Backer Rewards Episode 15 – The Hagia Sophia and Imperial Coronations

The Omphalion on the floor of Hagia Sophia

The Omphalion on the floor of Hagia Sophia

Byzantine polykandela in brass or bronze. (

Byzantine polykandela in brass or bronze. (

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, Lidia Dastrù. Some Churches Dedicated to the Holy Wisdom and their Sunrise Orientation. 2018.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, Lidia Dastrù. Some Churches Dedicated to the Holy Wisdom and their Sunrise Orientation. 2018.

Our fifteenth Kickstarter backers reward episode looks at some aspects of the Hagia Sophia and the coronation ceremony of Emperors.

Download: The Hagia Sophia and Imperial Coronations

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.

Categories: Kickstarter Rewards | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Backer Rewards Episode 15 – The Hagia Sophia and Imperial Coronations

  1. MartinA

    The “History of sex” starts by insulting masculinity and male listeners. Really bad form to let people like that advertise on your podcast.

  2. TaoQiBao

    Do you still publish regular episodes?

  3. Eric Molas

    First I want to say that Robin has done an amazing job in telling the well researched story of Byzantium. I’ve been binging the show for a half year or so to get caught up, loving it .

    However, though I understand that he has made this podcast his source of income , the narrative keeps slowing down more. At the rate it’s going , it’ll be 2025 years before Robin relates the last tale of 1453.

    Probably too many backer rewards episodes , interviews , Byzantine stories , and paid episodes compared to the total of unpaid narrative episodes as the podcast progresses.

    I know I sound unthankful, I am not. I’ll be supporting you robin financially in appreciation for what you’ve done but please pick up the narrative pace. A podcast is not meant to last longer than the Byzantine empire !

  4. Finally, finally, finally caught up. It’s been a ride listening to this podcast grow over the years (and for me binging it over a few months). You’ve even started running tours and got a huge amount of Kickstarter stuff going, wew. I’ve particularly enjoyed your discussions on the sources, their backgrounds and motivations as you’ve gone along and I feel you’ve gotten better at that particular aspect as you’ve continued.

    Looking forward to both whatever you’ve got planned next and when you resume the narritive in the new year once you’ve cleared your backlog- I need something interesting to listen to while working.

    • Thank you for being on the journey with me 🙂

    • Spencer

      This is in response to James Radcliffe, who posted that he needs “something interesting to listen to while working.” [as an aside, James, …Dude, how can you “work” and listen to a podcast simultaneously? If I do something more complicated than the dishes while listening to a podcast, I find that I constantly miss content and have to continuously “go back” by 30 seconds. I mostly listen while taking walks and light housework. History podcasts encourage me to take many walks, which is very good for me as otherwise I sit far too much as I review and edit on my computer screen–mostly educational materials–for a living.]

      Anyway, to answer your plea, I posted the following list in response to a similar plea on the website for Mike Duncan’s Revolutions. I consider these the “best of the best and the rest of the best.” Enjoy.

      Revolutions by Mike Duncan
      History of English by Kevin Stroud
      History of Byzantium by Robin Pierson
      Literature and History by Doug Metzger
      History of England by David Crowther
      History in the Bible by Garry Stevens
      The Ancient World by Scott Chesworth
      History of Persia by Trevor Culley
      History of Philosophy by Peter Adamson
      History of Egypt by Dominic Perry
      History of Ancient Greece by Ryan Stitt
      Russian Rulers by Mark Schauss
      The Layman’s Historian (History of Carthage) by William Hubbard
      History of Poland by Trevor Gilbert

  5. Holly

    It’s been a while since the last episode on Oct. 21. Any updates on when the podcast will resume? Missing it terribly!
    Thanks in advance for the reply.

  6. Andy

    I miss the podcast and I am looking forward to its return. Happy new year! I hope you are well and enjoying a well deserved break!

  7. Alexios Komnenos

    Hopefully The podcast will soon return! There is still one more good century left in this amazing empire before its completely terminal

  8. Imp

    I have long been an admirer of Robin’s work here, and I have been a subscriber for the Byzantine Stories etc for a couple of years, if only as a show of appreciation. I’m afraid however that this podcast has run out of steam. I appreciate that there are real life and other pressures, but for a podcast that is supposed to be a full time job the pace of updating is too irregular and the intervals too wide. I can no longer justify being a subscriber either, as the last Byzantine Stories material was also a long time ago.

    I have nothing but good wishes for the future of this podcast, if indeed it does resume. For parting words I will once again say that as been fantastic work so far: the quality of research is of academic quality, the writing fabulous and Robin’s voice one of the best in the podcast world. But regularity of updating is a necessity I’m afraid if this work is to be taken as seriously as it deserves.

  9. Spencer Cotkin

    Imp’s post above probably reflects many of Robin’s fans’ sentiments. Imp did a very nice job of setting aside his obvious frustrations as he wrote the post.

