Podcast

Episode 207 – What did Urban want?

Pope Urban II (illustration by Chevalier Artaud de Montor 1842)

Pope Urban II (illustration by Chevalier Artaud de Montor 1842)

We talk about Pope Urban’s shaky political position on the eve of the Crusade. As well as discussing the wider Papal reform movement and how military violence came to be a part of their plans.

Period: 1050-95

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Episode 206 – What did Alexios want?

Robert II of Flanders by Henri Decaisne (the son of the man who sent Alexios five hundred Knights)

Robert II of Flanders by Henri Decaisne (the son of the man who sent Alexios five hundred Knights)

We discuss what Alexios really wanted from the West. Was he surprised by the Crusading army that formed or had he been lobbying for something similar?

Period: 1050-95

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Episode 205 – Introducing the Crusades

Taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, Émile Signol (1847)

Taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, Émile Signol (1847)

A quick introduction to the Crusading topic and a discussion of how religious interpretations of historical events can be particularly distorting.

Find out more about the Intelligent Speech conference here

Period: 1095

Download: Introducing the Crusades

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Episode 204 – Komnenian Reforms

A Nomisma Hyperpyron of Alexios I (Ancient.Eu)

A Nomisma Hyperpyron of Alexios I (Ancient.Eu)

Aspron Trachy of Alexios. Dumbarton Oaks Collection (I assume John II on left with Christ. Alexios and Irene on right)

An Aspron Trachy of Alexios. Dumbarton Oaks Collection (John II on left with Christ [I assume]. Alexios and Irene on right)

A Billon Trachy of Alexios I (baldwin.co.uk)

A Billon Trachy of Alexios I (baldwin.co.uk)

A Tetarteron of Alexios (hourmo.eu)

A Tetarteron of Alexios (hourmo.eu)

We look at events in Constantinople during Alexios’ first fifteen years in power. Including reforms to the court, the coinage and social care. We conclude by talking about Alexios’ personality.

Period: 1081-95

Download: Komnenian Reforms

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Episode 203 – The Pecheneg Wars, again

Varangian Guardsmen tangle with Pecheneg tribesmen

Varangian Guardsmen tangle with Pecheneg tribesmen

Alexios campaigns in Europe for a decade dealing with Pechenegs, Cumans and Serbs. But his supporters begin to question his priorities as Anatolia sinks into the mire.

Period: 1085-95

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Episode 202 – A Wild West Vibe

Monument to Malik-Shah I and Alp Arslan in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Monument to Malik-Shah I and Alp Arslan in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

With Alexios constantly at war in Europe during the 1080s he could only deal with Anatolia through diplomacy. He searched in vain for allies who could stabilise the situation but by 1095 realised he would have to turn West for the manpower needed to campaign in person. For the Romans who actually lived in Anatolia the situation had a Wild West vibe.

Period: 1081-95

Download: A Wild West Vibe

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Episode 201 – A Narrow Escape

The Byzantine Balkans 1081AD. Major Roman garrisons in red.

The Byzantine Balkans 1081AD. Major Roman garrisons in red.

Alexios marches back out to fight the Normans only to be beaten again and again. Finally he comes up with a strategy to throw them out of the Balkans but must embrace the Venetians ever closer as a result.

Period: 1082-5

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Episode 200 – A Tribute to Professor Mark Whittow

Professor Mark Whittow

Professor Mark Whittow

For our 200th show I pay tribute to the scholar who has had the most influence on this podcast – Professor Mark Whittow. Sadly Professor Whittow died in 2017 and he is a huge loss to academia and Byzantine Studies in particular. I take you through three articles he wrote about political power in Byzantium to give you a taste of the kind of insights that have shaped the podcast.

For more information on Professor Whittow:

Wikipedia

Publications

Obituary

A Memorial

Remembering Mark Whittow

The three articles discussed in today’s episode were:

“Staying on Top in Byzantium” in Mélanges Jean-Claude Cheynet, Eds Béatrice Caseau, Vivien Prigent and Alessio Sopracasa, ACHCByz

“The Second Fall – the place of the 11th century in Roman History” in  Byzantium in the 11th Century: Being in Between, Eds Marc D. Lauxtermann and Mark Whittow, Routledge

“How the east was lost: the background to the Komnenian reconquista” in Alexios Komnenos, 2nd Belfast Byzantine international colloquium, Eds Margaret Mullett and Dion Smythe

Download: A Tribute to Professor Mark Whittow

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Episode 199 – The Battle of Dyrrachium

The Byzantine Balkans 1081AD. Major Roman garrisons in red.

The Byzantine Balkans 1081AD. Major Roman garrisons in red.

Robert Guiscard, the Norman leader in Southern Italy, invades the Empire. He surrounds the key port city of Dyrrachium and Alexios gathers an army to stop him.

Period: 1081-2

Download: The Battle of Dyrrachium

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Episode 198 – Heavy Lifting

Komnenos Family Tree

Komnenos Family Tree

Doukas Family Tree

Doukas Family Tree

Alexios Komnenos leads a revolt and quickly captures the throne from Nicephorus Botaneiates. But to truly understand this coup we need to explore the dynastic dual of Doukas and Komnenos.

Period: 1081

Download: Heavy Lifting

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