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A reduced Trebizond with surrounding states in 1400

The last years of the fourteenth century were characterized by the increasing Turkish threat. This threat was not from the small Turkmen emirates that bordered Trebizond, but from the dynasty of the Osmanli, a new Turkish power emerging from western Anatolia that would soon conso

Under the rule of Alexios III, Trebizond was considered an important trade center and was renowned for its great wealth and artistic accomplishment. It was at this point that their famous diplomatic strategy of marrying the princesses of the Grand Komnenos to neighboring Turkish dynasts began. However, Anthony Bryers has argued against thinking this empire was a wealthy polity, stating that while the income from taxes levied on this trade was "by Byzantine standards" substantial, as much as three quarters of the income of the Emperor came from land "either directly from the imperial estates or indirectly from taxes and tithes from other lands."[35]

The last years of the fourteenth century were characterized by the increasing Turkish threat. This threat was not from the small Turkmen emirates that bordered Trebizond, but from the dynasty of the Osmanli, a new Turkish power emerging from western Anatolia that would soon consolidate the Ottoman Empire. Although their expansion was temporarily checked by Tamerlane at the Battle of Ankara in 1402, by the 1430s the Ottomans had recovered their fortunes, seizing large segments of Greece and finally capturing Constantinople itself on 29 May 1453. Manuel III (1390–1417), the second son and successor of Alexios III, had allied himself with Tamerlane, but the mighty conqueror soon left Anatolia, and the empire he had built crumbled with his death. His son Alexios IV (1417–1429) continued the tradition of political marriages by marrying two of his daughters to rulers of two neighboring Muslim empires: Jihan Shah, khan of the Kara Koyunlu, and Ali Beg, khan of the Ak Koyunlu. His eldest daughter Maria became the third wife of the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaiologos.[citation needed]

Alexios IV's eldest son, John IV (1429–1459), could not help but see that his Empire would soon share the fate of Constantinople. The Ottoman Sultan Murad II first attempted to take the capital by sea in 1442, but high surf made the landings difficult and the attempt was repulsed.[36] While Murad's son and successor, Mehmed II, was away laying siege to Belgrade in 1456, the Ottoman governor of Amasya attacked Trebizond, and although defeated, he took many prisoners and extracted a heavy tribute.[37] A Genoese document records the seizure of one of their ships at that port in 1437 by a military Galley on the orders of Emperor John IV.John IV (1429–1459), could not help but see that his Empire would soon share the fate of Constantinople. The Ottoman Sultan Murad II first attempted to take the capital by sea in 1442, but high surf made the landings difficult and the attempt was repulsed.[36] While Murad's son and successor, Mehmed II, was away laying siege to Belgrade in 1456, the Ottoman governor of Amasya attacked Trebizond, and although defeated, he took many prisoners and extracted a heavy tribute.[37] A Genoese document records the seizure of one of their ships at that port in 1437 by a military Galley on the orders of Emperor John IV.[38]

John IV prepared for the eventual assault by forging alliances. He sent an envoy to the Council of Florence in 1439, the humanist George Amiroutzes, which resulted in the proclamation of the Union of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but this proclamation brought little help. He gave his daughter Theodora (also known by the name of Despina Khatun) to the son of his brother-in-law, Uzun Hasan, khan of the Ak Koyunlu, in return for his promise to defend Trebizond. He also secured promises of help from the Turkish emirs of Sinope and Karamania, and from the king and princes of Georgia.[39] Through Theodora and the daughter of Alexios IV of Trebizond (also named Theodora), the Safavid dynasty of Iran that succeeded the Ak Koyunlu, would be of direct partial Pontic Greek ethnicity from its very beginning.[citation needed]

After John's death in 1459, his brother David came to power. David intrigued with various European powers for help against the Ottomans, speaking of wild schemes that included the conquest of Jerusalem. Mehmed II eventually heard of these intrigues and was further provoked to action by David's demand that Mehmed remit the tribute imposed on his brother.[39]

Mehmed's response came in the summer of 1461. He collected a sizable army at Bursa, and in a surprise move marched on Sinope, whose emir quickly surrendered. Then the Sultan moved south across eastern Anatolia to neutralize Uzun Hasan. Having isolated Trebizond, Mehmed quickly swept down upon it before the inhabitants knew he was coming, and placed it under siege. The city held out for a month before David surrendered on August 15, 1461. With the fall of

After John's death in 1459, his brother David came to power. David intrigued with various European powers for help against the Ottomans, speaking of wild schemes that included the conquest of Jerusalem. Mehmed II eventually heard of these intrigues and was further provoked to action by David's demand that Mehmed remit the tribute imposed on his brother.[39]

Mehmed's response came in the summer of 1461. He collected a sizable army at Bursa, and in a surprise move marched on Sinope, whose emir quickly surrendered. Then the Sultan moved south across eastern Anatolia to neutralize Uzun Hasan. Having isolated Trebizond, Mehmed quickly swept down upon it before the inhabitants knew he was coming, and placed it under siege. The city held out for a month before David surrendered on August 15, 1461. With the fall of Trebizond, the last independent remnant of the Byzantine Empire, as well as the Roman Empire from which the Byzantine Empire sprang, was the Empire of Trebizond's offshoot, the Principality of Theodoro. On December 5, 1475 it would also fall to Ottoman rule.[40]

In the relatively limited territory of the kingdom of the Grand Komnenoi (known as the “Empire of Trebizond”) there was enough room for three dioceses: Trebizond, which was the only diocese established far in the past, Cerasous and Rizaion in Lazika, both formed as upgraded bishoprics. All three dioceses survived the Ottoman conquest (1461) and generally operated until the 17th century, when the dioceses of Cerasous and Rizaion were abolished. The diocese of Rizaion and the bishopric of Of were abolished at the time due to the Islamisation of the Laz and of the region respectively. Possibly the diocese of Cerasous was deactivated for the same reasons.[41]

The Empire of Trebizond acquired a reputation in Western Europe for being "enriched by the trade from Persia and the East that passed through its capital," according to Steven Runciman, "and by the silver-mines in the hills behind, and famed for the beauty of its princesses."[42] Donald Nicol echoes Runciman's observations: "Most of the emperors were blessed with a progeny of marriageable daughters, and the beauty of the ladies of Trebizond was as legendary as the wealth of their dowries."[43] Its wealth and exotic location endowed a lingering fame on the polity. Cervantes described the eponymous hero of his Don Quixote as "imagining himself for the valour of his arm already crowned at least Emperor of Trebizond." Rabelais had his character Picrochole, the ruler of Piedmont, declare: "I want also to be Emperor of Trebizond." Other allusions and works set in Trebizond continue into the 20th century.[44]

In Italian, there exists the expression "to lose the Trebizond" (perdere la Trebisonda) which means "to be bewildered". Trebizond was a port reachable by all the routes that crossed the Black Sea, and therefore a safe shelter in case of storms.In Italian, there exists the expression "to lose the Trebizond" (perdere la Trebisonda) which means "to be bewildered". Trebizond was a port reachable by all the routes that crossed the Black Sea, and therefore a safe shelter in case of storms.[45]