The migration waves of
Byzantine Greek scholars and émigrés in the period following the
end of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 is considered by many scholars key to the revival of
Greek studies that led to the development of the
Renaissance humanism and
science. These émigrés brought to Western Europe the relatively well-preserved remnants and accumulated knowledge of their own (Greek) civilization, which had mostly not survived the Early Middle Ages in the West. The Encyclopædia Britannica claims: "Many modern scholars also agree that the exodus of Greeks to Italy as a result of this event marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance", although few scholars date the start of the
Italian Renaissance this late.
The main role of Byzantine scholars within
Renaissance humanism was the teaching of the
Greek language to their western counterparts in universities or privately together with the spread of ancient texts. Their forerunners were
Barlaam of Calabria (Bernardo Massari) and
Leonzio Pilato, two translators who were both born in Calabria in southern Italy and who were both educated in the Greek language. The impact of these two scholars on the humanists was indisputable.
By 1500 there was a Greek-speaking community of about 5,000 in
Venice. The Venetians also ruled
Dalmatia, and scattered islands and port cities of the former empire, the populations of which were augmented by refugees from other Byzantine provinces who preferred Venetian to Ottoman governance. Crete was especially notable for the
Cretan School of
icon-painting, which after 1453 became the most important in the Greek world.
After the peak of the
Italian Renaissance in the first decades of the 16th century, the flow of information reversed, and Greek scholars in Italy were employed to oppose Turkish expansion into former Byzantine lands in Greece, prevent the Protestant
Reformation spreading there and help bring the Eastern Churches back into communion with Rome. In 1577,
Gregory XIII founded the
Collegio Pontifico Greco as a college in
Rome to receive young Greeks belonging to any nation in which the
Greek Rite was used, and consequently for Greek refugees in
Italy as well as the
Syria. The construction of the College and Church of S. Atanasio, joined by a bridge over the Via dei Greci, was begun in that year.
Although ideas from
ancient Rome already enjoyed popularity with the scholars of the 14th century and their importance to the Renaissance was undeniable, the lessons of Greek learning brought by Byzantine intellectuals changed the course of
humanism and the Renaissance itself. While Greek learning affected all the subjects of the studia humanitatis, history and philosophy in particular were profoundly affected by the texts and ideas brought from
Byzantium. History was changed by the re-discovery and spread of Greek historians’ writings, and this knowledge of Greek historical treatises helped the subject of history become a guide to virtuous living based on the study of past events and people. The effects of this renewed knowledge of Greek history can be seen in the writings of humanists on virtue, which was a popular topic. Specifically, these effects are shown in the examples provided from Greek antiquity that displayed virtue as well as vice.
The philosophy of not only
Aristotle but also
Plato affected the Renaissance by causing debates over man’s place in the universe, the immortality of the soul, and the ability of man to improve himself through virtue. The flourishing of philosophical writings in the 15th century revealed the impact of
Greek philosophy and science on the Renaissance. The resonance of these changes lasted through the centuries following the
Renaissance not only in the writing of humanists, but also in the education and values of
Europe and western society even to the present day.
Deno Geanakopoulos in his work on the contribution of Byzantine Greek scholars to Renaissance has summarised their input into three major shifts to Renaissance thought:
in early 14th century
Florence from the early, central emphasis on rhetoric to one on metaphysical philosophy by means of introducing and reinterpretation of the Platonic texts,
and earlier in the mid 15th century in Rome, through emphasis not on any philosophical school but through the production of more authentic and reliable versions of Greek texts relevant to all fields of humanism and science and with respect to the Greek fathers of the church. Hardly less important was their direct or indirect influence on
exegesis of the
New Testament itself through Cardinal
Bessarion's inspiration of
Lorenzo Valla's biblical emendations of the Latin
vulgate in the light of the Greek text.
^Bèze, Théodore de; Summers, Kirk M. (2001). A view from the Palatine: the Iuvenilia of Théodore de Bèze. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. p. 442.
ISBN9780866982795. Demetrius Chalcondyles (1423-1511), a Greek refugee who taught Greek at Perugia, Padua, Florence, and Milan. Around 1493 he produced a Greek textbook for beginners.
^Rabil, Albert (1991). Knowledge, goodness, and power: the debate over nobility among quattrocento Italian humanists. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies. p. 197.
