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 the previous five episodes.
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.
Download: Episode 13 – The State (part 2): The Church and the Army
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Hey Robin, loving the podcast so far. I have a question – when you talked about the Byzantine army at the end of this episode it jogged my memory. As I recall, because the Byzantine Empire was surrounded by enemies on all fronts and was, as you mentioned, constrained by manpower, they became adept at diplomacy particularly in playing their enemies against each other. Wondered if this was the state of Byzantine diplomacy in the 6th century or did that take root later? Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Hey, thanks for writing in. I think the renown of Byzantine diplomacy will come after the rise of Islam. Although we will have our fair share of diplomacy during the reign of Justinian. At this stage in the story though the Byzantines were still a military match for anyone around…
Robin, I too have been enjoying the podcast. In this cast about 6:20 in you said that the relics of the saints were “worshiped”, I don’t think that the process evolved as far as worship this close to the death of Christ. Honored or revered are probably more appropriate at this stage. The middle ages will fuel the worship fire for the reformists. In both the West and more so in the East we see in the art and architecture of the churches the murals of the saints all looking to the center point of the church, the tabernacle/altar, and like the congregation, they are worshiping Christ in heaven alongside their worldly counterparts.
Hi Paul, that’s a great point. I shouldn’t have implied they were worshipping the relics in the same way they would have God himself. Obviously they would have taken seriously the commandment to have no other Gods. Poor choice of words on my part.