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Eirene of Trebizond

Author(s) : Vougiouklaki Penelope (10/17/2003)
Translation : Nakas Ioannis

For citation: Vougiouklaki Penelope, "Eirene of Trebizond",
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=7888>

Ειρήνη Τραπεζουντία (3/26/2008 v.1) Eirene of Trebizond (7/17/2009 v.1) 

1. Eirene of Trebizond and Basil Grand Komnenos

Eirene of Trebizond was a descendant of an aristocratic family of Trebizond. In 1339 she married with the emperor Basil Grand Komnenos (1332-1340). She had already been living together with Basil before his divorce with Eirene Palaiologina and had produced two sons, Alexios and John, who later became emperor of Trebizond under the name Alexios III Grand Komnenos (1349-1390),1 whereas after the wedding she had two daughters, Theodora and Maria.

The cohabitation of Eirene of Trebizond with the married Basil, as well as their subsequent wedding, caused great reactions in the political circles of Constantinople, expressed mainly by the patriarch John XIV Kalekas (1334-1337) and the scholar Nikephoros Gregoras. In 1340, after the death of Basil Grand Komnenos and the rising to the throne of his ex-wife, Eirene Palaiologina (1340-1341), Eirene of Trebizond and her children were expulsed from the palace and were forced to move to Constantinople.

2. Information concerning Eirene of Trebizond under Alexios III Grand Komnenos

In December 1349 Eirene came back to Trebizond along with her son John, who on the 12th of the same month ascended to the imperial throne.2 In September 1351, among the measures taken by the emperor to end the consecutive conflicts between the members of the aristocracy, Eirene led a campaign against Constantine Doranites, who was the archon of Limnia.

We meet Eirene again in the year 1381, in the baptismal ceremony of her grandson, the son of Alexios III, future emperor of Trebizond Manuel III Basil Grand Komnenos (1390-1417).

Eirene of Trebizond is considered to be the founder of the church of the monastery of Theotokos Theoskepastos.3

1. When John assumed the throne he took the name of Alexios, this is why he is known as Alexios III Grand Komnenos. See Miller, W., Trebizond, the Last Greek Empire (London 1926), p. 55.

2. John rose to the throne of Trebizond after the resign of Michael Grand Komnenos (1341/1344-1349) and his retirement to the cloister of Saint Savvas. The emperor Michael was forced to resign by the internal disputes and the repetitive raids of the Turcomans he faced. See Ahrweiler, Ε., «Αυτοκρατορία της Τραπεζούντας», in: Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους Θ': Υστεροβυζαντινοί χρόνοι (1204-1453) (Αθήνα 1980), p. 334.

3. In the narthex of the church of the monastery there were the images of Alexios III Grand Komnenos, his wife Theodora Cantakouzene and Eirene of Trebizond, who held a model of the temple in her hands. In 1834 the portrait of Eirene of Trebizond was replaced by the portrait of the despot Andronikos Komnenos. See Bryer, A. – Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos Ι (Washington D.C. 1985), p. 244.


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