late: on 29 May 1453 Constantinople fell. The union signed at Florence, down to the present, has not been implemented by most Orthodox Churches.

Copts and Ethiopians

Gozzoli magi
The multinational character of the Council inspired Benozzo Gozzoli's 1459 Journey of the Magi, featuring a black figure in the attendance.[7]

The Council soon became even more international. The signature of this agreement for the union of the Latins and the Greeks encouraged Pope Eugenius to announce the good news to the Coptic Christians, and invite them to send a delegation to Florence. He wrote a letter on 7 July 1439, and to deliver it, sent Alberto da Sarteano as an apostolic delegate. On 26 August 1441, Sarteano returned with four Ethiopians from Emperor Zara Yaqob and Copts.[8] According to a contemporary observer "They were black men and dry and very awkward in their bearing (...) really, to see them they appeared to be very weak".[9] At that time, Rome had delegates from a multitude of nations, from Armenia to Russia, Greece and various parts of north and east Africa.[10]

"Deposition of Eugene IV" and schism at Basel

During this time the council of Basel, though nullified at Ferrara and abandoned by Cesarini and most of its members, persisted nonetheless, under the presidency of Cardinal Aleman. Affirming its ecumenical character on 24 January 1438, it suspended Eugene IV. The council went on (in spite of the intervention of most of the powers) to pronounce Eugene IV deposed (25 June 1439), giving rise to a new schism by electing (4 November 1439) duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy, as (anti)pope, who took the name of Felix V.

Effects of the schism

This schism lasted fully ten years, although the antipope found few adherents outside of his own hereditary states, those of Alfonso V of Aragon, of the Swiss confederation and of certain universities. Germany remained neutral; Charles VII of France confined himself to securing to his kingdom (by the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, which became law on 13 July 1438) the benefit of a great number of the reforms decreed at Basel; England and Italy remained faithful to Eugene IV. Finally, in 1447, Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, after negotiations with Eugene, commanded the burgomaster of Basel not to allow the presence of the council any longer in the imperial city.

Schism reconciled at Lausanne

In June 1448 the rump of the council migrated to Lausanne. The antipope, at the insistence of France, ended by abdicating (7 April 1449). Eugene IV died on 23 February 1447, and the council at Lausanne, to save appearances, gave their support to his successor, Pope Nicholas V, who had already been governing the Church for two years. Trustworthy evidence, they said, proved to them that this pontiff accepted the dogma of the superiority of the council as defined at Constance and at Basel.


The struggle for East-West union at Ferrara and Florence, while promising, never bore fruit. While progress toward union in the East continued to be made in the following decades, all hopes for a proximate reconciliation were dashed with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Following their conquest, the Ottomans encouraged hardline anti-unionist Orthodox clerics in order to divide European Christians.[11]

Perhaps the council's most important historical legacy was the lectures on Greek classical literature given in Florence by many of the delegates from Constantinople, including the renowned Neoplatonist Gemistus Pletho. These greatly helped the progress of Renaissance humanism.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Florence, Council of", Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-280290-3.
  2. ^ Eugenius IV, Pope (1990) [1442]. "Ecumenical Council of Florence (1438–1445): Session 11—4 February 1442; Bull of union with the Copts". In Norman P. Tanner (ed.). Decrees of the ecumenical councils. 2 volumes (in Greek and Latin). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0-87840-490-2. LCCN 90003209. [The Holy Roman Church] firmly... asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the [Jewish] sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.
  3. ^ Shaw, Russell (2000). Papal Primacy in the Third Millennium. Our Sunday Visitor. p. 51. ISBN 0879735554.
  4. ^ "John Argyropoulos". Retrieved 2009-10-02. Argyropoulos divided his time between Italy and Constantinople; he was in Italy (1439) for the Council of Florence and spent some time teaching and studying in Padua, earning a degree in 1443.
  5. ^ Stuart M. McManus, 'Byzantines in the Florentine polis: Ideology, Statecraft and ritual during the Council of Florence', The Journal of the Oxford University History Society, 6 (Michaelmas 2008/Hilary 2009), pp. 4–6
  6. ^ Dezhnyuk: Council of Florence: the Unrealized Union
  7. ^ Trexler, The journey of the Magi p.128
  8. ^ Quinn The European Outthrust and Encounter p.81
  9. ^ Trexler The journey of the Magi p.128
  10. ^ Trexler The journey of the Magi p.129
  11. ^ "Lessons for Theresa May and the EU from 15th-century Florence". The Economist. 24 September 2017.
  12. ^ See Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West (1989)


