Siege of Trebizond (1461)

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Siege of Trebizond (1461)
Part of the Byzantine–Ottoman Wars
Medieval Trebizond 2.png
Fortification plan of (central) medieval Trebizond (modern Trabzon, Turkey). Current remains in red
Date 15 August 1461
Location Trebizond, Empire of Trebizond
Result Empire of Trebizond incorporated into the Ottoman Empire
 Ottoman Empire Empire of Trebizond
Commanders and leaders
Ottoman Empire Mehmed II
Ottoman Empire Mahmud Pasha Angelovic
David of Trebizond

The Siege of Trebizond was a battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Empire of Trebizond in August 1461. The Ottoman military conquered Trebizond on August 15, 1461. Sultan Mehmet II was the winning commander. Trebizond Emperor David Comnenus surrendered the city to the Ottomans.[1]


In 1456, Ottoman troops under Hizir Pasha assaulted Trebizond and were unable to capture the city. However, Trebizond Emperor John IV agreed to pay tribute to the Porte. When David became Emperor in 1458, he tried to avoid paying the tribute. Uzun Hasan, the husband of David’s niece, asked Mehmet II to stop collecting the tribute. Mehmet II refused to end the tribute and began preparations for war.[2]

Buildup to the Siege[edit]

Mehmet II planned to attack Trebizond by both sea and land. His fleet was stationed at Gelibolu before the campaign.[3] Mehmet ordered his fleet through the Dardanelles and into the Black Sea. His fleet had 300 ships.[4] The Ottoman land forces marched to Trebizond through Anatolia. Mehmet’s army had 80,000 infantry and 60,000 cavalry.[5] On the way to Trebizond, Mehmet first conquered the city of Sinop. Next he met with Uzun Hasan and his mother, Sara Hasan.[6] Sara failed to persuade Mehmet to stop his campaign. However they did reach an agreement. Because of these talks, Uzun Hasan did not defend Trebizond from Mehmet’s army. Mehmet next moved his troops through the mountains and approached Trebizond from the south.[7] Trebizond was surrounded.

The Siege[edit]

Mahmud Pasha, Mehmet’s Grand Vizier, warned Emperor David to surrender. The Sultan also advised David to capitulate.[8] Mahmud worked with his cousin, a Trebizond nobleman named George Amirutzes, to influence David.[9] David agreed to surrender with conditions. David wanted to receive land that was equal in value to Trebizond and also asked Mehmet to marry his daughter. Mehmet was reluctant. He wanted David to surrender unconditionally. However, Sara Hasan persuaded Mehmet to accept the surrender. The siege ended without bloodshed.[10] The Ottomans had captured Trebizond.


After the battle, Ottoman Janissaries took over Trebizond’s royal castle. Emperor David escaped to Thrace.[11] However, the rest of Trebizond’s male population became slaves. Some of these slaves were inducted as Janissaries.[12] The Trebizond Empire ceased to exist. The battle also had a political impact for Mehmet. Trebizond had been the symbolic last remnant of Greek Christian rule in the region.[13] Pope Pius II sought revenge for Trebizond’s fall. Yet no Christian nations joined a Crusade.[14] The conquest of Trebizond also had strategic impact for the Ottomans. By conquering Trebizond, Mehmet took control over Asia Minor’s Black Sea coast. He gained another important harbor for his fleet.[15]


  1. ^ Babinger, Franz. Mehmed the Conqueror and His Time. Munich: F. Bruckmann KG, 1953. English translation, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978. pp 190-99
  2. ^ Babinger, p. 191
  3. ^ Babinger p. 191
  4. ^ Freely, John. The Grand Turk: Sultan Mehmet II, Conqueror of Constantinople and Master of an Empire. New York: Overlook Press, 2009, p. 67
  5. ^ Freely p. 67
  6. ^ Freely p. 68
  7. ^ Babinger p. 191-2
  8. ^ Babinger p. 195
  9. ^ Lowry, Heath. The Nature of the Early Ottoman State. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003. p. 123
  10. ^ Babinger p. 194-5
  11. ^ Freely p. 69
  12. ^ Babinger p. 195
  13. ^ Imber, Colin. The Ottoman Empire 1300-1650: The Structure of Power. Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002. p. 31
  14. ^ Babinger p. 198
  15. ^ Babinger p. 196