ISBN978-0-86698-100-2. John Argyropoulos (ca. 1415-87) played a prominent role in the revival of Greek philosophy in Italy. He came to Italy permanently in 1457 and held
^Bunson, Matthew (2004). OSV's encyclopedia of Catholic history. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. p. 141.
ISBN978-1-59276-026-8. BESSARION, JOHN (c. 1395-1472) + Greek scholar, cardinal, and statesman. One of the foremost figures in the rise of the intellectual Renaissance in the
^The Italian renaissance in its historical background, Denis Hay Cambridge University Press 1976
^Maria Constantoudaki-Kitromilides in From Byzantium to El Greco,p.51-2, Athens 1987, Byzantine Museum of Arts
^De Meester, "Le Collège Pontifical Grec de Rome", Rome, 1910
^Constantinople and the West by Deno John Geanakopulos- Italian Renaissance and thought and the role of Byzantine emigres scholars in Florence, Rome and Venice: A reassessment University of Wisconsin Press, 1989
^From Byzantium to Italy: Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance. by N. G. Wilson The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 743-744
^Eight philosophers of the Italian Renaissance, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Stanford University Press,1964
^Constantinople and the West by Deno John Geanakopulos- Italian Renaissance and thought and the role of Byzantine emigres scholars in Florence,
Venice: A reassessment University of Wisconsin Press, 1989
^Boehm, Eric H. (1995). Historical abstracts: Modern history abstracts, 1450-1914, Volume 46, Issues 3-4. American Bibliographical Center of ABC-Clio. p. 755.
OCLC701679973. Between the 15th and 19th centuries the University of Padua attracted a great number of Greek students who wanted to study medicine. They came not only from Venetian dominions (where the percentage reaches 97% of the students of Italian universities) but also from Turkish-occupied territories of Greece. Several professors of the School of Medicine and Philosophy were Greeks, including Giovanni Cottunio, Niccolo Calliachi, Giorgio Calafatti...
^Convegno internazionale nuove idee e nuova arte nell '700 italiano, Roma, 19-23 maggio 1975. Accademia nazionale dei Lincei. 1977. p. 429.
OCLC4666566. Nicolò Duodo riuniva alcuni pensatori ai quali Andrea Musalo, oriundo greco, professore di matematica e dilettante di architettura chiariva le nuove idée nella storia dell'arte.
^Feller, François-Xavier de (1782). Dictionnaire historique, Volume 2. Mathieu Rieger fils. p. 18.
OCLC310948713. CALLIACHI, (Nicolas) grec de Candie, y naquit en 1645. Il profefla les belles
^Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Institut für Griechisch-Römische Altertumskunde, Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Zentralinstitut für Alte Geschichte und Archäologie (1956). Berliner byzantinistische Arbeiten, Volume 40. Akademie-Verlag. pp. 209–210. John Cigala (born at Nicosia 1622). He studied at the College of Saint Athanasios, Rome (1635–1642), which he graduated as Doctor of Philosophy and Theology and at which he taught Greek successfully for eight years (1642–1650). From Rome he moved to Venice, where he practised law for a short time, therefore he may have also studied law. – In 1666 he was appointed Professor of Philosophy and Logic at the University of Padova. In 1678 he was appointed Professor to the second chair of Philosophy of the same University and in 1687 (214) to the first. From some time before 1678 he had also been censor of the books published by the S. Ufficio, Venice, which presupposed his Catholic loyalty, actually praised by D' Alviani. His Greek and theological wisdom, his modesty, piety and other humane virtues are praised by Petin, Nicholas Bouboulios and D' Alviani. In 1685 he appears as bestman at the marriage of Antonia daughter of Const. Tzane the Cretan painter to Mario Botza. Some of his epigrams have survived published in books of other scholars. Because of his duties as censor he seems to have lived in Venice from time to time. He died on the 5/11/1687.
^Merry, Bruce (2004). Encyclopedia of modern Greek literature. Greenwood Publishing Group. p.
ISBN978-0-313-30813-0. Leonardos Filaras (1595–1673) devoted much of his career to coaxing Western European intellectuals to support Greek liberation. Two letters from Milton (1608–1674) attest Filaras's ptriiotic crusade.