1902 Encyclopedia > Trebizond (now Trabzon, Turkey)

Trebizond
(now Trabzon, Turkey)




TREBIZOND, in Greek TRAPEZITS, a city of Asia archy ; and thus he succeeded without difficulty in making himself Minor, situated on the Black Sea, near its south-eastern master of the greater part of the southern coast of the Black Sea. angle, from the time of its foundation as a Greek colony The empire that was thus founded continued to exist until 1461, to the present day has always been a considerable emporium when the city was taken by Mohammed II., eight years after he had captured Constantinople. The cause of this long duration, and of commerce, and at one time was for two centuries and a at the -same time the secret of its history, is to be found in the half the capital of an empire. Its importance is due to isolated position of Trebizond and its district, between the mounits geographical position, because it commands the point tains and the sea, which has already been described. By this where the chief and most direct trade route from Persia means it was able to defy both the Seljdks and the Ottomans, and to maintain its independence against the emperors of Nicma and and Central Asia to Europe, over the tableland of Armenia Constantinople. But for the same reason its policy was always by Bayazid and Erzeroum, descends to the sea. Its safety narrow, so that it never exercised any beneficial influence on the also was secured by the barrier of rugged mountains which world at large. It was chiefly in the way of matrimonial alliances separates its district from the rest of Asia Minor, rising to that it was brought into contact with other states. The imperial the height of 7000 or 8000 feet above the sea-level. So family were renowned for their beauty, and the princesses of this race were sought as brides by Byzantine emperors of the dynasty complete is the watershed that no streams pass through of the Palmologi, by Western nobles, and by Mohammedan princes ; these ranges, and there is hardly any communication in and the connexions thus formed originated a variety of diplomatic this direction between the interior of Asia Minor and the relations and friendly or offensive alliances. The palace of Trebizond was famed for its magnificence, the court for its luxury and coast. For the same reason, together with its northern elaborate ceremonial, while at the same time it was frequently a aspect, the climate is humid and temperate, and favourable hotbed of intrigue and immorality. The Grand Comneni were to the growth of vegetation, unlike that of the inland also patrons of art and learning, and in consequence of this Trebiregions, which are exposed to great extremes of heat in zond was resorted to by many eminent men, by whose agency summer and cold in winter. The position which was the library of the palace was provided with valuable manuscripts and the city was adorned with splendid buildings. The writers occupied by the Hellenic and medival city is a sloping of the time speak with enthusiasm of its lofty towers, of the table of ground (whence the original name of the place, churches and monasteries in the suburbs, and especially of the Trapezus, or the " Tableland"), which falls in steep rocky gardens, orchards, and olive groves. It excited the admiration of precipices on the two sides, where two deep valleys, de- Gonzales Clavijo, the Spanish envoy, when he passed through it on his way to visit the court of Timur at Samarkand (Clavijo, scending from the interior, run parallel at no great distance Historict del Gran Tamorlan, p. 84) ; and Cardinal Bessarion, who from one another down to the sea, The whole is still was a native of the place, in the latter part of his life, when the inclosed by the Byzantine walls, which follow the line of city had passed into the hands of the Mohammedans, and he was the cliffs, and are carried along the sea-face ; and the himself a dignitary of the Roman Church, so little forgot the impression it had made upon him that he wrote a work entitled "The upper part of the level, which is separated from the lower Praise of Trebizond" ('E-yrcc:44top Tparecarros), which exists in by an inner cross wall, forms the castle ; while at the manuscript at Venice. Little was known of the history of the highest point, where a sort of neck is formed between the empire of Trebizond until the subject was taken in hand by Prof. two valleys, is the keep which crowns the whole. The Fallmerayer of Munich, who discovered the chronicle of Michael fortifications and their surroundings are singularly pictur- Panaretus among the books of Cardinal Bessarion, and from that work, and other sources of information which were chiefly unknown esqne, for the towers, some round, some angular, which up to that time, compiled his Geschichte des Kaiserthums Vora project from them are in many cases covered with creepers, Trapezunt (Munich, 1827). Finlay's account of the period, in the and the gardens that occupy the valleys below teem with fourth volume of his History of Greece, is based on this. From time to time the emperors of Trebizond paid tribute to the Seljukluxuriant vegetation. On each side, about half-way be- sultans of Iconiurn, to the grand khans of the Mongols, to Timur tween the keep and the sea, these ravines are crossed by the Tartar, to the Turcoman chieftains, and to the Ottomans ; but massive bridges, and on the further side of the western- by means of skilful negotiations they were enabled practically to most of these, away from the city, a large tower and other secure their independence. We find them also at war with many of these powers, and with the Genoese, who endeavoured to fortifications remain, which must have served to defend the monopolize theck being that which is now called the Kaleh, and is inhabited by the Turks ; occurred in the reign of Andronicus I., the second emperor, when eastward of this is the extensive Christian quarter, and the Seljaks, under the command of Melik, the son of the great beyond this again a low promontory juts northward into sultan Ala-ed-din, first assaulted the northern wall in the direction I the sea, partry covered with the houses of a well-built of the sea, and afterwards endeavoured to storm the upper citadel by night. They failed, however, in both attempts ; and in the suburb, which is the principal centre of commerce. The latter, owing to the darkness, and to the occurrence of a violent pelled to abandon their cam p d make e b their escape north-east, and having been much silted up, so that vessels from the country. So great wasan the strength ofest theof fortifications cannot approach within a considerable distance of the that, when Mohammed II. turned his thoughts towards the subjushore. The neighbourhood of this is the liveliest portion gation of this state, he might have experienced much difficulty in of the city, as it is from here that the caravans start for Persia, and at certain periods of the year long trains of camels may be seen, and Persian merchants conspicuous by their high black caps and long robes. The total population of the place is estimated at 32,000, of whom 2000 are Armenians, 7000 or 8000 Greeks, and the rest Turks.





