1. General about the Bandon
The word bandon (plural: banda) originally meant flags, the banners of military units.1 It then indicated a part of the tourma and a small military unit (50-100 people in case of a mountain troops and 200-400 in case of infantry). It also denoted the region the unit had undertaken to protect, and that is how the word came to mean the smallest administrative division of a theme.2 Although the rest of the Byzantine themes disintegrated and actually disappeared from the years of the Angelos dynasty, the terms theme and bandon survived in the Empire of Trebizond indicating the administrative territory.3
2. Τhe Bandon of Trebizond
The specific bandon of Trebizond is reported on a chrysobull (of 1386) issued by Emperor Alexios III Grand Komnenos, which granted privileges to the Vazelon Monastery.4 Among others, the document reports that the pinkernes (ἐπικέρνιος) Georgios Simates was present and signed in the capacity of doukas and kephale of the bandon: ‘the doukas and kephale of the entire bandon of Trebizond and epikernios Georgios Simates’.5 In earlier times, the metropolitan of Trebizond, Chrysanthos, had reported that the bandon of Trebizond was one of the banda of the theme of Chaldia and occupied an area equal to the area of the sancak of Trabzon.6 However, his source of information remains unknown and it should be noted that the bandon is not reported in the Middle Byzantine period. Taking into account that the contemporary administrative divisions of the prefecture of Trebizond –due to the geomorphology of the region– are generally based on the banda of the Empire of Trebizond, the lack of evidence concerning the Middle Byzantine years does not mean that we should exclude the possibility of the the bandon preexisting in the Middle Byzantine theme of Chaldia.7 As for the size, according to Βryer – Winfield, who recently estimated the area –as the boundaries are not accurately defined by the sources–, the bandon occupied the area around the city of Trebizond, while to the west and southwest it bordered the bandon of Trikomia (from the monastery of St. Barbara, little outside Trebizond, as far as Kitharaina –modern Kisarna). To the east the Pyxites River was the natural border with the bandon of Gemora (Yomra). Finally, the bandon of Matzouka extended to the south.8 The most important city was Trebizond, which gave its name to the territory, while the history of the bandon is indissolubly connected with the history of the city of Trebizond and the surrounding area. The institution of the bandon dates to the years of Alexios III Grand Komnenos (1349-1390), when the Empire of the Grand Komnenoi reached its heyday, despite the adverse conditions that prevailed almost throughout their reign due to invasions of Turkish tribes,9 revolts and conspiracies of the nobles of the area and the problems with the communities of Venetian and Genoese merchants.10
1. Κοlias, T., Byzantinische Waffen. Ein Beitrag zur byzantinischen Waffenkunde von den Anfängen bis zur lateinischen Eroberung (Wien 1988), p. 210.
2. Kυριακίδης, Σ., ‘Bυζαντιναί Mελέται V’, Σύμμεικτα, Eπιστημονική Eπετηρίς Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης 3 (1939), pp. 537-538; Kazhdan, A., ‘Bandon’, Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, I (Oxford 1991), p. 250; Trapp, Ε. (ed.), Lexikon zur byzantinischen Grazitat: Besonders des 9.-12. Jhs. (Wien 1994), p. 263.
3. Laurent, V., ‘Deux chrysobulles inédits des empereurs de Trébizonde Alexis IV-Jean IV et David II’, Αρχείον Πόντου 18 (1953), 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. Miklosich, F. – Müller, I., Acta et diplomata graeca medii aevi sacra et profana, vol. 5 (Wien 1887), pp. 468-469· Ouspensky, Th. – Bénéchevitch, V., Actes de Vazelon. Materiaux pour servir a l' histoire de la propriete, rurale et monastique a Byzance aux XIII – XV siècles (Вазелонские Акты. Материалы для истории крестьянского и монастырского землевладения в Византии XIII – XV веков) (Leningrad 1927), p. 61, nr. doc. 103· Xρύσανθος, μητροπολίτης Tραπεζούντος, «H Eκκλησία Tραπεζούντος», Aρχείον Πόντου 4-5 (1933), p. 496.
5. Trapp, E. (ed.), Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit, vol. 10 (Wien 1900) no. 25350, entry ‘Georgios Simates.
6. See Chrysanthos, metropolitan of Trebizond, ‘H Eκκλησία Tραπεζούντος’, Aρχείον Πόντου 4-5 (1933), pp. 52, 79. The particular sancak included the regions of Trebizond, Kerasounta and Kotyora (Urdu): Bryer, A.A.M. – Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos, Ι, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C. 1985), p. 3. It should be noted that the exact meaning of the word sancak in Turkish is ‘flag’ and renders the term bandon: Kυριακίδης, Σ., ‘Bυζαντιναί Mελέται V’, Σύμμεικτα, Eπιστημονική Eπετηρίς Φιλοσοφικής Σχολής Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης 3 (1939), p. 538.
7. Bryer, A.A.M., ‘Rural Society in Matzouka’, in Bryer, A.A.M. – Lowry, H. (ed.), Continuity and Change in Late Byzantine and Early Ottoman Society (Birmingham-Washington D.C. 1986), p. 53; Bryer, A.A.M., ’Τhe Estates of the Empire of Trebizond’, Αρχείον Πόντου 35 (1979), p. 428.
8. Bryer, A.A.M., ‘Rural Society in Matzouka’, in Bryer, A.A.M. – Lowry, H. (ed.), Continuity and Change in Late Byzantine and Early Ottoman Society (Birmingham-Washington D.C. 1986), p. 53; Bryer, A.A.M. – Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos, Ι, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C. 1985), pp. 219, 319.
9. Fallmerayer, J. Ph., Geschichte des Kαiserthums von Trapezunt (München 1827), pp. 142-149.
10. Bryer, A.A.M. – Winfield, D., The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of the Pontos, Ι, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection (Washington D.C. 1985), pp. 197-198, 202-203.