Dominican expertise in the Latin-Greek controversy.

The anonymous Tractatus contra Graecos (1252): Critical edition and reception up to the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438–1445)


The 13th century is a central period in the history of the relations between Latins and Greeks, between the churches of the West and the East. Research generally sees the Sack of Constantinople by Latin crusaders in 1204 and the subsequent establishment of the Latin Empire (1204–1261) as pivotal events in the history of conflicts between the Latin West and the Greek East. Against the backdrop of their purpose in evangelisation and mission and facilitated by their structure across the region, the then newly-established mendicant orders played a vital role within the literary and theological controversy with the Greeks. The requested project focuses on a key work of Greek-Latin controversial theology, the so-called Tractatus contra Graecos (incipit: Licet grecorum ecclesiam), which was written in Constantinople in 1252 by an erudite anonymous Dominican, who was well versed in Greek theology and language. As initial research and a first examination of the manuscript tradition of the treatise indicates, the work, which has been available to today’s scientific community only as an erroneous transcription dating back to 1616, was widely used in the context of the councils of Basel (1431–1449) and Ferrara-Florence (1438–1445), which hints at its major influence within the medieval attempts to restore church unity.

The project aims at reaching two objectives, which demonstrate the innovative potential of this Dominican treatise for East-West relations between the 13th and the 15th century on two levels: (1) By providing a new critical edition of the Tractatus contra Graecos (including a German translation), which will serve as reliable textual basis for future research, we react to a desideratum which has been repeatedly and urgently expressed within the scientific community. (2) The evidently broad reception of the work in the Middle Ages likewise speaks for the anonymous Dominican’s impact on the Latin-Greek dialogue at the onset of Early Modern History: This history of reception will be traced up to and especially on the Council of Ferrara-Florence in the mid-15th century.

Involved research institutions and researchers: