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12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of the Byzantine Empire

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12 Byzantine Rulers
1 - Introduction
2 - Diocletian Time: 20:06 (17.9 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); The Emperor Diocletian was to erase civil war within Byzantium for the next thousand years but walked away from it all to become a cabbage farmer. Who was this military man, and how could he just give it all up? Join Lars Brownworth as the story of Byzantium's first great emperor unfolds. 3 - Constantine - Part 1 Time: 17:23 (15.4 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); From the chaotic background of the tetrarchy, a vulnerable staff officer would navigate the treacherous waters of the Empire and eventually emerge as Emperor. How could such an unlikely man unify the Empire under one ruler? In this lecture, Lars Brownworth explores the rise to power of one of Western history's most pivotal figures: Constantine. Additional Commentary The Conversion of Constantine Time: 0:47 (744 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Constantine's Popularity Time: 0:51 (808 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Valens - Being a Co-Emperor Time: 0:31 (496 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 4 - Constantine - Part 2 Time: 18:04 (16.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); Constantine has achieved supreme power and, by founding a new capital and rescuing a faith seemingly on the brink of schism, made some of the most momentous decisions in history. However, his megalomania undid most of his work unifying the church and threatened the very stability of the state. Does such a man truly deserve to be called great? Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the apogee of Constantine's career and his impact on history. Additional Commentary Creeds Time: 1:49 (1.7 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Financing Time: 1:02 (984 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Serpent Column Time: 0:55 (876 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 5 - Julian Time: 17:46 (15.8 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); A shy, awkward, Pagan philosopher with no ambitions and no experience is appointed Caesar. How could such an unlikely 23 year old become the head of a Christian empire? Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at Julian, the last of Constantine's dynasty. Additional Commentary The crowning of Julian Time: 0:37 (592 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Paganism Time: 0:43 (692 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); The Excommunication of Paul the Stammerer Time: 0:38 (608 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Julian the Author Time: 0:29 (472 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); King Shapour is Crowned Time: 0:21 (344 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Who killed Julian? Time: 0:28 (448 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Jovian: Julian's Sucessor Time: 0:26 (428 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 6 - Zeno Time: 20:27 (19.0 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); By the middle of the 5th Century the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse. Its emperors were mere puppets, its armies were in chaos, and enemies were closing in on all sides. Unable to sustain itself, the West collapsed, plunging Europe into the Dark Ages. By all accounts, the East should have followed suit, and yet, unexpectedly, the Eastern emperor slipped free of his barbarian master and saved the tottering state. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at Zeno, the unlikely savior of the Byzantine Empire. Additional Commentary Carthage and Rome Time: 1:07 (1.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Church and State: Power and the Popes Time: 0:55 (872 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Books: Lost Treasures Time: 0:25 (400 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Pope Leo: The Political Pope Time: 0:54 (852 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); The Last Emperor of Rome Time: 0:29 (464 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 7 - Justinian - Part 1 Time: 18:15 (16.2 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); As the 6th century dawned on the tottering Byzantine State, the future seemed to hold only decline and decay, and yet, it was to see a renaissance unmatched in the long history of the Empire. On every front, it seemed, were gathered the towering giants of the age, poised and ready to take the Empire to ever greater and more dizzying heights. All that was needed was a ruler with enough vision to unite and drive this vast collection of the best and the brightest, a ruler who could dream on a truly imperial scale. Though he came from poverty, he rose to shape the Empire with the force of his will. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the stunning rise of Justinian, from shadow ruler to emperor in his own right. 8 - Justinian - Part 2 Time: 25:42 (23.