The History of Byzantium


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A podcast telling the story of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire from 476 AD to 1453

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Episode 186 - The Pecheneg Wars

39:09 | Mar 1st

The first large Seljuk raids on the Empire lead to a series of events which unravel Byzantium's Western defences.

The History of History Podcasting

11:09 | Feb 22nd

A quick interview with me about the History of History Podcasting

Episode 185 - Winning the Election

31:16 | Feb 15th

Constantine Monomachos faces yet more challenges in the early years of his reign. We cover the annexation of Ani, the Pechenegs crossing the Danube and the revolt of Leo Tornikios.

Episode 184 - Act Two Begins

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.

Backer Rewards Episode 12 - Harald Hardrada with Noah Tetzner

26:34 | Feb 2nd

Our twelfth Kickstarter backers reward episode looks at the life of Harald Hardrada in conversation with Noah Tetzner from the History of Vikings Podcast.

Episode 183 is live

03:05 | Jan 25th

If you'd like to hear about the dramatic fall of Michael V then episode 183 is now available to buy

Episode 182 - The Double Agent

29:42 | Jan 18th

We cover the Bulgarian uprising of 1040 and the events elsewhere in the Balkans which led up to it.

Episode 181 - A Bunch of Nobodies

28:06 | Jan 11th

Michael IV marries Zoe and becomes Emperor. Despite ill health he rules well with his brother John the Orphanotrophos. Their invasion of Sicily goes well initially but soon falls apart.

Episode 180 - Stumbling Forward

25:54 | Dec 28th, 2018

Romanos III is faced with the same problems which troubled his predecessor. He decides that a campaign against Aleppo will solve some of his problems. Meanwhile Zoe is left alone and frustrated in the Palace.

Episode 179 - Where Were We

20:16 | Dec 22nd, 2018

We return to the narrative with a short introduction and the short reign of Basil's brother Constantine VIII.

Backer Rewards Episode 11 - The Jewish Communities of Byzantium

20:03 | Dec 14th, 2018

Our eleventh Kickstarter backers reward episode explores Byzantium's Jewish communities.

Episode 178 - Questions VII

29:20 | Dec 7th, 2018

Listener questions on Varangians, provincial administration, diplomacy, family mottos and the ever popular top 5 best and worst Emperors.

Episode 177 - Questions VI

30:00 | Dec 1st, 2018

Listener questions on houses, slavery, citizenship, vacations and common sayings amongst others.

Episode 176 - Michael Psellos with Peter Adamson

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.

Episode 175 - The Turks

20:15 | Nov 20th, 2018

The Turks are coming to the borders of Armenia and we examine why.

Backer Rewards Episode 10 - Economy and Population Questions

37:10 | Nov 7th, 2018

Our tenth Kickstarter backers reward episode answers a series of questions about the growing population and economy.

Episode 174 - The Economic Recovery

27:21 | Nov 1st, 2018

We explore the economic recovery of the Empire.

Backer Rewards Episode 9 - The Sweep of History

25:37 | Oct 19th, 2018

Our ninth Kickstarter backers reward episode discusses the sweep of history during our period and what lies under the maps.

Episode 173 - Dead Ideas Podcast interview: The Varangian Guard

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

Episode 172 - The Roman Army in 1025 AD

28:25 | Oct 5th, 2018

We discuss the past century of success for the Roman military and answer some listener questions

Backer Rewards Episode 8 – Greek Fire on Land

16:38 | Sep 27th, 2018

Our eighth Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about the use of Greek Fire on land.

Episode 171 - The Eastern Frontier

29:02 | Sep 21st, 2018

We head to the Eastern frontier to see what Byzantium's expansion into Armenia meant for the Empire.

Tour Announcement

03:23 | Sep 19th, 2018

The 2019 History of Byzantium tour is here. Book your place now!

Backer Rewards Episode 7 - Georgia and the Black Sea

16:45 | Sep 14th, 2018

Our seventh Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about Georgia, the Orthodox nations around the Black Sea and Ravenna.

Episode 170 - The "Conquest" of Armenia

31:51 | Sep 7th, 2018

We head to the Eastern frontier to see what Byzantium's expansion into Armenia meant for the Empire.

