27:39 | Feb 7th
Zoe chooses Constantine Monomachos to be her new husband and Emperor. We discuss his character and relationship with our historian Michael Psellos. Then move on to two major challenges which greeted his arrival on the throne.
45:16 | Nov 25th, 2018
An interview with Peter Adamson from the History of Philosophy Without any Gaps podcast. We talk primarily about Michael Psellos and his role in the intellectual history of Byzantium. But we also talk about Byzantine philosophy in general.
42:12 | Oct 12th, 2018
I was a guest on the Dead Ideas podcast to discuss the Varangian Guard. We talk about their role in the palace and the field armies and contrast their role to Eunuchs in Byzantium. Do check out Dead Ideas for episodes covering Titoism, Serfdom, Cunei...Show More
1:11:25 | Sep 7th, 2017
The full interview with Professor Kaldellis about his book "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood." The book is a narrative history from the time when Nicephorus Phokas took charge of the military through till the First Crusade. In our conversation we tal...Show More
29:02 | Aug 24th, 2017
We look at a series of questions about what's been happening in Bulgaria since the peace was signed in 927. Why were the Rus able to defeat the Bulgarians so quickly? What did the Roman occupation look like? And more.
32:43 | Aug 3rd, 2017
We begin our mini end-of-the-century series by talking about our sources. Huge thanks to Professor Anthony Kaldellis for talking to me about his new book "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood." It's a narrative history covering the period from when Nicep...Show More
35:15 | Jun 8th, 2017
John Tzimiskes pacifies his domestic and foreign enemies as he consolidates his rule. However the Rus leader Sviatoslav makes the decision to move his capital to the Danube forcing the Romans to respond.
37:08 | Mar 18th, 2017
948-954. We return to the frontier where the Phokas family inflict a series of sharp defeats on Sayf al-Dawla. Sayf starts again by restoring his border fortresses and driving off Roman attacks. When Constantine Phokas is captured alive the war begin...Show More
46:50 | Mar 3rd, 2017
An interview with Professor John Haldon about his book "The Empire That Would Not Die: The Paradox of Eastern Roman Survival, 640-740." In particular we discuss environmental research which helps us understand important changes in Anatolia. I think y...Show More
39:33 | Feb 17th, 2017
A Rus raid delays John Kourkouas from leading a raid into Syria. When he does though he captures the sacred Mandylion and brings it back to the capital. Soon afterwards though he and Romanus are ousted from power.
39:07 | Feb 10th, 2017
John Kourkouas captures Melitene, providing the Empire with its first eastern conquest in centuries. The Islamic world is alarmed at this news and the Hamdanid family begin to provide resistance. However their preoccupation with Baghdad means they ma...Show More
38:52 | Feb 3rd, 2017
927-8 was a terrible winter. The suffering of the common people led many to sell their farms to their wealthy neighbours. Romanus legislated quickly to put a stop to it. Meanwhile John Kourkouas led the army into Armenia with Melitene in his sights.
42:51 | Jan 27th, 2017
Back in the tent with Symeon and Nicholas we learn that a title was granted that day. Symeon wanted to be hailed as Emperor. Wrangling over this title would lead to another decade of war before the two sides could come together.
41:49 | Dec 11th, 2016
Aside from the rise of the landed magnates there have been some other important changes in the Roman military in the past century. We cover the Themes, recruitment, payment, skirmishing and all the rest.
43:25 | Sep 21st, 2016
With the Caliphate in decline the Romans take a greater interest in the Armenian lands on their eastern border. We explore the fragmented landscape and politics of Armenia and take a quick glance at Cilicia and the forts beyond.
37:00 | Jun 10th, 2016
We chart the rise of Basil the Macedonian and his murder of both Bardas and Michael. We also look at how Basil's descendants would re-brand Michael as "the Drunkard" before saying goodbye to the Amorion Dynasty.
43:09 | May 30th, 2016
Theodora and Theoctistus rule for young Michael until he comes of age. Then Uncle Bardas takes over the government. Meanwhile the Romans begin to gain the upper hand in Anatolia while a schism with the Papacy looms.
1:23:53 | Mar 13th, 2016
Leo's murder is greeted with disgust in Anatolia where men rally behind Thomas the Slav. But back at the capital men get behind Michael of Amorium as a suitable replacement. This split leads to a three year civil war and a stalemate which suggests th...Show More
46:05 | Feb 14th, 2016
Leo restores Iconoclasm and defeats the Bulgars in battle. After signing the peace treaty he raid the Caliphate and returns to domestic matters. However a palace conspiracy overthrows him in favour of his old ally Michael of Amorium.
