“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.


270 thoughts on “About

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  1. Ju

    Have you read The Byzantine – a novel, written by the author and historian Miguel M. Abrahão? It’s just fantastic…!

  2. M.A.

    Hello Robin,
    I don’t known if anyone has brought this to your attention yet, but I thought this video may be some small interest to you. It is about the Fourth Crusade, and as that is looming ever nearer in the narrative I thought I would be appropriate.

    Thank you for all your wonderful work.

  3. Daniel

    I know this is late in the day given how far into the history the podcast is, and I also know that there’s no way to say this without being seen as a villain, but I shall try to be fair. I love the podcast. I love the presentation, I enjoy listening to your voice, but there’s one thing that has persisted through the 50 episodes I’ve listened to so far.
    You have an unfortunate tendency to make the most cringe-inducing lip-smacking, saliva splashing, noises as you speak, and it just sends waves of revulsion though me as I’m trying to hear what you say. I have to take breaks, whereas I’d love to just binge the show, as it were. I had to stop twice during the Last War.

    The only reason I bring it up is in hopes that maybe, some of the last episodes, or any new projects you enter into, don’t have this in it.
    I apologise sincerely if this gives offence, I just couldn’t take it anymore after 50 episodes.

    • Libro e Moschetto - Fascista Perfetto

      Wow Daniel, lol…

      Personally I’ve never heard any ‘saliva splashing noises’ from Robin in all the time I’ve listened. He sometimes like, clicks his tongue at the end of sentences or when he’s thinking but millions of people do that… If a little tic like that bothers you so much I think the issue lies with yourself, seems fairly autistic to me (as does your rudeness).

      • Jeffrey W Percival

        I agree with Libro. I’ve always been impressed with Robin’s clear and precise enunciation. Distinctive and agreeable.

    • Shawn

      I love the podcast too but ever since I read your comment I can’t help but gag, cringe, and like you I’ve had to stop listening multiple times bc of whatever the heck is splashing on in there. It’s when he pause, thinks he says something clever, and at other times. I can’t take it anymore. I feel bad, but I feel like he needs to know tho. Mouth to close to the mic? Taking a drink? Or a type of tic of some sort? I dk, but it’s so bad I’m done and that’s a darn shame. He’s done good work and seems like a good dude but I can’t handle the lip smacking or to hear the word hugely one more time.

    • Kris from the Venetian Quarter

      Daniel, you are obviously a Latin Crusader looking to destabilize the empire for your own glory!

    • Gator

      I honestly can’t believe the comments regarding Robin’s voice and delivery. The painstaking, honest scholarship that goes into each episode would make it worth a listen even if he had the voice of chalk on blackboard. But he doesn’t. Perfect pacing, perfect grammar, beautiful and soothing voice. And to my Yank ears, the accent is a definite plus. “I love Americans, but not when they try to talk French. What a blessing it is that they never try to talk English.” Saki

      Thank you Robin for this very important and entertaining addition to the history of a largely unknown (and/or often misunderstood) episode in the human story.

      In my opinion you, Carlin, and Duncan are the gold standard to which others can only aspire. The three of you have made me a fan of history, unlike my school instructors that tended to drive me from the subject. I now understand that history has lessons to teach, and that we ignore the lessons of history at our peril.

  4. Joe Targett

    Hey just so you know there’s been a splinter group from Byzantium Novum and some other Roman Reconstructionist groups, this group is fairly small but I’ve been hearing lots about them. They claim to be emulating the Roman and Byzantine empire.

    Just wondering if you’d like to cover them in a future post or podcast:

    Their email, according to their website, is:

  5. Arthur

    Hi Robin,

    Just listening to episode 144, and I wanted to say thank you for making a subject that I only had a very cursory knowledge of prior to starting the podcast so engaging and easy to grasp. The huge amount of effort and care that you’ve put into this shines through, and I look forward to continuing to listen to what is easily the best history podcast series I’ve come across so far.

  6. Menno

    Hi Robin,
    I am so incredibly happy with the podcast. I only just found out that you haven´t reached 1453 yet. I guess you could me oldskool, that I am (was) more interested in the fate of the Western Roman Empire. You changed that perspective. I am thankful to now think beyond 476.
    I just would like to leave a small comment. I sometimes get the feeling that the timeline / narrative episodes are shorter than the question round episodes, together with the information that follows. I feel that 20 years passes really fast in comparison to all the episodes that follow when we reach the end of a century. The city, borders, provinces, you know.. you´re Robin.
    Thank you for the great work.

  7. A J

    Just started listening to your podcast. It takes me back to 50 years ago when a copy of History of the Byzantine State by George Ostrogorsky in hand I entered a whole new world. Thanks to Dr. Demetrious Constantelleos and visits to Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine study center in Washington, DC.

  8. Scott Taylor

    Robin. I just heard the announcement about your baby due later this year. You are about to embark on quite a ride. Savor it. Enjoy it for all it is worth. Some day that baby will be an adult and you will wonder where the years went. Don’t worry about all of us.

