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The History of Byzantium

The History of Byzantium

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

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Episode 250 - Retaking Anatolia

We talk about why the Romans didn't have more success in fighting the Turks. Was there a better way to fight the nomads? Or was it not really about tactics but strategy?


Period: 1070-1180


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2022-08-26
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Episode 249 - Life in Byzantine Anatolia

We look around the Roman provinces in Anatolia to review their defensive situation and the lifestyle of its people. We also briefly talk about Turkic people who lived in Byzantium.

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2022-08-18
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Episode 248 - Life in Turkic Anatolia

We take a look around the parts of Anatolia which were controlled by Turkic peoples between 1080 and 1180 AD. We don?t have a huge amount of written sources to draw on but hopefully there?s enough information available to give you a better picture of what?s been happening there. We also discuss the two different groups of Turkic peoples in Anatolia - the settled and the nomads.

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2022-08-10
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August 2022 Update

On my last update I told you that because of my forthcoming fatherhood ? I would be switching to a season by season format from now on. Where there are periods of silence followed by a run of episodes altogether. That is still the case. But I am making an exception for 3 episodes which I?m going to release now.


This triptych of episodes covers life in Anatolia during the Komnenian century. What was life like for Romans living under Turkic rule? What was life like in Imperial territory and an analysis of the military situation.


These episodes are really more connected to the reign of Manuel than they are to the narrative which follows. So I thought I?d release these now while the Komnenian century is still fresh in your memory. Then the feed will go quiet for a while till the narrative returns.


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2022-08-08
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And the Winner is

Hello everyone, as you may remember our last episode was an interview with author Gordon Doherty. Gordon generously offered to give away a copy of his book ? Strategos: Born in the Borderlands to one of you. We set a competition and a winner has been chosen. I will leave it to Gordon to tell you about the best entries he read and to announce the winner. I will just remind you all to check out https://www.gordondoherty.co.uk/ to learn more about his work. 

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2022-06-14
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Baby and New Schedule

I have big news. A History of Byzantium baby is on the way. The purple room in the Palace is being prepared for the Autumn and I can assure you that the names Justinian and Theodora will not be under consideration.


Of course I?m very excited. But it means I think we need to change the way the podcast is scheduled. I plan on being as involved as possible during the first few months of my baby?s life. And so it won?t be possible to keep a normal podcast routine.


So what we?re going to do is switch to a sort of TV schedule. Where there is silence for a few months and then I will release a complete series of episodes. So that when the podcast is on air, so to speak, you know that it will be out every week without fail and that whatever period of narrative we?re in will reach a natural conclusion. This will include bonus episodes for those who subscribe over at Patreon.


I feel more comfortable switching to this new schedule thanks to Patreon. It means that those of you who kindly support the show can manage your subscriptions however you see fit. And if you?re still in any doubt about how Patreon works - you can pick up a subscription or cancel one any time you like. There is no contract or commitment. And when you resubscribe you get your benefits back instantly.


We?re going to switch to this new schedule immediately. So there will now be a period of silence before a run of episodes that will take us from the death of Manuel through to the sack of Constantinople in 1204.  


I won?t be announcing any dates for this new schedule. The periods of silence will take as long as they take and then there will be loads of episodes in a row to enjoy. It will be an adjustment for all of us but I think it?s for the best.


I have pushed myself hard in the past to try and produce the podcast weekly and to leave as few gaps as possible and it can cause a lot of stress. History podcasting just does take a long time. Some topics take weeks to research. And the more I read the better the show gets.


I?m hoping this new schedule will make life easier for you and for me. Thank you for your patience and for your support.


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2022-05-11
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Episode 247 - Writing Byzantine Fiction with Gordon Doherty

I talk to historical fiction author Gordon Doherty about his Byzantine book series 'Strategos.' We talk about inspiration and research but also what advice he'd give to aspiring writers.

We also give you the chance to win a copy of the first book in the Strategos trilogy.