Backer Rewards Episode 6 - Respect, Institutions, Justice

17:29 | Aug 24th, 2018

Our sixth Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about the institutions which influenced Byzantine life and the legal punishments for everyday crimes.

Episode 169 - Constantinople in 1025

37:54 | Aug 19th, 2018

Having covered the famous monuments thoroughly we take a look around the rest of Constantinople. We survey changes in the population, harbours, architecture and palace amongst other things.

Byzantine Stories Episode 7 Announcement

01:55 | Aug 7th, 2018

Byzantine Stories Episode 7: Women in the Roman World is now available

Backer Rewards Episode 5 - Imperial Qualities and More Feelings

12:49 | Jul 8th, 2018

Our fifth Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about what makes a good Emperor and more about feeling attached to the Romans.

Backer Rewards Episode 4 - Lucky Romans and Being a Celebrity

16:07 | Jun 28th, 2018

Our fourth Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about Constantinople and some personal ones for me.

Backer Rewards Episode 3 - What was Istanbul like?

22:15 | Jun 23rd, 2018

Our third Kickstarter backers reward episode features a lot of chat about my trip to Istanbul. I talk about the experience of visiting for the first time and answer listener questions.

Backer Rewards Episode 2 - A Day in the Life of a Podcaster

17:03 | Jun 12th, 2018

Our second Kickstarter backers reward episode featuring some book recommendations and me describing a day in the life of a podcaster.

Episode 168 - A Guided Tour

25:41 | Jun 6th, 2018

What would a foreign visitor to Constantinople expect to see and hear?

Episode 167 - Five Centuries On

25:59 | May 28th, 2018

We survey the main structures and services of Constantinople to see what has changed since 518 AD (episode 10 of the show)

Post Script to episode 166

05:36 | May 23rd, 2018

An explanation and some credits from Episode 166 - To The City.

Episode 166 - To The City

37:32 | May 21st, 2018

You visit Constantinople, guided by a stranger.

Backer Rewards Episode 1 - Byzantine Games

09:54 | May 12th, 2018

Our first Kickstarter backers reward episode showcasing the Byzantine board and role playing games available.

Send me your thoughts

01:47 | Apr 12th, 2018

For those who pledged £65 on the Kickstarter I need to hear from you. Get in touch with me about having your voice on the podcast.

Episode 165 - The Eagle and the Frogs

35:51 | Mar 20th, 2018

We explore the reasons why the Bulgarians never became Romans.

Episode 164 - Don't Believe Your Map

41:32 | Mar 19th, 2018

The maps commonly used in books and the internet give a misleading impression of the Byzantine occupation of Bulgaria. We tour the Balkans and discuss the reality on the ground.

Ask Me Anything

12:12 | Mar 15th, 2018

I am doing an AMA. That's an Ask Me Anything for a website called WhatPods. I will be answering questions on the 21st March at 4.30pm US eastern standard time. Post your questions now.

A replay of the House of War

44:45 | Mar 10th, 2018

A replay of episode 89 "The House of War"

Episode 163 - The Magyars, Pechenegs and Rus

35:47 | Mar 6th, 2018

We trace the interconnected developments of the Magyars, Pechenegs and Rus.

Istanbul Kickstarter Campaign

27:00 | Mar 1st, 2018

My Istanbul Kickstarter Campaign launches today. Please consider supporting it.

Episode 162 - Venetians and Normans

35:58 | Feb 27th, 2018

We move on to Venice and Normandy to discuss the development of two peoples who will play a key role in the future of Byzantium.

Episode 161 - Not Yet Holy Roman Emperors

39:31 | Feb 19th, 2018

We talk about developments in the Frankish realm as they relate to Byzantium across the past century.

Episode 160 - Why Italy Matters

31:02 | Feb 6th, 2018

We talk about the big picture status of Italy during the 10th century and why it mattered to Byzantium.

Episode 159 - Rest in Peace

38:45 | Dec 22nd, 2017

We discuss Byzantine funeral practices and the burial places of Emperors.

Episode 158 - The Legend Slayer

37:42 | Dec 15th, 2017

I answer some listener questions about Basil II and Byzantine first names.

