Author Archives: thehistoryofbyzantium

Backer Rewards Episode 9 – The Sweep of History

Mosaic of Alexander the Great from Pompeii

Mosaic of Alexander the Great from Pompeii

Our ninth Kickstarter backers reward episode discusses the sweep of history during our period and what lies under the maps.

Download: The Sweep of History

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.

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Categories: Byzantine Stories | 1 Comment

Episode 173 – Dead Ideas Podcast interview: The Varangian Guard

Robin Pierson as Emperor Justinian with Hagia Sophia

Robin Pierson as Emperor Justinian with Hagia Sophia

I was a guest on the Dead Ideas podcast to discuss the Varangian Guard. We talk about their role in the palace and the field armies and contrast their role to Eunuchs in Byzantium.

Do check out Dead Ideas for episodes covering Titoism, Serfdom, Cuneiform, Vikings and many other fun topics.

Period: 913-1025

Download: Dead Ideas Podcast interview: The Varangian Guard

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.

Varangian Guard from Osprey's Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Varangian Guard from Osprey’s Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Categories: Podcast | 2 Comments

Episode 172 – The Roman Army in 1025 AD

Emperor and guards from Osprey's Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Emperor and guards from Osprey’s Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Heavy cavalry from Osprey's Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Heavy cavalry from Osprey’s Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Byzantine infantry from Osprey's Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Byzantine infantry from Osprey’s Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Lightly armoured troops from Osprey's Byzantine Armies 886-1118

Lightly armoured troops from Osprey’s Byzantine Armies 886-1118

We discuss the past century of success for the Roman military and answer some listener questions

Period: 913-1025

Download: The Roman Army in 1025 AD

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.

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Categories: Podcast | 5 Comments

Backer Rewards Episode 8 – Greek Fire on Land

A standard Dromon from War at Sea in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

A standard Dromon from War at Sea in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Use of a portable Byzantine flamethrower for Greek fire from atop a flying bridge against a castle. Illumination from the Poliorcetica of Hero of Byzantium.

Use of a portable Byzantine flamethrower for Greek fire from atop a flying bridge against a castle. Illumination from the Poliorcetica of Hero of Byzantium.

Our eighth Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about the use of Greek Fire on land.

Download: Greek Fire on Land

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 | Leave a comment

Episode 171 – The Eastern Frontier

Anatolia and Armenia 1025 AD

Anatolia and Armenia 1025 AD

Simplified military provinces of the Empire 1045

Simplified military provinces of the Empire 1045

We move from Armenia to the rest of the Eastern front to discuss the realities of life under Roman rule.

Period: 913-1025

Download: The Eastern Frontier

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: Podcast | 1 Comment

The History of Byzantium Tour!! (SOLD OUT)

We have sold out for both tours!

Thanks so much to all of you who responded so quickly. I’ll leave the information up for now but bookings are closed. If you are keen to come in 2020 do make a note now to get in touch with me. If all goes well we’d be looking at Spring and Autumn 2020. I’m happy to do multiple weeks if demand is there. I’m also happy to aim for particular dates to fit in with your schedule. I know it’s a long way off but have a think…

 

Hello everyone,

I’m incredibly excited to announce that the History of Byzantium Tour will be heading to Istanbul on 6th-10th May 2019. Our first week in April has already sold out so we added this second tour.

This will be five full days of Byzantine sites with me and our Turkish tour guide Serif Yenen. Serif is a hugely experienced and accomplished guide (he’s given tours of Istanbul to Oprah Winfrey and Pope Benedict XVI!) who will be leading us around the city.

The cost of the tour is $1125.00 USD per person (for accommodation in double room) or $1435.00 USD per person (for a single room). There are discounts available and an extra day you can add (see below).

What is included in this price:

The beautiful mosaics of Chora

The beautiful mosaics of Chora

  • Private airport transfers from and to Istanbul Atatürk Airport
  • Accommodation in deluxe rooms at the Recital Hotel for 5 nights
  • Five breakfasts at the hotel
  • Five lunches at local casual restaurants with good traditional food
  • Five days of tours with Serif Yenen as an official guide. And Robin Pierson adding insights from the podcast (and generally grinning with excitement)
  • Two days of transportation in a private van/bus. Three days on foot (including two walks along parts of the Theodosian land walls).
  • All museum entrance fees and costs as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Complimentary copies of Serif Yenen’s maps and books
  • Headsets will be provided to hear your guide at each site

What is NOT included in this price:

Walk the Land Walls!

Walk the Land Walls!

  • Dinners
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities

Our itinerary will take in all the best Byzantine sites in the city 

  • The Hagia Sophia
  • The Hippodrome and accompanying exhibition inside a nearby cistern
  • The former Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (built by Justinian, beautifully designed)
  • The Bukoleon Palace (long time residence of the Emperors and the spot where John Tzimisces scaled the walls to kill Nicephorus Phokas)
  • The Aqueduct of Valens
  • Chora Church (the best preserved mosaics and frescoes in the city, amazing!)
  • Two walks along parts of the Theodosian Land Walls

    The Basilica Cistern

    The Basilica Cistern

  • Zeyrek Mosque, the former Church of the Pantokrator (the Komnenos family church and former home of the Patriarchate)
  • The Patriarchal Church of St George
  • St Mary of the Mongols (the only church to be continuously in Christian use since the fall of Byzantium)
  • An underground tour will take us to many ruins from the Great Palace which lie beneath hotels and restaurants
  • The Basilica Cistern (the most famous and picturesque of the city’s many cisterns)
  • The Column of Constantine and the Forum of Theodosius (giving you a sense of Constantinople’s giant public squares)
  • Kalenderhane Mosque, the former Church of the Theotokos Kyriotissa (a beautiful building with a fascinating history)
  • Bodrum Mosque, the former Church of the Myrelaion (built by Romanus Lekapenos to be his burial place, we may be able to visit the very spot!)

    The amazing gardens of the Archeaological Musuem

    The amazing gardens of the Archeaological Musuem

  • The Archaeological Musuems of Istanbul (an astonishing collection of Roman and Byzantine artefacts)
  • Hagia Eirene (built by Justinian and preserving Iconoclast decoration)
  • The Palace Mosaic Museum (a beautiful stretch of Justinian-era floor mosaic showing amazing scenes of nature)
  • And more!

—————————————————

For those who want to stay another day and see non-Byzantine Istanbul this bonus day with Serif (without Robin) is available:

May 11th, Saturday (Optional Walking Tour with accommodation)

  • Topkapi Palace
  • Blue Mosque
  • Lunch
  • Suleymaniye Mosque
  • Bosphorus tour

The price will be $200.00 USD per person (accommodation in double room) and $255.00 USD per person (for a single room)

What is included in this price:

  • Accommodation in deluxe rooms at the Recital Hotel for one night
  • One breakfasts at the hotel
  • One lunch at local casual restaurants with good traditional food
  • One-day tour with Serif Yenen as an official guide
  • All museum entrance fees and costs as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Complimentary copies of Serif Yenen’s maps and books
  • Headsets will be provided to hear your guide at each site

What is NOT included in this price:

  • Dinner
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities

—————————————————

I want to go! What do I need to do?

Click here for 6th-10th May 2019

BUT before you do just check this is all clear:

There are three payment options available:

1) Pay the full amount now on credit card.

2) Pay a deposit now ($350 per person in a single room, $280 per person in a double) and the rest on card the week before the tour.

3) Pay a deposit now and pay the rest in person in cash. This cuts out credit card and other fees meaning you’d only pay an overall total of:

  • $990.00 USD per person (accommodation in double room)
  • $1265.00 USD per person (accommodation in single room)

Also the extra day with Serif will be paid separately. Just let us know if you’d like to take up that option.

Remember the tour days are Monday 6th – Friday 10th April. But you need to arrive on Sunday 5th and will stay that night in the hotel. Robin will be in the hotel on the evening of the 5th to greet you. Then we’ll all head out Monday morning to begin the tour. Unless you are booking the extra day with Serif you will then check out of the hotel on Friday 10th. We can leave our bags in the hotel for that day’s tour and then pick them up at the end of the day. If you’d like to stay in the hotel that night please make your own arrangements.

