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*The History of Byzantium*
“A Podcast Telling the Story of the Roman Empire from 476 AD to 1453”
By Robin Pierson

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Pierson loved the popular History of Rome podcast and was saddened that
Mike Duncan didn’t continue past 476 AD. Pierson believes – as many SCA
folk do – that “Rome” only ended in the West. In fact, he calls the people
of the Eastern Empire “Romans” throughout and only named his podcast “The
History of Byzantium” to avoid confusion. He began his podcast in May 2012
and currently is at episode 159.

Pierson says he wanted to continue Rome’s history because “Byzantine
history is fascinating, world changing and largely forgotten.”

I had not listened to The History of Rome before binge-listening Pierson’s
podcast, so I will simply present his statement about it:

“I have tried to remain faithful to Mike’s structure of half-hour
installments told from a state-centric perspective. My innovation is to
pause the narrative at the end of each century to take time to cover wider
issues to do with Byzantium”

I particularly like this approach. After several episodes of battles all
over Anatolia and the near east, or discussions of warring factions inside
the Theodosian Walls, I can hear about everyday people, learn what’s been
happening in the Caliphate and Europe, and hear Pierson’s answers to
listener questions.

Pierson occasionally interviews someone, such as a grad student studying
the period or Mike Duncan. He asks for and answers questions listeners send
him during the end-of-century episodes. Once he did an episode completely
from the viewpoint of a soldier. It’s the only time he’s done a
fictionalized episode.

Pierson’s approach to fundraising is one I like. Rather than ask for
monthly donations, every year or two he does an episode you must pay for.
He did this for episodes 28, 77 and 129. You can always skip them.

He also offers side episodes that you can purchase. He did several on John
of Chrysostom, a couple on the life of Porphyrius the Charioteer, one on
Symeon the Stylite, a couple on Procopius, who wrote a biography of
Justinian and a secret history full of snipe and spite. He did a sale
episode on the origins of Islam early on, and the most recent two are on
Roman healthcare. The early episodes are available for $5 each and the
later ones for $7.

Pierson now offers a $42 yearly subscription to all these pay episodes and
promises six new side episodes each year. If you want to listen to all
these, and want to see them just appear in your feed, this is a good
choice. But it’s a bit rich for my blood. I’ve bought the fundraiser
episodes to ensure I don’t miss anything and skipped the rest. I’m up to
episode 130 now.

Except for those three pay episodes, he continues the chronological
narrative for free.

I also like the website. It includes his Audible recommendations, his
recommended sources and maps. Since I generally listen to podcasts while
doing other things, I’m not always near the computer to review the maps he
provides. As a result I often am in the dark about exactly where the Romans
are until later. Byzantine history is an area I’m not familiar with, so the
names, and particularly the place names, tend to pass me by until I have
time to look at the map, but others may not have this problem. For example,
I don’t have this problem when listening to English history podcasts. I’m
guessing some of you would not need his maps at all.

The History of Byzantium is currently in an end-of-century overview for the
period 913-1025 AD. (Note: He breaks his centuries unevenly in order to
line up with the change in emperors.) The most recent episode was about
Byzantine funeral practices and where the emperors are buried.
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