Bessarion bĕsâr´ēən [key], 1395?–1472, Byzantine humanist, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was a leading figure at the Council of Ferrara-Florence, which he attended as metropolitan of Nicaea. He favored ending the schism between East and West, and when the Orthodox Church refused, he joined the Roman Catholic Church and remained in Italy. He was made a cardinal in 1439, and in 1463 the pope named him patriarch of Constantinople. A projected translation into Latin of Ptolemy was completed by his protégés, Purbach and Regiomontanus. His fine collection of Greek manuscripts was the nucleus of St. Mark's library, Venice.
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