In their survey of Augustine and Byzantium, Papanikolaou and Demacopoulos give a handy sketch of Emperor Michael VIII. Here’s what they have to say:
Michael assumed the throne of the Empire of Nicaea in 1261 and of Byzantium (upon his successful capture of Constantinople) in 1263. He held that position until his death in 1282. As one of the stipulations for lasting union pronounced at the Second Council of Lyon in 1274, the Latin fathers were to be translated into Greek so that the eastern Church could conform to the teachings of the West.
Michael VIII was not necessarily a charming fellow. The Byzantine elite loved to humiliate those beneath them, especially their enemies, and Michael was no different. Elizabeth Fisher, another contributor to Orthodox Readings of Augustine, has this to say about one of Michael’s less noble acts:
Michael VIII ordered ten opponents of the union to be roped together, laden with sheep entrails and dung, and led through the city, with [Manuel] Holobolos [a rhetorician and critic of Michael VIII] as their leader. Holobolos was further humiliated by blows to the mouth with sheep’s livers.
You gotta love those golden ages.