Primary sources
  • Gian Domenico Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio editio nova vol. xxix.-xxxi.
  • Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, Pope Pius II, De rebus Basileae gestis (Fermo, 1803)
  • Monumenta Conciliorum generalium seculi xv., Scriptorum, vol. i., ii. and iii. (Vienna, 1857–1895)
  • Sylvester Syropoulos, Mémoires, ed. and trans. V. Laurent, Concilium Florentinum: Documenta et Scriptores 9 (Rome, 1971)
Secondary literature
  • Deno J. Geanakoplos, ‘The Council of Florence (1438-9) and the Problem of Union between the Byzantine and Latin Churches’, in Church History 24 (1955), 324-46 and reprinted in D.J. Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West (Madison, Wisconsin, 1989), pp. 224–54
  • Sergey F. Dezhnyuk, "Council of Florence: The Unrealized Union", CreateSpace, 2017.
  • J. C. L. Gieseler, Ecclesiastical History, vol. iv. p. 312ff (Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1853).
  • Joseph Gill, The Council of Florence Cambridge, 1959.
  • Joseph Gill, Personalities of the Council, of Florence and other Essays, Oxford, 1964.
  • Johannes Haller ed., Concilium Basiliense, vol. i.–v, Basel, 1896–1904.
  • Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vol. vii., Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1874.
  • Jonathan Harris, The End of Byzantium, New Haven and London, 2010. ISBN 978-0-300-11786-8
  • Jonathan Harris, Greek Emigres in the West c.1400-1520, Camberley, 1995, pp. 72–84.
  • Johannes Helmrath, Das Basler Konzil; 1431–1449; Forschungsstand und Probleme, (Cologne, 1987).
  • Sebastian Kolditz, Johannes VIII. Palaiologos und das Konzil von Ferrara-Florenz (1438/39). 2 Vol., Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann Verlag 2013-2014, ISBN 978-3-7772-1319-4.
  • Stuart M. McManus, 'Byzantines in the Florentine polis: Ideology, Statecraft and Ritual during the Council of Florence', Journal of the Oxford University History Society, 6 (Michaelmas 2008/Hilary 2009) "issue6(michaelmashilary2009) (jouhsinfo)". 2009-03-14. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  • Stavros Lazaris, "L’empereur Jean VIII Paléologue vu par Pisanello lors du concile de Ferrare – Florence", Byzantinische Forschungen, 29, 2007, p. 293-324 [1]
  • Donald M. Nicol, The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 1993, 2nd ed., pp. 306–17, 339-68.
  • G. Perouse, Le Cardinal Louis Aleman, président du concile de Bâle, Paris, 1904.
  • O. Richter, Die Organisation and Geschäftsordnung des Basler Konziis, Leipzig, 1877.
  • Stefan Sudmann, Das Basler Konzil: Synodale Praxis zwischen Routine und Revolution, Frankfurt-am-Main 2005. ISBN 3-631-54266-6 "Peter Lang Verlagsgruppe". 2010-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  • Georgiou Frantzi, " Constantinople has Fallen.Chronicle of the Fall of Constantinoples ", transl.: Ioannis A. Melisseidis & Poulcheria Zavolea Melisseidou (1998/2004) - Ioannis A. Melisseidis ( Ioannes A. Melisseides ), " Brief History of Events in Constantinople during the period 1440-1453 ", p. 105-119, edit.5th, Athens 2004, Vergina Asimakopouli Bros, Greek National Bibliography 1999/2004, ISBN 9607171918
  • Andrić, Stanko (2016). "Saint John Capistran and Despot George Branković: An Impossible Compromise". Byzantinoslavica. 74 (1–2): 202–227.