44:24 | Jan 17th, 2016
Nicephorus turns his attention to the Balkans and begins settling colonists in the Peloponnese. His plans for Macedonia though are thwarted by the Bulgars. The Emperor organises a mass migration from Anatolia to Europe and reorganises the Themes and ...Show More
1:26:56 | Nov 12th, 2015
An interview with Professor Anthony Kaldellis about his book "The Byzantine Republic." It's a fascinating discussion about Byzantine political culture. He explores what the Romans really thought about their government and what all those rebellions re...Show More
43:37 | Oct 3rd, 2015
We explore the lives of the former Romans of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. We discuss the survival of language and Christianity and answer other listener questions. We also look at what the Romans and Arabs really thought of one another.
33:47 | Sep 11th, 2015
How did Charlemagne and Leo each spin the coronation of 800AD? And how did the Byzantines react to the growth of Frankish power? After examining these questions we look at your questions about the 8th century West.
49:05 | Sep 4th, 2015
We look at developments in the West during the 8th century. We follow the rise of the Carolingians and the amazing career of Charlemagne. We also see the various dilemma faced by the Papacy and how the collapse of Byzantine influence created a new po...Show More
42:53 | Aug 14th, 2015
An army revolt leads to Constantine becoming sole ruler. But soon Irene is back in the palace while her son searches in vain for military glory. Eventually though her desire to rule again overwhelms her love for her son.
51:27 | Aug 5th, 2015
The Empress Irene becomes Regent for her son Constantine VI and sets about securing their rule. She manages to gain the support of the bureaucracy, army and church. Then she organises another Ecumenical Council to restore the Icons.
37:50 | Jul 26th, 2015
An introduction to life in Antioch in 350AD. Amidst the great buildings live the beleaguered poor of the Roman world. The Christians were destined to care for and convert these people but in 350AD the threat of losing souls to Judaism or Paganism was...Show More
38:11 | Jul 9th, 2015
Constantine V faces a conspiracy against his throne and his response is violent. He continues to rebuild his capital and campaign against the Bulgars. Yet despite all his success he was remembered as the Dung named.
39:37 | Jun 24th, 2015
Constantine V gathers an Ecumenical Council to gain acceptance for his views on the place of icons. He also goes to war with the Bulgar Khanate. We close by discussing his personal life and the capture of Ravenna by the Lombards.
41:29 | Jun 2nd, 2015
Constantine V becomes Emperor but is immediately forced into a two year civil war. Once back in power we follow his reorganisation of the army and military planning in the face of the Caliphate's own internal struggles.
31:34 | Feb 24th, 2015
Justinian II heads off into exile but dreams of returning to Constantinople. He makes friends in Cherson and talks openly of rebellion. The city's authorities report this to Apsimar and Justinian flees Cherson looking for an ally who can return him t...Show More
45:18 | Nov 6th, 2014
An interview with Tom Holland, author of the book "In the Shadow of the Sword." The book traces the origins of Islam by looking at the Jewish, Roman and Persian worlds of late antiquity. In the interview he gives his views on how this process worked ...Show More
41:34 | Oct 6th, 2014
Justinian II comes to power aged 16 and begins imitating his namesake in ambition and productivity. He orders campaigns in east and west, begins building and taxing and calls for an Ecumenical Council. All the while though his popularity plummets.
35:48 | Sep 18th, 2014
Constantine IV inherits his father's throne together with his ceaseless war with Muʿāwiyah. As the Caliph builds a fleet to threaten Constantinople the Emperor responds with the weapons at his disposal.
46:36 | Aug 26th, 2014
Heraclius' family fall out with each other over the succession. The crown eventually comes to rest on the head of the fourteen year old Constans II. He is left with an Empire under attack in Egypt, Armenia and the Mediterranean.
2:29:35 | Jul 8th, 2014
Heraclius takes the winter off to plan what to do next. He needs to buy off the Avars as he removes all the remaining troops from the Balkans. After training the last Roman army left in the Empire, Heraclius prepares to march East and either restore ...Show More
41:20 | Oct 4th, 2013
We look at how the Roman army has changed up to the end of the 6th century. To guide us we are using the Byzantine army manual the Strategikon. We learn how the army fought, who fought, what they looked like and how they were organised.
