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The Council of Florence

How the Renaissance Discovered Plato

Council of Florence by Unknown medieval artist

That this council, a last ditch attempt to heal the old schism between the Western and Eastern churches in 1438–39, happened in Florence had much to do with Europe’s richest man, Cosimo de’ Medici, offering to foot the bill. Cosimo wanted Florence to have the prestige of hosting the long awaited reconciliation of Christendom, but he wasn’t immune, either, to the possibilities the council would give him of arranging new business deals in the east.

The Greek party of 700 officials, scholars, theologians and interpreters was led by the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Emperor John VII Palaeologos, who was anxious to sort out the irritating doctrinal differences so the west would send him aid against the Ottoman Turks. The Western delegation was led by Pope Eugenius IV, a friend of Cosimo’s. But his first city of choice was Ferrara – before the huge expense of hosting so many guests and an outbreak of plague drove the pope to accept Cosimo’s offer.

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History and Sidelights

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Images by PD Art