External links

Book of Tobit

The Book of Tobit () is a book of scripture that is part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canons. It was pronounced canonical by the Council of Hippo (in 393), the Councils of Carthage of 397 and 417, and the Council of Florence (in 1442), and confirmed in the Counter-Reformation by the Council of Trent (1546). It is not found in Protestant or Jewish biblical canons.

Catholic Church in Russia

The Catholic Church in Russia is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.

According to the most recent figures in Annuario Pontificio, there are approximately 773,000 Catholics in Russia, which is 0.5% of the total Russian population. However, a 2012 survey has determined that there are approximately 240,000 Catholics in Russia (0.2% of the total Russian population), accounting for 7.2% of Germans, 1.8% of Armenians, 1.3% of Belarusians, and just under 1% of Bashkirs. The survey also found Catholics to be more observant than Orthodox, with 45% praying every day versus 17% of Orthodox.Due to the long-held views of the Russian Orthodox Church, Catholicism is not recognized by the state as a legitimately Russian religion, and Catholics have often been seen as outsiders, even if they are ethnically Russian. The Soviet Union, which persecuted all religions, also saw Catholicism as a non-Russian allegiance.

Council of Constantinople

Council of Constantinople can refer to a church council (synod) convened at Constantinople:

Council of Constantinople (360), a local council

First Council of Constantinople, the Second Ecumenical Council, in 381

Council of Constantinople (383), a local council, rejected teachings of Eunomius

Council of Constantinople (394), a local council, produced several canons

Synod of Constantinople (543), a local council which condemned Origen

Second Council of Constantinople, the Fifth Ecumenical Council, in 553

Third Council of Constantinople, the Sixth Ecumenical Council, in 680

Council of Constantinople (692), also called in Trullo or Quinisext Council

Council of Constantinople (754), the Council of Hieria

Council of Constantinople (815), a local council that restored Iconoclasm

Council of Constantinople (843), a local council, restored the veneration of icons

Council of Constantinople (861), a local council, confirmed the deposition of Ignatius and election of Photius

Council of Constantinople (867), a local council convened by Photius to discuss Papal supremacy and the Filioque

Fourth Council of Constantinople (Catholic Church), also called the Photian Council, in 869

Fourth Council of Constantinople (Eastern Orthodox), considered the Eighth Ecumenical Council by some Orthodox, also called the Photian Council, in 879

Council of Constantinople (1082), a local council convened to deal with John Italos

Council of Constantinople (1094), a local council convened to deal with Leo of Chalcedon

Council of Constantinople (1285), a local council that rejected the Union of the Churches at Lyons

Fifth Council of Constantinople, considered the Ninth Ecumenical Council by some Orthodox, concerning Hesychasm, in 1341-1351

Synod of Constantinople (1484), condemned the Council of Florence

Council of Constantinople (1583), decided not to accept the Gregorian calendar

Council of Constantinople (1593), approved the creation of Moscow Patriarchate

Council of Constantinople (1722), condemned all forms of catholicisation

Council of Constantinople (1756), affirmed rebaptism for Roman Catholics converting to Christian Orthodoxy

Council of Constantinople (1848), issued the Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs

Council of Constantinople (1872), condemned Phyletism, as a schismatic movement

Council of Constantinople (1923), a major council, introduced several reforms

Development of the Old Testament canon

The Old Testament is the first section of the two-part Christian biblical canon; the second section is the New Testament. The Old Testament includes the books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) or protocanon, and in various Christian denominations also includes deuterocanonical books. Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants use different canons, which differ with respect to the texts that are included in the Old Testament.

