Palaiologos: the emperor who called Islam evil and inhumane

Manuel Palaiologos, 1350-1425, Byzantine emperor (1391-1425), son and successor of John V

He isn't exactly a household name. And until Pope Benedict's speech, few will have heard of Manuel II Palaeologus, the medieval Christian ruler and scholar who described Islam as 'evil and inhuman'.

Emperor, poet, theologian and dad - he married the daughter of a Serbian despot and had seven children - Manuel II was probably not the most objective observer of the Muslim world.

Born on 27 June 1350, he spent most of his career trying to stop his Byzantine empire from falling into the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Largely, he didn't succeed. The Ottomans, a Turkish warrior tribe, had begun chipping away at his Byzantine frontiers a century earlier. They sent pirates into the Aegean, and reached Europe in 1308. By the time Manuel II ascended the throne in 1391 the Ottomans had already overrun most of Asia Minor. Muslim colonists had overwhelmed Greek settlements.

Manuel II wrote the unhappy letter quoted by the Pope around 1391, shortly after escaping from the Ottoman court where he had been held prisoner. A few years later the Ottomans turned up on his doorstep, laying siege to his imperial capital, Constantinople. The Ottomans called off their siege only five years later.

In 1399 Manuel made an unsuccessful journey to Rome, Paris and London. His aim was to get help in his lifelong struggle against Islam from the Christian West. His best efforts failed although Manuel then enjoyed a brief period of respite before the Ottomans besieged Constantinople again in 1422. One of his last acts as emperor was to sign a humiliating treaty agreeing to pay tribute to the Ottoman sultan. He died on 21 July 1425. The Turks finally conquered Constantinople in 1453. They went on to engulf much of south-east Europe.
Luke Harding,,1874385,00.html

今引用した部分は、John Hooper “Pope Benedict's long mission to confront radical Islam”という記事の附録のようなものだが、この記事はベネディクト16世イスラームに対するスタンスについて手短に纏めている。また、この記事には世界各地のリアクションの一部が紹介されているのだが、その中でムスリム以外のものとしては、埃及コプト派指導者のものがある;

'Any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against Christ's teachings.'
Egypt's Christian Coptic Pope Shenouda III