The 1257 A.D. caldera-forming eruption of Samalas (Lombok, Indonesia) was recently associated with the largest sulphate spike of the last 2 ky recorded in polar ice cores. It is suspected to have impacted climate both locally and at a global scale. Extensive fieldwork coupled with sedimentological, geochemical and physical analyses of eruptive products enabled us to provide new constraints on the stratigraphy and eruptive dynamics. This four-phase continuous eruption produced a total of 33-40 km3 dense rock equivalent (DRE) of deposits, consisting of (i) 7-9 km3 DRE of pumiceous plinian fall products, (ii) 16 km3 DRE of pyroclastic density current deposits (PDC) and (iii) 8-9 km3 DRE of co-PDC ash that settled over the surrounding islands and was identified as far as 660 km from the source on the flanks of Merapi volcano (Central Java). Widespread accretionary lapilli-rich deposits provide evidence of the occurrence of a violent phreatomagmatic phase during the eruption. With a peak mass eruption rate of 4.6 × 108 kg/s, a maximum plume height of 43 km and a dispersal index of 110,500 km2, the 1257 A.D. eruption stands as the most powerful eruption of the last millennium. Eruption dynamics are consistent with an efficient dispersal of sulphur-rich aerosols across the globe. Remarkable reproducibility of trace element analysis on a few milligrammes of pumiceous tephra provides unequivocal evidence for the geochemical correlation of 1257 A.D. proximal reference products with distal tephra identified on surrounding islands. Hence, we identify and characterise a new prominent inter-regional chronostratigraphic tephra marker.