Written by Vladimir Moss



     In the middle of the fourteenth century there came the Black Death, which, according to one source, killed most of the inhabitants of Constantinople, further undermining the strength of the State. Still more serious were the divisions between and within the Greek states (for there were several of them), and the state of near-permanent civil war between the members of the ruling Palaeologan dynasty. The humiliation of Orthodoxy was such that towards the end of the century, all the Orthodox rulers, Greek, Slav and Romanian, were vassals of the Turkish sultan and even had to fight in his armies against other Orthodox Christians…[1] 

     The underlying spiritual cause of these disasters was not far to find: in spite of the chastening experiences of the previous century, Byzantine rulers still continued to dangle the bait of union with Rome before western princes in exchange for military help that very rarely came. Only once, at the battle of Nicopolis in 1396, did a large-scale “crusade” led by the King of Hungary set off to rescue the Greeks from the Turks. It ended in disaster…

     The lesson was obvious, but seemed never to be learned: no material gain, but only continued disasters, not to speak of spiritual shipwreck, came from attempting to sell the birthright of the Orthodox Faith for political gain…


     Paradoxically, however, this deeply dispiriting period from the point of view of state life also witnessed something of a spiritual renaissance in the cultural and religious spheres as a result of the hesychastic movement, which was spread by wandering monks such as St. Gregory of Sinai throughout the Orthodox commonwealth, and which brought forth rich fruits of sanctity for centuries to come. Moreover, in defending hesychasm against its humanist and latinizing detractors, the Orthodox Church was able to define the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism more broadly and deeply than ever before.

     In this struggle, whose epicenter was the decade between 1341 and 1351, two outstanding personalities shine out in the surrounding darkness as defenders of the truth: St. Gregory Palamas, leader of the hesychast monks on Mount Athos and later Archbishop of Thessalonica, who formulated the theological defence of hesychasm, and his friend John Catacuzenus, who in turn became the Great Domestic, the Emperor John VI and then plain Monk Joasaph, and who, while never rejecting the idea of the union as such, always cleverly insisted that it could only be done through an Ecumenical Council – an idea that the Popes rejected because they knew it would end in failure for the uniate cause.

     The debate began in the 1330s with a rather original attempt to engineer the unia. The Calabrian Greek monk Barlaam argued that the truths of the Faith – he was thinking especially of the Filioque controversy - cannot be proved, so we might as well take both positions, the Greek and the Latin, as private opinions! Such relativism was refuted by St. Gregory, and found no support in the West either: Pope Benedict was no more inclined than the Byzantine Church to accept such agnosticism.

     But Barlaam’s pride had been hurt, and he now set about attacking the Athonite hesychast monks with regard to their practice of the Jesus prayer. In particular, he attacked the claim that by combining the prayer with certain physical exercises that involved directing the eye of the mind on the physical heart, the monks could reach a state of deification and behold the Uncreated Light that emanated from Christ’s Body during the Transfiguration. Barlaam mockingly called the hesychasts omphalopsychoi, that is, those who locate the soul in the navel, and identified them with the fourth-century sect of the Messalians, which taught that through asceticism and prayer and without the aid of the sacraments one could see God with one’s physical eyes. 

     The Athonite hesychasts refuted Barlaam’s charges in a Tomos entitled “The Declaration of the Holy Mountain in Defence of Those who Devoutly Practise a Life of Stillness”. Composed by St. Gregory and signed by the leading hesychasts, including Bishop James of Hierissos and the Holy Mountain, it argued that: 1. The deifying grace of God, in and through which we are united with God and saved, is God Himself, uncreated and eternal; 2. This deification is not a capacity inherent in human nature, as the Messalians taught, but a gift of God by grace; 3. The mind (nous) which sees God in the Divine Light is located in the heart, for the body takes part in deification as well as the soul; 4. The Light that shone around the disciples on Mount Tabor was not an apparition or a symbol, but the Uncreated Divine Light, God Himself, Which they were able to see through the opening of their spiritual eyes, a transmutation of their spiritual senses; 5. Both the Essence of God and His Energies are Uncreated, but constitute one God, insofar as the Energies are not a second God, but the One God going out of Himself, as it were, in order to unite Himself with created nature; 6. This vision of God and participation in His Uncreated Energies is the mystery of the age to come manifest already in this age. “For if in the age to come the body is to share with the soul in ineffable blessings, then it is evident that in this world as well it will also share according to its capacity in the grace mystically and ineffably bestowed by God upon the purified intellect [nous], and it will experience the divine in conformity with its nature. For once the soul’s passible aspect is transformed and sanctified – but not reduced to a deathlike condition – through it the dispositions and activities of the body are also sanctified, since body and soul share a conjoint existence.”[2]