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); With the return of relative calm after the reign's turbulent beginnings, Justinian could turn to his most ambitious project- the re-conquest of the Western Empire. For this, his most cherished goal, he looked to one man- the young, promising general, Belisarius. Justinian was rewarded with unswerving loyalty and unquestioned brilliance, and yet the road to re-conquest was to be a difficult and tragic one for both men. Join Lars Brownworth as the story of Justinian's re-conquest of Africa and Italy unfolds. 9 - Justinian - Part 3 Time: 25:47 (23.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); With the re-conquest of Italy seemingly complete, and the Persian threat momentarily neutralized by the plague, Justinian could at last afford to rest. But the Empire's enemies were everywhere- the plague abated and a charismatic new Gothic king arose in Italy. The Empire could ill afford to keep its greatest general in disgrace, and Justinian would once again turn to the man he could never quite bring himself to trust. The final decade of his life would see the fruition of his epic dreams of re-conquest, as well as the restoration of the building that still stands as the greatest testament to his reign. It would be the final act of a cast of characters the likes of whom the Empire would never see again. Join Lars Brownworth for the conclusion of the reign of Justinian, the last of the Roman Emperors. 10 - Heraclius Time: 26:29 (23.8 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); In the years following Justinian's death, the Empire was rocked from within and without. Barbarians pushed in on every border and the Empire's ancient enemy Persia ravaged the East unchecked. The Empire met this challenge with a series of weak and foolish rulers who squandered what resources they had and crumbled before the Persian onslaught. By the start of the 7th century, the emperor was a virtual prisoner in his own palace, the Persians were beneath the walls of Constantinople, and the rest of the Empire was in the hands of rebels. It looked as if the end had come at last, and yet, against all odds, an Armenian general was to defeat the Persians, sweep away the old Latin traditions and reform the Empire on a Greek model. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at Heraclius, whose reign saw this glittering triumph but ended in such tragedy. 11 - Irene Time: 24:00 (22.0 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); When the weak, ineffectual emperor Leo IV died in 780, he left the Empire divided and in the hands of an orphan from Athens- the beautiful and grasping Empress Irene. 17 years later she was crowned as sole ruler after murdering her own son to take his place. It was hardly an auspicious start. Beset by enemies on every border, the Empire was now facing the terrible iconoclastic controversy, its most serious internal threat. Successive emperors had neglected the frontiers to concentrate on the war against icons, and in the process had not only weakened the state, but had destroyed some of the finest works of art the Byzantine world ever produced. Even worse, an emperor had at last returned to the long vacant throne of the West, to challenge Byzantium's claim of universal temporal domination. If ever the Empire had needed strong leadership, it was now. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the reign of Irene; the only woman to rule the Empire, not as Queen or Regent, but as a King. Additional Commentary Why study Irene? Time: 1:10 (1.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 12 - Basil I Time: 23:02 (21.0 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); Basil I was hardly a promising candidate to usher in a new golden age to the Byzantine Empire. A poor, illiterate Armenian peasant, he was kidnapped by raiding Bulgarians as a boy and only managed to escape in his mid twenties. Renowned for his great strength and skill with horses, he found work as a stable hand and grew into a violent, ambitious man, whose thirst for power led him to commit two of the foulest murders that even bloody Byzantine history has to offer. In spite of all of this, his reign was the most successful of the century, and the Macedonian dynasty that he would found would bring the Empire to the height of its power and prestige. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the reign of the emperor Basil the Macedonian. Additional Commentary The Origins of Cyrillic Time: 0:27 (436 K MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 13 - Basil II Time: 31:50 (29.0 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); By the time Basil II was crowned at age two, the Macedonian Dynasty had led the Byzantine Empire to seemingly endless military victories and unprecedented heights of glory. However it was not the emperors who had accomplished so much, but their powerful generals. In fact Basil's dynasty seemed to be in danger of becoming purely ceremonial or disappearing completely. The young emperor, dominated completely by his regents, seemed unlikely to change things. There was no trace of the heroic about him, no charisma or sparkling personality, and yet he was to emerge as the greatest emperor of his dynasty- bending the army, the Empire, and foreign princes alike to his will. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the reign of Basil II, the last great conqueror Byzantium ever produced. 14 - Alexius Time: 32:13 (30.0 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); When the 24 year old Alexius Comnenus came to the throne, the glories of the Empire seemed long gone. Its "invincible" army had been smashed at the battle of Manzikert, the frontiers were collapsing, and enemies on every side threatened to overwhelm what was left. It would take an extraordinary ruler to salvage something from the wreckage much less restore Byzantine prestige. Join Lars Brownworth as he takes a look at Alexius Comnenus, the man who did just that, even as the First Crusade erupted around him. 15 - Isaac Time: 33:22 (30.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); Isaac Angelus was never meant for the throne. He should have lived out his life in comfortable obscurity but, instead, found imperial power thrust upon him as Alexius I's brilliant dynasty came to a bloody and decadent conclusion. Unfortunately, he and his son were to prove completely unfit for the office, inviting one of the greatest calamities in history down upon their heads and fatally weakening the Empire. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the reign of Isaac Angelus as it inexorably descended into the tragedy of the Fourth Crusade. 16 - Constantine XI Time: 37:44 (34.1 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); The 14th century was not a kind one for Byzantium. The Fourth Crusade had left the Empire a hollow shell of itself, fatally crippled in the face of Turkish aggression. A series of forgettable rulers did what they could, but, by the middle of the next century all hope was lost. Surrounded on all sides by the hostile Turks, the once vast Empire had shrunk to little more than the city of Constantinople itself. Led by the indomitable Constantine XI, the Byzantines faced certain destruction and fearsome new weapons of war with dignity and courage, determined to go down fighting with heads held high. Join Lars Brownworth as he talks about the last of the Byzantine Emperors, Constantine XI whose heroic final defense of the city earned him recognition as the first Greek National Martyr. Additional Commentary Manuel II: Faith and Reason Time: 1:52 (1.7 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); Vlad Tepesh: aka. Vlad the Impaler Time: 1:31 (1.4 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:300, audioHeight:30}); 17 - Conclusion Time: 14:55 (13.2 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); With the death of Constantine XI, the Byzantine Empire drew to a close. But that was not the end of the story. From the Orthodox Church, to the Russian Empire, the spirit of the Empire has survived and offers enduring lessons for the modern world. Join Lars Brownworth as he looks at the Empire's immense legacy and reflects on why Byzantine History matters. 18 - Reading Suggestions Time: 4:32 (3.8 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); Lars Brownworth gives some suggestions for further study of the Byzantine Empire. 19 - Norman Centuries Teaser Time: 1:15 (1.4 Meg MP3) download $('audio').mediaelementplayer({audioWidth:400, audioHeight:30}); Lars Brownworth's new podcast called Norman Centuries is also available.   Byzantium: The Rise of the Macedonians
Smithsonian Lecture: Byzantium - Rome's Lost Empire
The Founding of Constantinople
The Hagia Sofia
The Hippodrome
The Theodosian Land Walls
Valen's Aqueduct
The Galad Tower
The Studion Monastery
Books
Blog and Maps
Pictures
Publicity
Media Exposure
Email Notification
Background Information
Contact Mr. Brownworth

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The History of The Byzantine Empire
Time: 14:26 (12.8 Meg MP3) download
Time: 20:06 (17.9 Meg MP3) download
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Additional Commentary
Time: 18:04 (16.1 Meg MP3) download
Additional Commentary
Time: 17:46 (15.8 Meg MP3) download
Additional Commentary
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Additional Commentary
Time: 18:15 (16.2 Meg MP3) download
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Additional Commentary
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Additional Commentary
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Additional Commentary
Time: 14:55 (13.2 Meg MP3) download
Time: 4:32 (3.8 Meg MP3) download
Time: 1:15 (1.4 Meg MP3) download
eBooks by Lars Brownworth
Smithsonian Resident Associates Program
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey

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By Lars Brownworth
The Conversion of Constantine
Constantine's Popularity
Valens - Being a Co-Emperor
Creeds
Financing
Serpent Column
The crowning of Julian
Paganism
The Excommunication of Paul the Stammerer
Julian the Author
King Shapour is Crowned
Who killed Julian?
Jovian: Julian's Sucessor
Carthage and Rome
Church and State: Power and the Popes
Books: Lost Treasures
Pope Leo: The Political Pope
The Last Emperor of Rome
Why study Irene?
