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Basil of Trebizond

Basil of Trebizond

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Basil Megas Komnenos (died April 6, 1340) was Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 of Trebizond
Empire of Trebizond
The Empire of Trebizond, founded in April 1204, was one of three Byzantine successor states of the Byzantine Empire. However, the creation of the Empire of Trebizond was not directly related to the capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade, rather it had broken away from the Byzantine Empire...

 from August 1332 to his death in 1340. Basil was a younger son of Emperor Alexios II of Trebizond
Alexios II of Trebizond
Alexios II Megas Komnenos or Alexius II , 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 :...

 and his wife Djiadjak Jaqeli
Djiadjak Jaqeli
-Family:Jiajak was a daughter of Beka I, the Jaqeli atabeg of Samtskhe. The Jaqelis held the Georgian feudal office of Eristavi. An Eristavi could be "governor of a region" or an "army-commander", roughly equivalent to the Byzantine strategos and normally translated into English as "duke".David...

. When his elder brother Andronikos III
Andronikos III of Trebizond
Andronikos III Megas Komnenos or Andronicus III , Emperor of Trebizond from 1330 to 1332. He was an eldest son of Emperor Alexios II of Trebizond and his Iberian wife, Djiadjak Jaqeli of Samckhe....

 assumed the throne in 1330 and killed two of his brothers (Michael and George), Basil managed to escape to Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...


After the death of Andronikos III, during the reign of his infant son, Manuel II
Manuel II of Trebizond
Manuel II Megas Komnenos was Emperor of Trebizond for eight months in 1332...

, the pro-Byzantine party at Trebizond called 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 from his brother and nephew's supporters, but his new appointment of a megas doux, a certain John, revolted in favor of the deposed Manuel. The revolt was crushed and to prevent further trouble the child was murdered in 1333, probably on Basil's order.

Instead of ending the factional strife, he actually encouraged it. Nobles throughout the Empire began to act as little princes, lording over their own estates, rapidly reducing the countryside to anarchy, while Basil himself continued apace making himself hated. 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. 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.

In 1335 Basil formed a marriage alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos
Andronikos III Palaiologos
Andronikos III Palaiologos, Latinized as Andronicus III Palaeologus was Byzantine emperor from 1328 to 1341, after being rival emperor since 1321. Andronikos III was the son of Michael IX Palaiologos and Rita of Armenia...

, whose illegitimate daughter Irene he married. Shortly afterwards relations between the two rapidly deteriorated. 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 IV Calecas, to the metropolitan of the city at the time, probably the same Gregory that Andrew Libadenos makes note of circa 1336-1340 in his traveling narrative, reprimanding him and all the other ordained men at Trebizond for the wicked out of place act that they had allowed to take place to the injury of the holy canons. Calecas upbraids them and then at the end of his letter lays it upon them to fix this problem on the pain of alienating the main body of the Church. The local clergy, however, contented themselves with the pretence 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
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, who attacked Trebizond but were repulsed.

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


The children of Basil and his second wife, Irene of Trebizond
Irene of Trebizond
Irene Palaiologina , was Empress of Trebizond from April 6, 1340 to July 17, 1341...

, were.:
  1. Alexios (1337–c. 1349)
  2. John, later renamed Alexios III
    Alexios III of Trebizond
    Alexios III Megas Komnenos or Alexius III , Emperor of Trebizond from December 1349 until his death. He was the son of Emperor Basil of Trebizond and his second wife, Irene of Trebizond...

  3. Maria (1328–1408), who married Fahreddin Kutlug beg, Emir of Aq Qoyunlu.
  4. Theodora, who married Hajji 'Umar, Emir of Chalybia.

There is a theory that Helena
Helena Megale Komnene
Helena Megale Komnene is the name given for the first wife of King Bagrat V of Georgia. Her first name is recorded in "The Georgian Chronicle" , and her family name is based on a theory which identifies her as a daughter of Basil of Trebizond. If true, the identity of her mother would be...

, first wife of Bagrat V of Georgia
Bagrat V of Georgia
Bagrat V, “the Great” was the son of the Georgian king Davit IX with whom he was co-ruler from 1355, and became king after the death of his father in 1360....

, could be another of his daughters. Her first name is recorded in "The Georgian Chronicle" (18th century).