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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The fall of Byzantium

The conversion to Catholicism of Emperor John V


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In 1367 Pope Urban V decided to move from Avignon to Rome. On his way to the Eternal City he was met by Byzantine envoys who notified him that the Emperor was anxious to adopt Catholicism and for this purpose was ready to come to Rome. John V arrived in Rome by sea, via Naples. That John in his decision to adopt Catholicism had no support from the Byzantine Church is clear from the fact that among the high officials who accompanied him to Rome there was not a single representative of the Byzantine clergy. In October 1369, in Rome, he solemnly read aloud his confession of faith in full accordance with the dogmas of the Roman Catholic church. In the temple of St. Peter the pope celebrated a solemn service during which John V once more read the confession of faith and confirmed again the dogma that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and Son, and that the pope was the head of all Christians. On the same day the Emperor dined with the pope; all the cardinals were invited to the table. Through Naples and Venice, the Emperor returned to Constantinople. His stay at Venice ended in humiliation. He was arrested by the Venetians as an insolvent debtor and released only when his noble and energetic son, the future Emperor Manuel, came in person to Venice and redeemed his father. Shortly after the Emperor's departure, Pope Urban V returned to Avignon.

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