John II of Trebizond
|John II of Trebizond|
|Emperor of Trebizond|
John II Megas Komnenos (Greek: Ιωάννης Β΄ Μέγας Κομνηνός, Iōannēs II Megas Komnēnos) (c. 1262 – August 16, 1297) was Emperor of Trebizond from 1280 to 1297. He was the youngest son of Emperor Manuel I and his third wife, Irene Syrikaina, a Trapezuntine noblewoman. John succeeded to the throne after his full-brother George was betrayed by his archons on the mountain of Taurezion.
His reign was dominated by relations with the restored Byzantine Empire under Michael VIII Palaiologos. After his ally Abaqa had disposed of George, the Byzantine Emperor demanded that John renounce the title of 'Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans' because the lands John occupied did not include Constantinople, which was still the center of the Byzantine world. John, however, replied that he was following the precedent set by his predecessors and that the nobility of Trebizond would not allow him to renounce the traditional title. Michael also regarded John as a threat, because some opponents of Michael's acceptance of union with the Western Church saw John as a viable Orthodox candidate for the imperial throne. John finally acceded to Michael Palaiologos' demand and adopted the high court dignity of despotes in return for the hand of his daughter, Eudokia Palaiologina, although his successors reverted to the title of Emperor. "The arrangement satisfied Michael VIII if no one else," notes Donald M. Nicol.
In spite of this exchange, John II reversed the policy of his predecessor, who had allied with Charles of Anjou and the anti-Unionists against Michael VIII.
After returning to Trebizond, John II abandoned the title 'Emperor of the Romans' for that of 'Emperor and Autocrat of all the East, the Iberians, and the Transmarine Provinces', although Iberia had been lost in the reign of Andronikos I Gidos. The Emperors of Trebizond and their family began to consistently call themselves the Great Komnenoi (Megas Komnenos/Megale Komnene).
His brother-in-law the Georgian King of Imereti, David VI Narin took advantage of John II's absence and besieged the capital. Though King David failed to take the city, the Georgians occupied several provinces and helped John’s half-sister Theodora, daughter of Manuel I by his Georgian wife, Rusudan, seize the throne in 1284, but she was defeated shortly afterwards and John returned to power in 1285.
The improvement of relations with the Byzantine Empire probably contributed to the relaxation or disappearance of Mongol overlordship over Trebizond. In spite of this and the continued prosperity of Trebizond, the reign of John II coincided with the conquest of the western province of Chalybia by the Turks, who took advantage of the problems caused by the Georgian invasion and the civil war between John and Theodora.
In 1291 Pope Nicholas IV wrote two letters inviting John II to convert to Catholicism, join in a new crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land and be Christianity's envoy to the Mongols. Although John did not respond to the pope's invitation, he maintained good relations with western merchants and English envoys to the Mongols passed through his domains in the 1290s.
John died at Limnia in 1297. His body was transported to his capital and interred in the Panagia Khrysokephalos Church ("Golden-headed" Virgin). Portraits of John and his wife Eudokia could be seen in the church of St. Gregory of Nyssa, which was notable that his robes were adorned with the single-headed eagle "the special emblem of the Comneni of Trebizond", while her robes bore the double-headed eagle of Byzantium.
Family and succession
By his marriage to Eudokia Palaiologina, John II had two sons:
- William Miller, Trebizond: The last Greek Empire of the Byzantine Era: 1204-1461, 1926 (Chicago: Argonaut, 1969), p. 28
- The last centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453, second edition (Cambridge: University Press, 1993), p. 75
- Miller, Trebizond, p. 30
- Miller, Trebizond, pp. 32f
- The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
John II of Trebizond
Komnenid dynastyBorn: c. 1262 Died: 16 August 1297
|Emperor of Trebizond
|Emperor of Trebizond