John II Komnenos is finally free to campaign in Anatolia. If he can keep the Turks quiet then he can make it to Antioch where his real goal lies. But once there will he risk outraging Latin opinion by assaulting the city or will he negotiate a deal to bring the city back into the Empire?
Pic: John does battle with the defenders of Shaizar while Raymond and Joscelin sit, inactive, in their camp. French manuscript, 1338
John II Komnenos takes charge of the Empire and campaigns immediately in Anatolia. But he is soon beset by the complications of the new position Byzantium finds itself in. Serbians, Steppe tribes, Hungarians and Venetians all demand his attention. Enemies and allies are crowding the chess board and John must make each move very carefully.
In our 10th Byzantine Story we look at the life of a provincial magnate. Our way into this world is a text called ‘Advice and Anecdotes’ written by a man named Kekaumenos. He lived in the period after Basil II’s death (1020s-1070s) and was a General and governor.
He wrote this text at the end of his life to give advice to those who had to navigate the Imperial system. It gives us invaluable insights into provincial life and the pressures a man in his position faced.
In part three we look at the role of Empress. The one position in society where a woman could attain true power over men. We also look at the life story of the 5th century Empress Aelia Pulcheria – the woman who helped define the role.
As you may know I have already produced three episodes about Women in the Roman World which are available for you on the Ad-Free Bonus Feed at Patreon.
I now present three more episodes about Women in the Byzantine World. And these episodes are very much a continuation of that series. In part one we talk about how the arrival of Christianity affected Roman women. We also hear a couple of Saints’ Lives. These tales give us a rare glimpse of how women appeared in popular culture.
This first episode is free but parts 2 and 3 are only available on the Ad-Free Bonus Feed at Patreon.
Thanks to the kind listeners who have pointed out that the ‘Immaculate Conception’ is a Catholic concept and not necessarily accepted by the Orthodox. This was entirely my fault, I was looking for a synonym for virgin birth and have blundered.
Our sixteenth Kickstarter backers reward episode looks at the relationship between Byzantium and the Rus and later Russia in conversation with Professor Sergey Ivanov.
Professor Ivanov is a Russian scholar who has been studying Byzantium for many decades. He currently works in the Institute of Oriental and Ancient Studies at the National Research University “Higher School of Economics” in Moscow.
He has written several books about Byzantium as well as contributing hundreds of articles to the field. His areas of study include Byzantine religious missions, the cultural influence of Byzantium on the Rus’, Holy Fools and Constantinople itself. He has also taken part in public lectures and debates on the legacy of Byzantium in modern Russia.
High Speed History have Byzantine-themed merchandise available!
The good people over at Highspeedhistory.com have produced a range of delightful items featuring our beloved Byzantium. We’re talking t-shirts, hoodies, bags, clocks, towels and stickers amongst many other items.
I’m very pleased to say that some of your ideas have made their way into the collection. I asked for your input on social media and you came up with great ideas. If you want to celebrate your love of Justinian or Belisarius then an Empire Strikes Back t-shirt could be yours. Or if you’ve been dying to show your support for the Green faction or the Blues but they won’t let you in the Hippodrome anymore then fear not because a Green or Blue iphone case or mouse mat or t-shirt could be yours. Or what about the most adorable item of all – a baby grow with porphyrogennitos on it. Come on, how could you resist?
Please go to www.highspeedhistory.com/byzantium to check out the full range. If you decide to buy something then use the code ‘byzantium’ at checkout to get a pound or dollar off each item you purchase. And you’ll be helping out the podcast as I will get a little something for sending you there. Anyone can buy these items – they ship worldwide. And this discount also applies to any items you purchase from the Greek or Roman sections of the website. Yes High Speed History has merch from a variety of historical eras check them all out at highspeedhistory.com.
I also did a written interview for the site to lure in those of you who find me weirdly interesting. So if you want to know my favourite film or what I’d put on a billboard in a busy city then check out the interview here.
When I announced I would be taking a break back in the Autumn I received an email from listener Brian Sherry offering to produce an episode of the show for me. He told me about the metal band Judicator recording an entire album about Belisarius. And he very kindly offered to interview them on my behalf.
I said yes and Brian got lead singer and writer John Yelland on the phone and they talked about turning the life story of Justinian’s most trusted General into a full metal album.
Today’s episode is an edited version of that interview. They talk through the concept and the choice of moments in Belisarius’ life to capture in song. And they play a few snippets of music to give you an idea of what the album sounds like.
If you’d like more then the full 2 hour interview is available on Judicator’s Youtube channel. And of course if you’d like to buy the album – Let There Be Nothing – go to judicatormetal.bandcamp.com or check it out on Amazon, Apple Music, Spotify or wherever you get your music.
I am still working on the bonus content I owe many of you. I will be back at some point in Spring with the narrative. For now enjoy the interview.