Bessarion's date of birth: A new assessment of the evidence
641 - 658
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The cardinal Bessarion was a foremost figure of the Italian Renaissance and late Byzantium. However, some of the details of his life are not yet securely established, especially his date of birth. Over the last century, scholars have proposed dates ranging from 1400 to 1408. In this study, I critically interrogate the two most commonly accepted dates (1400 and 1408). In the past, scholars have relied on the age requirements of canon law or the testimony of Italian observers to determine Bessarion's age. By critically examining the validity of these two assumptions, I reprioritize the evidence, approximating the cardinal's year of birth as 1403.