The New International Encyclopædia/Bessarion, Johannes
BESSA'RION, Johannes, or BASIL'IUS (1395-1472). A Greek scholar. He was born at Trebizond, on the Black Sea, 1395. He is remembered as one of the earliest of those scholars who, in the Fifteenth Century, transplanted Greek literature and philosophy into the West, and rescued the mind of Christendom from the trammels of scholasticism. Bessarion imbibed his love of Plato's writings from his tutor, Gemistus Pletho. He became a Basilian monk; in 1437 Archbishop of Nicæa, and in 1438 accompanied the Greek Emperor, John VII. Palæologus, to Italy, and effected, at the Council of Florence in 1439, a union between the Greek and Roman Churches, which, however, was of short duration. Soon afterwards he joined the Roman Church, but always retained a glowing love of his native land. He was made cardinal by Pope Eugenius IV. in 1439. Ten years after Nicholas V. created him Cardinal-Bishop of Sabina, and in the same year Bishop of Frascati. He was Papal legate at Bologna (1451-55). After the fall of Constantinople (1453), Bessarion visited Germany, and at the diets of Nuremberg, Worms, and Vienna endeavored to promote a crusade against the Turks. In 1463 he was made titular Patriarch of Constantinople by Pius II. In philosophy he professed to be a follower of Plato, but without depreciation of Aristotle. His writings consisted of Latin translations of Greek authors, etc. He died at Ravenna, November 19, 1472. Consult: Inventaire des manuscrits grecs et latins donnés a Saint-Marc de Venise par le cardinal Bessarion en 1468 (Venice, 1894); and for his life, Henri Vast (Paris, 1878). His works are in Migne, Pat. Gr., CLXI.