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. So far I’m able to make a living podcasting which is a huge privilege.

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.

Robin Pierson is from London in the UK. He writes about American TV shows at thetvcritic.org and works for his father (an actor). Contact Robin at thehistoryofbyzantium at gmail.com (all one word with @ instead of at) or on Twitter.

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113 Comments

113 thoughts on “About

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  1. Hi Robin,

    Is it possible to subscribe to your podcast via iTunes?

    Thanks,

    Peter

  2. Stephen DeMarco

    Just started listening. Like your style.. Thanks for picking up Mike’s mantel..

  3. Yes of course Peter, just search in Itunes for “the history of byzantium” and it’s there…

  4. Thanks – found it!
    Peter

  5. Jennifer Cerini

    Hi Robin,
    So glad to have found your podcast today. I tore through Mike Duncan’s podcast last spring while I painted my kids’ bedrooms. We moved recently so I’ll be listening to you as I paint the new place.

    Keep up the good work!

    Jen

  6. I’m glad I can help with the house work 🙂

  7. Episode 11 is broken on the RSS feed.

  8. Andrew

    You’re doing a great job Robin. Keep up the good work.

  9. mirakulous

    If you can convince Mike to do one of the shows as a guest appearance, I don’t think it would hurt the show much 😉

  10. Joe

    I really liked the first episode and am trying to download the rest with my ipad on itunes but i cant download the next. What can i do?

  11. It seems to be working fine for me. Please try again and let me know if it’s not possible.

  12. Joe

    I got the third downloaded but now the fourth is giving me trouble. It seems the connection is just as querrelous as an old goat. I really like the podcast though and hope you’re finding enough support to convince you to continue.

  13. Thanks so much for the support. The podcast is sitting on one dedicated server so it may just be overloaded. Do keep trying 🙂

  14. John

    Great work! I do not know how it works or if you can do anything to iTunes but I feel like it is difficult to find your podcast. Searching for Byzantine does not work except for “Byzantium.” I do not know if there are tag words you can add such as Byzantine or Roman Empire to get more search results/association with Duncan’s podcast of The History of Rome. I am curious and hopeful that you will continue to get a large following like Duncan’s and even such as the 12 Byzantine Rulers podcast. Maybe it is such my dumb luck to find it so easily through iTunes (already subscribed but just doing word searches in iTunes for podcasts) but I am not sure if people would know to search under “Byzantium.”

  15. Hi John, that’s a great point. One I thought I’d changed ages ago by adding the word Byzantine into the description of the show. I’ve just spent a tedious 20 mins trying to work out how to edit my keywords in Itunes. It will get sorted soon and it’s a great bit of feedback, thank you.

  16. Joe

    Have you thought about putting in a paypal donate function? I dont seem to see one on here and would be more than willing to throw a few bucks your way every once in a while 🙂

  17. Thank you for the kind offer Joe, an update on donations will be coming soon…

  18. Adrian lane

    Great show i for one will be paying my 5 buck for it thank for the fun

  19. Hi,
    I followed Rome because of the style etc – and of course, an endless desire for proper (not fiction) history so you following him in that style was / is wonderful.

    I’ll pay – I think – $10 an episode with the desire that you release this to your best listeners (one i guess 😉 – along with me.

    Or perhaps – pay the $5 and you open a paypal donation – and find a way to offer it to those who can’t afford it – but, like me, both anticipate and listen with a glad heart and right now – a certain concern for Belsurais (sic) – true – he needs to focus his career. 😀

    Bevan Audstone (Athabasca, Alberta, Canada)

  20. Thanks so much guys, just to clarify, the sale is a one off for that episode, all other episodes will be free.

  21. Oh my goodness -One episode – better ask for more than $5 – 😉 – and you need some marketing – top secret episode for paying customers only – sex, lies, war and politics (very unusual ; ) ) j/k

  22. I don’t know how much they pay, but I know you can set something up through amazon.com so that when people purchase a book on your bibliography you get a “finders fee.” Just another thought to help keep the podcast going.

  23. The Libertarian Buddhist

    Another idea is to set up a deal with amazon.com so that when people want to purchase one of the books on the bibliography you get a “finders fee”. I don’t know how much it is, but every little bit helps. I know I’ll be contributing to keep this podcast going, that’s for sure.

  24. Thanks so much for the suggestions and support…

  25. Mario García

    I will gladly pay $5 to support the podcast. This is a fascinating story, and would love it to continue all the way to the the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Thank you!

  26. I’ve paid up! Lets hope you can afford to continue Robin!

  27. Alex Birukoff

    I am impressed the way the podcasts are presented. Please don’t give up. I know there’s still a long way to go, but this “product” will be a great addition to the story of Byzantium and will be another tool for us dedicated “Byzantinists” to use in dispelling the bad “rap” that Byzantium got from past scholars.

