The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Iv Trebizond and The Journey Through Armenia

Trebizond - Trabzon

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ON Saturday, the 12th of April, the Emperor of Trebizond sent for the ambassadors, and when they arrived at his palace, they found him in a saloon, which was in an upper story; and he received them very well. After they had spoken with him, they returned to their lodging. With the emperor was his son, who was about twenty-five years of age; and the emperor was tall and handsome. The emperor and his son were dressed in imperial robes. They wore, on their heads, tall hats surmounted by golden cords, on the top of which were cranes' feathers; and the hats were bound with the skins of martens. They call the emperor Germanoli {Manuel II}, and his son Quelex {Alexis}; and they call the son emperor as well as the father, because it is the custom to call the eldest legitimate son emperor, although his father may be alive; and the Greek name for emperor, is Basileus. This emperor pays tribute to Timur Beg, and to other Turks, who are his neighbours. He is married to a relation of the Emperor of Constantinople, and his son is married to the daughter of a knight of Constantinople, and has two little daughters {The empire of Trebizond was founded by the Comneni, when they fled from the cruelty of Isaac Angelus, at Constantinople, in 1186. Alexis Comnenus assumed the title of Emperor of Trebizond. His descendants retained the title, and ruled over this small territory, until David Comnenus was deposed by Mohammed II in 1461. The Emperor of Trebizond, at the time when Clavijo passed through the city, was Manuel II, who paid tribute to Timur. He died in 1412, and was succeeded by his son Alexis IV}. On Sunday afternoon, the ambassadors being in their lodging, two knights came to see them, the most honored and confidential of the emperor's household. The first was named Horchi, which means the page who bears the bow before the emperor; and the other Protovestati, which means the same as treasurer. The latter was very intimate with the emperor, who did nothing in the empire against his advice, and they say that he was of base lineage, the son of a baker. They also say that the young emperor, seeing that his father made so much of this knight, and that he took no notice of the nobles of the empire, was enraged, and rose against his father, saying that he must dismiss this man. He made war, and besieged the city for three months, being assisted by the greatest men of the empire; but afterwards they came to an agreement, through Horchi, who was a friend of the young emperor, and of the others who had risen; nevertheless there afterwards succeeded dishonour, trouble, and injury to the said emperor, through his friendship for this cavalier. The city of Trebizond is built near the sea, and its wall rises up over some rocks, and on the highest part there is a very strong castle, which has another wall round it. A small river passes by the castle, and dashes over the rocks, and on this side the city is very strong, but on the other side it is on open ground. Outside the city walls there are suburbs, and the most beautiful part is a street near the sea, which is in one of these suburbs, where they sell all the things required in the city. On the shore there are two castles, with strong walls and towers, one belonging to the Venetians and the other to the Genoese, and they hold them with the consent of the emperor. Outside the city, there are many churches and monasteries. In this city the Armenians have a church and a bishop, and they consecrate the body of God in the same way as the Catholics; but the priest, when he dresses, does not put the stole with the cross on his breast, and when he reads the gospel, he turns his face to the people. When they consecrate, they do not put water in the chalice. They confess, and fast during Lent, and eat meat on Saturdays, and at Easter. During Lent their fast consists in not eating fish, nor oil, nor suet; and the common people eat fish, but do not drink wine. From Easter to Pentecost they eat meat every day, as well on Fridays as on other days in the week. They say that Jesus Christ was baptized on the day he was born, and they have other errors in their faith, but they are very religious, and hear mass very devoutly.