Volume III - Church History

Fourteenth Century

John Cantakuzenos

The 14th century in Byzantium was also dominated by the remarkable John VI Cantakuzenos (c. 1295–1383). He was a close friend and advisor of Emperor Andronicos Paleologos (r. 1328–1341). In 1347, after a six-year civil war, he agreed to rule as co-emperor with John V Paleologos (r. 1341–1391), who was Andronicos’s son. A capable theologian, John Cantakuzenos called and presided at the Third Palamite Council in 1351.

Cantakuzenos also actively encouraged Byzantine theologians to learn Latin in order to carefully study the Scholastic writings emerging from Western Europe, in anticipation of a non-politically motivated theological dialogue with the Roman Catholics that he hoped would lead to the reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches. He and his group hoped that such reunion would be based on the one Faith of the undivided Church of the first thousand years, rather than on the Eastern Church being pressured into accepting Papal authority in order to receive military help against the enemies of the Byzantine Empire. Sadly, such an unpressured dialogue never took place between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches until the second half of the twentieth century.