We return to our interview with Professor Kaldellis to discuss Basil II’s reign. We talk about our sources, about his decision never to marry and his relationship with the landed magnates.
Download: Sources and Magnates
RSS Feed: The History of Byzantium
If you want to send in feedback to the podcast:
– Either comment on this post.
– Or on the facebook page.
– Leave a review on Itunes.
– Follow me on Twitter.
Great episode. Basil II’s reign begins to sound like that of Elisabeth Tudor. It’d be interesting to know if she had any knowledge of him.
I had noticed that blaming the landed magnates for the decline in the Empire (which is to come) sounded like a suspiciously Marxist interpretation. I think the Soviets had a heavy influence in Byzantine studies in the 50’s as they were the ones who were doing the most research and the Soviet Union (via Russia) would have seen it as a sort of model for the earlier Russian state. Even someone who wasn’t political would be expected to view history through a Marxist lene.
I have seen the example of Basil the second’s hostility to the magnates used in a discussion of why Byzantium was so strong and the relative laxity of enforcement later on as the reason why it declined. It seems that the idea of the landed magnates/”The powerful” has become widespread even among people who have a passing knowledge of middle period.
I suppose like everything in life, we all view everything through our own eyes. I think you brought up earlier that we would have a difficult time understanding the Byzantines religious feelings through our modern education and experience. I have spent the better part of 20 years looking at Byzantium (although not continuously), and my perspective has been changed so much by getting deeper into it. I guess I remain interested because I can’t quite reconstruct the flavor of what it would have been like relative to the Romans, the Ottoman Greeks, us today here, or anyone else.
Where exactly did this notion of powerful landed magnates creating trouble for the emperor come from? Was it Haldon?