Find out more about Gordon and his other book series (including more Roman era stories) at his website.


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2022-05-05
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Episode 246 - Travelling to Turkey with ?erif Yenen

While I'm away on the third 'History of Byzantium' tour I thought it was time to talk to the man behind them - ?erif Yenen. ?erif has been a tour guide in Istanbul for decades and has published many excellent books on the subject. He has also gone online to share his love for travel through podcasts and Youtube videos. I talk to Serif about his career and ask him listener questions about what to do and see in Turkey.

Contact me if you'd like to be on the mailing list for future 'History of Byzantium' tours.

Check out ?erif's Youtube channel and his podcast 'Turkish Odyssey.' Or visit his website to find out more about his books, lectures and tours around Turkey. 


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2022-04-20
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April 2022 Update

April 2022 Update





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2022-04-16
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Episode 245 - Means and Ends

I answer listener questions about Manuel's reign. 

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2022-04-05
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Episode 244 - Not Completely Unreasonable

Manuel deals with the aftermath of the Battle of Myriokephalon. He is left out of an Italian peace conference and must negotiate a peace of his own in Anatolia. He continues his efforts to position Byzantium as a friend of the Latins. And we look at his church and financial policies.


Period: 1176-80


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2022-03-29
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Episode 243 - The Battle of Myriokephalon

Manuel launches a Crusade against the Turks of Iconium. 

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2022-03-23
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The History of Byzantium on Youtube - Flash Point History

I have teamed up with Nitin Sil of the Flash Point History Youtube Channel. We are turning the podcast into a Youtube series with brilliant maps, images and animations accompanying my words. Check out our first video now https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2pQjfOebdI&t=2241s charting the rise of Justinian.

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2022-03-11
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Episode 242 - Manuel?s Follies

While his armies were fighting in the Balkans Manuel's diplomats and fleets were busy elsewhere. Komnenos poured money into Italy to try and gain influence there. He considered alliances with the Germans, the Pope and the Normans but ultimately lost them all. He made war on Venice and tried to capture an Egyptian port.


Period: 1161-73


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2022-03-10
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History of Byzantium Tour - April 23 to May 2, 2022

History of Byzantium Tour - April 23 to May 2, 2022. The tour will visit Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus. If you'd like to come or if you'd like to hear about future tours please email [email protected]

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2022-02-26
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Episode 241 - Hungary for Security

Manuel spends the 1160s at war with Hungary. During these campaigns the Emperor adopts the Hungarian King's brother making him his heir. This enables the Romans to seize Sirmium and parts of Dalmatia. The Hungarian elites won't stand for it and try to throw the Romans out.


Period: 1161-72


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2022-02-22
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Episode 240 - Manuel?s Constantinople

We look around Constantinople in Manuel's day. We discuss his use of the two urban palaces and the growth of the Italian population along the Golden Horn.


Period: 1143-61


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2022-02-14
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Episode 239 - The New Aristocracy

When Alexios Komnenos came to power his family decided to marry their way out of the civil wars which threatened the state. By Manuel's day this meant that a new aristocracy had grown up who dominated the organs of the Byzantine state. 


We discuss this development and how Manuel managed his family. As well as those who resented this innovation.


Period: 1143-61


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2022-02-04
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Episode 238 - Queens of Jerusalem with Katherine Pangonis

Today we talk to historian Katherine Pangonis about her book 'Queens of Jerusalem.' Not only do we talk about the fascinating lives of the women of Outremer but we also pick up Andronikos' story as he manages to scandalise all of Christendom.


Find out more about Katherine at her website


To listen to the book for free why not use Audible's 30-day trial


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2022-01-26
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Episode 237 - Manuel and Andronikos

We pause the narrative briefly to learn more about Manuel's world. Today we talk about the Emperor's personality and relatives. Including his cousin, friend and rival Andronikos. 


Period: 1143-61


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2022-01-24
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Episode 236 - Why Make Peace?