into notice at the time of the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, who found repose there. Notwithstanding its commercial importance, reducing it, and might have been disposed to offer favourable terms, had it not been for the pusillanimous conduct of David, the last emperor, who surrendered the place almost unconditionally.

Several interesting monuments of this period remain at Trebizond in the form of churches in the Byzantine style of architecture. One of these is within the area of the old city, viz., the church of the Panaghia Chrysokephalos, or Virgin of the Golden Head, a large and massive but excessively plain building, which is now the The city of Trapezus was a colony of Sinope, but it first comes in the sea, about two miles to the west of the city. The porches of this are handsomely ornamented, and about a hundred feet from it rises a tall campanile, the inner walls of which have been covered in parts with frescos of religious subjects, though these are now much defaced. But the most remarkable memorial of the Middle Ages that exists in all this district is the monastery of Sumelas, which is situated among the mountains, about 25 miles from Trebizond, at the side of a rocky glen, at a height of 4000 feet above the sea. Its position is most extraordinary, for it occupies a cavern in the middle of the face of a perpendicular cliff a thousand feet high, where the white buildings offer a marked contrast to the brown rock which forms their setting. It is approached by a zigzag path at the side of the cliff, from which a flight of stone steps and a wooden staircase give access to the monastery. Tho valley below is filled with the richest vegetation, the undergrowth being largely composed of azaleas and rhododendrons. An antiquity of 1500 years is claimed for the foundation of the monastery, but it is certain that the first person who raised it to importance was the emperor Alexius Comnenus III. of Trebizond ; he rebuilt it in 1360, and richly endowed it. The golden bull of that emperor, which became thenceforth the charter of its foundation, is still preserved ; it is one of the finest specimens of such documents, and contains portraits of Alexius himself and his queen. The monastery also possesses the firman of Mohammed II. by which he accorded his protection to the monks when he became master of the country. (II. F. T.)






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