Episode 157 - The Culmination

44:13 | Nov 8th, 2017

We cover Basil's last few years as he deals with the Fatimids, the Georgians and his own rebellious soldiers. We then wrap up his reign and bring our century to a close.

Episode 156 - The Half Blind Leading the Blind

50:18 | Oct 27th, 2017

We discuss campaigning in the Balkans, the end of the Bulgarian war and the legend of the Bulgar Slayer.

Episode 155 - The Year 1000

36:46 | Oct 23rd, 2017

Basil continues his campaigns against the Fatimids and the Bulgarians. We also discuss the turning of the year 1000.

Episode 154 - A Cat Among Mice

40:11 | Oct 13th, 2017

We discuss the origins of the revived Bulgarian Empire and follow Basil as he campaigns against them and the Fatimids in the East.  

Episode 153 - Basil II

37:26 | Oct 6th, 2017

Finally Basil II stands alone as master of the Roman world. Let's get to know him.

Episode 152 - Bardas Phokas

1:01:25 | Sep 29th, 2017

Civil war resumes as both Bardas Sclerus and Bardas Phokas rebel against Basil. An epic showdown follows which drags the Bulgarians, the Rus, Varangians, Arabs, Armenians and Georgians into the contest.

Episode 151 - Bardas Sclerus

40:41 | Sep 20th, 2017

The civil war continues with Bardas Sclerus and Bardas Phokas locking horns. Although the Imperial side emerge victorious, the price is years of tension with their new Domestic.

Podcasting in Istanbul?

13:38 | Sep 14th, 2017

Your feedback needed on the idea of me travelling to Istanbul to record material for the podcast.

Episode 150 - Basil Lekapenos

32:50 | Sep 8th, 2017

The narrative resumes with Basil Lekapenos elevating his great-nephew Basil II to the throne. However Bardas Sclerus immediately rebels and declares himself Emperor.

Episode 149 - Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood

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

Episode 148 - Sources and Magnates

41:46 | Sep 1st, 2017

We return to our interview with Professor Kaldellis to discuss Basil II's reign. We talk about our sources, about his decision never to marry and his relationship with the landed magnates.

Episode 147 - Bulgarian Solidarity

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.

Episode 146 - What's the Plan?

35:44 | Aug 18th, 2017

Did the Romans dream of reconquering their eastern provinces? Or were their border acquisitions enough?

Episode 145 - The Eastern Conquests

34:27 | Aug 13th, 2017

We discuss the eastern conquests and how valuable they really were. As well as the deployment and organisation of the military in the borderlands.

Episode 144 - Setting the Table

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

Byzantine Stories Episode 5 - Roman Healthcare. Part 1 - Choosing Your Provider

40:10 | Jul 17th, 2017

Part 1 is an overview of the history of Greek medicine. How it developed and what kind of treatments were on offer.

Episode 143 - Strange Trajectories

37:57 | Jun 23rd, 2017

John returns home triumphant but must deal with the Fatimid attacks in the east.

Listener Survey

11:37 | Jun 19th, 2017

Please help the show by filling out our listener survey

Episode 142 - Brave in Danger

40:42 | Jun 18th, 2017

John Tzimiskes faces down the Phokas rebellion and then marches for Bulgaria to take on the Rus.

Episode 141 - How To Get Away With Murder

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.

Episode 140 – Magnificent and Insufferable

36:03 | May 26th, 2017

Nicephorus Phokas is murdered by his nephew John Tzimiskes. We discuss the plot, the aftermath and the personalities of both men.

Episode 139 - All In A Day's Work

41:11 | May 21st, 2017

We cover Nicephorus' foreign policy issues during his final two years in office. Armenian, Bulgarian and Italian concerns then go on hold for one last march through Syria.

Episode 138 - Abhorring the Palace

41:54 | May 12th, 2017

Nicephorus stays at home to administer his realm and manages to alienate every strata of society.

Episode 137 - Cilicia

41:23 | Apr 28th, 2017

Nicephorus leads the armies in person against Tarsus and Mopsuestia, bringing Cilicia and Cyprus back into the Empire.

Episode 136 - The White Death of the Saracens

37:59 | Apr 23rd, 2017

We discuss Nicephorus' life and career and what his rise meant for Romania.

