Category: A short history of Byzantium

In 476 the Roman Empire fell or rather its western half did. Its eastern half, which we will come to know as the Byzantine Empire would survive and often flourish for over a thousand years.
It is my attempt here to present its story from Roman beginnings to the fall of Constantinople. (I will present it in chronological order beginning with Constantine the Great.) In the words of John Julius Norwich “The luckless historian can only weigh the probabilities and tell his story as best he can.” This is my aim too, to tell you the reader a thousand year story as best as I can.

The Road to Adrianople

From the mid 370’s a frightening new nomadic force arrive out of Asia and into eastern Europe. These warrior people […]

501 Treasures of Byzantium: No. 3 The Aqueduct of Valens.

In modern Istanbul, standing impressively over the traffic on the busy Atatürk Bulvarı is the Aqueduct of Valens. (Today it […]

Emperor Valens: A reign under siege!

Valens was beset by serious problems from the moment he was first appointed by his older brother Valentinian, to rule […]

Valentinian I: The last of the triumphant Roman emperors in the west.

Valentinian is sometimes described as a brooding and violent man.  Ammianus Marcellinus, in particular, does not mince his words describing […]

Brothers in power, migration and pending disaster!

This is the reverse of a solidus minted by Valens, which depicts Valens and his older brother Valentinian, seated on […]

Do not forsake us Emperor Jovian: The shameful peace of the year 363 AD.

Despite some small variation, this map of the Roman–Sassanid frontier represents the peace treaty that was arranged between Jovian and […]

The Last Pagan Emperor

Julian is such an interesting character that it is impossible to ignore him, even though some tend to treat him […]

They raised him on their shields in a moment of great happiness and triumph!

The astounding success of Julian’s rise in five short years, from a bookworm to Caesar, was genuinely celebrated by his […]

My Five Favourite Byzantine Emperors

Imagine yourself sitting in a lecture hall with a small body of students studying Roman history and as a whole […]

Robin Pierson’s Grand Strategy: The history of Byzantium podcast.

About three years ago, when Mike Duncan stopped producing his ‘History of Rome’ podcast, thousands of podcast listeners mourned in […]