Empire of Trebizond

Empire of Trebizond
Flag of Trebizond
Double-headed eagle flag as depicted in Western portolans[2]
Map of the Empire of Trebizond shortly after the foundation of the Latin Empire in 1204, featuring the short-lived conquests in western Anatolia by David Komnenos (later reconquered by the Empire of Nicaea) and Sinope (later conquered by the Sultanate of Rum).
Map of the Empire of Trebizond shortly after the foundation of the Latin Empire in 1204, featuring the short-lived conquests in western Anatolia by David Komnenos (later reconquered by the Empire of Nicaea) and Sinope (later conquered by the Sultanate of Rum).
Common languages
Greek Orthodoxy
Notable emperors1 
• 1204–1222
Alexios I
• 1238–1263
Manuel I
• 1280–1297
John II
• 1349–1390
Alexios III
• 1459–1461
Historical eraLate Middle Ages
12 April 1204
• Submission to the Mongol Empire
• Permanent loss of Sinope
15 August 1461[1]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byzantine Empire
(Angelos dynasty)
Ottoman Empire
Genoese Gazaria
Principality of Theodoro
1 the full title of the Trapezuntine emperors after 1282 was "the faithful Basileus and Autokrator of All the East, the Iberians and Perateia"

The Empire of Trebizond (Greek: Αυτοκρατορία της Τραπεζούντας), or Trapezuntine Empire, was a monarchy and one of three successor rump states of the Byzantine Empire, along with the Despotate of the Morea and the Principality of Theodoro, that flourished during the 13th through to the 15th century, consisting of the far northeastern corner of Anatolia (the Pontus) and the southern Crimea. The empire was formed in 1204 with the help of the Georgian queen Tamar after the Georgian expedition in Chaldia and Paphlagonia,[3] commanded by Alexios Komnenos a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople. Alexios later declared himself Emperor and established himself in Trebizond (modern day Trabzon, Turkey). Alexios and David Komnenos, grandsons and last male descendants of deposed Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, pressed their claims as "Roman emperors" against Byzantine Emperor Alexios V Doukas. The later Byzantine emperors, as well as Byzantine authors, such as George Pachymeres, Nicephorus Gregoras and to some extent Trapezuntines such as John Lazaropoulos and Basilios Bessarion, regarded the emperors of Trebizond as the "princes of the Lazes", while the possession of these "princes" was also called Lazica.[3][8] Thus from the point of view of the Byzantine writers connected with the Laskaris and later with the Palaiologos dynasties, the rulers of Trebizond were not emperors.[3]

After the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade overthrew Alexios V and established the Latin Empire, the Empire of Trebizond became one of three Byzantine successor states to claim the imperial throne, alongside the Empire of Nicaea under the Laskaris family and the Despotate of Epirus under a branch of the Angelos family.[9] The ensuing wars saw the Empire of Thessalonica, the imperial government that sprang from Epirus, collapse following conflicts with Nicaea and Bulgaria and the final recapture of Constantinople by the Empire of Nicaea in 1261. Despite the Nicaean reconquest of Constantinople, the Emperors of Trebizond continued to style themselves as "Roman emperors" for two decades and continued to press their claim on the Imperial throne. Emperor John II of Trebizond officially gave up the Trapezuntine claim to the Roman imperial title and Constantinople itself 21 years after the Nicaeans recaptured the city, altering his imperial title from "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" to "Emperor and Autocrat of all the East, Iberia and Perateia".[10]

The Trapezuntine monarchy survived the longest among the Byzantine successor states. The Despotate of Epirus had ceased to contest the Byzantine throne even before the Nicaean reconquest and was briefly occupied by the restored Byzantine Empire c. 1340, thereafter becoming a Serbian dependency later inherited by Italians, ultimately falling to the Ottoman Empire in 1479. Whilst the Empire of Nicaea had restored the Byzantine Empire through restoring control of the capital, it ended in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans. Trebizond lasted until 1461 when the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II conquered it after a month-long siege and took its ruler and his family into captivity.[11] The Crimean Principality of Theodoro, an offshoot of Trebizond, lasted another 14 years, falling to the Ottomans in 1475.

  1. ^ This is the date determined by Franz Babinger, "La date de la prise de Trébizonde par les Turcs (1461)", Revue des études byzantines, 7 (1949), pp. 205–207 doi:10.3406/rebyz.1949.1014
  2. ^ Androudis, Pascal (2017). "Présence de l'aigle bicéphale en Trebizonde et dans la principauté grecque de Théodoro en Crimée (XIVe-XVe siècles)" (PDF). Byzantiaka (in French). 34: 179–218. ISSN 1012-0513.
  3. ^ a b c d Vasiliev, A. A. (1936). "The Foundation of the Empire of Trebizond 1204–1222". Speculum. 11 (1): 3–37. doi:10.2307/2846872. JSTOR 2846872. S2CID 162791512.
  4. ^ Ostrogorsky, G., Ιστορία του Βυζαντινού κράτους 3 (Athens 1997), pp. 102, 305.
  5. ^ Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Laz "Though Greek in higher culture, the rural areas of Trebizond empire appear to have been predominantly Laz in ethnic composition."
  6. ^ Rustam Shukurov (2016). The Byzantine Turks, 1204-1461. p. 289. A remarkable feature of the Pontic situation in that some groups of nomad apparently wandered Trapezuntine territories as subjects of the Grand Komnenoi. According to Brendemoen, by the 14th century, a group of Pontic nomads was bilingual and spoke both Turkic and Greek. In addition to the case of the Christian Çepni, this is substantiated by linguistic data. Moreover, the earliest Turkic dialect of the Pontos was based on the Aqqoyunlu Turkic dialect under the influence of Pontic Greek.
  7. ^ Cite error: The named reference Hewsen47 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  8. ^ Karl von Hahn, Известия древних греческих и римских писателей о Кавказе, II, pp. 205–210
  9. ^ Alexander A. Vasiliev (1958), History of the Byzantine Empire, Vol 2. 324–1453, second edition (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, p. 506: "... on the territory of the disintegrated eastern empire, three independent Greek centers were formed; The empire of Nicaea and the empire of Trebizond in Asia Minor and the Despotat of Epirus in Northern Greece."
  10. ^ "Establishment of the Empire of Trebizond by the Grand Komnenoi, 1204". Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor. Foundation of the Hellenic World. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  11. ^ William Miller, Trebizond: The last Greek Empire of the Byzantine Era: 1204–1461, 1926 (Chicago: Argonaut, 1969), pp. 100–106

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