The Empire of Trebizond: 1204-1461

Map courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

The Empire of Trebizond (Gr: Βασίλειον τής Τραπεζούντας) was a Byzantine Greek successor state of the Byzantine Empire founded in 1204 after the capture of Constantinople following the Fourth Crusade. The empire was formed with the help of Queen Tamar of Georgia who provided troups to her nephews Alexios I and his brother David who conquered the Pontic Greek city of Trebizond, Sinope and Paphlagonia. It is often known as "the last Greek Empire".

When Constantinople fell in 1204 to the western European and Venetian Crusaders, the Empire of Trebizond was one of the three smaller Greek states that emerged from the wreckage along with the Empire of Nicaea and the Despotate of Epirus. Alexios, a grandson of Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, made Trebizond his capital and asserted a claim to be the legitimate successor of the Byzantine Empire. The empire waged an unending economic, political and military war against other interests along the Black Sea coastline from 1204 until they were finally annexed by the Ottomans in 1461.

One significant reason that western historians have given Trapezuntine Byzantium little scrutiny is that the nation's rulers were very willing to reach an accommodation with Islamic dynasties and states in order to preserve that independence. The Mongols were particular patrons of Trebizond, as they chose to pass all the trade coming west along the silk road through the ports and towns of northern Anatolia. Trebizond was therefore an immensely wealthy state at times, and used its economic strength to hire professional soldiers from all around the region.

The Emperors of Trebizond

Alexius I Komnenos, 1204-1222
(grandson of Andronicus I Komnenos of Byzantium)
Andronicus I Gido 1222-1235
John I Komnenos 1235-1238
Manuel I Komnenos, 1238-1263
Andronicus II Komnenos 1263-1266
George Komnenos 1266-1280
John II Komnenos 1280-1284
Theodora Komnenos 1284-1287
Alexius II Komnenos 1287-1330
Andronicus III Komnenos 1330-1332
Manuel II Komnenos, 1332-1333
Basilieos Megas Komnenos 1332-1340
Irene Paleologos 1340-1341
Anna Anachoutlou 1341
Michael Komnenos 1341-1342 (first rule)
John III Komnenos 1342-1344
Michael Komnenos 1344 ñ 1349 (restoration)
Alexius III Komnenos 1349-1390
Manuel III Komnenos 1390-1416
Alexius IV Komnenos 1416-1429
John IV Komnenos 1429-1459
David Komnenos 1459-1461 


Map courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin
Empire of Trebizond circled by PontosWorld for educational purposes only (click on image to enalrge) 



Related Articles

Pontus: An Overview

Pontic History Timeline 1774-1923

Mithridates I Ctistes