Little is known of the early life of Patr. Manuel. Before Constantinople fell to the Latins in 1204 during the [[Fourth Crusade]], Manuel was a [[deacon]] and ''maistor ton philosophon'' (master of the rhetors) in Constantinople, which is likely the source of his epithet "the Philosopher" by which he apparently was known by the people.<ref>George Akropolites (Ruth Macrides, ed). ''The History''. Oxford: University Press, 2007. pp. 159-160.</ref>.
After Constantinople fell to the Latins in 1204,
Patr. Manuel moved his offices to Nicea. It was during his patriarchate in Nicea that St. [[Sava of Serbia|Sava]] persuaded Patr. Manuel to establish the independence of the [[Church of Serbia]]. This, he did by [[consecration of a bishop|consecrating]] Sava as the first [[archbishop]] of Serbia on [[December 6]], 1219, and thus established the [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] Orthodox Church of Serbia.