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The chapter focuses on Manuel's reign in Thessalonike between 1382–87. It is argued that in contrast to his earlier despotate in Thessalonike, Manuel established a separatist reign that was in rebellion with Constantinople. Topics discussed include the siege of Thessalonike by the Ottomans, the emergence of Manuel's literary networks, the literary features of his letters from the period, his chief characteristics as a ruler and his intimate friendship with Demetrios Kydones. It is argued that Manuel's taxation policies further alienated the citizens from his cause, while his reign in Thessalonike also witnessed to his early clashes with ecclesiastics. Manuel's stance towards the Ottoman siege of Thessalonike receives special attention; it is argued that his refusal to surrender the city partially stemmed from his desire to save face. In the chapter, Manuel's Discourse to Thessalonians is analysed with regards to its political messages, literary features and reliance on Aristotelian ethics.
The chapter focuses on Manuel's travels in Western Europe (1399–1402). It discusses at length the political aspects of his presence at the English, French and Italian courts, offering new interpretations of the events. Other topics are Manuel's personal experiences in Europe, and his letters and interactions with prominent European figures of the time. Manuel's use of relics as diplomatic gifts receives further attention. The Procession of the Holy Spirit, a theological treatise penned by the emperor at time, is analysed at length with regard to its literary features, connections to the other treatises of time and Manuel's theological thought. Other shorter writings from the same period are also investigated. The chapter ends with the defeat of the Ottomans by Tamerlane and Manuel's subsequent return to Constantinople.
The chapter focuses on Manuel's childhood and adolescence. His education, upbringing, relations with family and relatives, and childhood memories are discussed through his own writings and other sources. The inital relationship between Manuel and his teacher Demetrios Kydones is traced. The political, socio-economic and cultural background for Manuel's reign is set. The chapter concludes with Manuel's voyage to Buda in 1369 and his later literary representation of the episode.
The chapter covers the blockade of Constantinople, 1394–1402. Topics discussed include Late Byzantine Constantinople, the socio-economic conditions during the siege of 1394–1402 and Manuel's political acts, his negotiations with Venice and his role in the Crusade of Nikopolis receive special attention. In the domestic spehere, Manuel's role in the anti-Palamite purges of 1369 and his stance towards Palamism is discussed at length. A little known work by Manuel, the Discourse to Iagoup, is analysed in light of Manuel's aversion to criticism, his views on Palamism, Orthodox and Catholic theology and the relationship between philosophy and theology. Once more, his self-representation and the political messages in the work, are taken into account. His Dialogue on Marriage is also analysed, focusing on its literary features, the representation of Manuel and John VII, and its political messages. Through the Dialogue and other works, Manuel's views on marriage are discussed. Finally, the chapter investigates Manuel's diplomatic relations with the West and his decision to travel to Europe to seek help.
The chapter covers the years 1403–16. The first part of the chapter deals with Manuel's daily life, including his life at the palace, daily routine and pastimes, followed by discussions of Manuel's court, government and his relationship with members of the elite. Through his own writings and various other primary sources, Manuel's style of governing and his perception of his imperial rank is further investigated. With regard to his political activities, Manuel's clashes with his nephew John VII, and his participation in the affairs of Thessalonike and the Morea occupy a prominent place in the chapter. The Funeral Oration is analysed from a literary point of view, while a section of the chapter offers a general assessment of Manuel as an author. Finally, Manuel's involvement in the ecclesiastical controversy of 1409 and his polemics with Makarios of Ankyra receive extensive treatment.
The introduction sets forth the goals and the methodologies of the study. It reviews the previous scholarship on Manuel II Palaiologos and explains the contributions made by this book. While setting the scholarly background of the book, previous studies on Late Byzantine political and socio-economic history, Byzantine literature, Byzantine philosophy and theology are discussed in relation to Manuel's biography. By relying on studies on historical biography writing and some select examples from historical biographies of Western medieval rulers, the metholodology for writing Manuel's biography is established. The sources used in the biography are introduced and their chief characteristics are discussed.
The chapter focuses on Manuel's early reign, 1391–94. Manuel's participation in the Ottoman campaign is discussed at length, focusing on his relationship with Bayezid I and on the literary, political and autobiographical features of his letters from the campaign. His anti-Islamic work, the Dialogue with a Persian is analysed at length with regard to its theological content, literary features and Manuel's representations of himself and the Ottomans. Manuel's marriage to Helena Dragas, his relations with his nephew and rival John VII, the birth of the future John VIII are other topics that are covered. His governing style, political strategies and preoccupation with finances is extensively discussed through exploration of Manuel's official documents and Venetian Senate resolutions. The chapter ends with Manuel and Bayezid's clash in Serres in 1394, the commencement of the blockade of Constantinople and his later narration of these events.
Manuel II Palaiologos had a tumultuous but rich life. At the crossroads of Byzantine, Ottoman and Western medieval history, he witnessed many significant events and moments, and his path crossed with many celebrated historical figures. This biography sought to depict Manuel II Palaiologos as a multi-faceted ruler and author by tracing his life from childhood to his death and focusing on his person instead of the history of his reign. In order to achieve this goal, this book has explored Manuel’s complete oeuvre for the first time, discussing some aspects of his literary style, his self-representation, his portrayal of characters and the various messages that he imbedded into his work. Through his writings and other sources, I have attempted to gain insight into Manuel’s thoughts and feelings, as well as his reactions to events, the environment and the people around him. This book has attempted to portray Manuel as a personality by offering the reader glimpses of him as opposed to providing yet another narration of the events of his reign.