About

“The History of Byzantium” is a podcast dedicated to the story of the Roman Empire from the collapse of the West in 476 to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Byzantine history is fascinating, world changing and largely forgotten. Listen and discover who they were.

The show was created to continue the narrative established by Mike Duncan’s wonderful podcast The History of Rome.” I have tried to remain faithful to Mike’s structure of half hour instalments told from a state-centric perspective. My innovation is to pause the narrative at the end of each century to take time to cover wider issues to do with Byzantium. I’ve also taken time to produce feature length episodes on the most dramatic incidents.

After a year of research and recording I asked the audience to support me by purchasing episode 28 (May 2013). Making the podcast had begun taking up almost half of each week. Thankfully the listeners responded and donated and I was able to keep going for another two years. By then though the podcast had occupied more like 70% of my time. So I offered listeners a yearly subscription (July 2015) to support me in exchange for six special episodes each year. By 2017 the podcast was my full time occupation.

I launched a Kickstarter in 2018 to fund a trip to Istanbul to document the surviving Byzantine buildings and to prepare the ground for listener tours. In March 2019 the first ‘History of Byzantium Tour’ spent five days exploring Istanbul’s Roman past and it was so much fun.

I continue to search for the most interesting and entertaining way to communicate the Byzantine story. With listener support I’m confident that we will reach 1453 with a complete audio narrative of the whole sweep of Roman history. It’s a huge privilege to be able podcast for a living and I love exploring the world of Byzantium.

Robin Pierson is from London in the UK. Contact Robin at thehistoryofbyzantium at gmail.com (all one word with @ instead of at) or on Twitter.

223 Comments

223 thoughts on “About

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  1. Marcio

    Hey Robin! Thank you so much for your incredible work. Your podcast is high quality and I recommend it to my friends. I just listened to the episode 195 and I can’t wait for the next ones! When I get a job, the first thing I will do will be to buy the episodes for sale.

  2. Omar

    Hi,
    Can you make it much easier to find and download back episodes? I’m just starting your podcast, and it’s a little difficult to navigate your site.
    The History of Philosophy without any gaps site allows you to download whole sections in a single zip. That would be ideal.

  3. Renee Malaki

    Robin, I am interested in the potential spring of 2020 tour. Is there going to be a trip and, if so what are the anticipated dates?

  4. Joel

    Hi Robin.
    I love the show. I’ve been listening to the House of War episode and the To the City episodes nearly every day at work for the last month. I really love them and was wondering if there was still a way to get the extra three House of War style episodes that you did for the Kickstarter campaign. Are they in the purchase backlog of episodes? I wasn’t a listener at the time so I missed out, and I would love to get them.
    Thanks for everything you do in bringing Roman history to life.

    • Hey Joel, I’m so glad you enjoy those. And yes just drop me an email (thehistoryofbyzantium at gmail.com) and I’ll get you access to those episodes. They do not yet exist so no hurry 🙂

  5. Robert McDonald

    Robin, my name is Robert , I’m a history major at CSU Channel Islands. I’m a huge fan of your podcast and was inspired to write my research paper on the Byzantine Empire. I have been reading the Alexiad and several secondary histories about the empire. I am writing about the relationship between the Romans and the crusaders. However, I wanted to contact you to see if you have any suggestions on documents you would recommend. Thank you for doing this podcast, you are doing an amazing job!

  6. Byron Ransom

    Robin! I’ve been a big fan of the podcast for years and am definitely ready to pay up for the documentary you did in Constantinople. There is so little quality content documenting what remains of the Roman city, so I would love anything you filmed. Please let me know how I can get my hands on the content.

    By the way, depending how far you want to take this, you could lead a complete re-discovery of Roman Turkey. I know there is more sensitivity and danger in exploring parts of it these days than in years past, but there are probably more un-excavated and under-publicized Roman ruins in that country than anywhere else.

    Thanks!
    Byron

  7. Adamantios

    Hello,
    Congratulations for your show. Will there be new (main) episodes (not backer rewards etc) after Ep.195 covering period 1080 onwards?
    Thanks
    Regards

  8. Rich

    Ok.
    2020 is the start up time for new episodes. I eagerly await new installments.
    Long live the Byzantine Empire!