     This teaching was vindicated at a Council in Constantinople presided over by Emperor Andronicus III in 1341. There were further Councils in 1347 and 1351, when Barlaam and his helpers Acindynus and Nicephorus Gregoras were excommunicated. Barlaam renounced Orthodoxy and became a Catholic bishop.[3]

     Apart from their great dogmatic significance, these Palamite Councils presented a precious image of Orthodox bishops convened by a right-believing emperor to define essential truths of the faith and thereby preserve the heritage of Orthodoxy for future generations and other nations…


     But amidst this spiritual triumph the state continued to decline, and now divisions appeared not only within the members of the ruling dynasty but between different layers of society. Thus when St. Gregory Palamas was appointed archbishop of Thessalonica he was not at first allowed to enter his see, because in Adrianople and Thessalonica, where sharp divisions in wealth were exacerbated by the feudal system that had been introduced by the Latin crusaders, a social revolution of the poor (called “zealots”) against the rich was in progress.[4] This revolution betrayed, according to Diehl, “a vague tendency towards a communistic movement”[5], and in its final wave forced the abdication of Emperor John VI in 1354.


     St. Gregory defended the principle of autocracy against the revolutionaries: “The worst… are those who do not demonstrate a due loyalty to the kings established by God… and do not humble themselves under… the hand of God and do not submit to the Church of Christ.” However, he also chastised the rich whose greed and selfishness had laid the seeds for the revolution. He exhorted them: “Do not use force against those subject to you; show them… a fatherly attitude, remembering that you and they are of one race and co-servants. And do not go against submission to the Church and her teachings… You who are in subjection, consider it your duty in relation to the authorities to carry out only that which does not serve as an obstacle to your promised hope of the Heavenly Kingdom.” [6]

     Amidst all this turmoil there was no agreement about who was the true emperor. First there was a bitter civil war between Andronicus II and his grandson Andronicus III. Then in 1341, after the death of Andronicus III, war broke out between John V Palaeologus and the army’s choice, John VI Cantacuzenus (a firm believer in the dynastic principle and lifetime supporter of the Palaeologi!). Then came the forced abdication of John VI, who became a monk. Then civil war again broke out between John V and his son Andronicus IV. Early in the fifteenth century, Manuel II exiled his nephew; and in the very last years of the Empire John VIII had to contend with a rebellion from his brother Demetrius…


     Of course, coups and counter-coups were no rarity in Byzantine history - in 74 out of 109 cases, the throne was seized by a coup.[7] The period of the Nicaean Empire had seen a marked increase in stability and in the quality of imperial rule. But in the fourteenth century, when the external situation of the State was increasingly desperate, the old bad habits reasserted themselves.[8]  

      We have seen that the Byzantines never had an agreed system of imperial legitimacy and succession. However, L.A. Tikhomirov points to another, still deeper weakness of the Byzantine system: the fact that imperial power was based on two mutually incompatible principles, the Christian and the Old Roman (Republican). According to the Christian principle, supreme power in the State rested in the Emperor, not in the People. But, while supreme, his power was not absolute in that it was limited by the Orthodox Faith and Church; for the Emperor, while supreme on earth, was still the servant of the Emperor of Emperors in heaven. According to the Old Roman principle, however, which still retained an important place alongside the Christian principle in the legislation of Justinian, supreme power rested, not in the Emperor, but in the Senate and the People. But since the Senate and the People had, according to the legal fiction, conceded all their empire and power to the Emperor, he concentrated all executive power in his own person, and his will had the full force of law: Quod Principi placuit legis habet vigorem, et in eum solum omne suum imperium et potestatem concessit.

     “This idea was purely absolutist, making the power of the Emperor unlimited, but not supreme, not independent of the people’s will. The formula also contradicted the Christian idea of ‘the King, the servant of God’, whose law could in no way be simply what was ‘pleasing’ to him. But the conjunction of popular delegation and Divine election gave Byzantine imperial power the opportunity to be very broadly arbitrary. In the case of a transgression of the people’s rights, it was possible to refer to the unlimited delegation of the people. However, it is impossible not to see that this same conjunction, which gave the Emperor’s power the opportunity to be arbitrary, at the same time did not give it solidity. This power could be taken away from an unworthy bearer of it also on a dual basis: for transgression of the will of God, or on the basis of the will of the people, which did not want to continue the ‘concession’ it had given before any longer.

