Educated in Constantinople, studied Neoplatonism with Gemistius Pletho in Greece, 1423.
Abbot of a monastery in Constantinople; 1436; metropolitan of Nicaea Patriarch of Constantinople, 1463; Byzantine delegation to Council of Ferrara-Florence.
Aristotle, Metaphysics (trans.) Xenophon, Memorabilia Adversus calumniator Platonis 5 vols.
Cardinal Bessarion was the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, though he maintained his interest in Neoplatonism. Upon committing to the monk's life, he assumed the name Bessarion after the anchorite Bessarion. Originally an anti-unionist, he became a unionist, he accompanied the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaeologus, who had recently appointed him metropolitan of Nicaea, to Italy on a mission to repair the schism of 1054 and reconcile the Western and Eastern churches. His unionism, like that of John VIII, was thought to be a hedge against the incursions of the Turks.
He bequeathed his collection of more than 900Greek MSS to the Bibliotheca Mariona in Venice.
L. Möhler, Kardial Bessarion als Theologe, Humanist und Staatsmann (1923-42); L. Labowsky, Diz. Blog. Ital., s.v.