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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, the [[cathedra]]-in-exile for Manuel, as Patriarch of Constantinople, was in Nicea. It was during Manuel's 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.