Basil of Trebizond

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Basil Megas Komnenos
Asper of Basil of Trebizond.jpg
Reign 1332-1340
Successor Irene Palaiologina
Consort Irene Palaiologina
Spouse Irene
Issue Alexios, John Trebizond, Maria, Theodora
Father Alexios II Megas Komnenos
Mother Djiadjak Jaqeli
Died 6 August 1340

Basil Megas Komnenos (Greek: Βασίλειος Μέγας Κομνηνός, Basileios Megas Komnēnos) (died April 6, 1340) was Emperor of Trebizond from August 1332 until his death in 1340. Basil was a younger son of Emperor Alexios II of Trebizond and his wife Djiadjak Jaqeli. When his elder brother Andronikos III assumed the throne in 1330 and killed two of his brothers (Michael and George), Basil managed to escape to Constantinople.

After the death of Andronikos III, during the reign of his infant son, Manuel II, the pro-Byzantine party at Trebizond invited Basil from Constantinople to take the throne. In August 1332 Manuel was deposed and intended for a monastery, while Basil was crowned emperor. Basil purged the court of his brother and nephew's supporters (which included the megas doux Lekes Tzatzintzaios and his son the megas domestikos Tzambas), but the man he appointed as the new megas doux, John the Eunuch, revolted in favor of the deposed Manuel.[1] The revolt was crushed and to prevent further trouble the child was murdered in 1333, probably on Basil's order.

Despite Basil's return, the factional strife continued. According to George Finlay, the great officers and principal nobles had become petty sovereigns, reducing the countryside to anarchy. The Scholarioi, the militia of capital, became so disaffected that he had to hire foreign bodyguards to protect his person, who rapidly made themselves and their master hated for their arrogance and corruption.[2] Such was his unpopularity with the people of the city, that when a solar eclipse took place they took it for a sign of divine wrath and forced the emperor to seek refuge in the citadel and tried to pelt him with stones.[3]

On 17 September 1334, Basil formed a marriage alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos by marrying his illegitimate daughter Irene.[3] The affection between the two soon cooled, and Basil took a mistress also named Irene, by whom he fathered four illegitimate children. Whether or not he was actually divorced from his wife remains uncertain, but there is an interesting letter from the Patriarch of Constantinople, John XIV Kalekas, to Gregory the metropolitan of Trebizond. In this letter the Patriarch reprimands the metropolitan, and all the other ordained men at Trebizond, for the wickedness they had allowed to take place to the injury of the holy canons, and orders them to resolve this problem on the pain of alienating the main body of the Church.[4] The local clergy, however, contented themselves with the pretense that they were actually honoring the legitimate empress in their services since they were honoring an Irene.

The uneasy situation at the capital was exploited by the Turkmen Sheikh Hassan, who attacked Trebizond on July 5, 1335. The fighting centered at the palisade of Saint Kerykios and on Mount Minthrion, but a providential rainstorm allowed the Trapezuntines to rout the attackers.[5]

Basil died on April 6, 1340, apparently poisoned by his legitimate wife Irene Palaiologina, who promptly seized the throne.[6]


The children of Basil and his second wife, Irene of Trebizond, were:[7]

  1. Alexios (1337–c. 1349)
  2. John, later renamed Alexios III (1338–1390)
  3. Maria, who married Fahreddin Kutlug beg, Emir of Aq Qoyunlu in 1352.[8]
  4. Theodora, who married Hajji 'Umar, Emir of Chalybia in 1358.[9]

There is a theory that Helena, first wife of Bagrat V of Georgia, could be another of his daughters. Her first name is recorded in "The Georgian Chronicle" (18th century).[10][11]


  1. ^ William Miller, Trebizond: The last Greek Empire of the Byzantine Era: 1204-1461, 1926 (Chicago: Argonaut, 1969), p. 44
  2. ^ Finlay, The History of Greece and the Empire of Trebizond, (1204-1461) (Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1851), p. 418
  3. ^ a b Michael Panaretos, Chronicle, ch. 9. Greek text in Original-Fragmente, Chroniken, Inschiften und anderes Materiale zur Geschichte des Kaiserthums Trapezunt, part 2; in Abhandlungen der historischen Classe der königlich bayerischen Akademie 4 (1844), abth. 1, pp. 16; German translation, p. 46
  4. ^ Miller, Trebizond, p. 45
  5. ^ Miller, Trebizond, p. 46
  6. ^ Warren Treadgold (1 October 1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press. p. 810. ISBN 978-0-8047-2630-6. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Miller, Trebizond, p. 60
  8. ^ Panaretos, Chronicle, 17. Greek text in Original-Fragmente, p. 25; English translation in Anthony Bryer, "Greeks and Turkmens: The Pontic Exception", Dumbarton Oaks Papers 29 (1975), p. 144
  9. ^ Panaretos, Chronicle, 26. Greek text in Original-Fragmente, p. 35; English translation in Bryer, "Greeks and Turkmens", p. 145
  10. ^ Cawley, Charles, Profile of Bagrat V, his wives and children, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012 ,[better source needed]
  11. ^ Christopher Buyers,"Georgia:The Bagrationi (Bagration) Dynasty"

External links[edit]

Basil of Trebizond
Komnenid dynasty
Born: unknown Died: 6 April 1340
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Manuel II
Emperor of Trebizond
Succeeded by