Episode 135 – Triumphal Procession

44:35 | Apr 13th, 2017

We catch up on what Romanus II and Sayf were up to during the Cretan expedition. Then we move forward with Nicephorus Phokas as he sacks Aleppo.

Episode 134 - Third Time's the Charm

42:49 | Apr 9th, 2017

With Nicephorus Phokas in charge of the military the Romans win a string of victories against Sayf al-Dawlah. Constantine VII decides to attack Crete again but dies before the expedition sets off.

Episode 133 - Sowing the Dragon’s Teeth with Eric McGeer

1:07:27 | Mar 24th, 2017

An interview with Eric McGeer about his book "Sowing the Dragon's Teeth" which charts the changes in the Roman army as it moved to an offensive deployment in the 10th century.

Episode 132 - Escalating Violence

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

Episode 131 - False Economy

38:52 | Mar 10th, 2017

Constantine VII seeks peace in the east but Sayf al-Dawla is not interested. The Emperor presses on with the attempted pacification of Crete.

Episode 130 - The Empire That Would Not Die with John Haldon

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

Episode 128 - The Prudent Course

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.

Episode 127 - Melitene

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

Episode 126 - Attract and Repel

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.

Episode 125 - A Tsar is Born

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.

Episode 124 - A Roman Story

42:36 | Jan 20th, 2017

The new Emperor Alexander dies after only a year on the throne. The next six years see an interregnum as the Patriarch, Empress and leading Generals vie to become the guardian to young Constantine VII.

Episode 123 - Dramatis Personae

39:14 | Jan 10th, 2017

We review the players in the impending struggle over the throne. And answer some more listener questions on the way.

Episode 122 - Questions V

44:11 | Dec 18th, 2016

I answer more of your questions including sports, Iconoclasm, prices, symbols, literature and more.

Episode 121 - The Roman Army in 900AD

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.

Episode 120 - The Magnates

36:47 | Nov 30th, 2016

The fruits of the recovery were unevenly distributed. The wealthy landowners of the plateau were building huge estates and developing family histories to go with them.

Episode 119 - Follow the Money

41:26 | Nov 17th, 2016

We explore arguments for and against the idea that commerce was a huge source of revenue for Byzantium.

Episode 118 - Revival

35:41 | Nov 9th, 2016

The Romans are finally recovering from three centuries of struggle. One of the lesser-discussed reasons for this was the payments made to the elites for their loyalty.

Episode 117 - Questions IV

42:42 | Oct 28th, 2016

Its time for some of your questions. We cover queries about the Bulgars, Slavs, Greece, Coins and modern Romania.

Episode 116 - North of the Danube

33:17 | Oct 19th, 2016

We place the Khazars, Magyars, Pechenegs and Rus on the map and explore their relationships with Constantinople.

Episode 115 - The Rise of Bulgaria

44:13 | Oct 12th, 2016

The 9th century was a period of amazing social and political change in the Balkans. We follow the Khans as they plot a path toward recognition of their right to exist.

Episode 114 - International Relations

47:27 | Oct 5th, 2016

We explore the diplomatic and trade exchanges between Byzantium, the Caliphate and the Franks.

Episode 113 - Carolingian Decline

33:30 | Sep 28th, 2016

Charlemagne's empire could not last. Frankish customs saw the realm divided and it would never be put back together.

Episode 112 - The Frontier

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.

Episode 111 - Abbasid Decline

39:07 | Sep 14th, 2016

We begin our end of the century episodes in the East. Since 838 the great Caliphal armies have not been seen in Anatolia. We explore why as the Caliphate slowly pulls itself apart across the 9th century.

Byzantine Stories Episode 3 announcement 2

10:28 | Aug 5th, 2016

Byzantine Stories episode three announcement 2

Episode 110 - The Four Wives of Leo VI

38:48 | Jul 12th, 2016

Leo enters the second half of his reign desperate to leave the Empire to a healthy son. Meanwhile his military are successful on land but suffer at sea.

Episode 109 - Leo the Wise?

38:07 | Jul 5th, 2016

Basil's son Leo was known as "the Wise" during his lifetime. We get to know the new Emperor and explore if this reputation was justified.