With Italy and the Balkans at peace Manuel turns his attention to Anatolia. He marches to Antioch to punish those who'd wronged him. He then campaigns against the Turks with surprisingly positive results. 

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2022-01-07
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Episode 235 - Sundered by Gold

Manuel's Italian campaign begins brightly but ends in failure. Meanwhile his cousin Andronikos tries to kill him and more bad news arrives from Antioch.  

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2021-12-21
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Episode 234 - Changing Priorities

The Normans raid the cities of Greece during the passage of the Second Crusade. Manuel sees this as such a worrying development that he makes the decision to prioritise the recovery of Apulia over Antioch. This sets off a series of conflicts in the Balkans and a series of missed opportunities in Syria.

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2021-12-13
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Episode 232 - The Second Crusade, Part 2

We follow the Emperor Conrad and King Louis as they both attempt to cross Anatolia. 


Period: 1147-1148


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2021-11-25
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Episode 231 - The Second Crusade, Part 1

A 'Second' Crusade is called in response to the fall of Edessa in 1144. The French and German monarchs sign up leaving the Byzantines with multiple headaches to deal with. 


Period: 1144-1147


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2021-11-21
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Episode 230 - The Sack of Edessa

John II Komnenos' youngest son Manuel takes charge of the Empire. After securing the capital and punishing Raymond of Antioch the new Emperor goes on campaign against the Turks. After chasing the Sultan of Iconium to his capital Manuel realises that fighting on the plateau is no easy business. Meanwhile the Crusader city of Edessa falls and the Byzantines don't appreciate the significance of this event. 

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2021-11-13
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Discussion with Marco Capelli about Byzantium and Italy

Robin discusses 'Byzantium and Italy' with Marco Capelli. Marco is the brilliant host of Storia d'Italia - a podcast telling the story of the History of Italy - in Italian. This interview is in English. Please do tell any Italian speakers you know about Storia d'Italia (italiastoria.com).

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2021-11-02
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Family Update

Family Update

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2021-10-24
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Episode 229 - John Komnenos with Dr Maximilian Lau

Today we talk to the man whose research has guided our last few podcasts Dr Maximilian Lau.


Dr Lau is Adjunct Professor of Economic History at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, and also a Research Associate in History at St Benet?s Hall, University of Oxford. He has been studying 12th century Byzantine history for many years now and the fruits of that labour can be found in his forthcoming book ?Rebuilding New Rome. The Foreign Policy of John II Komnenos.?


The book is written and will be out next year and Dr Lau very generously shared it with me in advance. It?s been incredibly helpful in part because of its quality but also because it follows a format similar to our narrative episodes. It is a chronological account of John?s military and political activity with a discussion of the sources as each incident unfolds. As Dr Lau explains in the interview ? John?s reign often gets short shrift in popular Byzantine books because our Roman sources cover him fairly briefly. But there are plenty of other sources to work with and Dr Lau has synthesised them to create a new history of John's reign.


Period: 1118-1143


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2021-10-10
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Episode 228 - Forgiveness not Permission

Last time we watched as John Komnenos attempted to untangle the Gordian knot which Anatolia had become. After campaigning against the Danishmends ? John moved on to Cilicia and Antioch. The Emperor attempted to enforce his rights without angering the Latins. A trick which he failed to pull off.


Today John will be forced to go through the whole process all over again. But when he reaches the gates of Antioch this time he won?t take no for an answer.


Period: 1138-1143


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2021-10-03
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Episode 227 - Just Take the Damn City

John II Komnenos is finally free to campaign in Anatolia. If he can keep the Turks quiet then he can make it to Antioch where his real goal lies. But once there will he risk outraging Latin opinion by assaulting the city or will he negotiate a deal to bring the city back into the Empire?