    Robin has indeed been away for a long time. I think it has been nearly half-a-year since the last regular episode (July, I believe). Robin has also not been very good about posting on this website information on the status of the HoB podcast. Although I do not use Twitter (or Facebook)–and frankly think it and they are an immense waste of time–I realize that many other people do use these. So I just did a search and found a recent Twitter from Robin, which I think many will find encouraging:

    Jan 1
    Hey everyone, I got sick over the holidays so plans for a quick start to 2020 are on hold. But I got plenty done last month so once my voice is back up and running there will be episodes coming. Inc the 3 House of War (fictional) episodes and a Byzantine Story about Cyprus.

    I do not understand why podcasters post updates on Twitter or Facebook but not on their websites, but I was glad to see this news that the History of Byzantium podcast should resume soon.

    I think most of us are hopeful that regular episodes will soon resume.

    Robin, I hope you are in good health and ready to resume. I believe that a crusade is about to begin (but I do not want to read ahead). Posting any status news would be appreciated.

  10. zblount

    In response to those who have posted to withdraw their support and patronage, I want to tell you, Robin, that there are those of us who certainly do not feel the same. Did I miss the show during the hiatus? Absolutely! This show is a wonderful retelling and explication of the history of a civilization I deeply love, which has done its job better than I ever imagined. I have studied Byzantine history for decades at this point, and yet I have still learned so much from your work, Robin. I am grateful for the work you have done. I love this show, and I respect you enormously. You have a life, and life gets complicated at times. How much mental and temporal resource one can devote to a task, even that of one’s livelihood, varies as a consequence. You have always laid out exactly why you need time between episodes, so I have never felt out of the loop, and your reasons are always good one. I do not feel cheated. I do not feel given reason for unjust impatience. You are human, and you have other things going on, some of which are far more important than the job this show now represents. I do not comprehend those who are unwilling to understand those things. I, for one, am glad you are bad, but I am patient and understand, and I cannot foresee withdrawing my support as a listener or patron merely because you are a human being.

    Robin, thank you for the work you do. You have given me many, many hours of entertainment and learning, and your show has reassured me that I am not alone in my long fascination and love for all things Byzantine. For that last part alone, you have my support to the bitter end.

    All the best,

    • Thank you so much for your lovely message. I appreciate the support. I understand that people get used to most podcasts being weekly and find gaps annoying. And I try to take it as a compliment when people complain about my absence. But as you say I do always explain the schedule coming up. So when I get angry comments I feel people could go back and listen to the last thing I said to check when I’m coming back…

      • Erik

        You can’t expect people to listen to every minute of every podcast. That’s a bit arrogant. If you are planning an absence, post about it on the site.

    • zblount

      “back”, not “bad”… sigh… (Thank heavens for context clues!)

  11. Spencer

    It is August of 2020, many months into the “time of coronavirus.” In 2020, Robin has posted many fine episodes on Byzantium in the late eleventh century, the lead up to the First Crusade, and the beginning actions of the First Crusade. Before the next episode is released, I thought this was a good time to re-listen to the last 20+ episodes, so I started with this one. Two thoughts:

    First, shortly after originally listening to this episode, I began to watch the Netflix series The Crown. In one of the first episodes of that excellent and enjoyable series, the Princess Elizabeth is going through the coronation ceremony and the Archbishop (I think) anoints her with oil. Without listening to this episode on the Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine coronation procedures, I would not have known what was happening during the anointment (and probably would not have realized anything was happening). So, thank you Robin for mentioning this part of the process!

    Second, since Robin posted this Backer Rewards episode on the Hagia Sophia, the Turkish government has regrettably decided to transform this fabulous building once again into a mosque. I have nothing against mosques, churches, temples, or synagogues, it is just that Hagia Sophia is a world treasure—it is literally a World Heritage Site. Surely, there are plenty of buildings that can function as mosques if additional mosques are needed in Istanbul.

    Although I still hope to travel to Istanbul one day, this decision by the Turkish government on the Hagia Sophia are two reasons not to visit Istanbul. First, the Hagia Sophia will not be available (or would have the added presence of being an active mosque, which is a different type of visit than to a secular museum). Second, this action by the government is worthy of condemnation and protest, and not contributing to the travel industry in Turkey is my one small way of condemning this government decision.

    • Thanks so much for the comment. I’m a fan of The Crown too. I wonder if a Crown-style show could be produced on the Macedonian dynasty one day.

      My sincere hope is that the Turkish government will continue to keep the Hagia Sophia tourist-friendly. But it is a worrying development given the way other buildings in Istanbul have been ‘restored.’ If you’d like to hear more about it then do check out the latest episode of Anthony Kaldellis’ podcast ‘Byzantium and Friends.’

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