Why was it important for the Byzantines to read Latin? The views of Demetrios Kydones (1324-1398)
By Savvas Kyriakidis
Conference Paper, Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies: The Art of Reading in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Stellenbosch, South Africa, August 2014
Abstract: Fourteenth-century Byzantium witnessed civil wars between cliques of the ruling elite, constant financial crisis and dramatic territorial reduction.
As a result of two catastrophic civil wars that were fought in 1321-1328 and 1341-1347, the Byzantine empire evolved into a small state which was struggling to survive and defend itself against large numbers of hostile neighbours, some of whom had or gradually acquired the resources to develop military forces far superior to those of Byzantium.
In the 1350s and1360s the Ottoman Turks began the conquest of European territories that belonged to the Byzantine empire and threatened the very existence of the Byzantine state. Seeing that it was impossible to face the Ottomans militarily many Byzantines began to support the idea of a Crusade against the Ottomans and the reconciliation between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches.
One of the most staunch supporters of this policy was the prolific author and politician Demetrios Kydones. This article will discuss how Kydones promoted the policy of reconciliation and alliance with Western European powers against the Ottomans.