Episode 108 - Known Unknowns

45:56 | Jun 18th, 2016

We follow Basil's time in office as tries to wash away the sin of murder and secure legitimacy for his new dynasty. He also tests the limits of Byzantium's growing power in East and West.

Episode 107 - Keeping up with the Macedonians

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.

Byzantine Stories Episode 2 Announcement

13:38 | Jun 2nd, 2016

Listen here for an announcement about the second episode in the Byzantine Stories series and an increase in the subscription price.

Episode 106 - Mother and Uncle

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.

Episode 105 - The Triumph of Orthodoxy

44:17 | May 20th, 2016

Theophilus reorganises the army and leaves the throne to his wife and two year-old son. Theodora decides to restore the Icons and we discuss the end to the Iconoclast era of Byzantine history.

Episode 104 - God-Fearing

48:28 | Apr 27th, 2016

We focus on Theophilus' record on the eastern front. The last gasp of true Caliphal power sees the Emperor harshly punished for his support of the Khurramite rebellion.

Episode 103 - God-Loving

43:35 | Apr 14th, 2016

Young Theophilus becomes Emperor at a rare moment of internal peace. We look at his domestic policies across his 13 year reign and touch on his non-Anatolian foreign policy.

Episode 102 - The Islands

34:19 | Mar 26th, 2016

Michael II tries to secure his regime now that the civil war is over. However attacks on Sicily and Crete prevent him from returning to "normality."

Episode 101 - Thomas the Slav

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

Episode 100 - An Interview with Mike Duncan

51:32 | Feb 19th, 2016

Thanks to all of you for helping us get to episode 100. And of course our eternal gratitude to Mike Duncan and The History of Rome podcast.

Episode 99 - Michael of Amorium

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.

Episode 98 - Leo the Armenian

36:23 | Feb 6th, 2016

Leo the Armenian becomes Leo V and waits out Krum's slaughter in Thrace. He also makes plans to restore Iconoclasm.

Episode 97 - Michael Rhangabe, Emperor of the Romans

44:25 | Jan 31st, 2016

Nicephorus' successors are his wounded son and his unsuitable son-in-law. Between them they ensure that the dynasty comes to a sad end while Krum improves his position considerably.

Episode 96 - Shoulda

52:18 | Jan 24th, 2016

Why were the Bulgars so successful compared to their larger neighbour? We look at this question and the limitations of the Byzantine army on campaign as Nicephorus leads his men to their doom.

Episode 95 - Coulda

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

Episode 94 - Woulda

40:13 | Jan 10th, 2016

The General Logothete Nicephorus becomes Emperor and embarks on a wide ranging programme of reform. In this episode we focus on relations with the Caliphate, Charlemagne and the clergy.

Episode 93 - Recap and Precap

27:08 | Jan 3rd, 2016

A reminder of where we've come from in the 8th century and where we are going in the 9th.

Episode 92 - Questions III

40:06 | Dec 23rd, 2015

I answer your questions about the Themes, the Khazars, China, daily life and blinding. I also update our Constantine acrostic.

Episode 91 - An Interview with Author Vincent O'Reilly

38:02 | Dec 21st, 2015

An Interview with Paul Kastenellos (the pseudonym of author Vincent O'Reilly) about his two historical novels "Antonina - A Byzantine Slut" and "Count No Man Happy."

Episode 90 - The Roman Army in 800AD

45:58 | Dec 16th, 2015

I flesh out some details and answer your questions about the Roman army in 800AD.

Episode 89 - The House of War

43:30 | Dec 4th, 2015

I present a fantasy narrative of a soldier's life during a raid in Cappadocia. The details are all taken from Byzantine sources.

Episode 88 - More Thoughts on the Byzantine Republic by Anthony Kaldellis

25:04 | Nov 22nd, 2015

More Thoughts on "The Byzantine Republic" and my interview with Anthony Kaldellis.

Episode 87 - The Byzantine Republic with Anthony Kaldellis

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

Episode 86 - The People

49:08 | Oct 31st, 2015

We explore the lives of the people of Byzantium. From the Emperor through the court down to the farmers, merchants and minorities who made up the population.

