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BESOLDUS


527


BESSARION


1686; d. 1763. Ordained in 1715, he received the doctorate of the Sorbonne tliree years later. He was also assistant principal of the College of Plessis, but his defence of Jansenism and his opposition to the Bull "Unigenitus" obliged him to resign the post. In 1729, the Sorbonne erased him from the list of Doc- tors and, in 1731, he was exiled from Paris. During the following year he was allowed to return. He wrote a "History of the Abbey of Port Royal" (6 vols.), and "Lives of the Four Bishops engaged in the case of Port Royal". We have also from his pen two works on Scripture: "Concorde des livres de la Sagesse" (Paris, 1737), reprinted in Migne's "Cursus Completus" (XVIII) and "Morale des Apotres ou Concorde des ^pitres de saint Paul et des epitres canoniques du N. T. " (Paris, 1747).

Memoire but la vie et lea ouvrages de Jerdme Besoigrie (Paris, 1763); QnERABD, La France litteraire (Paris, 1827), I, 315-316; Heurtebize in Diet, de thcol, cath., with a list of his Jansen- istic writings; Key in Diet, de la Bible.

John Corbett.

Besoldus, Christopher, a German jurist and publicist, b. of Protestant parents in 1577 at Tubin- gen, Wiirtemberg; d. 15 September, 1638 at Ingol- stadt, Bavaria. He studied jurisprudence and graduated as Doctor of Law in 1598; and in 1610 be- came professor of law at Tubingen. He was held in high regard as a teacher, and his counsel was fre- quently sought in juridical questions by the civil administration. His studies extended beyond his specialty; he acquired the knowledge of nine lan- guages; perused the Scriptures, the writings of the Fathers, and of the medieval mystics. His inclination towards the Catholic religion grew with his knowledge of it. He was publicly converted at Heilbronn in 1635. Two years later, he accepted the chair of Roman Law at the L'niversity of Ingolstadt. He was considering the offer of a professorship at the Uni- versity of Bologna, tendered him by Pope Urban VIII, when he died. On his death-bed he conjured his wife to embrace the Catholic faith; three months later she was received into the Church with her eight-year old daughter. The nobleness of character and erudition of Besoldus have been recognized even by his op- ponents, although an attempt was made to ascribe his conversion to interested motives. His works are very numerous. His publication of three volumes of documents from the Stuttgart archives gave offence because their contents tended to prove that the im- mediate dependency of the Wiirtemberg monasteries on the Empire {Reichsunmittelbarkeit) impUed for the local dukes the obligation of restoring the confiscated religious property. His writings are important for the history of the causes of the Thirty Years War.

Ras.s. Convertiten (Freiburg, 1867), V, 310-328; Gcnter, Religionsedikt von 1629 (Stuttgart, 1902). 294-306; Stintzing, Geach. d. deutichen Rechtswissensch. (1880), I, 692 8qq.;STEM- mer-Bruck in Kirchenlex.. II, 526-528.

N. A. Weber.

Bessarion, Johannes (or Basilids), Cardinal, b. at Trebizond, 1389, or according to others, 1395, but most probably in 1403; d. at Ravenna 18 Novem- ber, 1472. Some claim illustrious parentage for him, but as to this nothing certain is known. In 1413, while still very young, he was sent to Constantinople, where he devoted himself to study, achieving great success in the field of letters. In 1423 he entered the Order of St. Basil and in the same year was .sent to the Peloponnesus to study philosophy under Gemistus Pletho. It is known that Pletho was a bitter op- ponent of Aristotle, ;igainst whom he championed with immoderate zeal the doctrines of Plato, with- out, however, distinguishing between genuine Platon- ism and neo-Platonism. The lessons of Pletho, though making Bessarion a follower of Plato, did not prevent him from perceiving the many points of contact between the two philosophers, ana, during


Johannes, Cardinal


the revival of ancient learning, constantly defending the harmonizing of the two systems; he criticized the unrestrained partisanship of his master quite as much as that of Michael Apostolius. His learning and eloquence soon excited the admiration and re- spect of all and brought him, within a short space of time, various ec- clesiastical digni- ties. In 1436 he was made Bishop of NicEea, but was not destined to see his diocese, how- ever, as the em- peror, John VIII Palaeologus, had h i m accompany him to the Coun- cil of Ferrara, which they reached 4 March, 143.S. Here his dignity and touching elo- quence, as well a.s his vast theolog- ical erudition, gave h i m such great authority among the Greek bishops that the happy issue of the council — the reunion with the Latin Church — may be attributed in great part to him. This was fully recognized, as on 6 July, 14.39, in the cathedral of Florence, to which the council had been transferred, he was commissioned to read the Greek redaction of the Act of Lnion.

Bessarion returned to Greece, but during the same year is found once more at Florence with Eugenius IV, who, in the consistory of 18 December, 1439 (accord- ing to others 8 January, 1440), created him cardinal of the title of the Twelve Holy Apostles. At the same time another Greek, Archbishop Isidore, re- ceived the sacred purple. The brief duration of the union of the churches is well known. Bessarion him- self, having changed to the Latin Rite was cordially hated by the schismatic Greeks. This notwithstand- ing, Bessarion continued to work zealously for the union of the other Oriental schismatic churches, the Jacobites and Ethiopians (1442), the Syrians (1444), the Chaldeans and Maronites (1445). At this time, also, to refute the accusations of Marcus of Ephesus, against the council, he wrote the book: "De successu synodi florentins". Nicholas V, like Eugenius IV, gave evidence of the great regard in which he held the Greek scholar. In 1449 he made him Bishop of Ulazzara and in the same year conferred on him the suburbicarian See of Sabina, for which that of Frascati was shortly after substituted. In the fol- lowing year he was sent as papal legate to Bologna, a city torn by constant factional quarrels. In the Brief of appointment of 26 February, 1450, the pope says he is sending Bessarion tamquam angelum pads, and expresses the hope that with his experience and prudence he may be able to govern the city in peace.

Bessarion continued as governor of Bologna for five years, achieving complete success in calming the internal discord. Not satisfied with that, he intro- duced wise reforms into the city government and in the administration of justice. Above all he lavished all his attention and generosity on the university, Bologna's greatest glory, restoring the building which threatened to fall into ruins. He gathered there as teachers the most famous professors of the time, supplying at his own expense the deficiencies. in their honoraria, and encouraging with munificence particularly the study of the classics. Thus, he gathered about him a court of poets and men of letters. He was cordial to all, even the lowliest; by