Period: 1127-1138


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2021-09-22
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Episode 226 - A Crowded Chessboard

John II Komnenos takes charge of the Empire and campaigns immediately in Anatolia. But he is soon beset by the complications of the new position Byzantium finds itself in. Serbians, Steppe tribes, Hungarians and Venetians all demand his attention. Enemies and allies are crowding the chess board and John must make each move very carefully. 


Period: 1118-1127


If you want to send in feedback to the podcast:

- Either comment at https://thehistoryofbyzantium.com/

- Or on the facebook page.

- Leave a review on Itunes.

- Follow me on Twitter or Instagram


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2021-09-18
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Back to the Narrative

I have now finished all of the videos of Istanbul. So do subscribe to the History of Byzantium Youtube channel if you?d like to see them. The first few will go up next week.

 

I have also completed our next Byzantine Story. It will be available in the next hour. It?s about a provincial magnate named Kekaumenos whose life gives us the invaluable perspective of a Roman outsider. Someone who viewed the Emperor and his bureaucracy with some suspicion.  For anyone interested in daily life in other parts of the Empire this is a must listen.

 

It will be available on the bonus episodes feed at Patreon and to anyone who is still subscribed at thehistoryofbyzantium.com. If your subscription ran out in the last year email me and I?ll add it to your feed for free.

 

You can also buy the episode on its own for $7 but remember from October the only place to get any bonus episodes will be Patreon. Go to patreon.com/historyofbyzantium to find out more. The feeds at Patreon are also advert-free.  

 

You?ll be pleased to hear that I am now going back to the narrative. I?ll be back soon with the reign of John Komnenos, son of Alexios.


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2021-08-28
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Family Illness

Hello everyone,

 

I don?t normally talk about personal things on the podcast. But my father has been diagnosed with cancer. It?s serious and it?s all happened very quickly.

 

I am still working away on the next Byzantine Story but further disruption to the schedule is inevitable.

 

Thanks for your understanding. 


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2021-08-02
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Byzantine Stories, Episode 9 - Women in the Byzantine World. Part 1 - Immense and Immeasurable

As you may know I have already produced three episodes about Women in the Roman World which are available for you on the Ad-Free Bonus Feed at Patreon.

I now present three more episodes about Women in the Byzantine World. And these episodes are very much a continuation of that series. In part one we talk about how the arrival of Christianity affected Roman women. We also hear a couple of Saints' Lives. These tales give us a rare glimpse of how women appeared in popular culture.

This first episode is free but parts 2 and 3 are only available on the Ad-Free Bonus Feed at Patreon. 

The Incidental Music used is ?Introspection? from Purple-Planet.com


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2021-07-14
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Women in the Byzantine World announcement

Hello everyone,

 

I am back with three bonus episodes for you about Women in the Byzantine World. These episodes should be available within an hour or so of this update.

 

Since women get much less attention than they deserve in our narrative I?ll put the first of these episodes out for free for everyone to enjoy. Parts 2 and 3 though are only available on the Ad-Free Bonus Feed at Patreon or at thehistoryofbyzantium.com.

 

Since I?m very late with these bonus episodes they will be available to anyone whose subscription at the website ran out in the last year. So if you had a subscription which ran out any time from July 2020 and you haven?t renewed or switched to Patreon just email me and I?ll add the episodes to your account manually. That email is [email protected].

 

These 3 episodes are a continuation of another 3 parter I recorded a couple of years ago called Women in the Roman World. If you like what you hear in part 1 of the new series but want to hear more about women?s lives in the Greco-Roman world then do check out those episodes. Either at Patreon or at thehistoryofbyzantium.com. But just to remind you episodes will no longer be available from the website from October.

 

I am now moving on to work on another Byzantine Story and then it will be back to the narrative.

 

Take care and thanks for listening.


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2021-07-14
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An update on the schedule of the podcast, May 2021

An Update on the schedule of the podcast, May 2021 

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2021-05-13
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Backer Rewards Episode 16 - Russia and Byzantium with Professor Sergey Ivanov

Our sixteenth Kickstarter backers reward episode looks at the relationship between Byzantium and the Rus and later Russia in conversation with Professor Sergey Ivanov.

