Refugees and international networks after the fall of Constantinople (1453-1475)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Downloads (Pure)


This article will investigate the extent to which the contacts made by Byzantine envoys to western Europe from 1394 onwards were later exploited by them and by their families to secure a safe haven following the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It will examine first the case of Italy and some examples which have been addressed by previous scholarship as well as one less well-documented case. It will then consider whether the same link between envoys and refugees can be discerned in other western countries, taking England as a case study. Byzantine envoys were active there from 1398 and there is also plenty of evidence for the presence of refugees from 1455. The envoys apparently enjoyed very cordial relations with the English court which in turn led to a romanticised view of England in Byzantine literary circles as a place of safety. An attempt will then be made to identify individuals at the English court who might have had contact with the envoys, focusing on the Neville family. Two members were in positions of influence at the time that the Byzantine delegations were in the country while another was later a patron of a number of refugees. The article will then assess whether the earlier contact with the family could have been a factor in motivating refugees to travel to England as well as considering other explanations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-85
JournalThe English Historical Review
Issue number585
Early online date29 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Byzantium
  • Byzantine
  • Ottoman
  • Renaissance
  • Refugees
  • Constantinople

Cite this