Bandon of Matzouka

1. On the term bandon

The term bandon initially meant the flags and banners of the military units1 and subsequently the smallest combatant military unit (200-400 men); it also meant the region that this unit was responsible for and the smallest administrative subdivision of a theme.2 Even though the themes were broken to pieces and disappear under the Angelid dynasty in the rest of the Byzantine Empire, the terms theme and bandon survive in the Empire of Trebizond, designating administrative divisions.3

2. On the bandon of Matzouka

2.1. Origin

The bandon of Matzouka was one of the banda of the Empire of Trebizond. Even though there is no mention of it during the Middle Byzantine period, it might as well have been a bandon of the middle byzantine theme of Chaldia, since we know that the administrative subdivisions of the byzantine period were made on geomorphologic criteria and constitute the basis of the modern administrative subdivisions of the county of Trebizond even today.4

2.2. Geography – economy – operational capability

The bandon of Matzouka, also known as the bandon of Matzoukaon, extended south and southwest of mount Minthrion (modern Boz Tepe), its southern limit being the imaginary line between the summit Zygana of mount Paryadres in the west and the Pontic Gates (modern Kolabat Bogazi) in the east. Due to its strategic location, it was the natural stronghold of the city of Trebizond and was considered the heart of the empire of Grand Komnenoi.5 Its seat was Dikaisimon (or Karyai, modern Cevıslık). On either side of the road connecting Trebizond and Dikaisimon, one could see the renowned parcharia, fertile forest lands where the emperors of Trebizond had their summer residences.

The people of Matzouka were mainly farmers and livestock breeders. They had also the fame of being brave warriors, and the sources speak highly of their effective contribution in repelling the successive raids of Turkmen and Turkish tribes. A characteristic example is the Synopsis of the Miracles of St. Eugenios by the metropolitan of Trebizond (1364-1378 AD) John-Joseph Lazaropoulos. Among other things, he describes the arrest of Melik, the leader of the campaign of 1222-1223, by brave infantry troops of Matzouka.6

Between 1384 and 1408 AD, the bandon of Matzouka was divided into two parts, and a new bandon was created in its southern tip, the bandon of Palaiomatzouka, mentioned earlier in the sources as one of the villages of Matzouka.7

1. Kolias, T., Byzantinische Waffen. Ein Beitrag zur Byzantinischen Waffenkunde von den Anfangen bis zur lateinischen Eroberung (Vienna 1988), p. 210.

2. Κυριακίδης, Σ., Βυζαντιναί Μελέται V (Σύμμεικτα, Επιστημονική Επετηρίς Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης 3, Thessaloniki 1939), pp. 537-538; Kazhdan, A. (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium I (Oxford, New York 1991) s.v. Bandon (Kazhdan, A.), p. 250; Trapp, E. (ed.), Lexicon zur Byzantinischen Grazitat, besonders des 9-12 Jhs. (Vienna 1994) s.v. Bandon, p. 263.

3. Laurent, V., “Deux chrysobulles inedits des empereurs de Trebizonde Alexis IV-Jean IV et David II”, Αρχείον Πόντου 18 (1953), pp. 241-278, esp. p. 265; Bryer, A. A. M., “A molybdobull of the imperial protospatharios Constantine, Krites of the Thema of Chaldia”, Αρχείον Πόντου 27 (1966), pp. 244-246.

4. 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), pp. 53-95, esp. p. 53; Bryer, A., “The estates of the empire of Trebizond. Evidence for their resources, products, agriculture, ownership and location, Αρχείον Πόντου 35 (1979), pp. 370- 477, esp. p. 428.

5. Bryer, A. – Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos I (Dumbarton Oaks Studies 20, Washington, D.C. 1985), pp. 251, 26.

6. Joseph (John) Lazaropoulos, “Synopsis of the Miracles of St. Eugenios" in Rosenqvist, J. O. (ed.), The hagiographic Dossier of St Eugenios of Trebizond in codex Athous Dionysiou 154 (Studia Byzantina Upsaliensia 5, Uppsala 1996), p. 328. See also Σαββίδης, Α. Γ. Κ., “Για την ταυτότητα του Μελίκ στην σελτζουκική εκστρατεία του 1222-1223 κατά της Τραπεζούντας”, in Πρακτικά ΙΔ πανελληνίου Ιστορικού Συνεδρίου (Thessaloniki 1994), pp. 79-98; Savvides, A. G. C., “The Trapezuntine sources of the Seljuk attack on Trebizond in A. D. 1222-1223”, Αρχείον Πόντου 43 (1990-91), pp. 102-130.

7. Maksimovic, L., “Βάνδον Παλαιοματζούκας, Συμβολή στη μελέτη της διοικητικής οργάνωσης της Τραπεζούντος” (in serbian), Zbornik radova Byzantoloskog Instituta 11 (1968), pp. 271-278.