  9. Rachel Lawrence

    Hi Robin,
    I finished all of the episodes a few weeks ago and am anxiously waiting for 2020, but I certainly hope you are resting and recuperating. I am a historian and archaeologist who has specialized in Eastern European later medieval history, and it is so, so wonderful that you do this podcast. Thank you for all that you do. Take care!

  10. Rachel Lawrence

    Hi Robin,

    I finished your episodes a few weeks ago and I am anxiously waiting for 2020, but I certainly hope you are resting and recuperating. I specialized in Eastern European history and archaeology, and it is so wonderful that you have this podcast. Thank you for all that you do. Take care!

  11. Peter Vogel

    Hey Robin, I’m a huge fan of your podcast and of the History of Rome as well. As you’ve started to get to the end of the Byzantine empire, i thought I’d reach out in hopes of swaying your future podcasting endeavors to the East. As I listened to both your podcast and the history of Rome, I often found myself wondering what was happening in Persia at the time (and I’m sure many other listeners wondered the same). I have looked, without success, to find a similar podcast covering the history of Persia, but to not avail. Persia has an extremely rich and interesting history which would perfectly compliment with your podcast and that of Mike Duncan to paint a more full picture of what happened in that region of the world, and would make for a really cool follow up to the history of Byzantium and the history of Rome. As Persia’s history is quite closely tied to that of the Roman and Byzantine empire, much of your work would be much easier as you already have a background in the area. Not sure if you’re open to suggestions, but if you’re taking votes, mine would be for your to head over to the Persian empire next!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words and all suggestions are welcome. One of the problems with Persian history as I understand it is that we have no written histories to go on. Certainly in the Roman era all our battlefield accounts come from the Roman side. So it would be a different kind of podcast based around archaeology and the writing that came later from the Islamic era. The History of Iran podcast began this project but then stopped. I suspect it will take someone with a similar intimacy with the modern country and its scholarship to complete.

    • Spencer

      Peter,

      Might I recommend The History of Persia podcast by Trevor Culley, a grad student focusing on Persia (I believe). He started it a bit more than a year ago and is now on Episode 33, which discusses Persian-Ionian interactions around the year 500 BC (time of Darius). Trevor is very systematic and has a very good delivery. I’m sure you can find the podcast via a search on one’s app. The website is:

      https://historyofpersiapodcast.com/

  12. Douglass Barron

    Have you discussed the Digenes Akritas epic poem by any chance? Thought it looked right up your alley! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digenes_Akritas

  13. Nick Marston

    Robin , I have just listened to your episodes on Cyprus and on Culture . Really enjoyed them both . Your learning and knowledge and your style were good at the start but are superb now . Best history podcast available in my view. Also struck me in the Culture episode how much off Roman and Greek cultural life lived on in the Empire even in a Christianity dominated culture . A Minister for Philosophy! Not many of those about in the other states of the 10th century ! Thanks for so many pleasurable hours of listening , Nick .

  14. Adrian Moore

    Robin, as a longtime fan of Byzantine history I was excited to find your podcast after finishing the History of Rome. I’m only on ep 10 but loving it, and excited seeing the ground you have covered so far. Hope to catch up to realtime with you by summer some time. Thanks so much for doing this!

  15. Elizabeth Collins

    I started following this podcast at the beginning of this year and have been so addicted that I am now well up with the current episodes and thirsty for more, especially now that we are all in lockdown.
    I have found the whole history of Byzantium fascinating and I knew little of it before. I remember that when I lived in Greece and told a friend that I was going to Istanbul he turned to his friends and said “I think she means Constantinople.”
    Further than that my residence is in Galatina, Puglia where there is a superb Basilico ” Santa Caterina de Alessandro” built in 1407 which was constructed together with hospital and school by the Roman Catholic to wean the locals away from the Byzantine churches of which there were many with beautiful murals, some of them underground to hide from the Turks (apparently). There is even a surviving one with the Holy Trinity represented as God, Christ and Sophia apparently rare if not unique. The script above is in Greek. The local dialect in some of the surrounding areas is a form of Greek called Griko, sadly dying out but not yet.
    As you can see, I am desperate to get a few more episodes…