  28. Fernando Di Paolo

    Hi Robin! Its a great thing for Byzantium youre doing here ! Cant wait for the next episode ! Dont give up !

  29. Paul

    I just picked up your podcast now and enjoy it a lot. Any plan on hosting a tour just like Mike did for Rome?

  30. Yersina Pestes M.D.

    I absolutetly love hearing the podcast, may it never end…well at least until 1453

  31. Dave

    Hi,

    I just discovered this podcast but it seems that all the links except the last 5 aren’t working. Is this a problem? Or is there somewhere I have to go to subscribe?

  32. I greatly appreciate your work on this podcast; you are great to listen to on the drive home from work. I know its time consuming and would have no problem with more paid episodes.

  33. Héctor Paleo

    I always go jogging with your podcasts ready in my Ipod. The other day I started listening to the one with “The Last War” and it got interesting. Not just interesting; all your episodes are interesting. It got enthralling! So I kept going…jogging…for the two hours and fifteen frikkin minutes of the episode!

    When I came home, exhausted, I felt like Heraclius walking into Jerusalem.

    You, sir, are amazing!

    If you could only recommend one book about the history of Byzantium, what would it be?

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the Heraclius episode. Your question is very tricky though! If you check out my bibliography https://thehistoryofbyzantium.com/bibliography/ I have rated all the books I’ve read based on the level of knowledge of the reader. If I could only use one then it would be Warren Treadgold’s “History of the Byzantine State and Society.” It is a giant book but covers everything 🙂

  34. Pingback: Best Historical Podcasts | UCF History

  35. Robin, when it is appropriate, can you talk more about trade? The Venetian Republic; the search for an ocean passage to India–whether around the Cape or across the Atlantic–were motivated by bringing the goods of the East to Western Europe, often in avoidance of unfriendly obstacles. Trade is the source of wealth and both contributes to and is a result of urbanization. More trade is correlated with more urbanization, and the breakdown of trade with a retreat from urbanization. There are also significant ramifications from trade for relations between different polities. Thank you.

  36. Jan

    Robin,

    I love the show and can’t really fathom working out without either you or Mike Duncan on my earplugs. One question: What’s the title of the music at the beginning of the podcast? I’m recording an audiobook as a christmas present for my wife and that tune would be ideal to punctuate in between chapters. Thanks in advance and also for the great show you’re producing!

  37. Ian Browne

    Having exhausted the episodes that interest me of ‘In our Time’ and ‘Great Lives’ when I go to the gym three times a week, I started on your podcast. I have now reached the reign of Justinian and can report that my blood pressure is down to 127/78. You seem to be a far more effective treatment than Melvyn Bragg or Matthew Paris! The material is always well thought through and you have made patristic theology so much more interesting by placing it in a political ang historical setting.

    One mystery remains concerning your speech – have you spent time in Australia? Certain inflections suggest that you might have done. That said it is a fine speaking voice and a pleasure to listen to as I do a modest circuit of the gym.

    Rev Ian Browne

    • I’m really glad you’re enjoying the podcast. I am English English so there’s no intentional Australian in my accent. I’ve more often been accused of sounding American (by Europeans) perhaps because of all the American TV I’ve watched and reviewed. Of course actual Americans never think that 🙂

  38. James

    Really enjoying History of Byzantium. Great work!

    I’m a runner and have worked my way through In Our Time, History of the World in 100 objects, Shakespeare Restless World, History of Rome, Startup, Invisibilia, Stuff You Should Know, and now I have caught up with History of Byzantium.

    What does everybody think of Dan Carlin? I’m going to start listening the Khan. My question is whether the first 40 episodes ($2 each) are worth $80.

    What do you think?

    • Hi James, thanks so much for the kind words. I would say yes absolutely they are worth it. If you enjoy all those podcasts you will love Dan’s style. But if you listen to the ones still available for free you will know for yourself. I suppose it’s worth saying that the first 18 eps are less than an hour and not the epic stuff he’s been doing lately.

  39. James

    I Iistened to Dan’s first podcast on Genghis Khan, and definitely enjoyed it. His in-depth description on the horse and bow skills of the Mongols and by extension the Huns was just great.

    Thanks!

  40. Jonathan

    I have been enjoying your excellent and insightful podcast ever since I discovered it a few months ago. I listen daily on my commute and I’m almost caught up. In fact, I’ll be a little says once I have because I’ll be forced to wait.

