Greek refugees and immigrants in Western Europe during the Fifteenth Century

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This thesis is concerned with the refugees from Constantinople and elsewhere in the Greek-speaking world who migrated to the West as a result of the disruption caused by the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The work is based largely on unpublished documentary material drawn from archives in England, France and Italy.The First and Second Chapters give an account of the two factors which motivated the refugees: the Turkish conquest and the fact that many Byzantines had come to admire the West and to look to it for help against the Turks. Chapter Three examines how the expectations of the émigrés were not always fulfilled by focusing on their experiences in Rome. Chapter Four assesses the degree of sympathy with which Westerners viewed the Byzantines and the factors which shaped their attitudes. Chapter Five demonstrates how, although many of the refugees visited Western Europe only temporarily to gather alms, others came to settle. The areas in which they congregated and the means by which they supported themselves are discussed: many served as soldiers and held high office in the Church. Chapter Six suggests that some of them may have possessed skills which were in short supply in some localities and shows how a thorough knowledge of the classical Greek language secured a welcome for Byzantine scholars not only in Italy, but also north of the Alps. Chapter Seven continues the same theme, arguing that the immigrants brought advanced expertise in shipbuilding, medicine and the manufacture of gold thread. In this way, they not only secured a position for themselves but also passed on something of their own culture to their adopted countries. The thesis concludes with four Appendices containing the texts of three relevant documents and a list of names of refugees found in the sources.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of London
  • Chrysostomides, Julian, Supervisor, External person
Award date28 Feb 1993
Publication statusUnpublished - 1993

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