Please don’t book your flights until we reach the minimum number we need for the tour to go ahead (12 people). We will let you know the second that happens so you can get your travel sorted.  

FAQ

Why does it cost more if I want a single room to myself?
I’m afraid this is an industry standard charge https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_supplement

Categories: News | 4 Comments

The Fall of Constantinople (a poem)

Listener JB has written a beautiful poem about the final fall of Constantinople in 1453. Enjoy and let him know what you think in the comments below.

The Fall of Constantinople


Tonight is the last night the city will stand.

It has stood for one thousand years,

And in legend, it has stood long before.

Her walls, the land walls, rear high like the heads of dinosaurs,

Defiant against anything that sea, land, or space

May inflict.

 

On the plain, the beautiful sultan sits in his tent.

He is young, his face seems unmarred by battle,

Though it has seen a hundred lifetimes’ share.

He is twenty-one years old, and

At Christmastime last year, he bought a gun.

He bought it from a smith who lived in a village

On the Black Sea.

The Emperor declined to pay his fee.

 

And so tonight, the silence on the Marmara is ethereal.

The ghost of Achilles surfs the waves.

Even Thales has risen from his ancient grave and put aside his books

To observe this,

The end of an empire.

 

Almost eight centuries since Mohammed walked the earth

Almost twenty-two since the kindness of a wolfmother,

The sort of kindness that only dogs know, and can share,

Suckled two boys by a river,

And kept them as her own.

 

Tonight is the twenty-eighth day of the month

That is named after the daughter of the Titan

That upholds the world on his weary shoulders;

And a two thousand year old empire

Tonight shrugs and bows,

And shows to its enemies

That it has been tired, so tired, for a long time.

 

The mist around the Golden Horn thickens,

Pours onto the land.

She feels her end near.

 

When the morning comes, the beautiful sultan arises from his cushion.

He has not slept. No one has.

He summons the gunner, who tells him that the land walls

That have stood for one thousand years,

Will only take a few more shots from the great gun and that

They will not hold for one more day.

 

When the sun crests the horizon, he orders it loaded.

He orders it to be fired again.

He knows that on this morning, he will end an empire,

And found another whose songs will be sung for centuries.

 

Inside the city, the soldiers are awake. All of their family and friends are dead.

They lie in the street. There is no time to bury them.

They have seen them cut or torn apart by the

Missiles of the enemy.

Their fear is cut mercifully by wine, passed from the mouth of man to man.

A Celtic poet would say in times long future,

The breath of god is but one breath, and it is passed from person to person,

For all of time.

But tonight, and this morning, at the final fall of Rome, it is passed by flask,

With wine,

From one man to the next.

 

The gun is fired. The Sultan saw the sun and now he knows that the end of his enemies and of the Enemies of his people is near.

The walls that have stood for one thousand years,

Now they have a hole.

 

It is five-thirty in the morning, and he orders his men to fill the hole.

They spill in.

 

The Romans, their final dawn come at last, see the Muslims spill into their city,

The Muslims are beautiful and regal in their crimson-green and leather.

It is like a dream,

The land walls turned to stones scattered upon the ground.

Today, there is only one God.

His name is War, and his prophet is called Death.

 

The last emperor of Rome, Constantine,

The eleventh Palaiologos,

Is an exhausted forty-eight year old man.

When he took the purple and sat the throne,

He expected administrative duties.

 

But on this morning, he knows, the empire is dead.

The beautiful empire, that has stood so long,

Through the boldness of Augustus,

The brutality of Pertinax,

The perversity of Nero,

And the wisdom of Aurelius.

The eleventh Palaiologos knows that it has fallen to him

To decide how the Roman Empire dies.

 

He sees from a distance the Muslims come, clambering over rocks.

The nightmare vision of emperors long dead,

Who would have instead gone to their bed and awaited

The cold blade on their jugular while they

Curled under silk sheets.

 

But this Constantine, the eleventh Palaiologos,

He laces his boots.

