John Grand Komnenos, the future Emperor John III (1342-1344) was the son of Michael Grand Komnenos (emperor, 1344-1349). Before he was crowned emperor he stayed with his father in Constantinople.1 The strife among the members of the aristocracy played a crucial role to John’s rise to the throne of Trebizond.2 The rise to power of the native nobles, the Amytzantarios family, during the reign of Anna Anachoutlou, drove the Scholarios family, an aristocratic family with close links to Constantinople, to constantly strive for her dethronement, with the help of other noble families of Trebizond. After his father’s unsuccessful attempt to the throne in 13413 and his confinement to Oinaion, John received an embassy comprised of Niketas Scholares, Gregory and Michael Meizomates, John and Constantine Doranites, and other members of the aristocracy; they travelled to Constantinople in a Genoese ship and offered John the Trapezuntine throne.
In 1341 John accepted the proposals of the Trapezuntine aristocracy and led the opposition against Anna Anachoutlou (1341-1342). He left Constantinople on August 17 with three Genoese ships and two of his own, and arrived Trebizond on September the 4th. Aided by the people of Trebizond, he soon gained control of the city and on September 9 he was crowned emperor in the church of Panagia Chrysokephalos. He proceeded to arrest members of the local aristocracy. The Scholarioi, empowered by John’s rise to the throne, brutally attacked the Amytzantarioi, while Anna Anachoutlou and Sargale, widow of Alexios II Grand Komnenos (1297-1330) were strangled to death, possibly under orders of John III. In his short reign, John III Grand Komnenos was forced to repel the attack of the Amitiotai Turks (Turkmens of Amida/Diyarbakır), in June 1343.
In May 1344, his father Michael Grand Komnenos escaped from his prison in the area of Limnia and went to Trebizond with claims to the throne. The people of Trebizond displeased by John III still keeping his father in the imprisoned state imposed on him by Anna Anachoutlou, sided with Michael. John III Grand Komnenos was dethroned and sent in exile to the rock-cut church of St Sabbas. Details on the rest of his life remain uknown.
1. After the enthronement of his brother Alexios II (1297-1330), Michael Grand Komnenos went to Constantinople, where he lived under the protection of his uncle, the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (1282-1328). Miller, W., Trebizond. The Last Greek Empire (London 1926), p. 50.
2. At that time, the Trapezuntine aristocracy was primarily represented by two groups: the Scholarioi, who supported the Constantinopolitan tradition, and the native Amytzantarioi. Each group was aiming to install a new social and political balance, and to obtain more power. See Βλ. Λυμπερόπουλος, B., O Bυζαντινός Πόντος. H αυτοκρατορία της Τραπεζούντας (Athens 1999), p. 132.
3. Michael had attempted to ascend to the throne of Trebizond with the support of the Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos and members of the Trapezuntine aristocracy. See Χρύσανθος, μητροπολίτης Τραπεζούντος, «Η Εκκλησία της Τραπεζούντος», Αρχείον Πόντου 4-5 (Athens 1933), pp. 242-243.