Empire of Trebizond (brown) and surrounding states in 1300

Empire of Trebizond (brown) and
surrounding states in 1300

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Empire of Trebizond was a monarchy that flourished during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries at the far northeastern corner of Anatolia. Originally a revolt by the grandsons of Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, within a year the territories that supported them organized into one of three Byzantine Greek successor states established after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Fourth Crusade, the others being the Empire of Nicaea and the Despotate of Epirus.[1]i
Although their prospects of reconquering Constantinople were reduced following the loss of Sinope in 1214, the Emperors of Trebizond pressed their claim on the Imperial throne after the Nicaean reconquest of Constantinople in 1261, which extinguished the feeble Latin Empire, when the Empire of Trebizond had settled into the role of a minor state, primarily concerned with its profitable role as the Western terminus of the Silk Road through a unique form of diplomacy: “Most of the emperors were blessed with a progeny of marriageable daughters,” writes Donald Nicol, “and the beauty of the ladies of Trebizond was as legendary as the wealth of their dowries.”[2]

The Trapezuntine monarchy proved to be the longest surviving of the Byzantine successor states. The Despotate of Epirus slowly disintegrated through the 13th and 14th centuries, coming under the control of the restored Byzantine Empire c. 1340. While the Empire of Nicaea had become the resurrected Byzantine Empire, it came to an end in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire. The Empire of 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.[3]
Its wealth and exotic location endowed a lingering fame on this polity in Western European eyes. Cervantes described the eponymous hero of his Don Quixote as “imagining himself for the valour of his arm already crowned at least Emperor of Trebizond.” Rabelais had his character Picrochole, the ruler of Piedmont, declare: “I want also to be Emperor of Trebizond.” Other allusions, as well as works set in this distant monarchy, continue into the 20th century.[4]

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