     “The idea of the delegation of the people’s will and power to one person in itself presupposes centralisation, and then bureaucratisation. Truly, as the point of concentration of all the people’s powers, the Emperor is an executive power. In accordance with the concept of delegation, he himself administers everything. He must do all the work of the current administration. For that reason everything is centralised around him, and in him. But since it is in fact impossible in fact for one person, even the greatest genius, to carry out all the acts of State, they are entrusted to servants, officials. In this way bureaucratisation develops.

     “The king, ‘the servant of God’, is obliged only to see that the affairs of the country are directed in the spirit of God’s will. The people’s self-administration does not contradict his idea on condition that over this administration the control of ‘the servant of God’ is preserved, directing everything on the true path of righteousness, in case there are any deviations from it. But for the Emperor to whom ‘the people concedes all power and might’, any manifestation of popular self-administration, whatever it may be, is already a usurpation on the part of the people, a kind of taking back by the people of what it had ‘conceded’ to the Emperor.”[9]


     In 1369 Emperor John V, knowing that he could never bring his whole people into the unia, went to Italy. As Lord Norwich writes, “he formally signed a document declaring his submission to the Holy Roman Church and its father the Pope, sealing it with his imperial golden seal; and the following Sunday, in the presence of the entire Curia, he did obeisance to the Supreme Pontiff on the steps of St. Peter’s, kneeling before him and kissing him on the feet, hands and finally on the lips.” [10]

     But there was no rebellion, and no public humiliation of the body of the apostate after his death, as in the time of Michael VIII. In almost any previous period of Byzantine history, such an apostasy would have elicited disturbances among the Orthodox people. But not now… The reason was that, as Runciman writes, “he was careful not to involve the Church in his conversion. His tact was rewarded. Towards the end of his reign, probably in 1380 or soon afterwards, in circumstances that are unknown to us, he was able to make a concordat with the Patriarchate which clarified and restored much of the Imperial control over the Church. It contained nine points. The Emperor was to nominate metropolitans from three candidates whose names were submitted to him. He alone could transfer and promote bishops. He had to sanction appointments to high Church offices. He alone could redistribute sees. Neither he nor his senior officials nor members of the Senate, which was his advisory council, could be excommunicated except with his permission, ‘because the Emperor is defender of the Church and the canons’. Bishops were to come to Constantinople and to leave it whenever he ordered. Every bishop must take an oath of allegiance to him on appointment. Every bishop must put his signature to acts passed by a Synod or Council. Every bishop must implement such acts and refuse support to any cleric or candidate for ecclesiastical office who opposed Imperial policy.”


     St. Simeon, Metropolitan of Thessalonica, commented with some bitterness on the situation: “Now… the Bishop is not counted worthy of any kind of honour for the sake of Christ, but rather his lot is dishonour; he is counted immeasurably inferior to the emperor, who receives a blessing from the Hierarch. At the present time the Bishop falls down at the feet of the emperor and kisses his right hand. With the sanctified lips with which he recently touched the Sacred Sacrifice, he servilely kisses a secular hand, whose function is to hold the sword. And, O shame!, the Bishop stands while the emperor sits. For the Bishop, as the delegate of the Church, all this reflects in an indecent and shameful manner on Christ Himself. These absurd customs were introduced, however, not by the emperors themselves, but by flatterers, who in an undiscerning manner suggested to them that they should use the Divine for evil, that they should ascribe to themselves power and install and remove the Bishop. Alas, what madness! If the deposition of a Bishop is necessary, this should be done through the Holy Spirit, by Whom the Bishop has been consecrated, and not through the secular power. Hence come all our woes and misfortunes; hence we have become an object of mockery for all peoples. If we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, then the blessing of God will rest on everything: the Church will receive peace, and the State will become more prosperous.” [11]

     “As an Emperor,” continues Runciman, “John V was incompetent and almost impotent. The Turks were overrunning all his territory and exacting tribute from him. He himself in a reign of fifty years was three times driven into exile, by his father-in-law, by his son and by his grandson. Yet, as the concordat shows, he still retained prestige enough to reaffirm his theoretical control over a Church, many of whose dioceses lay far outside of his political control. It was soon after his death that the Patriarch Antony IV wrote the letter in which he talked of the great position of the Emperor. It was addressed to the Grand Prince of Muscovy, Vassily I, who had somewhat scornfully pointed out the actual weakness of the Emperor, hinting that some more powerful Orthodox ruler ought to lead the Oecumene. ‘The Emperor,’ Antony wrote, ‘is still the Holy Emperor, the heir of the Emperors of old and the consecrated head of the Oecumene. He, and he alone, is the King whom Saint Peter bade the faithful to honour.’