Professor Ivanov is a Russian scholar who has been studying Byzantium for many decades. He currently works in the Institute of Oriental and Ancient Studies at the National Research University ?Higher School of Economics? in Moscow. 

He has written several books about Byzantium as well as contributing hundreds of articles to the field. His areas of study include Byzantine religious missions, the cultural influence of Byzantium on the Rus', Holy Fools and Constantinople itself. He has also taken part in public lectures and debates on the legacy of Byzantium in modern Russia.

To see his full list of publications please click here . His books ?Holy Fools in Byzantium and Beyond? and ?Pearls before Swine: Missionary Work in Byzantium? have been translated into English. As have a number of articles and other book chapters. 

To read a public lecture which Professor Ivanov gave in 2009 about ?The Second Rome as Seen by the Third: Russian Debates on the ?Byzantine Legacy? please click here.


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2021-04-16
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Merchandise

High Speed History have Byzantine-themed merchandise available!

The good people over at Highspeedhistory.com have produced a range of delightful items featuring our beloved Byzantium. We?re talking t-shirts, hoodies, bags, clocks, towels and stickers amongst many other items.

I?m very pleased to say that some of your ideas have made their way into the collection. I asked for your input on social media and you came up with great ideas. If you want to celebrate your love of Justinian or Belisarius then an Empire Strikes Back t-shirt could be yours. Or if you?ve been dying to show your support for the Green faction or the Blues but they won?t let you in the Hippodrome anymore then fear not because a Green or Blue iphone case or mouse mat or t-shirt could be yours. Or what about the most adorable item of all ? a baby grow with porphyrogennitos on it. Come on, how could you resist?

Please go to www.highspeedhistory.com/byzantium to check out the full range. If you decide to buy something then use the code ?byzantium? at checkout to get a pound or dollar off each item you purchase. And you?ll be helping out the podcast as I will get a little something for sending you there. Anyone can buy these items ? they ship worldwide. And this discount also applies to any items you purchase from the Greek or Roman sections of the website. Yes High Speed History has merch from a variety of historical eras check them all out at highspeedhistory.com.

I also did a written interview for the site to lure in those of you who find me weirdly interesting. So if you want to know my favourite film or what I?d put on a billboard in a busy city then check out the interview here.

Happy browsing.


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2021-03-10
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Episode 225 - Belisarius in Metal

When I announced I would be taking a break back in the Autumn I received an email from listener Brian Sherry offering to produce an episode of the show for me. He told me about the metal band Judicator recording an entire album about Belisarius. And he very kindly offered to interview them on my behalf.


I said yes and Brian got lead singer and writer John Yelland on the phone and they talked about turning the life story of Justinian?s most trusted General into a full metal album.


Today's episode is an edited version of that interview. They talk through the concept and the choice of moments in Belisarius? life to capture in song. And they play a few snippets of music to give you an idea of what the album sounds like.


If you?d like more then the full 2 hour interview is available on Judicator?s Youtube channel. And of course if you?d like to buy the album - Let There Be Nothing ? go to judicatormetal.bandcamp.com or check it out on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify or wherever you get your music.


I am still working on the bonus content I owe many of you. I will be back at some point in Spring with the narrative. For now enjoy the interview.


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2021-03-04
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Episode 224 - The Coup of Anna Komnene with Leonora Neville

Our final episode on Alexios' reign returns us to our first. Back in episode 197 we interviewed Professor Leonora Neville about Anna Komnene. That interview set us up to cover Alexios' reign and the First Crusade with Anna as our primary source. But the last question I asked that day was about the succession from Alexios to John and Anna's supposed coup attempt. Here we finally hear Professor Neville's argument that Anna did no such thing. We also briefly look at our main historian for our next period of narrative - Niketas Choniates. 

