Saturday, August 01, 2009

Podcast Worth Listening To: 12 Byzantine Rulers

The eastern branch of the Roman Empire gets no respect. While many think the storied Roman Empire collapsed on September 4, 476; the Romans continued to have a thriving civilization centered in Constantinople until May 29, 1453.

Since then, a sort of unorganized campaign against the east has occurred in Western Europe. The causes of this campaign are varied from ignorance, to opposition to Greek Christianity from Catholics, to opposition to Greeks from the German Holy Roman Empire, or just flat out opposition to Christianity in general from people like Edward Gibbon in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This campaign ignores many positive things about the eastern Roman Empire such as its role in defending Europe from Islamic invasion for over eight-hundred years, that it never went through the Dark Age, aided the development of Western Europe by building up Italy after the fall of the western branch of the Empire, and it saved many Greek documents for later western use like Plato.

12 Byzantine Rulers by Lars Brownworth are eighteen podcasts based on his book, Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization, about the Eastern Roman (Byzantine Empire: that term was invented to divorce Constantinople from Rome). The podcasts fit generally in history but geography plays a key role. Whether it be heretics in the far East threatening unity, Belisarius bringing Italy to back into the realm, or the general shift to Western powers; geography mattered to the empire. One gets this sense when listening to this excellent series.

Each podcast is about thirty minutes and well worth your time. Be sure to listen if you love history and want some geography thrown in as well.

iTunes link | Podcast Alley link

1 comment:

Dan tdaxp said...

Agreed that the podcast series is amazing. I listened to it about two years ago or so, and loved it!

A brief note: it is cool that the book is based on the podcasts. The author was an professor of computer science (or somesuch), with a love of Byzantine history. The reaction to his just-for-fun podcast was so great that he was able to focus on his true love!