     “The Patriarch’s loyalty was greater than his realism. But the Emperor still had some power. About twenty years later, in 1414 or 1415, Manuel II, who was generally liked by his ecclesiastics, when in Thessalonica appointed a Macedonian bishop to the see of Moldavia and sent him to Constantinople for consecration by the Patriarch, Euthymius II. Euthymius refused to perform the service, on the out-of-date ground that a bishop could not be transferred. The case undoubtedly had deeper implications, of which we can only guess. It must be remembered the Emperor was actually nominating a bishop for a Christian country over which he had no control; and the Patriarch must have feared that his own good relations with the sovereign Prince of Moldavia might be endangered. He insisted that the transference be approved by the Holy Synod. But the Emperor referred him to the concordat. He had to yield…”[12]

     The concordat was a truly shameful document. And yet there were still many in Byzantium who rejected the subordination of the Church to the State and preferred the dominion of the infidel Turks to that of the heretical Latins. For in religious matters the Turks were more tolerant than the Latins. Moreover, submission to the Turks would at least have the advantage of making the administration of the Church easier – in the present situation, the bishops under Turkish rule were separated from their head in Constantinople and were distrusted because that head lived in a different state…

     V.M. Lourié writes: “It was precisely in the 14th century, when immemorial Greek territories passed over to the Turks, and some others – to the Latins, that there was formed in Byzantine society those two positions whose struggle would clearly appear in the following, 15th century. It was precisely in the 14th century that the holy Fathers established a preference for the Turks over the Latins, while with the humanists it was the reverse. Neither in the 15th, nor in the 14th century was there any talk of union with the Turks – their invasion was thought to be only an evil. But already in the 14th century it became clear that the Empire would not be preserved, that they would have to choose the lesser of two evils. In the capacity of such a lesser evil, although a very great one, the holy Fathers were forced to make an irrevocable decision in favour of the Turks, under whose yoke it was possible to preserve the Church organisation and avoid the politics of forced conversions to Latinism. The danger of conversions to Islam was significantly smaller: first, because the inner administration of the Ottoman empire was based on ‘millets’, in accordance with which the civil administration of the Orthodox population was realized through the structure of the Orthodox Church and the patriarch, and this created for the Turks an interest in preserving the Church, and secondly, because the cases of conversion to Islam, however destructive they were for those who had been converted, did not threaten the purity of the confession of the Christians who remained faithful, while Latin power always strove to exert influence on the inner life and teaching of the faith of the Orthodox Church. The Church history of the 16th to 19th centuries showed that, in spite of all the oppressions caused to the Christians in the Ottoman empire, it protected the Christian peoples living within its frontiers from the influence of European religious ideas and Weltanschauungen, whereby it unwittingly helped the preservation of the purity of Orthodoxy…”[13]

     Of course, the victory of the Turks would be a terrible disaster. [14] But the victory of the Latins would be an even greater disaster, since it would signify the end of Greek Orthodoxy.

     Nor, said the Zealots, would buying the support of the Latins help matters. For, as the Studite Monk and head of the Imperial Academy, Joseph Vryennios said early in the fifteenth century: “Let no one be deceived by delusive hopes that the Italian allied troops will sooner or later come to us. But if they do pretend to rise to defend us, they will take arms in order to destroy our city, race and name…”[15]