Martin Luther, holding to Jewish and other ancient precedent, excluded the deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament of his translation of the Bible, placing them in a section he labeled "Apocrypha" ("hidden"). To counter Luther's "heresy", the fourth session of the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 confirmed that the deuterocanonical books were equally authoritative as the protocanonical in the Canon of Trent in the year Luther died, reconfirming the inclusion of the deuterocanonical books made almost a century earlier at the Council of Florence. Following Jerome's Veritas Hebraica (truth of the Hebrew) principle, the Protestant Old Testament consists of the same books as the Hebrew Bible, but the order and division of the books are different. Protestants number the Old Testament books at 39, while the Hebrew Bible numbers the same books as 24. The Hebrew Bible counts Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles as one book each, and the 12 minor prophets are one book, and also Ezra and Nehemiah form a single book.

The differences between the Hebrew Bible and other versions of the Old Testament such as the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, the Greek Septuagint, the Ethiopian Bible and other canons, are more substantial. Many of these canons include books and sections of books that the others do not. For a more comprehensive discussion of these differences, see Books of the Bible.

Gemistus Pletho

Georgius Gemistus (Greek: Γεώργιος Γεμιστός; c. 1355/1360 – 1452/1454), later called Plethon ( Πλήθων), was one of the most renowned philosophers of the late Byzantine era. He was a chief pioneer of the revival of Greek scholarship in Western Europe. As revealed in his last literary work, the Nomoi or Book of Laws, which he only circulated among close friends, he rejected Christianity in favour of a return to the worship of the classical Hellenic Gods, mixed with ancient wisdom based on Zoroaster and the Magi.He re-introduced Plato's ideas to Western Europe during the 1438–1439 Council of Florence, a failed attempt to reconcile the East–West schism. Here, it was believed until recently, Plethon met and influenced Cosimo de' Medici to found a new Platonic Academy, which, under Marsilio Ficino, would proceed to translate into Latin all of Plato's works, the Enneads of Plotinus, and various other Neoplatonist works.

Gennadius Scholarius

Gennadius II (Greek Γεννάδιος Βʹ; lay name Γεώργιος Κουρτέσιος Σχολάριος, Georgios Kourtesios Scholarios; c. 1400 – c. 1473) was a Byzantine philosopher and theologian, and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1454 to 1464. He was a strong advocate for the use of Aristotelian philosophy in the Eastern Church.

Gennadius was, together with his mentor, Mark of Ephesus, involved in the Council of Florence which aimed to end the schism between East and West. Gennadius had studied and written extensively on Western theology. After the failure of the union of Florence and the Fall of Constantinople, Gennadius became the first Ecumenical Patriarch of Ottoman Constantinople.

A polemicist, Scholarios left in writing several treatises on the differences between Eastern and Western theology, the Filioque, a defence of Aristotelianism and excerpts from an exposition (entitled Confession) of the Orthodox faith addressed to Mehmed II.

Isidore of Kiev

Isidore of Kiev, also known as Isidore of Thessalonica (Greek: Ἰσίδωρος τοῦ Κιέβου; Russian: Исидор; Ukrainian: Ісидор; b. Peloponnesus, 1385 – d.Rome, 27 April 1463) was a Byzantine Greek Metropolitan of Kiev, cardinal, humanist, and theologian. He was one of the chief Eastern defenders of reunion at the time of the Council of Florence.Isidore became the last hierarch of the Old Russian Church before it split into the Russian Eastern Orthodox Church of the Grand Duchy of Moscow and Ruthenian Eastern Orthodox Church of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Following his arrest, the Grand Duke Vasily II of Moscow initiated a schism by installing own Metropolitans in Moscow without approval of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

James Kennedy (bishop)

James Kennedy (Scottish Gaelic: Seumas Ceanadach) (c. 1408–1465) was a 15th-century Bishop of Dunkeld and Bishop of St. Andrews, who participated in the Council of Florence and was the last man to govern the diocese of St. Andrews purely as bishop. One of the Gaelic clan of Carrick he became the principal figure in the government of the minority of King James II of Scotland as well as founder of St Salvator's College, St Andrews.

He was the third and youngest son of Sir James Kennedy of Dunure, Ayrshire, and Princess Mary of Scotland, widow of the 1st Earl of Angus and second daughter of King Robert III of Scotland. His eldest brother was Gilbert Kennedy, 1st Lord Kennedy. James was born about 1408, and was sent to the continent to complete his studies in canon law and theology.

