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

The Equestrian Statue of Justinian as recreated by Byzantium1200 (http://www.arkeo3d.com/byzantium1200/justinia.html)

The Equestrian Statue of Justinian as recreated by Byzantium1200 (www.arkeo3d.com/byzantium1200)

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 two we stay on the Eastern front as the Persians counterattack. King Kavadh then passes away allowing a peace deal to be reached. We then move to the Danube to see how Imperial troops were coping with the raids of the Bulgars and Slavs. Then we move onto more Christian diplomacy from Justinian and update on how the Vandal and Gothic leadership are responding to the Empire’s military success.

Period: 527-533

Other resources:

Constantinople is being digitally recreated here. You can actually do a fly-over of the whole city here.

To listen to Byzantine style Orthodox music you can go to Ancient Faith Radio or to buy music go to Conciliar Press.

For the Persian view on the Byzantine era go to Sasanika an online resource book for Sassanian history.

Download: Episode 18 – 527-532, Part 2: The Eternal Peace and the Danube frontier

RSS Feed: The History of Byzantium

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Categories: Podcast | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Episode 18 – 527-532, Part 2: The Eternal Peace, the Danube frontier and Diplomacy

  1. F. Martin

    This isn’t really relevant to this episode, but I was wondering about the terminology of the church in previous episodes. In episode 7, you refer to the Franks converting to “Catholic Christianity.” What was Catholicism at this time? Is it just another term for the orthodoxy, or were the Catholics a distinct group?

  2. Hi there, good question. One of the problems with the podcast is balancing my use of words which have multiple meanings. So I talk a lot about orthodox belief at the moment which is mainly to define the mainstream Christianity that those in the West and Constantinople adhered to and which had been formally laid out at the Council of Chalcedon. The main point here is to contrast it with Monophysite belief in Syria and Egypt.

    I appreciate that it’s slightly confusing because later Byzantines and modern Greeks are members of the Orthodox Church which is so called to distinguish it from the modern Roman Catholic church.

    So when I used Catholic in the context of the Franks I really just meant it to make clear that I meant they had not converted to Arian Christianity as the Goths and Vandals had and instead believed the same things which those in Rome and Constantinople did.

    The word “Catholic” comes from a Greek word meaning Universal. So in the time of Justinian if someone had used the word “Catholic” they would have meant the mainstream, legitimate, orthodox (with a small O) church. It won’t be until 1054 when Catholic and Orthodox attain their modern meaning and signal the split between the Latin West and Greek East churches.

    I hope that makes sense 🙂

    • F. Martin

      Makes perfect sense, thanks! And keep up the good work, I love the podcast!

  3. Mac

    Your links to Ancient Faith Radio as a source of Byzantine music need a little clarification. The “Byzantine” style of chant performed in Eastern Orthodox churches that are ethnically based in the environs of Greece, Romania, and the Balkans are heavily influenced by the occupation of these lands by Turks after the fall of Constantinople. They reflect concessions made to their Muslim overlords to produce melodies more palatable to Turkish ears. This is also a source for the introduction of the veil worn by priests and bishops.

    Byzantine chant before the collapse of the Eastern Empire was much simpler, with some of the oldest hymns from the Old Testament harkening back to the tunes to which scriptural passages were chanted in the Jewish synagogue. “The multiplication of new settings and elaborations of the old continued in the centuries following the Fall of Constantinople, until by the end of the eighteenth century the original musical repertory of the medieval musical manuscripts had been quite replaced by later compositions, and even the basic model system had undergone profound modification.” (http://orthodoxwiki.org/Byzantine_chant) An example of this would be “O Gladsome Light,” which is the oldest recorded Christian hymn outside of directly chanting passages from the Bible. (http://orthodoxwiki.org/Phos_Hilaron)

    Western Christians who happened upon an Eastern Orthodox church service in progress would be struck by the un-Western quality of the music. Likewise, if they observed the service of the monophysite and miaphysite branches of Orthodoxy which hail from Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, they could be excused form assuming that they had entered a Muslim mosque because of the Middle-eastern style of chanting, the full prostrations, and the headscarves resembling the hijab. In contrast, Russian Orthodox chanting is much more Westernized.

    The notion of “Byzantine” chanting appeals to our post-modern syncretistic impulse, but in reality, the original worshippers in the Eastern Roman Empire probably sounded quite different. What “Byzantine” music reveals to us is the rich and unchanging theology of the Eastern orthodox churches, and their history of persistence through centuries of immersion in foreign and often hostile cultures. Byzantine music is the history of Byzantium AFTER Byzantium ceased to exist as a distinct political unit.

    Here are some links to YouTube videos of the ancient hymn “O Gladsome Light” performed in different types of “Byzantine” chant.recorded during live church services in our present day.

    Russian Orthodox (the monks of Valaam Monastery) http://youtu.be/ES7Iu-TFbYU

    Finnish Orthodox http://youtu.be/Ck6v_cPfles

    Syrian Orthodox http://youtu.be/ifZmG01v0YU

    Americans of the Antiochian Orthodox Church (the AOC is affiliated with Arabic-speaking Orthodox Churches based in Syria, but has attracted large numbers of converts from American Evangelical and Episcopalian denominations. Note the same tune as the Syrian Orthodox sample, but sung to a different beat.) http://youtu.be/RZsUdepjEa0

    Greek Orthodox http://youtu.be/LJcBgcHkdac

    BTW excellent podcast. You have picked up the torch from Mike Duncan and carry it competently forward–at least until Constantine Palaiologos. I require this as supplemental “reading” for my Western Civilization classes.

    • It is not accurate to say that Orthodox music and practice was influenced by Islam, rather, Islam was influenced by Orthodox music and practice.

  4. Thanks so much for the kind words and the insights into Byzantine music. It’s great to get so much context on musical development, I will plug on the podcast.

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