     An instructive illustration of the complexities faced by the Byzantines can be found in the life of St. Symeon, archbishop of Thessalonica in the early fifteenth century. As David Balfour writes, “The young Turkish Sultan, Murad II, who had recently succeeded his father Mehmed I, was openly preparing for war agains the Byzantines for having injudiciously supported a rival claimant to the throne. Thessalonica, the second capital of the Empire, had surrendered to Turkish sovereignty from 1387 to 1403 and there was a large party, supported by a majority of the populace, which felt that the resultant regime had been tolerable and that to resist the Sultan again was suicidal because hopeless. Another party had already begun, it seems, to make private overtures to the Venetians to take over the city (a plan which was actually carried out next year). Symeon agreed with neither party and had done his best to persuade the young governor, the Despot Andronikos, to maintain a purely Byzantine policy independent of both. With the Despot’s approval, he slipped away unobserved, leaving behind an Apologia explaining to the Thessalonians that he was proceeding to the capital to solicit such imperial aid from Manuel Ii as might enable them ‘to stay with their Orthodox masters’. His quest was probably hopeless, and anyway he could hardly have chosen a more inappropriate moment, for within five days, first Constantinople and then Thessalonica were blockaded by Murad with a view to their siege. Symeon got no further than Mount Athos; he was persuaded to return to his see; he hints at dangers and afflictions suffered on the Holy Mountain; he must have returned by sea. From then on, as he often complains, he was virtually a prisoner on his own throne 

     “There followed over a year of mounting anguish, during which Symeon felt even more ill, until in mid-September 1423 Thessalonica was handed over to Venice by Andronikos, reluctantly but with his father Manuel’s approval. The new sources show that to the very last the saintly Archbishop resisted the hand-over; but he accepted the fait accompli and it is recorded that he enjoined obedience to the Venetian authorities as now established by God. He could hardly have done otherwise, seeing that the Palaiologi, father and son, had approved the take-over. But he never ceased to reget what had occurred, or to say so openly. It was a bitter pill for the rigorous anti-Latin to swallow: circumstances not obligated him to become the loyal supporter of a heretical regime which held him prisoner, yet described him and rewarded him as fidelissimus noster…

     “The circumstances that led up to the hand-over had been tragic… As the siege initiated in June 1423 progressed and privations and dangers began to multiply, the pro-Turkish party, the party of surrender, became vociferous an took to violence. It had nearly succeeded in betraying the city to a ferocious Turkish leader called Musa who besieged it in 1411. It saw no hope now in resistance to Murad. The majority of the people, as we learn from both Anagnostes and Symeon, wanted to capitulate to the Turks, and the Archbishop was singled out as a principal target of popular indignation, because his utter opposition was well known. Much rioting went on. One has to grasp the fact – which modern Greek patriotism tends to ignore – that apostasy to Islam was becoming a mass phenomenon; some of the tumultuous rabble must have been intending it, for the rioters, Symeon reports, threatened to drag him down and his churches with him. It was this danger that induced a group of notables to force the Despot Andronikos to call in the Venetians, since it had become evident that Byzantion could do nothing effective. But when that sole solution of the city’s predicament was proposed, Symeon rejected it too. He thus became unpopular with nearly everyone, and when during negotiations with Venice he stood up for his Church’s rights under the future Latin regime he met, he says, with ‘contemptuous treatment and disdainful insults’… So the saintly Archbishop was not only very ill, he was not even enjoying the personal respect and public honour due to him. He did succeed with difficulty in inserting into the agreement with Venice a clause guaranteeing his Church’s independence from the Latin Church. But his stand for Orthodoxy and Empire, against both Islam and the Franks, was a venerable martyrdom; he suffered agonies of frustration and humiliation, and nearly died of his distress.

     “However, under the Venetian regime from 1423 onwards he does seem gradually to have recovered some degree of respect. The party of surrender now had to keep quiet; some of its leaders had soon been arrested and exiled. The Venetians, sensing how unreliable the population was, appreciated Symeon’s outstanding resolution to resist the Turks. He became the most important citizen in their eyes. The people were soon disillusioned with their new masters and learned to appreciate better Symeon’s stand against the hand-over. But the beleagurement continued. Murad dropped the siege at Constantinople after a few months and later signed a peace with the Emperor which, onerous though it was, relieved Thrace of the ravages of war for the next twenty-nine years. But Murad refused to recognize the Venetians’ right to take over Thessalonica, and continued the blockade of the city, punctuatin his blockade with marauding skirmishes and at least one mass onslaught, the progress and final defeat of which Symeon most graphically and fully describes. In the end, Murad in person descended on Thessalonica with overwhelming force and seized it on 29 March 1430, and all its surviving inhabitants were held for slavery or ransom. Symeon himself escaped that fate by dying suddenly a little more than six months before the fatal date…”[16]


February 4/17, 2109.