He was a canon and sub-deacon of Dunkeld until his provision and election to that see on 1 July 1437, after the death of Domhnall MacNeachdainn, the last elected bishop who died on his way to obtain consecration from the Pope. He received consecration in 1438, the following year.

He set himself to reform abuses, and attended the general council of Florence, in order to obtain authority from Pope Eugenius IV for his contemplated reforms. Eugenius did not encourage him in his schemes, but gave him the presentation to the abbacy of Scone in commendam. Bishop James, however, was not Bishop of Dunkeld for long.

John Argyropoulos

John Argyropoulos (Greek: Ἰωάννης Ἀργυρόπουλος Ioannis Argyropoulos; Italian: Giovanni Argiropulo; surname also spelt Argyropulus, or Argyropulos, or Argyropulo; c. 1415 – 26 June 1487) was a lecturer, philosopher and humanist, one of the émigré Greek scholars who pioneered the revival of Classical learning in 15th-century Italy.He translated Greek philosophical and theological works into Latin besides producing rhetorical and theological works of his own. He was in Italy for the Council of Florence during 1439–44, and returned to Italy following the fall of Constantinople, teaching in Florence (at the Florentine Studium) in 1456–70 and in Rome in 1471–87.

Joseph II of Constantinople

Joseph II (1360 – 10 June 1439) was Patriarch of Constantinople from 1416 to 1439.

Born the (possibly illegitimate) son of Ivan Shishman of Bulgaria in 1360, little is known of his early life before he became a monk on Mount Athos. He became Metropolitan of Ephesus in 1393, before being elected Patriarch of Constantinople on 21 May 1416. Together with Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaiologos, 23 Metropolitan bishops and countless scholars and theologians, he took part in the Council of Florence. While in Florence, he was quartered in the Palazzo Ferrantini. He is portrayed in Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes in the Magi Chapel of Palazzo Medici Riccardi, which celebrates the entrance of the Byzantine dignitaries in the city.

Joseph was very old and ill and died within 2 months on 10 June 1439. His death caused much grief to all present at the Council, as he was a fervent supporter of union between the Churches. His grave in the Dominican convent church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence survives, with an elaborate fresco portrait in a semi-Byzantine style. He was succeeded as Patriarch of Constantinople by Metrophanes II, who was appointed by Emperor John VIII on account of his similarly pro-unionist sentiments.

He was cousin of Constantine II of Bulgaria.

Laetentur Caeli

Laetentur Caeli: Bulla Unionis Graecorum (English: Let the Heavens Rejoice: Bull of Union with the Greeks) was a papal bull issued on 6 July 1439 by Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Ferrara-Florence. It officially reunited the Roman Catholic Church with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, temporarily ending the East–West Schism; however, it was repudiated by most eastern bishops shortly thereafter. The incipit of the bull (also used as its title) is derived from Psalms 95:11 in the Vulgate Bible.


In Catholic theology, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the edge of Hell) is a doctrine concerning the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned. Medieval theologians of western Europe described the underworld ("hell", "hades", "infernum") as divided into four distinct parts: Hell of the Damned, Purgatory, Limbo of the Fathers or Patriarchs, and Limbo of the Infants. However, Limbo of the Infants is not an official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

List of elections in 1439

The following elections occurred in the year 1439.

Council of Florence

Mark of Ephesus

Mark of Ephesus (born Manuel Eugenikos) was a hesychast theologian of the late Palaiologan period of the Byzantine Empire who became famous for his rejection of the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438–1439). As a monk in Constantinople, Mark was a prolific hymnographer and a devoted Palamite. As a theologian and a scholar, he was instrumental in the preparations for the Council of Ferrara-Florence, and as Metropolitan of Ephesus and delegate for the Patriarch of Alexandria, he was one of the most important voices at the synod. After renouncing the Council as a lost cause, Mark became the leader of the Orthodox opposition to the Union of Florence, thus sealing his reputation as a defender of Orthodoxy and pillar of the Church.