He takes his sword,

And he sees his men about him passing the breath of god from man to man

And he knows that it is only one breath, one flask, passed from man to man

In eternal communion

From the beginning of time.

 

The wall is finally down. Not even the land walls stand forever.

The Sultan’s men gather themselves in the street,

Adjusting shoulder straps, fastening gauntlets, focusing eyes,

The city they have longed for is within their grasp.

They are inside her.

 

The Romans stand in bafflement,

The nightmare they have seen unfolding for decades

Now stands before them in flesh and blood.

The mist of the morning

Only partially obscures their vision of

The Muslims as they take their first steps

On the streets of the new city.

 

The Romans stand in awe,

Not realizing until now

How beautiful

Their ancient enemy

Has always been.

 

At this moment, Constantine

Finishes lacing his boots,

And his hand grasps his sword.

He is forty-eight years old,

And nothing he has ever done

Will equal what he is about to do.

 

The wolfmother, Romulus, Remus, Numa,

Scipio, the Grachii,

Pompey and Antony,

Cicero, Cleopatra, and Cato,

Caesars Julius and Augustus,

Crixus, Gannicus, and Spartacus,

All of the souls who ever found their own

Soul’s web knit with the web of the

Soul of Rome,

And even Thales and Achilles, unlikely bedmates whose shades found companionship

In death, out on the waves,

They all stir from their rest to observe

In holy honor,

The end of the great empire.

 

The breath of god is dropped from the hand of the last man,

Transformed from breath to blood –

The blood of Christ, made so when the wine hits the dirt of the street

Of Holy Constantinople, and it

Gleams crimson in the light of the Byzantine sunrise.

His men focus on him,

They feel his courage,

The kind that only comes as a partner to Death.

 

The holy light of all Byzantium past and future engulfs him and he begins to run.

His men pause, but follow. They are few,

And the enemy is many;

And into the embrace of the Muslims,

They baptize themselves.

Rome ends at the moment that the sword of the eleventh Palaiologos

Strikes the breastplate of the foremost enemy.

 

What happens to bodies, the carnage, is banal.

What lives forever is the spirit, the memory,

The way that we remember them,

Who fought and struggled and bled,

And it belongs to the poets of ancient futures to ensure

That their profound striving

Is remembered for the brief moments that this universe continues.

 

The purple is marred in the dirt, bodies destroyed.

The chance of victory passed several days before.

The only choice remaining was how to die,

Gloriously, or in terror.

 

As the eleventh Palaiologos chooses glory, Mehmet enters the church of the Holy Wisdom,

And there the beautiful sultan transforms it, for a time,

And the holy wisdom changes forms again, having done so countless times before and

Knowing that she will do so again for endless iterations.

She will exist across universes,

And she will render the concept of eternity meaningless.

Categories: News | 2 Comments

Backer Rewards Episode 7 – Georgia and the Black Sea

David III of Tao as depicted on a bas-relief from the Oshki Monastery

David III of Tao as depicted on a bas-relief from the Oshki Monastery

Our seventh Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about Georgia, the Orthodox nations around the Black Sea and Ravenna

Download: Georgia and the Black Sea

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 | 3 Comments

Episode 170 – The “Conquest” of Armenia

Anatolia and Armenia 1025 AD

Anatolia and Armenia 1025 AD

Simplified military provinces of the Empire 1045

Simplified military provinces of the Empire 1045

Eastern frontier from 'Basil II and the Governance of Empire' by Holmes

Eastern frontier from ‘Basil II and the Governance of Empire’ by Holmes

From Armenia - A Historical Atlas by Hewson

From Armenia – A Historical Atlas by Hewson

We head to the Eastern frontier to see what Byzantium’s expansion into Armenia meant for the Empire.

Period: 913-1025

Download: The “Conquest” of Armenia

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: Podcast | 5 Comments

Backer Rewards Episode 6 – Respect, Institutions, Justice

Our sixth Kickstarter backers reward episode features questions about the institutions which influenced Byzantine life and the legal punishments for everyday crimes.

Download: Respect, Institutions, Justice

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.

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Categories: Kickstarter Rewards | 4 Comments

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