Author Archives: thehistoryofbyzantium

Episode 151 – Bardas Sclerus

The armies of Skleros and Phokas clash (from the Madrid copy of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes)

The armies of Skleros and Phokas clash (from the Madrid copy of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes)

The Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos

The Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos

The civil war continues with Bardas Sclerus and Bardas Phokas locking horns. Although the Imperial side emerge victorious, the price is years of tension with their new Domestic.

Period: 977-983

Download: Bardas Sclerus

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Podcasting in Istanbul?

Hello everyone,

Robin here. I need your feedback. I’ve had an idea and I’m excited about it. But I need you to tell me what you think of it.

I would like to go to Istanbul and spend a week there, and visit all the Byzantine sites I can. During my stay I would record material for the podcast, including my first reactions on seeing the sites. I’ve never been there before so I think that would be really fun.

Then I would create audio guides for the major sites. So that when you visit the city one day, you could have your own History of Byzantium guided tour. Not only would I talk you through what you can see, but also what you can’t. Describing the cityscape as it would have been to help immerse you in the experience.

The Theodossian Walls

The Theodossian Walls

For those who don’t want to wait I could take footage and pictures and create videos walking you around the sites. I would also create a proper map of all the Byzantine buildings and ruins that you can visit. Nothing complete seems to exist online and with only a quick trawl I’ve found nearly 50 places that I want to see.

Part of what’s motivating me is that I wish something like this had existed when I went to Rome a few years ago. There are so many pieces of the ancient world still lying around that don’t make it into mainstream guidebooks. And even if you do find them there’s no one around to tell you about their history.

If I was able to go to Istanbul I could also arrange a meet-up with any listeners who were able to travel there at the same time. We could visit the Hagia Sophia together or walk along the walls.

I did explore the idea of arranging a professional tour but there are many obstacles. And the company who ran Mike Duncan’s trips no longer operate them. Anyway, I like the idea of doing this independently and leaving it up to you to choose whether you want to be a part of it.

So please can you give me your feedback? What do you think of the idea? If I were to go to Istanbul what else could I do there? What else could I record? What would you like to hear or see? Or be a part of? Comment on this post to get a conversation going. I’m sure there are great ideas out there if we put our heads together.

If this idea is not for you, I’d still really appreciate hearing from you. To save you time I’ve created the poll above. It’s just one question to gauge your level of enthusiasm. It will only take 10 seconds and it would be hugely helpful.

Thank you for taking time out to help me with this. If things go well then we’re talking about a visit sometime in 2018. So there’s plenty of time to go but any thoughts or reactions to the idea are needed now. I’ll keep you updated.

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Episode 150 – Basil Lekapenos

Proclamation of Bardas Skleros as Emperor from the Madrid copy of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes

Proclamation of Bardas Skleros as Emperor from the Madrid copy of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes

The narrative resumes with Basil Lekapenos elevating his great-nephew Basil II to the throne. However Bardas Sclerus immediately rebels and declares himself Emperor.

Period: 976-77

Download: Basil Lekapenos

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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

Download: Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood

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Episode 148 – Sources and Magnates

We return to our interview with Professor Kaldellis to discuss Basil II’s reign. We talk about our sources, about his decision never to marry and his relationship with the landed magnates.

Period: 913-976

Download: Sources and Magnates

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Constantine Snow

SPOILER ALERT. Do not read this post if you are not up to date with Game of Thrones…when Romanus Lekapenos was on the throne it occurred to me that there was something Stark-ish about his household.

Romanus had six legitimate children, four boys and two girls. He made Constantine VII part of his household and fathered Basil who was then castrated.

When Constantine took power he kept the eunuch Basil around and worked happily with him. I pondered then whether they had bonded over being the runts of the Lekapenos litter.

The comparison with Theon and Jon is amusing to consider. Theon would of course go on to be castrated. While Constantine was the born-in-the-purple prince who had to wait a long time to inherit his birthright. His parents marriage was also highly controversial

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Episode 147 – Bulgarian Solidarity

The Balkans 976 AD

The Balkans 976 AD

We look at a series of questions about what’s been happening in Bulgaria since the peace was signed in 927. Why were the Rus able to defeat the Bulgarians so quickly? What did the Roman occupation look like? And more.

Period: 913-976

Download: Bulgarian Solidarity

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Episode 146 – What’s the Plan?

 

Did the Romans dream of reconquering their eastern provinces? Or were their border acquisitions enough?

Period: 913-976

Download: The Eastern Conquests

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Episode 145 – The Eastern Conquests

Anatolia 976AD

Anatolia 976AD

We discuss the eastern conquests and how valuable they really were. As well as the deployment and organisation of the military in the borderlands.

Period: 913-976

Download: The Eastern Conquests

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Episode 144 – Setting the Table

Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood by Anthony Kaldellis

Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood by Anthony Kaldellis

We begin our mini end-of-the-century series by talking about our sources. Huge thanks to Professor Anthony Kaldellis for talking to me about his new book “Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood.” It’s a narrative history covering the period from when Nicephorus Phokas took over the military until the First Crusade. This is only part of our interview focusing on the task of sifting sources to create a more realistic narrative.

Period: 913-976

Download: Setting the Table

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