Alexios II of Trebizond

Alexios II of Trebizond

Alexios II Megas Komnenos or Alexius II (Greek: Αλέξιος Β΄ Μέγας Κομνηνός, "Alexios II Megas Komnēnos", Sept.-Dec. 1282–1330), was Emperor of Trebizond from 1297 to 1330. He was the elder son of John II and Eudokia Palaiologina, and also used the name Palaiologos.

Life

He ascended the throne at the age of 14 after the death of his father. He came under the care of his uncle, the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos. The latter wanted to marry his young ward to a daughter of the high court official Nikephoros Choumnos, but Alexios without asking for the permission married an Iberian princess, Djiadjak Jaqeli, the daughter of Bekha II Jaqeli, atabeg of Samtskhe, in c. 1300. Andronikos appealed to the Church to annul the marriage but the Patriarch refused to assist him, on the ground that the young man’s wife was reported to be already pregnant. Alexios' mother Eudokia, who now returned to Trebizond on the pretext of inducing her son to dissolve the marriage, advised him to keep his Iberian wife.

After freeing himself from the custody of Andronikos II, Alexios proved to be a skillful and energetic ruler, under whose reign Empire of Trebizond reached the climax of its prosperity.

In 1301 or 1302 he defeated a Turkmen invasion, who after conquering province of Chalybia, had penetrated deep into Trebizond's territory to sack Kerasous, the second most important city of the Empire. He captured their general and built a fort overlooking the sea to secure his possession of the city.

Another problem were the Genoese, who had established virtual economic monopoly in the Black Sea area since the treaty of Nymphaeum with Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261. Their long established settlement at Daphnous, the coastal suburb to the east of Trebizond, grew larger and the Genoan merchants refuse to allow the emperor's customs officials to inspect their wares. After Alexios refused the Genoese demands for further concessions in 1306, they threatened to leave Trebizond altogether. When the emperor demanded that they pay dues for the goods they took with them, they refused, and he attacked them with his Georgian mercenaries. Although the emperor's troops were successful, the Genoese set fire to the suburbs of Trebizond and damaged much of their own and the citizens' property. Eventually the two parties made peace, confirmed in a surviving treaty from 1314 and another from 1316.

This did not put a complete end to the tensions between the Genoese and the Emperor of Trebizond. So, in 1319 he concluded a treaty with the Venetians, the Genoans' main rivals, granting them the same privileges as the Genoans as long as they paid their dues.

The troubles to the Empire came also from the pirates of the Emirate of Sinope, whose targets were Christian traders, including the Genoese. The pirates even ventured to attack Trebizond itself, looting the suburbs, so to protect his people from these raiders, Alexios built sea walls for the city's harbour in 1324. He had already organized a police force to guard the city at night more than a decade earlier.

Like his father before him, also Alexios II was being persuaded by the Pope to convert to Catholicism. The letter was sent by John XXII in 1329, but five months later, however, on May 3, 1330, after 33 years of reign, the Emperor died and the throne passed to his eldest son, Andronikos.

Family

Alexius and Djiadjak Jaqeli had at least six children:
# Andronikos III, Emperor of Trebizond 1330-1332.
# Basil, Emperor of Trebizond 1332-1340.
# Michael Anachoutlous, murdered by his brother Andronikos III in 1330.
# George Achpougas, murdered by his brother Andronikos III in 1330.
# Anna Anachoutlou, a nun, became Empress of Trebizond 1341-1342.
# Eudokia, may have married Adil beg ibn Yakub Kandaride.

References

* "The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium", Oxford University Press, 1991.
* W. Miller, "Trebizond: The Last Greek Empire of the Byzantine Era", Chicago, 1926.


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