The History of Byzantium Podcast Picks Up Where The History of Rome Left Off

In May we post­ed about Mike Dun­can’s The His­to­ry of Rome pod­cast, which, upon reach­ing episode 179, had con­clud­ed the tale of the Roman Empire’s hey­day. Over its five-year run, Dun­can’s show amassed a large, enthu­si­as­tic audi­ence, most of whom have no doubt con­tin­ued their explo­ration of Roman his­to­ry else­where. It has even inspired some to launch his­to­ry pod­casts of their own, one of which presents itself as The His­to­ry of Rome’s direct suc­ces­sor in sub­ject, style, and tone. The His­to­ry of Byzan­tium (RSS — iTunes), which debuted in May, aims to recount the sto­ry of Roman Empire of Late Antiq­ui­ty and the Mid­dle Ages, now bet­ter known as the Byzan­tine Empire, from the years 476 through 1453. Though per­haps less often dis­cussed by the aver­age his­to­ry buff, the Byzan­tine Empire nonethe­less offers a wealth of his­tor­i­cal inter­est, espe­cial­ly, it seems, to pod­cast­ers; you may already have heard Lars Brown­worth’s show 12 Byzan­tine Rulers, which even­tu­al­ly land­ed him a book deal. And many more Byzan­tine sto­ries remain to tell.

Pier­son, by day a tele­vi­son crit­ic, explic­it­ly describes his project as both an unof­fi­cial sequel and an homage to The His­to­ry of Rome. “I liked the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion and expla­na­tion of the Roman sto­ry,” he writes in his intro­duc­to­ry post. “I liked the half an hour length. I liked Mike’s sense of humour and tim­ing. I liked his neu­tral tone which nev­er felt like it was pro­vid­ing an over­bear­ing opin­ion on the nar­ra­tive. When Mike announced he would be stop­ping with the fall of the West in 476 I con­sid­ered whether I could pos­si­bly take on the task of con­tin­u­ing the sto­ry. [ … ] Ini­tial­ly at least I hope to emu­late Mike’s style. I want to keep the rough struc­ture and neu­tral tone estab­lished on The His­to­ry of Rome because I think so high­ly of it. I hope you won’t see it as sim­ply an imi­ta­tion and doubt­less over time my own style will emerge.” This seems as hon­est an account as any of the way cre­ators work off of their inspi­ra­tions, and His­to­ry of Rome fans will no doubt lis­ten with inter­est to The His­to­ry of Byzan­tium for both the devel­op­ments in the tale and in Pier­son­’s way of telling it.

You can sub­scribe to The His­to­ry of Byzan­tium via RSS or iTunes.

And, all of you his­to­ry buffs, remem­ber that you can find free cours­es in the His­to­ry sec­tion of our col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es from Great Uni­ver­si­ties.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Rome in 179 Pod­casts

The Dig­i­tal Tip­ping Point: The Wild Ride from Pod­cast to Book Deal

The Decline and Fall of the Roman (and Amer­i­can?) Empire: A Free Audio­book

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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  • Jason says:

    I will check out His­to­ry of Byzan­tium. I was a big fan of His­to­ry of Rome. It led me to a free iTunes U course from Yale on the Ear­ly Mid­dle Ages, which I’ve great­ly enjoyed.‑u/early-middle-ages/id515946405

  • Michael Goolsby says:

    It is nice to see some­body tak­ing up where Mr. Dun­can left off. The sto­ry of the Ramoioi needs to be told, espe­cial­ly how they trans­form from Roman to Ramoioi and how they dealt with the world around them.

    One of the biggest dis­ser­vices done to Byzan­tium has been to always treat it as one of the dying ves­tiges of the Roman Empire but that it served as a bul­wark against what else was com­ing from the east espe­cial­ly as Islam was mak­ing its way out of the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la to spread to oth­er parts of the world.

    It is nice that you “picked up the baton” on this one and hope­ful­ly the rest of the sto­ry of this side of the empire could be told.

    Soon­er or lat­er, espe­cial­ly as the great schisms get under­way in Chris­ten­dom, some­body also has to pick up the oth­er ves­tige of the Roman Empire that exists to this day–the Papa­cy, where for a time exist­ed along­side the Byzan­tines argu­ing for con­verts as well as over doc­trine and who had the ulti­mate author­i­ty to decide what was doc­trine.

    And then there is the lega­cy of what the Ramoioi left, espe­cial­ly with the Slav­ic peo­ples and that they built their mod­ern cul­ture from their con­tact with the Ramoioi, which in itself seemed for­eign to us because of our ances­tors’ con­tacts with the Romans and that it also led to one of the great cul­tur­al divides between east­ern and west­ern Europe to this day, where Latin and Greek cul­tures even clashed.

    I will be lis­ten­ing, hope­ful­ly be enter­tained, and per­haps may even learn some­thing new from time-to-time.

    But just like Mr. Dun­can, you have tak­en on quite an under­tak­ing for your­self, Mr. Pier­son.

    I wish you the best of luck in cov­er­ing the oth­er thou­sand years of the His­to­ry of the Roman Empire.

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