Bandon of Palaiomatzouka

1. About banda

The word bandon originally signified the flags or banners of military units1 later it came to describe the smallest division of a combat military unit (200-400 men); by extension it referred to the area for the protection of which a unit was responsible, whence we arrive to the meaning of the smallest administrative subdivision of a theme.2 Although in the other regions of the Byzantine Empire the themes become fragmented and essentially cease to exist by the time of the Angelid dynasty (1185-1204), the terms theme and bandon survive in the Empire of Trebizond, designating administrative districts.3

2. The bandon of Palaiomatzouka

2.1. Origin

The district of Palaiomatzouka in the Empire of Trebizond, in which it appears as a bandon in the 15th century, is referred to, at least until 1384, as one of the villages of the bandon of Matzouka, as indicated by a text in the monastery of Vazelon pertaining to the sale of a plot of land in the said village.4 In two other documents from the same monastery, which date to the early 15th century (1408 and 1415), there is a reference to a doukas of Palaiomatzouka and to the bandon of Palaiomatzouka.5 Evidently the bandon of Palaiomatzouka resulted from a partition of the bandon of Matzouka sometime in the late 14th or early 15th century.

2.2. Geography-administration

The creation of a new administrative unit, the bandon of Palaiomatzouka at the southernmost edge of the Empire of Trebizond was apparently aimed at the more effectual organization of the limitrophe areas of the empire and the successful warding of invasions by the Turkmen. The bandon of Palaiomatzouka is thought to have incorporated approximately the south-western section of the Matzouka valley, around modern Hamsikoy, the capital of the theme mentioned as Palaiokastron or Kastrion.6

The earliest known reference to a doukas in this region, Constantine Chapsonomitas, dates to 1408 and he is concidered to have been some kind of a local, autonomous ruler.7 At any rate in 1415 the megas kontostavlos Konstantinos Tzachinites is mentioned as the kephale of Palaiomatzouka;8 in all likelihood he was a trusty of the Grand Komnenoi, i.e. the royal dynasty of Trebizond, who had apparently once again managed to gain control over this region.

1. Kolias, Τ., Byzantinische Waffen. Ein Beitrag zur byzantinischen Waffenkunde von den Anfängen bis zur lateinischen Eroberung (Wien 1988), p. 210.

2. Κυριακίδης, Σ., "Βυζαντινοί Μελέται V.", Σύμμεικτα,  Επιστημονική Επετηρίς Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης 3 (1939), pp. 537-538; Kazhdan, Α. (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium I (Oxford, New York 1991), s.v. Bandon (Kazhdan, Α.), p. 250; Trapp, Ε. (ed.), Lexikon zur Byzantinischen Gräzität, besonders des 9-12 Jhs. (Wien 1994), s.v. Bandon (Trapp, Ε.), p. 263.

3. Laurent, V., "Deux chrysobulles inédits des empereurs de Trébizonde Alexis IV-Jean IV et David Π", Αρχείον Πόντου 18 (1953), pp. 241-278, esp. p. 265; Bryer, Α. Α. Μ., "A molybdobull of the imperial protospatharios Constantine, Krites of theThemaof Chaldia", Αρχείον Πόντου 2Ί (1966), pp. 244-246.

4. Acta of Vazelon, ed. Uspensky, F. - Benesevic, V. (ed.), Vazelonskie Akty (Leningrad 1927), p. 95, no. 128.

5. Acta of Vazelon, ed. Uspensky, F. - Benesevic, V., Vazelonskie Akty (Leningrad 1927), p. 91, no. 123 and p. 94, no. 126.

6. Bryer, A. A. M., “Late Byzantine Rural Society in Matzouka”, in Bryer, A. – Lowry, H. (ed.), Continuity and Change in Late Byzantine and Early Ottoman Society (Birmingham-Washington D.C. 1986), p. 53· Bryer, A., “Τhe Estates of the Empire of Trebizond”, Αρχείον Πόντου 35 (1979), p. 428· Bryer, A. – Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos Ι. Dumbarton Oaks Studies 20 (Washington D.C. 1985), p. 251, 262.

7. Trapp, Ε. (ed.) Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit (Wien 1975) no. 30749. Bryer, A., Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos Ι. Dumbarton Oaks Studies 20 (Washington, D.C. 1985), p. 263.

8. Trapp, E. (ed.), Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit (Wien 1975), no. 27775; Acta of Vazelon, ed. Uspensky, F. - Benesevic, V., Vazelonskie Akty (Leningrad 1927), p. 92, no. 123.