  16. Jonathan

    Robin, in early summer 2018 I needed a good book, and picked up John Julius Norwich’s first of his trilogy on Byzantium, THE EARLY CENTURIES. After that, I turned straight to the other two books in the trilogy, and my curiosity in the history of the eastern Roman empire had just begun. I needed more content, more information. I found your podcast on Stitcher, and quickly recognized the exceptional quality of your approach. And after hearing your interviewing of Anthony Kaldellis, I am now reading STREAMS OF GOLD, RIVERS OF BLOOD. Thank you for your inquisitiveness, your curiosity, your patience, and your organization. Your podcast is a real gift – to me and certainly to dozens of your listeners.

  17. Thank you all for your lovely messages 🙂

  18. Pingback: Historical Notes: The Empress and the Prison Rat | crafty theatre

  19. Christian Heiens

    Hey Robin, just curious…what host do you use to get your episodes out to the public?

    • It’s been a long road with hosting 🙂 I started just having episodes on my website thetvcritic.org where the sale episodes are still hosting. Then I moved to Libsyn who are great. Now I am with Acast because they stitch all the adverts in at the beginning and end.

  20. Hey Robin,

    This Podcast is absolutely fantastic and would love to be able to interview you for The Property Nomads Podcast. I love history and the way you have made Byzantium come to life in this show is absolutely incredible.

    Really enjoy it and really look forward to hearing from you soon!

  21. Hello there. Big fan of your podcast! I’ve always been fascinated by Byzantine hystory, as one of the first serious books I remember was about the fall of Constantinople, triggering two voyages to Istambul and me carrying my parents all over the walls and to all the major byzantine landmarks (they enjoyed it as well I think). Thanks for doing this, I never hoped for such a detailed story of this sometimes forgotten empire (many of my friends frown at my. preocuppation with this subject). I feel transported to those places when listening to your podcast. Finally, maybe this will interest you, I found it fascinating – a small lecture from the writings of the Old Book of Tang about the byzantine empire. https://youtu.be/p8mTOatKEVQ. Hope you like it. Warm regards

  22. Mmm, looks like you have competition 😉

  23. Nikola L.

    Greetings Robin!
    I’ve started listening to your podcast in March and it made my daily 2h-commute to work (1 hour in each direction) much more enjoyable. Thank you very much!
    Today I ran into a problem while trying to download certain episodes from 2019, specifically: 182, 188, 190 and 193. My browser just says that “files don’t exist”.
    Can you help me, please?

    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying the show. I don’t know what to tell you about your browser. All those episodes seem to be working fine. Assuming you are using the ‘download’ link on each page they seem to be working here (on Chrome)

  24. jonscottgordongmailcom

    Thank you Robin – your quick response and clear instructions are greatly appreciated. I’m all set. Keep up the great work please!

  25. Aaron

    Currently listening to your podcasts as I play as Byzantium on the Civilization 6 DLC. Huge fan of your work. I learn something new every episode. I was fortunate to take a class on the Byzantine Empire in college. It is what first got me interested in the story of the fascinating empire and your podcasts allow me to dive even deeper into the history. Thank you for your work.

