When Alexios Komnenos came to power his family decided to marry their way out of the civil wars which threatened the state. By Manuel’s day this meant that a new aristocracy had grown up who dominated the organs of the Byzantine state.
We discuss this development and how Manuel managed his family. As well as those who resented this innovation.
Pic: Manuel Komnenos (Manuscript miniature, Vatican Library)
Today we talk to historian Katherine Pangonis about her book ‘Queens of Jerusalem.’ Not only do we talk about the fascinating lives of the women of Outremer but we also pick up Andronikos’ story as he manages to scandalise all of Christendom.
With Italy and the Balkans at peace Manuel turns his attention to Anatolia. He marches to Antioch to punish those who’d wronged him. He then campaigns against the Turks with surprisingly positive results.
Robin discusses ‘Byzantium and Italy’ with Marco Capelli. Marco is the brilliant host of Storia d’Italia – a podcast telling the story of the History of Italy – in Italian. This interview is in English. Please do tell any Italian speakers you know about Storia d’Italia (italiastoria.com).
Today we talk to the man whose research has guided our last few podcasts Dr Maximilian Lau.
Dr Lau is Adjunct Professor of Economic History at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, and also a Research Associate in History at St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford. He has been studying 12th century Byzantine history for many years now and the fruits of that labour can be found in his forthcoming book “Rebuilding New Rome. The Foreign Policy of John II Komnenos.”
The book is written and will be out next year and Dr Lau very generously shared it with me in advance. It’s been incredibly helpful in part because of its quality but also because it follows a format similar to our narrative episodes. It is a chronological account of John’s military and political activity with a discussion of the sources as each incident unfolds. As Dr Lau explains in the interview – John’s reign often gets short shrift in popular Byzantine books because our Roman sources cover him fairly briefly. But there are plenty of other sources to work with and Dr Lau has synthesised them to create a new history of John’s reign.
Last time we watched as John Komnenos attempted to untangle the Gordian knot which Anatolia had become. After campaigning against the Danishmends – John moved on to Cilicia and Antioch. The Emperor attempted to enforce his rights without angering the Latins. A trick which he failed to pull off. Today John will be forced to go through the whole process all over again. But when he reaches the gates of Antioch this time he won’t take no for an answer.
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