The Catholic church in Constantinople, 1204-1453

Charles A. Frazee


The formation of Latin colonies in Constantinople began as a result of
Italian commercial expansion eastward in the tenth century. While Westerners
from all parts of Europe were present, the largest colonies were made up of
citizens of Amalfi, Venice, Pisa and Genoa. All were allowed to bring their
own Latin clergy into the Byzantine capital and were assigned churches for
Western Catholic worship. At the time of the Fourth Crusade the Catholics became a ruling minority in Constantinople and profited from the entry of numerous Western regular clergy into their midst. When the Latin Kingdom was extinguished, the Catholics did not suffer any grave consequences, because Galata became a Genoese preserve and the Latin churches concentrated here. Throughout the Palaeologian period, the Catholics continued to thrive, despite the popular anti-Latin sentiments of the Greek population, because of the necessities of Byzantine foreign policy. At the time of the Ottoman conquest Galata made its peace with Mehmet II, thus escaping destruction, but other Latins contributed significantly to the defense of the capital.

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