  26. David McMahon

    Hi Robin,

    What can I say? I started out listening regularly to podcasts with Kevin Stroud’s “History of English” which was great for about 60 odd episodes, then I kind of lost the buzz as he got a little too deep into the intricacies of language for me. What I found out however, was that I loved the narrative history aspects that Kevin did, which surprised me as I’ve normally not been a history enthusiast. So I hunted around and thought “I’ve always wanted to know the order of the Roman Emperors” and so that led me to Mike Duncan’s “History of Rome” … and the rest as they say … is history. Mike drew me into the ancient world in a way I didn’t think was possible, I binge listened to the podcast in under a year I think … then I thought “now what?”… oh .. I found the “History of Persia” as I thought “why not look from the other side of the story?” and I listened to the first episode where Trevor mentioned, it might be good to listen to “The History of Rome” and “the History of Byzantium” before listening to his podcast … “History of Byzantium”? I thought … I though Byzantium was some far eastern thing that was famous for material patterns … shows how much I knew … then I started listening to “The History of Byzantium” on July 25th 2020. Your first few episodes were a bit ponderously told, as I think you stated, but I think you were nervous and just getting going, but your attention to detail and your honoring of Mike’s approach and ability to research and relay information kept me well interested even then. From there onwards it’s been a case of O…M…G I never imagined such a story existed in real life … the best Hollywood script writers could never have come up with a story so complex and so interwoven with intrigue, action, heroics, brutality and pathos. I’m addicted to the podcast, I listen to it on my bike, soaking in the bath, as I go to sleep, and in just 4 months, I’m now up to Episode 175 – The Turks … So thank you for the journey, thank you for your unrelenting effort, I look forward to every new episode and every twist and turn … I’ve donated and subscribed to your work as I believe it deserves our full support. One question … post pandemic, are you planning to continue with any “History of Byzantium” tours ? I would be interested in find out any details you have. Once again, thank you for your work and dedication, I’m not quite up to date yet at least another 50 podcasts to go I think … but getting there!

    • Thanks for such a lovely message. It’s nice to hear about listeners journey with the podcast. I absolutely plan on continuing the tours if Covid will let me. If you send me an email I will add you to the mailing list so you are kept up to date. thehistoryofbyzantium at gmail.com

  27. yes

    this is the best podcast and the worst website.I subscribed and I cannot get episodes I paid for

  28. Robert Troost

    Hello Robin, Although I enjoy your podcast enormously I do have a problem playing them. This may be the silliest question of the year but when I listen to e.g. episode 8 and when it is finished, it continues with episode 7 instead of episode 9. When I have listened to episode 1 , it keeps repeating that episode. Could you possibly help me out?

  29. I need a little more information than that. I assume you are using a podcast app? What you describe sounds like it is auto-playing them in the wrong order or something like that. Do email me to continue this conversation – thehistoryofbyzantium at gmail.com

  30. Bryce

    Robin, thanks for producing the most entertaining and thought provoking history podcast out there. I am currently listening for the second time and have made it to episode 125. I do have a question, way back when you recommended an historical fiction novel about two Jewish mercenaries on their travels through Byzantium. I can’t recall the author or title. Could you refresh my memory, please?
    Thanks again,

  31. Matthias

    Hey Robin,
    This is amazing! I just binged the up until 600 a.d. and cannot wait for more.

    Just a heads up though: since last friday all episodes go to 404, probably some change you are making and probably you are already aware.

    Again thanks,
    Matthias

  32. Hey everyone,
    Apologies for the impersonal reply. I am away from work for a bit now until the New Year. The bonus episodes should be working again. If you have any problems getting your episodes let me know. I will reply about any other issues in January. If you want to switch to Patreon (where you can get all the bonus episodes) https://www.patreon.com/thehistoryofbyzantium please do and I can refund any time left on your subscription.
    Thanks for your understanding,
    Robin

  33. Jude Dolan

    Hi Robin I absolutely love listening to the podcast. The narrative is so well told and you explain everything so well. You seem to have always researched everything to the smallest detail and the history of Byzantium is my favourite podcast I’ve come across. Thanks so much for your brilliant informative episodes! I’m up to the year 912 and optimistic about the reign of Constantine!

  34. Guadalupe

    Hi Robin,

    I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful work you do. I started your podcast not long ago and I find it fascinating.

    I only listened to “The History of Rome” from Julian the Apostate on. That is because at the time I was reading Gore Vidal’s “Julian” and wanted to know more about what happened after him. Then after I finished Mike Duncan’s podcast, I discovered “The History of Byzantium”. I am only on episode 14 but I am absolutely loving it and I am so excited about having so many more episodes ahead.