Episode 85 - Imperial Territory

46:04 | Oct 17th, 2015

We explore the remaining provinces of the Roman Empire from Sicily to Cilicia. Ok Cilicia is no longer a part of the Empire but its on the border and I liked the alliteration.

Episode 84 - The Leftovers

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.

Episode 83 - The Decline and Fall of the Arab Empire

45:50 | Sep 25th, 2015

We return to 700AD to chart events in the Caliphate throughout the century. We follow the disintegration of Umayyad rule and the establishment of Abbasid Baghdad.

Episode 82 - Charlemagne and Leo (part 2)

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.

Episode 81 - Charlemagne and Leo (part 1)

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

Episode 80 - The Isaurian Dynasty

46:02 | Aug 22nd, 2015

Irene rules alone but the search for her successor undermines her. Then I recap the century and look at what Iconoclasm really represents.

Episode 79 - A Mother's Love

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.

Episode 78 - A New Helena

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.

Byzantine Stories Episode 1 - John Chrysostom. Part 1 - Welcome to Antioch

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

An update on the Fundraising Sale and the new RSS Feed

24:38 | Jul 24th, 2015

Listen to the latest podcast to find out about the new fundraising sale and your chance to get 4 new episodes of "The History of Byzantium."

Episode 76 - The Dung Named

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.

Episode 75 - The Headless Council

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.

Episode 74 - The Quest for Legitimacy

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.

Episode 73 - Leo's Reign in the 730s

31:32 | May 15th, 2015

We look at Leo's second decade in power. First tracing the military and political developments and then going back to look at the development of Iconoclasm.

Episode 72 - Leo's Reign in the 720s

42:56 | May 1st, 2015

We look at Leo's first decade in power. First tracing the military and political developments and then going back to look at domestic policies.

Episode 71 - Iconoclasm

37:50 | Apr 19th, 2015

We take a look at the whole period of Iconoclasm as an introduction to this era.

Episode 70 - Zombies of Byzantium

41:36 | Apr 12th, 2015

An interview with author Sean Munger about his book "Zombies of Byzantium." The novel is set during the Siege of 717-18 and sees an outbreak of the undead just as Maslama and Leo battle in Constantinople.

Episode 69 - Lost to the West

1:30:31 | Mar 31st, 2015

Maslama puts Constantinople under siege. The Romans look to the heavens for a sign that God still favours them.

Episode 68 - Leo III

32:59 | Mar 13th, 2015

We trace the origins of Leo III from his family's relocation to Thrace, his service in the Caucasus through to his interaction with the invading Arabs.

Episode 67 - The Tightening Noose

38:00 | Mar 3rd, 2015

Justinian II tries to return to vigorous action but things quickly fall apart. The Arabs advance in the east and a rebellion in Cherson blows up. We meet our fourth, fifth and sixth Emperors.

Episode 66 - The Emperor Strikes Back

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

Episode 65 - Seven Emperors

35:03 | Feb 13th, 2015

The Arabs capture Carthage and the new Emperor Leontius is forced to send a fleet to recapture it. When that mission fails the men of the fleet wonder if one of their own might make a better Emperor.

Episode 64 - Questions II

46:20 | Feb 10th, 2015

We finish our 7th century tour by answering more of your questions. We cover nose slitting, coins, education, fashion, when did Late Antiquity end and did the Romans miss the Persians?

Episode 63 - Byzantine Theodicy with David Gyllenhaal

59:08 | Feb 3rd, 2015

An interview with David Gyllenhaal, a PHD Student at Oxford University discussing his thesis on how the 7th century changed Byzantine self conception.

Episode 62 - God's Punishment

36:28 | Jan 27th, 2015

What did the Romans think was responsible for their defeats? We look at the Christian thought-world of the 7th century and the reactions from Byzantium and those left behind in the Caliphate.

Episode 61 - Why did the Romans Survive?

42:24 | Jan 20th, 2015

We look at the changes the Roman army and government went through in the 7th century and consider why the Romans survived.

Episode 60 - Looking West

45:18 | Jan 9th, 2015

We look West at Spain, Gaul and Italy to see what has changed since 600AD. Then we head into the Balkans to peer into the darkness and try to understand who lived there.

