The History of Byzantium Podcast


The Roman Empire in 477 AD.

The Roman Empire in 477 AD. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in March of this year, Mr. Mike Duncan completed his singular achievement of History of Rome podcast, the story of Rome’s founding, the Republic and Empire that followed, as podcasts go, it was astonishing.. Mike kept at it week after week, year after year, until he arrived at natural breaking point, the Fall of the Western Empire in AD 476. Mike had excellent reasons for moving on to other passions (as in creating a family.. his wife was about to give birth). I’ll miss the research, the dedication and most of all the quiet humor and erudition of the History of Rome, but I don’t mind that it came to an end. It was an amazing run of a podcast and I can hardly blame him for stopping. Still, there was much to the story that remained untold. The Roman Empire did not cease to exist after the Western Empire fell in 476. The Eastern half of the Empire lasted from 330 to 1453. The largely Greek oriented and speaking populace of this Empire thought of themselves as Romans and there’s no evidence they ever used the phrase “Byzantine” to refer to themselves, but since the capital had been transferred to a small city on the Bosporus called Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul), history has called this Empire “Byzantine” ever after. From 330 to 1453 is a lot of years, and I was sad to see we wouldn’t hear that part of the story when Mike Duncan stopped the History of Rome– I know very little of the Byzantine Empire, actually and would love to learn more about it. So imagine my surprise when I discovered newish HISTORY OF BYZANTIUM podcast on Itunes’ Podcast app recently. Created by Robin Pearson, of London, UK. Robin is a blogger and TV Critic who is a fellow admirer of Mike Duncan’s History of Rome, as he unabashedly admits to in Episode 1. It is Robin’s intent to somewhat seamlessly join his new narrative covering the history of What Happened Next to the Romans directly to Mike Duncan’s, and THE HISTORY OF BYZANTIUM starts up the same year as Mike’s last podcast, AD 476. Robin confesses that he can’t match Mike’s output (Mike tried for a weekly schedule and usually made it, Robin will be more like 2-3 weeks between episodes, based upon what I’ve heard so far).

I’ve listened to 7 episodes so far, and I like what I’m hearing. This is a very thoughtful, well-researched podcast that purposely emulates Duncan’s half-hour structure and to a great extent his style. Already I’m noticing Duncan-isms creeping into the narrative. When I heard of the death of Emperor Anastatius recently, Robin used the old line from History of Rome summing up his accomplishments “Anastatius was 83, he ruled the Roman Empire for 27 years…” that bit made me smile.

I like this podcast quite a bit. Robin is serious about this effort and is putting in a lot of work to put out a great history podcast. I strongly recommend his podcast and suggest you download a few episodes as soon as you can.  Look for HISTORY OF BYZANTIUM on Itunes

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