Episode 53 – The Bulgars are Coming

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.

The mosaic of Constantine IV in the Basilica Saint Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna (from Wikipedia)

The mosaic of Constantine IV in the Basilica Saint Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna (from Wikipedia)

Close up from flickr.com. Constantine is the one handing the concessions. To his left are his brothers and Justinian II is on the far left

Close up from flickr.com. Constantine is the one handing the concessions. To his left are his brothers and Justinian II is on the far left

Period: 679-685

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Categories: Podcast | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Episode 53 – The Bulgars are Coming

  1. Michael

    Hey, Robin, just wanted to inform you that you’ve got your Italian geography slightly mixed up. Calabria is the toe of the boot. The heel is Salento.

    • Michael, that’s what I was saying. The heel used to be called Calabria and the name shifted to the toe because of the flight of Byzantine citizens. Check out the first few lines of this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calabria

      • Steven S.

        Hi Robin, would you happen to know of any other links, besides that Wikipedia one? The flight of the Byzantines & the name change sounds interesting & I wouldn’t mind reading up on the subject a bit more… Keep up the great work, It’s getting better with each episode!

    • @Steven I’m not sure I can point you toward something very satisfying. The basic details I got came from Warren Treadgold’s “A History of the Byzantine State and Society.” He says that the name change stuck in part because of the administrative description of the area. The man in charge of the heel and toe at the time would have been called the Duke of Calabria. So even though he lost large parts of actual Calabria to the Lombards the title stuck and administratively remained the Ducate of Calabria. Over time those living in the toe came to accept the name change.

      Sadly because of the peripheral nature of Italy to the Empire there is no history written about outposts such as these. Treadgold’s bibliography lists “L’Italia Byzantina” by Guillou and Burgarella as the best book on Italy but you’d have to see if there was an English translation. It’s likely to be a scholarly text and not a narrative one.

      I did read the The Oxford Illustrated History of Italy at one point but I doubt it dealt with such a small incident. I’m afraid a lot of history is like this. Small fragments which help build a larger picture but which we don’t know more about.

  2. I just saw these mosaics two days ago, and now, a new episode of the podcast? Too good to be true! Also, the rest of the church happens to be quite marvellous.

  3. Harrold Bornnings

    Have you ever made a podcast in a poor mood? You don’t seem to ever get sick, you blessed one

  4. Peter Silly

    Has this show improved your life, change your values, or set you straight?

  5. @Kevin – good to know.
    @Harrold/Peter (I know it’s the same person). If either of those questions are serious then could you rephrase them because I’m happy to answer them if you meant them.

  6. Scott

    Hi Robin,

    Absolutely wonderful so far. Bulgar – Byzantine relations are one of the most interesting phases of this period! Can’t wait to keep hearing more!

    I made a comment a while back regarding the high quality of this series thus far and am pleased to see that it just keeps getting better. I’m excited to see where you take us all on this fantastic journey!


  7. Shannon

    Great episode! Also started trying out the Bulgarian History podcast that was mentioned here! The first few episodes have been great do far. I’m always looking for good history podcasts.

  8. ArcticXerxes

    I realize you may be already planning to cover this under Justinian II, but if not, would it be possible to elaborate somewhat on the Byzantine presence in the Crimea during this period? I keep noticing that little foothold on the maps of the empire.

  9. Thomas

    If you and my fellow listeners aren’t aware of it, I’ve been enjoying the cryforbyzantium twitter feed – tweets in the character of each byzantine emperor that progress chronologically through history. A nice light take on the main events. Exciting to have this introduction to new players on the Byzantine stage!

  10. Pingback: Episode 53 – The Bulgars are Coming - Byzantium

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