Metrophanes II of Constantinople

Metrophanes II (? – 1 August 1443) served as Bishop of Cyzicus in Asia Minor when he was called to join the delegation of bishops attending the Council of Florence. He was appointed by the Emperor John VIII in May 1440 as successor to Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople following the death of the latter in Florence. The Emperor was eager to secure help from Pope Eugene IV to deal with Turkish aggression, so he forced the patriarch and all other bishops to submit to papal authority. Only one bishop did not submit: Markos Eugenikos, Metropolitan of Ephesus, and without his signature the document of Union between East-West fell inactive. For his submission to the Union, he was nicknamed Mitrofonos (Mother-Killer), deposed by a popular uprising and fled to the Papal court in Rome.

Metrophanes died in Constantinople on August 1, 1443.

Nikodim II

Nikodim II (Serbian Cyrillic: Никодим II) was the Serbian Patriarch in the period of 1445–1455.As the hegumen of the Studenica monastery, Nikodim was appointed the Metropolitan of Raška sometime prior to 1439. Serbian ruler, despot Đurađ Branković strongly opposed Uniatism and did not send his delegates to the Council of Florence in 1439, when the short-lived "Union" between the Byzantine Emperor and the Pope was concluded. That year, much of the Serbian Despotate, including the capital city of Smederevo fell for the first time to the Ottomans, but after a couple of years of occupation restored freedom and independence in 1444. Soon after that, metropolitan Nicodim was chosen for the Serbian Patriarch in 1445. He chirotonized the Moldavian metropolitan Teoktist, instead of the old Joakim who supported Uniatism. In 1452, Nikodim II gifted the manuscript book Margarit of John Chrysostom, which is today held in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity of Pljevlja. Nikodim II was the penultimate Serbian Patriarch before the fall of the Serbian Despotate under the Ottomans, who conquered Christian Constantinople in 1453.


Raskol (Russian: раскол, pronounced [rɐˈskoɫ], meaning "split" or "schism") was the splitting of the Russian Orthodox Church into an official church and the Old Believers movement in the mid-17th century. It was triggered by the reforms of Patriarch Nikon in 1653, which aimed to establish uniformity between Greek and Russian church practices.

The term is etymologically related to the family name of Rodion Raskolnikov, the protagonist of Dostoevsky's well-known novel Crime and Punishment.

Synod of Constantinople (1484)

The Synod of Constantinople in 1484 was a local synod of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was the first synod to condemn the Council of Florence.

Valdo Spini

Valdo Spini (born 20 January 1946 in Florence) is an Italian politician and author.

A long-time member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), in 1994 he founded the Labour Federation (FL), of which he was leader until 1998, when FL merged into the Democrats of the Left (DS) party. He has since been a leading member of the Socialist faction within the DS. (1998–2007).

He was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1979, and re-elected seven times, remaining in office as an MP until 2008.

From 1981 to 1984 he was national Vice-Secretary of the PSI. He joined the Cabinet of Prime Minister Giuliano Amato in 1993-94 as Minister of the Environment. Previously he was Undersecretary of State for Interior Affairs and then Foreign Affairs.

He served as Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Chamber of Deputies from 1996 to 2001.

He was also elected member in 2009 of the Town Council of Florence, where he currently serves as President of the Institutional Affairs Committee, and is the leader of his own "SpiniperFirenze", an independent civic movement.

He has been editor (since 1981) of the "Quaderni del Circolo Rosselli" (Firenze, Alinea ed), a political culture magazine published by the "Circolo Rosselli" Foundation, a Florence-based think-tank, of which he is President. He is now also President of the Coordination of Italian Cultural Reviews (CRIC).

His last book is "Vent'anni dopo la Bolognina", 2010. ("Twenty Years After the Bolognina", referring to the dissolution of the Italian Communist Party at the end of the Cold War)

Valdo Spini is a Waldensian, the son of Giorgio Spini, a prominent Italian historian who died in 2006.

First seven ecumenical councils
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