[1] Thus the Emperors Manuel II and John VII were forced by the Sultan to take part in the siege of the last Byzantine city in Asia Minor, Philadelphia (Norwich, The Decline of Byantium, pp. 345-47).

[2] The Philokalia, vol. IV, translated and edited by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware, London: Faber and Faber, 1995, p. 423.

[3]According to Fr. Alexander Prapertov, he “stood at the sources of the Renaissance. One of his pupils was Petrarch himself. And another of his pupils was Leontius Pilatus, the first professor of the Greek language in Western Europe, who translated a multitude of the works of the ancient philosophers and writers (in particular, Homer’s Iliad) and was a vivid figure in the Early Renaissance. Giovanni Bocaccio learned Greek from him.” (Facebook communication, March 13, 2017)

[4]“It is perhaps the fault for which Byzantium was punished,” writes Rebecca West. “The two classes, the ‘powerful’ and the ‘poor’, fought hard from the ninth century. The small landowners and the free peasants were so constantly harried by invasion and civil war that they bartered their liberty in return for the protection of the great nobles, who took advantage of the position to absorb the small landowners’ estates and to make serfs of the free peasants. At first the monarchy fought these great nobles, and even appeared to have vanquished them. Feudalism, the exploitation of a country by its large landowners, could not exist in a declared theocracy, which implied the conception of divinely impartial justice for all individuals and every class. But when the Latins invaded the Byzantine Empire they brought with them the feudal system which was established in their own countries, and it could not be driven out with them, because the Byzantine nobles, like all the rich, would rather choke than not have their mouths full, and applauded the idea of any extension of their wealth and their power, however dangerous.” (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Edinburgh: Canongate, 2006, pp. 872-873)

[5] Diehl, in A.A. Vasiliev, A History of the Byzantine Empire, University of Wisconsin Press, 1955, p. 684.

[6] St. Gregory Palamas, Homilies; quoted in D.I. Makarov, Antropologia i Kosmologia Sv. Grigoria Palamy (The Anthropology and Cosmology of St. Gregory Palamas), St. Petersburg, 2003, pp. 403, 400. See also Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Saint Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite, Levadia: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1997, pp. 247-257.

[7] Ivan Solonevich, Narodnaia Monarkhia, Minsk, 1998, p. 77.

[8] We can see that the Byzantines had not lost the consciousness that “rebellion is as the sin of divination” (I Samuel 15.23) in the fact that, as Nikolsky writes, “an anathema against those daring to undertake rebellion was pronounced in the 11th to 14th centuries… Thus, according to the Byzantine historian Kinnamas, Andronicus Manuel fell under anathema in the 12th century. ‘This traitor, enemy of the fatherland, made frequent assaults on the Roman lands from Persia, enslaved many people and handed over much military booty to the Persians, for which he was subjected to anathema by the Church.’… But the anathematization against the rebels and traitors was in all probability not introduced by the Greeks into the Order of Orthodoxy”. (in Fomin & Fomina, Rossia pered Vtorym Prishestviem (Russia before the Second Coming), Moscow, 1994,  vol. I, p. 122).

[9] Tikhomirov, Monarkhicheskaia Gosudarstvennost’ (Monarchical Statehood), St. Petersburg, 1992,  p.163.

[10] Norwich, op. cit., p. 333.

[11] St. Symeon, in M.V. Zyzykin, Patriarkh Nikon, Warsaw: Synodal Press, 1931, part I, pp. 122-123.

[12] Runciman, The Great Church in Captivity, Cambridge University Press, 1968, pp. 71-72.

[13] Lourié, commentary on J. Meyendorff, Zhizn’ i Trudy Sviatitelia Grigoria Palamy (The Life and Works of the Holy Hierarch Gregory Palamas), St. Petersburg, 1997, pp. 396-397.

[14] St. Gregory Palamas was for a time a captive of the Turks and said of them: “This impious people [the Turks] boasts of its victory over the Romans, attributing it to their love of God. For they do not know that this world below dwells in sin, and that evil men possess the greater part of it… That is why, down to the time of Constantine, … the idolaters have almost always held power over the world.” (John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, London: Faith Press, 1964, p. 104)

[15] Cited in Vasiliev, op. cit., vol. II, p. 672.

[16] Balfour, “St. Symeon of Thessalonica: a polemical hesychast”, Sobornost’, 1982, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 1-15.

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