Bessarion, Cardinal Basilius


Bessarion, Cardinal Basilius
(c. 1403-1472)
    Cardinal Bessarion was one of the most important contributors to and promoters of Greek scholarship in the Renaissance. Born in Trebizond, Greece, and educated in Constantinople, Bessarion was appointed bishop of Nicea in 1437 and, in the following year, he attended the Council of Ferrara and Florence to promote the reunification of the eastern and western churches. There he gained the favor of Pope Eugenius IV who appointed him cardinal in 1439, after which he took up residence in Rome. His palace became the locus of learned discussions among the leading humanists of the era. Bessarion commissioned the translation of Greek manuscripts into Latin, making the works available to the West, and he himself translated Aristotle's Metaphysics and Xenophon's Memorabilia. He bequeathed his vast collection of Greek manuscripts to the Venetian Republic in 1468, which became the nucleus of the Library of St. Mark in Venice.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.