36:28 | Aug 2nd, 2013
The new Emperor Justin II comes to power with the conviction that the Roman Empire should not be paying tribute to anyone. But after cancelling subsidies to the Avars, the Ghassanids and the Persians he finds himself with war and disaster on all side...Show More
41:47 | Jun 14th, 2013
With the sack of Antioch, the Italian conquest falling apart and the Plague, the years 540-45 were like a nightmare for Justinian. The next five years would continue to bring bad news as war continues on every front and members of the Imperial family...Show More
51:09 | May 27th, 2013
The Plague arrives at Pelusium and spreads to Alexandria where it rages for four months. By Spring 542 the Egyptians have to begin sending out the grain fleets. They export the Plague with them and Constantinople endures a nightmare summer of death.
35:18 | May 10th, 2013
Khosrou leads the Persian Army across the border into Syria and begins extorting money from every city he passes. The Byzantine army is nowhere to be found as the army approaches the Empire's third largest city: Antioch.
37:31 | Apr 12th, 2013
Belisarius is content to leave John to die in Ariminum but the Chamberlain Narses arrives and begs to differ. Conflicts over how to complete the conquest of Italy lead to disaster at Milan and a long delay in finally reaching Ravenna.
39:43 | Mar 29th, 2013
When Athalaric, Prince of the Goths dies in 534 his mother has to choose whether to flee East or try to cling to power. Amalasuntha makes the wrong choice and calls in her cousin Theodahad. When he has her killed he hands Justinian the chance to inva...Show More
41:39 | Mar 1st, 2013
With the Nika Revolt quelled, Justinian orders Belisarius to retake the province of Africa. In the Summer of 533 an armada sets sail and lands east of Carthage. Belisarius leads his army cautiously up the coast as King Gelimer rallies his army.
40:08 | Feb 15th, 2013
In January 532 a seemingly typical riot at the races escalates into a full blown rebellion against Justinian. Trapped up in the Palace while Constantinople burns, the Emperor must decide whether to flee or to fight.
35:43 | Feb 4th, 2013
In part three we return to Constantinople and see Justinian begin to reform his Empire. We take a look at his building projects, his new legal code and the laws he enacted. Particularly those aimed at pagans and heretics.
41:07 | Jan 5th, 2013
The first five years of Justinian's reign (527-532) are so incident-filled that it will take us a few episodes to get through them. In part one we stay on the Eastern front for the Battle of Dara.
38:11 | Dec 3rd, 2012
We get a thorough introduction to Justinian, Justin's nephew and presumed heir. We look as Justinian's education and the kind of worldview he was developing. We follow his rise up the ranks from Palace guard to potential Caesar.
38:00 | Sep 27th, 2012
We restart the narrative with the death of the Emperor Anastasius and the accession of Justin, Count of the Excubitors. The new Emperor is decidedly orthodox and begins a persecution of the monophysites and heals the schism with Rome. We also introdu...Show More
34:49 | Sep 27th, 2012
We finally end our tour of the Empire by examining the Byzantine state. By focussing on the government, the church and the army we see how the Empire is shaping up since the fall of the West and how it is set up to deal with the world we explored in ...Show More
38:40 | Sep 27th, 2012
In this episode we move across the Bosporus into the Eastern Provinces and explore Anatolia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. We then take a look at the neighbours of the Empire and see what the Persians are up to before moving on to the Arabs, Armenians ...Show More
50:16 | Sep 27th, 2012
We explore the capital of the Byzantine Empire: Constantinople. We look at the origins of the city and trace its development from Greek city to Imperial centre. Then we see why it had such a strategically valuable location. After that we visit the ci...Show More
29:23 | Sep 26th, 2012
The Emperor Anastasius now faces a real rebellion from the Count of the Federates in Thrace, Vitalian. The Emperor sends out an army under his nephew Hypatius but they are defeated and Vitalian marches on Constantinople.
28:07 | Sep 26th, 2012
The Emperor Anastasius deals with more riots along with an invasion in the West by the Bulgars and the East by the Persians. He then begins to give in to his monophysite sympathies and is almost toppled after allowing his Patriarch to interfere with ...Show More
41:16 | Sep 26th, 2012
The Emperor Zeno dies in 491 after trying to appease the monophysites with his 'Henoticon.' Zeno's widow Ariadne then gets to pick his succesor and marries Flavius Anastasius. We have a look at the early years of his reign and the Isaurian War.
31:06 | Jun 15th, 2012
The Emperor Zeno is now back in charge and has to deal with the members of the conspiracy that ousted him. In the first half of the episode we see how he handled his enemies close to him and in the second we look at his relationship with the Goths.