    I jus had a thought. Some podcast companies will host a sister show for an episode. You have teased other shows. What about a sample show from another pod cast or two to fill the time?

    Just a thought.

  9. Kim

    I was an avid follower of Mike Duncan’s History of Rome podcast series back in the day. I waited for each of Mike’s new episodes with great anticipation, what a journey when it finally ended. I enjoyed Mike’s great History of Rome content and would have readily listened to anyone who did the same treatment for Byzantium.

    But somehow I missed your fantastic History of Byzantium podcast series. I mean I had no clue you were doing this for the past NINE years. I must have been living under a rock or something!! But better late than never I finally found your History of Byzantium podcast series. I have made it to Justinian’s plague and I can safely say that you have lived up to the standard of Mike Duncan. Congratulations on an amazing podcast series!

  10. Greetings from someone who is still in 2018. I’m still in 1025 awaiting to hear the future. I’m concerned that after a number of good years things are going to start going downhill for the empire. It’s been a very enjoyable journey so far. I am getting the story faster than original listeners so its like a montage. Events happen at a furious rate. Even in 1025 it seems only like yesterday I was learning about Belisarius. Not sure if it was from the podcast I found it but I’ve read William Havelocks novels about Belisarius The Last Dying Light and Immortal. I thought them both quite good. Lots of nice details about a Roman soldiers life. Not as good as the podcast of course. I’m still hoping for a happy ending but I’m not optimistic. I think I will be looking back nostalgically at 1025. Hopefully I will catch up with the present at some time in the future

  11. MyboyTheophilos

    Currently still on the end of Macedonians, absolutely adore your podcast Robin! It got me through my teacher training to become a high school history teacher, and I you’ve convinced me to spend way too much money on Byzantine history books.

    I still remember driving back and forth to work listening to the dedicated long episode to Heraclius and his war with the Sassanids and I loved the episodes on Nikephoros Phokas, John Tzimiskes and Irene, look forward to getting to Alexios and continuing with your podcast till 1453 :).

  12. MK

    Hello, please disclose your sources of financing so the listeners can adequately assess any biases you might have. Specifically, the sources of financing tied to Turkey or the Aliev dictatorial regime of Azerbaijan.

  13. Maine Man

    Hello, finally got through all of Mike Duncan’s podcasts and audiobooks so my natural progression has me here. Has this podcast sold themed merchandise? I’d love a t shirt and other items to financially support the podcast. Thanks for your hard work!!!

  14. Matthew Baker

    Have you listened to the podcast’Byzantium and Friends’ by Anthony Kaldellis. In a recent episode on blinding, he mentions as an aside, that a lot of Issac Angelos’ relatives had been blinded by Andronikos and that this didn’t help in the Bulgarian war that some of these relatives were commanding the Byzantine armies in.

  15. Hugh MacIntyre

    Hey, just wanted to say thank you for getting me interested in Istanbul. I just gor back from there and I instantly fell in love. Don’t think I would have gone if it weren’t for your podcast!

  16. James

    Hi Robbin,
    Thank you for everything you have poured into this podcast! While it was intriguing from the start, it’s impressive how much you’ve grown as both performer and historian. 193-Manzikert and 218-Siege of Antioch in particular were among the best things these I’ve ever listened to!

    Do you know the status of Maximilian C G Lau’s book about John II? I’ve been anticipating it ever since your interview from October ’21 and can’t find it anywhere.

  17. Gmony

    #bestpodcastever! Followed since day 1. In the meantime read ahead about the dramatic conclusion. Gripping story! Thank you for bringing this to life!

  18. Mike

    Hey, Robin,
    I wanted to make you aware of of the website Byzantine Chronicle-Xronikon. I don’t own this website but wanted you to know about it in case you wanted to add it to the list of Byzantine links. Link: https://byzantium.gr/home-en.html
    I really enjoy the podcast and found the latest episode particularly interesting! It’s amazing the Empire held out as long as it did after the 4th Crusade sacking of Constantinople.

  19. mailinutile

    dear Robin
    I listened with interest to the episode on the 4th Crusade, but I was a bit puzzled by the description of wind-change as a pivotal point for the last seawall assualt.
    I am a puzzled because, AFAIK, sails in the period were just used for long-range movement (or to flee away), but battle was an oar-rowing affair.
    Crossing the short span of the golden horn by sail seems unlikely, even more since the battle itself was a static affair in front of the walls (even with anchors lowered). Bringing the coupled-pair of ships on the two sides of a seawall tower is something asking for the finess of maneuvering of oars rather than sails.
    I could conceive having the wind in the back could help arrows, but given the rickety arrangement of the flying bridges, the best scenario for the fleet would be to have no wind at all.
    Of course, once a fire starts in the city, wind direction becomes important for the defenders, but I do not see it helping the Venetians.
    The wind-change described as a pivotal moment allowing the wall breakthrough seems rather like a narrative device, something the narrator uses to justify the outcome on divine intervention (or retribution)

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