The “Greek” project of the Order of St. John
By Vladislav Ivanov
Paper given at the 22nd International Congress of Byzantine Studies (2011)
Introduction: In the summer of 1356 AD two ambassadors of the Byzantine emperor John V Palaeologos – the Latin archbishop of Smyrna Paulus and the great hetheriarchos Nicolay Sigeros delivered in Avignon one of the most famous documents in the XIVth C. European history – the chrisoboul with which the emperor desperately pleaded the Catholic West for help against the Turks. This appeal coincided with the aftermath of the so called Great Plague, the ending of the bitter struggle between the Western Turkish Emirates and the crusaders in the Aegean region during most of the 40’s of XIVth C. and, finally, with a crisis in the development of the military catholic order of St. John of Jerusalem, which had established its headquarters at the Aegean isle of Rhodes a half century ago. The promises of the emperor for conclusion of an union with the Papacy at Avignon and therefore for bringing to an end of the Eastern Schism, dated back to 1054 AD, served – in my opinion – as a stimulus for the Order and the Papacy to connect their activities with the declining under the Turkish blows Byzantine empire and for the emerging of the so called by me “Greek” project of the Order of St. John.