Episode 149 – Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood

Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood by Anthony Kaldellis

Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood by Anthony Kaldellis

The full interview with Professor Kaldellis about his book “Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood.” The book is a narrative history from the time when Nicephorus Phokas took charge of the military through till the First Crusade. In our conversation we talk about sources, Basil IIs reign, the Magnates and the struggles of the 11th century.

Period: 955-1099

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Categories: Podcast | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Episode 149 – Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood

  1. Erik

    The link doesn’t work! 😮

  2. Sorry about that, fixed now

  3. Myriokephalon

    Given the importance you’ve given to the growth of the magnates in your narrative, do you intend to follow Kaldellis and do a massive swerve in your interpretation right as the supposed struggle reaches its climax, or do you intend to introduce his conclusions as one possible theory amongst others who might take the older view more seriously?

    I admit I’m biased – reading Ostrogorsky was what made me first fall in love with Byzantine history – but I’m curious how you intend to handle the dilemma.

    • I think the growth of a different culture in the east was a big deal. I think the rise of the conquest army was a big deal. But I think I was clear in my episodes on the Magnates that there is plenty of dispute about whether they represented a social change. Or indeed if the Imperial legislation was really intended to stop them from acquiring more private wealth. So I don’t feel I need to do a swerve to agree with Kaldellis’ interpretation.

  4. Michael Hoffmann

    Hi Robin! I was just going click Order on Amazon on the book, when I thought “hey, wait, maybe there’s a discount code!” So, I thought I’d better check whether you and the good professor had maybe made an arrangement for one. Don’t get me wrong, I will order this book one way or the other, but never hurts to ask!

  5. Robin to provide some balance to Kaldellis perhaps you could have Dmitrii Krallis or Peter Frankopan contribute to a future podcast…they are pretty good blokes!

  6. niall blehein

    Will there be an audiobook release for Kaldellis’s book ?

    • I doubt it I’m afraid. Academic texts don’t often get that treatment

      • niall blehein

        Tis a bummer as its a rich story line and audio books on the political history Byzantium are thin on the ground. And occasionally excellent books like Justinians Flea are butchered by terrible narration.

        So I have 2 questions – any more good audible recommendations ?

        And more importantly – any plans to go the Mike Duncan route and turn your excellent podcast work into a book (or series of books). Your writing style is so accessible and disciplined (sorry Dan Carlin :)) that it could be adapted to book format very well.

        Hows that for a little brown nosing 🙂

  7. Good work 🙂

    I don’t see myself going the Mike Duncan route. But you never know. I don’t have ambitions to write a book, I like just podcasting.

    I have heard good things about Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities, Sapiens and Mary Beard’s various Rome books (all on Audible) but I haven’t heard them yet.

    • And you do it wonderfully. But podcasting and poverty are nearly synonymous sadly. I think the tours Mike ran did pretty well. I know I’d be up for a guided tour and be willing to fork out plenty for it. I suspect others would too.

      Read all Mary(s) Beard. Its pretty good stuff. I’ll check out your other recommendations too. Mercy buckets !!!

  8. thk

    Around minute 24, Kaldellis suggests that perhaps the magnates were hoping that Basil would accept another general as a leader and remain simply as a figurehead. Is there any evidence for this desire? Could that position reflect the recent change within Islamic states wherein the caliph remained as a mere figurehead without political power? It seems as though Byzantines were drawing on Islamic institutions in other ways, such as Nikephoros’s desire to ascribe martyrdom to fallen christian soldiers.

    • Based on his book, I think Kaldellis means that the Generals hoped that Basil would be too weak to resist them. So his “acceptance” of a General taking charge would not be of his own volition. In that sense it would be similar to the situation in the Caliphate. But that is a coincidence of both society’s being dominated by strong armies – not emulation on the part of the Byzantines.

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