Empire of Trebizond

The Empire of Trebizond, or Trapezuntine Empire, was a monarchy and one of three successor rump states of the Byzantine Empire that flourished during the 13th through 15th centuries, 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,[7] 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,[8] in other words, their state was known as the Principality of the Lazes.[9][page needed] 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.[10][page needed][11][page needed]

Empire 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).
Common languages
Greek Orthodoxy
GovernmentElective monarchy
Notable emperors1 
Alexios I
Manuel I
John II
Alexios III
Historical eraLate Middle Ages
April 13, 1204
 Submission to the Mongol Empire
 Permanent loss of Sinope
 Trapezuntine Civil Wars
August 15, 1461[1]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byzantine Empire
(Angelos dynasty)
Ottoman Empire
(Trebizond Eyalet)
Republic of Genoa
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"

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.[12] The ensuing wars saw the Empire of Thessalonica, the imperial government that sprung 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".[13]

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,[14] marking the final end of the Roman imperial tradition initiated by Augustus 1,488 years previously.[citation needed] The Crimean Principality of Theodoro, an offshoot of Trebizond, lasted another 14 years, falling to the Ottomans in 1475.