Royal Pretenders:

 

Empire of Trebizond (Thessaly)

Royal House of Angelus Comnenus

Michael III

 

 

Tædivm Homepage
 
 
 
UST Private Collection
Trebizond


 

 

 

 

This page was made possible by the combined effort of diverse members of the

 USNS

Unrecognised States Numismatic Society

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1955

USNS-ETZ-C 001 (Bruce X#1)

Year: 1955
Metal: Copper
Condition:  Proof
Designer: C. Gamborini
Mint: Lorioli, Milano
Mintage: 100 pcs.
Weight: 10 grams
Diameter: 30 mm.
Denomination: 10 centimes
Edge type: plain

USNS-ETZ-C 002a (Bruce X#2)

Year: 1955
Metal: Silver
Condition:  Proof
Designer: C. Gamborini
Mint: Lorioli, Milano
Mintage: 100 pcs.
Weight: 25.00 grams
Diameter:  37 mm.
Denomination: 5 francs
Edge type: plain

USNS-ETZ-C 002b (Bruce X#4)

Year: 1955
Metal: .900 Gold (hallmarked)
Condition:  Matte Proof
Designer: C. Gamborini
Mint: Lorioli, Milano
Mintage: unknown
Weight: 28.27 grams
Diameter:  37 mm.
Denomination: 5 francs
Edge type: plain

USNS-ETZ-C 003 (Bruce X#3)

Year: 1955
Metal: .900 Gold
Condition:  Proof
Designer: C. Gamborini
Mint: Lorioli, Milano
Mintage: 100 pcs.
Weight: 6.45 grams
Diameter: 21 mm.
Denomination: 20 francs
Edge type: plain

USNS-ETZ-SET 001 (Bruce XPS1)

Year: 1955

included:

3 coins (ETZ-C001, C002, C003)

 

 



 

 

EMPIRE OF TREBIZOND: The Empire of Trebizond (Thessaly) was a successor state of the Byzantine Empire, founded in 1204 as a result of the capture of Constantinople by the 4th Crusade. The shores of this former empire were located along the south-eastern coastal region of the Black Sea, in what is now Turkey's Trabzon province. This Empire flourished until 1461, the ruling dynasty being descended from the great Comnenus dynasty of Byzantium. The final emperor of Trebizond was David Angelus Comnenus; he and nearly all other male Comneni were put to death after Trebizond was conquered and annexed by the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad II.

During the 12th century a branch of the Comnenus family emigrated to the Italian Peninsula; with the fall of Trebizond in 1461 and the execution of the Comneni there, this branch became one of the branches possibly claimant to the throne; being descended from nobility they intermarried with local royalty, amongst others from the Kingdoms of Sicily.

When Mario Bernardo Angelo Comneno (1914-1988) became head of (the Italian branch of) the Comnenus family in the 1950s, he was already a well known figure in Italy; as a soldier he had been honoured by several medals during the wars in Libya and Eritrea in 1395-1937, in Albania in 1941 (where he was wounded at battle) and in 1944-1945 by the Americans and British. Following WWII, he built up a career as a tax lawyer. According to Mr. Manuele Comneno, his grandson, Mr. Comneno, from the 1950’s onwards, used to sign his name as Michael III for internal documents concerning the family, thus showing his lineage from Michael II, the most famous and important emperor in the Comnenus dynasty; this was not meant to be seen as a claim to the throne of Trebizond, but rather a way of honouring his ancestor.

Rebels, Pretenders, and Impostors by Mr. C. Cheesman and Mr. J. Williams state that Mr. Comneno is not a true heir of the Comnenus dynasty, but an impostor with a “keen interest in his own glorious genealogical past”. According to Mr. Manuele Comneno, this claim by the authors is false and must be dismissed out of hand, the contrary having been proven in court.

The numismatic history of the coin set is intriguing as well; based on information by Mr. Manuele Comneno, the coin set was made as a gift for the occasion of Mr. Comneno’s 40th birthday by Mr. Gamberini from Florence, a family friend; the set can thus be seen as a private medallic issue rather than as true Pretender coinage.

© 2007 Tædivm / C.D. Shiboleth. Information and scans courtesy of M.F. Angelo-Comneno, E.V.M. McCrea, O. Paz and C.D. Shiboleth. Layout thanks to G. Cruickshank / USNS.