Michael Panaretos in context: a historiographical study of the chronicle on the emperors of Trebizond
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It has often been said it would be impossible to write the history of the empire of Trebizond (1204-1461) without the terse and often frustratingly laconic chronicle of the Grand Komnenoi by the protonotarios of Alexios III (1349-1390), Michael Panaretos. While recent scholarship has infinitely enhanced our knowledge of the world in which Panaretos lived, it has been approximately seventy years since a scholar dedicated a historiographical study to the text. This study examines the world that Panaretos wanted posterity to see, examining how his post as imperial secretary and his use of sources shaped his representation of reality, whether that reality was Trebizond’s experience of foreigners, the reign of Alexios III, or a narrative that showed the superiority of Trebizond on the international stage. Finally by scrutinizing Panaretos in this way, this paper also illuminates how modern historians of Trebizond have been led astray by the chronicler, unaware of how Panaretos selected material for inclusion for the narratives of his chronicle.