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John II Megas Komnenos (Greek: Ιωάννης Β΄ Μέγας Κομνηνός, Iōannēs II Megas Komnēnos), (c. 1262–August 16, 1297) Emperor of Trebizond from 1280 to 1297. He was the youngest son of Emperor Manuel I and his third wife, Irene Syrikaina, a Trapezuntine noblewoman. He succeeded to the throne after the capture of his full-brother George by the Mongol Ilkhan Abaqa.

The reign was dominated by relations with the restored Byzantine Empire under Michael VIII Palaiologos. After his ally Abaqa had disposed of George, the Byzantine Emperor demanded that John renounce the title of 'Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans' because the lands John occupied were only part of the Empire and it did not include Constantinople. John, however, replied that he was following the precedent set by his predecessors and that the nobility of Trebizond would not allow him to renounce the traditional title. Michael also regarded John as a threat, because some opponents of Michael's acceptance of union with the Western Church saw John as a viable Orthodox candidate for the imperial throne.

In spite of this exchange, John II reversed the policy of his predecessor, who had allied with Charles of Anjou and the anti-Unionists against Michael VIII. At Michael VIII's invitation, after some initial reluctance John agreed to marry Michael's third daughter, Eudokia Palaiologina in Constantinople in 1282. While in Constantinople, John was treated as the holder of the high court dignity of despotes.

After returning to Trebizond, John II abandoned the title 'Emperor of the Romans' for that of 'Emperor and Autocrat of all the East, the Iberians, and the Transmarine Provinces', although Iberia had been lost in the reign of Andronikos I Gidos. The Emperors of Trebizond and their family began to consistently call themselves the Great Komnenoi (Megas Komnenos/Megale Komnene).

During John II's absence, his brother-in-law the Georgian King of Imereti, David VI Narin had taken advantage of the situation and attempting to restore Georgian influence in the Empire of Trebizond besieged the capital. Though he failed to take the city, the Georgians occupied several provinces and helped John’s half-sister Theodora, daughter of Manuel I by his Georgian wife, Rusudan, seize the throne in 1284, but she was defeated shortly afterwards and John returned to power in 1285.

The improvement of relations with the Byzantine Empire probably contributed to the relaxation or disappearance of Mongol overlordship over Trebizond. In spite of this and the continued prosperity of Trebizond, the reign of John II coincided with the conquest of the western province of Chalybia by the Turks, who took advantage of the problems caused by the Georgian invasion and the civil war between John and Theodora.

In 1291 Pope Nicholas IV wrote two letters inviting John II to convert to Catholicism, join in a new crusade for the recovery of the Holy Land and be Christianity's envoy to the Mongols. Although John did not respond to the pope's invitation, he maintained good relations with western merchants and English envoys to the Mongols passed through his domains in the 1290s.

John died at Limnia in 1297, whence his body was transported to his capital and interred in the church of the "Golden-headed" Virgin, Panagia Chrysokephale.

By his marriage to Eudokia Palaiologina, John II had two sons:

  1. Alexios II, who succeeded as emperor
  2. Michael
John II of Trebizond
Komnenid dynasty
Born: c. 1262 Died: 16 August 1297
Regnal titles
Preceded by
George
Emperor of Trebizond
1280–1284
Succeeded by
Theodora
Preceded by
Theodora
Emperor of Trebizond
1285–1297
Succeeded by
Alexios II

References

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