    I studied Islamic History and have long been bothered by my lack of knowledge of the Byzantine side despite an undergraduate degree where I minored in Roman History. We unfortunately stopped at 476. I then moved to Islamic history and somehow bypassed Bytzantium altogether.

    Today i noticed what might be an error. When discussing Maslamas siege of 722 you indicated that there was a rumour of a prophecy that coincided with the year 100 of the Islamic calendar. However, the Islamic calendar is lunar. The year 100 AH is AD 719/720 not 722. Was this rumour among Christians only who might have misunderstood?

  41. Hi Robin, I really liked your interview with Sean recently. (I am a semi regular contributor on his blog too.) I was actually wondering if you would like to be interviewed via email by me for my blog here http://thehistoryofthebyzantineempire.com
    I have been very lucky to have interviewed some of my literary heroes like Lord Norwich, Adrian Goldsworth, Lars Brownworth and Roger Crowley since I began blogging almost two years now. I generally ask 12 questions and would love to feature it on my Byzantine blog. (BTW this is the same Rob who runs the Byzantine History community on Google+)
    Cheers

  42. caty

    Hi Robin,
    I have recently discovered your podcast and I am still at Justinian. I have been interested in Byzantium for a while and read a few books (and listened and loved 12 B rulers) but your podcast is amazing, really amazing. So comprehensive, it covers all aspecs in an orderly way! and so easy to listen!! It was I had always looking for and answers most of my questions. I am happy to know I still have a long path ahead….
    And the pay/donate per episodes is a great idea!!
    Thanks from Spain

  43. Ted

    Hello Robyn,
    What a wonderful podcast. I listened to all the History of Rome episodes and was so sorry to see it end with the fall of the western empire.12 Byzantine rulers was next and then I found your site from your introduction on History of the Papacy. I was in Istanbul last year for a week and was completely blown away by what I saw. Now as I am going through your podcast and web site it is tying together so much. The maps and your explanations of the city in episode 10 are opening up my minds eye and making lights go on. What a wonderful subject and wonderful service you are providing. I am binge listening to get caught up. Trying to stay in order but there are so many tempting titles ahead.

  44. Robin – you should sell yourself more. You, David Crowther and Mike Duncan are at the top of the heap for this sort of stuff. And frankly I think your writing and editing skills have overtaken Mike Duncan’s. You really should stick your name all over this podcast in a fairly visible way 🙂

  45. Cort Spellman

    Hello,

    Thank you for making and continuing this podcast! I’m a big fan of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History from about 2010 onward, when he started getting really in-depth into topics. As such, I like the depth and context you’ve moved toward with The History of Byzantium. The plague episode, the end-of-century clusters, and other contextual episodes have been my favorites. (I’m looking forward to buying the origins-of-Islam episode soon.)

    A couple critiques:
    1) I wish the tone of the show was less statist. It is a history of a state, lol, but that’s my two cents…
    2) I won’t buy anything from Audible until they stop using DRM. I bought one book from Audible a while back. I wanted to put it on a single mp3 CD to be easy for my father to listen to in his car. I could find no nice way to convert the tracks so I burned them to CDs and ripped the CDs to mp3s. That cost time and CDs. Then there’s this: https://xkcd.com/488/ (And see the mouseover text – similar situation to mine.)
    I’m glad for you that Audible is sponsoring you but if you have a voice with them, you might consider whether you think they’re doing it right.

    Thanks again for the show!

  46. Nick

    How important of a role did Athens play in the history of the Empire?

  47. Just a sent you a little token of my appreciation of your willingness to suffer for the sake of my entertainment 🙂 I’ve listened right from the start and it has been wonderful to see (with my ears of course) you gain confidence and step out from (the wonderful) Mike Duncan’s shadow.

    You have surpassed him by a significant margin I think . The revolutions podcast is stuck in a complicated mire with the French revolution. Your episode on the blinding of Irene’s son stopped me in the street.

    I had been waiting for this episode right from the start. I’ve always found her reign particularly interesting in a House of Cards kind of way. I also have a sister named Irene and I can see many similarities 🙂

    Anyway – keep up the suffering on my behalf:)

    Niall (an Irish fan living in Chicago)

  48. slavko78

    Hello Robin,

    Thank you for putting this together. This is a period in history I have much interest in and the information you’re providing is much appreciated,

  49. Mike Joslyn

    Started late, and didn’t know much about the Byzantines, but I’m enjoying catching up by listening to a couple of episodes each day. Bravo! Great survey.

  50. Hannah

    After about five months, I’ve finished the history of Rome and I’ve now caught up on the history of Byzantium. I can’t binge anymore :(. Thank you for keeping this up. I now join your faithful listeners and wait eagerly for your next episode

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