Episode 140 – Magnificent and Insufferable

John Tzimiskes (from 'Rulers of the Byzantine Empire' published by KIBEA)

John Tzimiskes (from ‘Rulers of the Byzantine Empire’ published by KIBEA)

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

Period: 969

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Categories: Podcast | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Episode 140 – Magnificent and Insufferable

  1. Excellent episode as always!

    I really enjoyed the story of Nicephorus, including his tragic end. If Shakespeare had better knowledge of Byzantine history, I bet he would have made Nicephoruses and John’s stories into one of his epic tragedies 🙂

    Wanted to ask you Robin if you have any rough schedule or estimate for how long do you think it will take you to get to 1453? I’m also interested to see how you’re going to tackle the Roman story after the 4th Crusade and the disintegration of the Empire into several smaller competing states.

    • I’ll be interested to find that out too. And it will take however long it takes…

      • Well, I hope I’ll be there to listen till the end 🙂

        My question was meant more for a Q&A episode or the end of the century episodes, as I am interested if you ever did a rough plan, when you first started the podcast, for how long you thought it will take you. I remember Mike Duncan saying that he originally thought the History of Rome will take him about a year or so. Little did he know…

      • I remember that question. But my situation is very different to Mike’s. I agreed to take the podcast on till the end of Justinian’s reign and then tried to fund the show to continue. Once people supported me I was happy for the show to run as long as it takes…

  2. Elliott Tydeman

    very interesting episode with plots and intrigue, sounds like a plot straight out of game of thrones. If you ask me i think Livia did it.
    My question for 976 is, one of the major factors and reasons the Roman Empire was able to grow to to the territorial extent that it did so well was its ability to incorporate the peoples it conquered and and encountered into the empire through citizenship, thus seeing a smooth transition of administration of the newly acquired provinces. With the reconquest fully under way did the government still hand out or offer Citizenship to to help administrated newly conquered territory?

  3. Charles

    What biography would you recommend for those of us (those of us who are not trained historians, anyway) who want to go deeper into Nicephorous’ life and death?

    • I’m afraid there is no biography in English, which is a definite gap in the market. So it depends what you’d like to know more about. The best books covering this period won’t focus on him specifically but will cover all the relevant issues around his life. Tell me more about what you’re interested in and I may be able to help.

      • Charles

        What fascinated me about the past few episodes was the character of the man and how people reacted to him. Brilliant at war, but bad at politics and not handsome enough for the palace pretty-boys. Devout to the point of asceticism, but also a usurper. Married Theodorus but possibly never slept with her. And of course the drama of his assassination.

      • I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. I wish there was a book just about him that I could recommend. My best source has been Anthony Kaldellis’ new book “Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood.” Its not out till August but its the best narrative for Nicephorus.

      • Charles

        Thanks for the Kaldellis recommendation. I’ve put “Streams of Gold” on my wish list. And hurray! I found that my local library has Kaldellis’ “The Byzantine Republic”!

  4. And Mazikert gets a brief mention in a nice (and ominous) bit of foreshadowing.

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