Episode 59 - Why did the Arabs win? Part 4: The Conquest Society

40:11 | Dec 12th, 2014

Now that the Arabs have conquered Syria and Mesopotamia how did they organise themselves? And how did this contribute to their continuing military victories?

An explantion of The Origins of Islam episode

21:04 | Dec 4th, 2014

Find out how you can buy the sale episode on the Origins of Islam by listening to this episode.

Episode 58 - Why did the Arabs win? Part 3: They Wanted it More

48:48 | Nov 16th, 2014

We explore more issues surrounding why the Arabs won. We look into their society. We explore the great battles themselves and the armies who fought in them.

Episode 57 - Why did the Arabs win? Part 2: In the Shadow of the Sword

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

Episode 56 - Why did the Arabs win? Part 1: The Sources

27:10 | Nov 4th, 2014

Why can't we entirely trust the traditional Islamic account of the conquests?

Episode 55 - Why did the Romans lose?

32:53 | Oct 24th, 2014

Why did the Romans lose control of their Eastern provinces so easily?

Episode 54 - Justinian II

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.

Episode 53 - The Bulgars are Coming

39:43 | Sep 25th, 2014

Constantine IV calls an Ecumenical Council to discuss the issue of Monotheletism. He also has to deal with an invasion of the Balkans by the Bulgars.

Episode 52 - The Non-Siege of Constantinople

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.

Episode 51 - The Themes

36:31 | Sep 4th, 2014

Constans II uses the Muslim civil war to reorganise the Roman military in the East. Then he travels to the West making a new home for himself in Syracuse in Sicily.

Episode 50 - The Teenage Emperor

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.

Episode 49 - The Man Who Lived Too Long

33:07 | Aug 8th, 2014

The Arabs march on into Mesopotamia and Egypt. Meanwhile the bad news keeps piling up for Heraclius as he nears his final days.

Episode 48 - The Battle of Hieromyax

39:15 | Aug 1st, 2014

The Muslim Arabs invade Syria and begin to sweep away Roman resistance. Heraclius gathers the Army of the East for what he hopes will be a decisive battle.

Episode 47 - A Brief Respite

35:36 | Jul 11th, 2014

Heraclius surveys his shattered realm and plans how to remake things. We deal with three issues specifically - the Imperial title, the Empire's Jews and the Monophysites.

Episode 46 - The Final War

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

Episode 45 - The Empty Fleet

35:16 | Feb 14th, 2014

The Persians conquer Egypt as Nicetas fails to defend Alexandria. Heraclius tries to find a way to avoid blame for this disaster and acquire the resources to fight back.

Episode 44 - Unceasing Lamentations

34:47 | Jan 31st, 2014

Heraclius fails to push the Persians back and has to watch in horror as they capture Jerusalem.

Episode 43 - Heraclius to the rescue

37:17 | Jan 17th, 2014

Phocas is overthrown by Heraclius but the Empire's problems are only deepening.

Episode 42 - In Fairness to Phocas

34:10 | Jan 9th, 2014

The narrative resumes with the new Emperor Phocas having to deal with yet another Persian invasion.

Episode 41 - Who is a Byzantine?

49:08 | Dec 21st, 2013

We explore who the Byzantines thought they were and whether they were right.

Episode 40 - Questions

43:01 | Dec 14th, 2013

I answer your 6th century questions from education to eunuchs and food to fleets.

Episode 39 - Neighbours and Provinces

39:09 | Dec 5th, 2013

We travel through Spain, Gaul, Italy, the Balkans, Anatolia, the East and Persia to uncover the geo-political situation in 600AD.

Episode 38 - Christianising

29:06 | Nov 29th, 2013

We look at how Christianity spread more deeply into Roman culture across the 6th century and see how this affected the Empire's cities and Jews.

Episode 37 - The Army of the Strategikon

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.

Episode 36 - The End of Legitimacy

38:35 | Sep 13th, 2013

Maurice has a tough decision to make about his role in the Persian civil war. Once that is over he turns his attention to the Balkans. Success in the field is ruined by the cost of paying the army.