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2021-02-23
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Episode 223 - Questions VIII

We look at your questions about Alexios and the Crusades. Listeners wanted an update on the state of Byzantium's army, economy and administration. How much credit or blame should Alexios get for the events of his reign? What about his relationship with his family? Were the Latins tougher fighters than the Byzantines? And several more. 

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2021-02-16
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Schedule and Patreon Update.

Three new episodes are coming your way in the next three weeks. New narrative episodes will come at some point in the Spring. I am still busy working on the Istanbul videos and Byzantine Stories. Also we have a new Patreon https://www.patreon.com/historyofbyzantium. Bonus episodes will no longer be available at thehistoryofbyzantium.com from October 2021.

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2021-02-11
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An update on the schedule of the podcast

Hello everyone,

This is a short update about the podcast and the likely schedule for the next few months.

The main takeaways are:

- The narrative will resume around Spring 2021

- In the meantime I will be producing bonus episodes and videos from Istanbul. As well as doing work for my Dad and taking a little time out for my mental health.

- At least two more free episodes about Alexios will be coming soon. Including a Q&A about his reign and the Crusades so do send your questions in. You can comment on the thread below.

Thanks for your support and understanding,

Robin


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2020-10-14
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Episode 222 - The Good Helmsman

Alexios tries to forge a coalition against Antioch but has to abandon his plans when Anatolia comes calling again. The Emperor leaves this world frustrated by his failure to outmanoeuvre the Normans but his record in office is impressive nonetheless. 

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2020-10-02
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Episode 221 - The Triptych

Bohemond heads back to Western Europe to recruit a new army. He leads them back to the Balkans to capture Dyrrhachium but Alexios is waiting for him.

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2020-09-24
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Episode 220 - The Crusade of 1101

More armed pilgrims arrive at Constantinople in the wake of the fall of Jerusalem. Alexios advises them to avoid the Turks of Anatolia but they ignore him. Meanwhile Alexios' attempts to put pressure on Antioch are thwarted by Bohemond's nephew Tancred. Finally we return to Constantinople to check in with the Komnenian regime and watch a man get burnt to death.

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2020-09-15
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Episode 219 - A Spectacular Interruption or Jerusalem is now available

It's the end of the First Crusade and this episode is for sale. Either at the website or at https://www.patreon.com/thehistoryofbyzantium

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2020-09-04
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Episode 218 - The Siege of Antioch

The Crusaders set up a siege of Antioch. The vast size of the city makes it impossible to fully encircle. What follows is a battle of attrition as the Crusaders wait for the Turkic garrison to make a mistake and the garrison await reinforcements. Meanwhile Alexios makes his way to the centre of the Anatolian plateau to consolidate the return of Byzantine power. He also awaits news from Antioch.


Time Stamps - each section is broken up by our drum sound effect

00.00-03.05 Introduction

03.06-08.47 Why did the Crusaders have to capture Antioch?

08.48-14.22 Baldwin at Edessa

14.23-17.14 The political fragmentation of Syria

17.15-27.35 The geography of Antioch

27.36-33.52 Early stages of the siege

33.53-46.35 Winter stalemate. Suffering and desertions. Bohemond and Robert of Flanders drive off forces from Damascus

46.36-54.42 Victory over the forces of Aleppo

54.43-62.18 More fully surrounding the city

62.19-77.09 Antioch falls

77.10-84.24 The Crusaders besieged. Kerbogah attacks from the Citadel

84.25-87.46 Desperation and talk of surrender

87.47-92.03 Alexios goes home

92.04-100.19 The final battle

100.19-107.00 Conclusion


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2020-08-16
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Episode 217 - Diverging Paths

The Byzantines recover the West Coast of Anatolia while the Crusaders cross the plateau. As they travel the Westerners begin dropping like flies and come to hate the land they've come to liberate.

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2020-07-02
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En liten tjänst av I'm With Friends. Finns även på engelska.
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