Andronikos I Grand Komnenos

1. Prosopography

Andronikos, the future Andronikos I Grand Komnenos (1222-1235), was the husband of the daughter of Alexios I Grand Komnenos (1204-1222). Some scholars identify him as Andronikos Gidon or Gidos, a strategos of the Nicaean Emperor Theodore I Laskaris (1205-1221), who in 1206 defeated the forces of David Komnenos, brother of Alexios I, in the area of Tracheiai near Nicomedia. It is not known when Andronikos Gidon allied himself by marriage to the house of the Grand Komnenoi, thus joining the imperial court of Trebizond. In any case, Alexios I’s son-in-law became emperor in 1222, succeeding him as Andronikos I Grand Komnenos, and remained to the throne until his death in 1235.

2. Andronikos I’s reign

In 1222-1223 Andronikos I Grand Komnenos found himself in conflict with the Seljuk Sultan ‘Melik’,1 after the Seljuk Turks attacked and plundered a ship carrying the yearly taxes of the provinces of Cherson and Gotthia to Trebizond, and captured the ship’s crew.2 Andronikos successfully defended the city of Trebizond and captured the sultan,3 forcing him to sign a treaty, which declared that the Empire of Trebizond was no longer under the obligation of paying a tribute to the Sultanate.4 After Andronikos’ victory against Melik, the Empire extended from the city of Sinope in the west to the borders with Iberia (Georgia) in the east, while to the south it included the areas up to the Armenian city Koloneia.

In 1231 Andronikos I was involved in the dispute between the Seljuk sultan Kaikobad I (1219-1236) and the ruler of the Choresmian Turks Jalaleddin Magobirdi (1221-1235). This conflict ended with the victory of Kaikobad I and his ally the Ayyubid Caliph Kalim (1218-1238), ruler of Egypt and Palestine. The Empire of Trebizond once again found itself under the obligation to pay tribute to the Sultanate of Ikonion (Rum).

Andronikos I Grand Komnenos is the donor of the palace of the Grand Komnenoi in Trebizond and he is also considered the first emperor of Trebizond to issue a coin of valuable metal, with his name inscribed on it. He died in 1235 and was buried in the temple of Thetokos Chrysokephalos.5

1. The word ‘Melik’, mentioned by the sources is not the name of the sultan of Ikonion, but one of his honorary titles. The identity of the sultan, who took part in the Seljuk campaign on 1222 – 1223, is not clearly known. On the different theories see Σαββίδης, Α., «Για την ταυτότητα του Μελίκ στην σελτζουκική εκστρατεία του 1222-3 κατά της Τραπεζούντας», στο Βυζαντινή προσωπογραφία, τοπική ιστορία και βυζαντινοτουρκικές σχέσεις (Athens 1994), off print from Πρακτικά ΙΔ' Πανελληνίου Ιστορικού Συνεδρίου 1993 (Thessaloniki 1994), pp. 79-88.

2. The Trapezuntine ship was forced to stop at Sinope due to a storm and its cargo was withheld by the Armenian governor, Etoum. See Γεωργιάδης, Θ.(ed.), Εγκυκλοπαίδεια του Ποντιακού Ελληνισμού. Ο Πόντος. Ιστορία, Λαογραφία και Πολιτισμός 1 (Thessaloniki 1991), p. 122.

3. The bishop of Trebizond Joseph Lazaropoulos, in his second version of the Vita of St Eugenios, stresses the contribution of the saint and of Panagia Chrysokephalos in bringing an end to the siege. See Χρύσανθος, μητροπολίτης Τραπεζούντος, «Η Εκκλησία της Τραπεζούντος», Αρχείον Πόντου 4-5 (Athens 1933), pp. 399-409.

4. The Empire of Trebizond became a subject of the Sultanate of Ikonion in 1214. After the fall of Sinope to the Seljuks (2 November 1214) and the capture of the Emperor of Trebizond Alexios I Grand Komnenos, the two parties signed a treaty which set the Emperor Alexios free but ordered that the Empire was obliged to pay a tribute to the Sultanate. See Arhweiler-Γλύκατζη, Ε., «Η αυτοκρατορία της Τραπεζούντας», Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους Θ': Υστεροβυζαντινοί χρόνοι (1204-1453) (Athens 1980), pp. 325-336, 326.

5. Andronikos I, after his victory against the Seljuk armies, gave as a gift to the monastery of Panagia Chrysokephalos a column made of valuable stones, one of the spoils from his battles with the Seljuks. See Bryer, A. – Winfield, D., ʺThe Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos Ιʺ, Dumbarton Oaks Studies 20 (Washington D.C. 1985), p. 239.