Episode 35 - The Lucky Break

41:03 | Aug 30th, 2013

The new Emperor Maurice continues fighting on the Eastern front trying to convince the Persians to sign a peace treaty. But they won't.

Episode 34 - Overbalancing

36:00 | Aug 16th, 2013

The new Emperor Tiberius II decided to throw the Empire's strength into the war with Persia. He spends liberally and recruits new men to bolster the Eastern Empire.

Episode 33 - The Madness of Justin II

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

Episode 31 - Getting the Band Back Together

33:29 | Jul 11th, 2013

A series of natural disasters and domestic disturbances mar the final years of Justinian's reign. We also meet the Avars, bring silk to Byzantium and give Belisarius one last chance to shine.

Episode 30 - Age Before Beauty

36:11 | Jun 28th, 2013

The men Justinian puts in charge of his military operations keep getting older or more unlikely as the 550s unfold. However they bring success in Italy, the Balkans, Lazica and then most surprisingly in Spain.

Episode 29 - The Nightmare Decade

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

Episode 27 - The Walking Dead

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.

A clarification on the sale

12:01 | May 13th, 2013

A clarification on the fundraising sale of Episode 28.

Episode 26 - The Sack of Antioch

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.

Episode 25 - The Roaring Thirties

33:59 | Apr 26th, 2013

We take a look at what else was going on in the Empire during the 530s including: monophysites, tax and administration, buildings, Africa and possibly a meteor strike.

Episode 24 - The Western Emperor

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.

Episode 23 - The Siege of Rome

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

Episode 22 - Justinian's Legacy

43:13 | Mar 16th, 2013

We examine the Corpus Juris Civilis and the Hagia Sophia. The two achievements of Justinian's reign which outlasted both him and the Byzantine Empire.

Episode 21 - The Vandal War

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.

Episode 20 - The Nika Revolt

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.

Episode 19 - 527-532, Part 3: The Kindling

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.

Episode 18 - 527-532, Part 2: The Eternal Peace, the Danube Frontier and Diplomacy

33:59 | Jan 19th, 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.

Episode 17 - 527-532, Part 1: The Battle of Dara

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.

Episode 16 - Theodora

35:00 | Dec 15th, 2012

We continue the narrative on the Eastern frontier as Lazica and Iberia try to form an alliance with Byzantium and leave the Persian orbit. King Kavad responds by trying to get Justin to adopt his favourite son.

Episode 15 - Justinian

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.

Episode 14 - The Emperor Justin

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

Episode 13 - The State (Part 2)

35:13 | Sep 27th, 2012

Part 2 is the church and the army. We look at the administration of the church and its affects on society. Then we look at the size and disposition of the army and wrap up the tour.

Episode 12 - The State (Part 1)

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

Episode 11 - The Eastern Provinces

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

Episode 10 - Constantinople

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

Episode 9 - The Balkan Provinces

31:55 | Sep 27th, 2012

We take a look at the remaining Byzantine Balkan Provinces along with the northern neighbours of the Empire. We also take a glance at the Black Sea Coast and the Byzantine military interest in the Crimea.

Episode 8 - Italy and Africa

37:45 | Sep 27th, 2012

We take a look at the former Roman Provinces of  Italy and Africa and see what Theodoric’s Ostrogoths and the Vandals, respectively, have been up to in the last century.

Episode 7 - Gaul and Spain

30:46 | Sep 26th, 2012

We take a look at the former Roman Provinces of Gaul and Spain and see what the Franks and Goths have been up to in the last century.

Episode 6 - The Prosperous Exuberance

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.

Episode 5 - The Gamble

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

Episode 4 - Give us a Roman Emperor

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.

Episode 3 - The Isaurian Emperor

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.

Episode 2 - Two Steps Back

30:40 | Jun 1st, 2012

We journey back to 457 to introduce the Emperor Leo. I don’t cover his reign in full but there are important details about life in the East which “The History of Rome” didn’t cover.

Episode 1a – An Introduction to Byzantine History

26:33 | May 2nd, 2012

An introduction for listeners who haven't listened to "The History of Rome" podcast.

Episode 1 - An Introduction

20:07 | May 1st, 2012

I explain the idea behind the podcast and how I intend to proceed. I also talk about how often I will be able to create episodes.