This research study focuses on the way in which Byzantine migrants dealt with cultural trauma during the decline of the Byzantine Empire in the fifteenth century. It focuses in particular on a discourse analysis of contemporary, intellectual figures from the network of migrants who settled in Italian cities such as Venice and Rome. The study examines two particular cases: Cardinal Bessarion and Georgius Trapezuntius. Which discursive expression did these important figures in Renaissance Italy assign to their cultural trauma and its processing, and to what extent was this responsible for both the rhetoric and efforts that helped to shape the political climate and the perceptions in the Latin West with respect to the Greek East that had been conquered by the Ottoman Turks?
It appears from this study that both Bessarion and Trapezuntius used their broad access to the various intellectual, philosophical and theological traditions (both Latin and Greek) to formulate their coping strategies for the cultural trauma that they shared. At the same time, they used their multicultural background as a way to gain control over both their Greek and Latin audiences.
Joost van den Oever studied History at Radboud University. He took his Research Master’s programme in Medieval History at Radboud University and the University of York. He completed his teacher training programme at Radboud University and since then, he has taught history and other subjects at numerous secondary schools. He has spent four years conducting his PhD research while holding a position at Radboud University’s History Department. During this time, he also studied the Arabic language and spent 18 months at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute (NVIC) in Cairo, Egypt, where he also taught at an international school.