14th-Century Galleys in the Black Sea: Ships in the Romance of Alexander the Great



A 14th-century illuminated copy of the Romance of Alexander the Great, now in Venice, offers unique pictorial information about the galleys operating in that period in the Black Sea. The manuscript, commissioned by the emperor of Trebizond and copied in the same region in the mid-14th century, includes images which almost certainly portray contemporary galleys with crews from Italy. The presence of Italian merchants and sailors in the Levant is well documented in historical sources, but this is the first clue for the presence of contracted sailors or mercenaries in the empire of Trebizond.

© 2007 The Author