    I lived in Turkey some years ago, so the only sad thing is that I didn’t discover this back then! How amazing it would have been to get into “The History of Byzantium” journey while exploring what once was the Byzantine Empire!

    Do you think you will be organizing any more of those tours once this pandemic is over?

    Warm regards,

    Guadalupe

  35. Hi Robin,

    I have enjoyed your podcasts immensely. I’m currently at episode 88 and working my way through. I still need to go back and listen to the rise of Islam and the narrative of john, set in Antioch. As a history fan and a byzantine enthusiast, thank you for this gift! Thank you. You have a gift of making it all come alive, to appeal to the senses. I don’t want it to end.

    Warm regards

    Oby

  36. firelightfight

    Thank you Robin for this gift! As a history and a byzantine enthusiast, this has been phenomenal. You have a way of making history come alive. A feast for the senses. I’m in episode 88 and working my way through. I don’t want it to end. I will go back to listen to the Rise of Islam and John of Antioch episodes. Thank you so much for all that you put in.

    warm regards

    Oby

  37. Tim

    Amazing work Robin! Having just finished the History of Rome, I was sad that Mike wasn’t continuing the story, but how happy I was to hear that you took up the mantle! I think it’s fair to say you do the History of Rome narrative justice, and then some, while providing your own spin. Incredible work.

  38. Jude Dolan

    hello,
    I absolutely love the history of Byzantium! I love the way the narrative is done and how well you explain everything and I find it really interesting. This is probably one of if not my favourite podcast out there! Thanks so much for this great podcast :). At the moment I’m listening to the end of centruy summary for the 10th century and I can’t wait to catch up with the podcast! I was just wondering, if I sign up to the feed willI I be able to listen to all of the extra episodes that you have done so far or will I just be able to listen to the ones you upload from now on? Also, will I be able to listen to the Istanbul kickstarter campaign extra episodes episodes (the extra house of war ones). I am listening to the podcast quite a while on from when you launched the kickstarter campaign so will I be able to just buy those episodes seperately or access them on the feed?

    • Hey, I’m so glad you enjoy the show. Thank you for the kind offer of support. Please have a read of this https://thehistoryofbyzantium.com/2021/02/11/all-bonus-episodes-are-moving-to-patreon/ The answer to your question is that the $6/£6 option on Patreon will get you every single episode of the show from number 1 to 225 and all future episodes including all sale/bonus episodes including the House of War and you won’t have to listen to adverts. I hope that works for you 🙂

      • Jude Dolan

        That’s great! I’ve signed up and I’m glad to be supporting such an excellent podcast! Can’t wait to listen to the bonus house of war episodes along with the Byzantine stories and everything else!

  39. Christina

    Hello there. I just recently discovered your podcast and I have to say it was exactly what I was looking for. Your pace is so relaxing and the amount of information is correctly calculated. You have provided a much needed way of just managing time and trying to get by in these times we live. Thank you very much in deed!

  40. adameuropa

    Dear Robin, I’m awestruck by the quality, breadth and scale of your podcast. I discovered it this morning and am now wondering how I could have been going through life without it till now 🙂 Subscribing on Patreon today (once I figure out how it all works).

  41. Kevin Da Roit

    Dear Robin,
    I want to thank you for your podcast, which is indeed a worthy one. I’m from Italy and I’ve always noticed that it’s not easy to find good material on byzantine history; this podcast is therefore a precious gem. I thank you very much also for the very clear elocution of yours, which makes me easily understand everything you say with no effort, despite I am not native English speaker.
    Apart from the narrative episodes, which are all very nice and interesting to listen, I really have to congratulate for the ones with in-depth analysis: I’ve just bought the episode “The origins of Islam” after listening with deep interest and pleasure the episodes from 55 to 62.
    Many thanks for your work, best regards,

    Kevin

  42. Robin. Sorry to hear you’re father is ill.

  43. Steven Hager

    Robin, sorry to hear your father is ill. I am a medical oncologist so you can contact me for questions or concerns. Love your podcast-just found it 1 year ago and rapidly catching up. Studied byzantine history in university decades ago

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