The Origins of Cyrillic
Manuel II: Faith and Reason
Vlad Tepesh: aka. Vlad the Impaler

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weakening stoudios inexorably calamities inviting short reccomends unfit office descended studion kind hollow shell crippled 14th longest forgettable galad serving face sports teaser macedonians martyr manuel reading recognition earned fighting deeper delve held talks matters reflects spirit julius russian orthodox close survived offers lessons legacy tepesh enduring impaler determined courage remaining drew indomitable byzantines faced complex shrunk hostile buried race chariots turks mirror picked dignity resident android ipad iphone weapons fearsome destruction washington program associates surrounded uncover colman open culture issue december npr interviewed february tipping point mentioned march 15th hottest deal wild ride 31st january street journal entitled wall editorial exposure wrote soap dish upcoming covered samuel preempted 24th changed october newsday review cited anniversary helped debuted apple boarding north shore pave mainstream public radio announced appearances sammuel featured article private teaching field collect addresses enter european robert wilde update spam residing maryland sarted request immediatly entering deleted material web iii vandalic buildings sources primary legend palaiologos romans scandalous secret reaction crusaders maps details alexiad famous comnena immortal nicol grandfather edward gibbon gregory timothy georgije ostrogorski 1-3 4-6 harris crusades donald jonathan runciman interesting steven writes google image vote submit feel mention center publicity enjoy reviews resource store version commentaries xml feed alley subscribe marked mosaics protected invasion spectacular rewarding prove map visit suspended dome upper galleries gold glimpse shroud missed peel norwich renowned slipped barbarian master eastern unexpectedly dark accounts suit saved savior dawned hold decay 6th political carthage popes europe plunging jovian sucessor 5th killed shapour paul stammerer verge collapse unable sustain collapsed closing chaos puppets armies renaissance unmatched goal man- belisarius cherished project- return calm turbulent rewarded unswerving africa complete momentarily tragic brilliance loyalty unquestioned shadow stunning greater dizzying vision poised giants gathered towering unite drive poverty rose shape scale dream collection brightest excommunication paganism erase civil walked task murky citizen describes defining cabbage farmer officer navigate treacherous staff vulnerable chaotic tetrarchy moment forms covers presents taught finding questions share answers passion furthest overview period purchase concise extensively reaches studied waters eventually financing serpent shy creeds impact deserve apogee career awkward pagan caesar christian crowning appointed experience philosopher ambitions stability unifying popularity valens co-emperor conversion figures unify explores achieved supreme decisions megalomania undid momentous schism rescuing brink neutralized everywhere- grew violent thirst stable horses twenties strength skill commit foulest cyrillic endless victories origins height murders offer escape managed rule queen regent woman leadership temporal domination candidate usher raiding bulgarians boy kidnapped peasant golden illiterate unprecedented accomplished collapsing overwhelm extraordinary manzikert battle glories invincible smashed salvage wreckage obscurity thrust brilliant comfortable lived restore erupted conqueror alike purely ceremonial disappearing danger fact powerful generals dominated regents dynasty- bending princes personality sparkling trace charisma universal claim foolish squandered resources unchecked ravaged pushed enemy persia crumbled onslaught rebels odds defeat palace prisoner 7th virtual barbarians rocked disgrace trust decade arose gothic abated charismatic fruition dreams cast characters likes testament stands restoration building sweep latin successive neglected concentrate internal controversy facing terrible iconoclastic icons process worse returned vacant works finest weakened destroyed beset auspicious triumph ended ineffectual glittering model traditions reform died divided empress sole murdering grasping beautiful orphan athens- decadent

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carthage origins cyrillic 436 tottering popes treasures city weak 464 852 persians political 872 frontiers manuel greek lecture tepesh roman impaler emerge west series walls co-emperor armenian bloody prestige border army life produced promising unfolds young bring military afford comnenus plague threat persian looked angelus fatally heads fourth needed western heights imperial death turn ambitious background heroic heraclius challenge hands 808 smithsonian serpent tragedy year called 592 crowning 984 valens diocletian column suggestions popularity conversion threatened work norman 876 744 centuries 692 paganism killed 344 496 founding 448 jovian middle zeno 428 sucessor excommunication shapour author 608 stammerer paul financing creeds 472 personality managed charisma trace sparkling escape twenties princes kidnapped claim peasant conqueror golden illiterate alike regents bending dynasty- boy bulgarians foreign raiding universal danger rule queen thirst violent woman victories grew usher endless murders foulest commit candidate offer height regent stable unprecedented disappearing ceremonial purely domination strength temporal renowned glories fact powerful accomplished glory horses skill leadership generals dominated face offers enduring survived spirit russian lessons modern matters reflects legacy immense orthodox close talks high held fighting defense earned drew martyr national recognition reading teaser publicity pictures maps blog exposure notification resident ebooks program contact monastery studion sofia hagia macedonians podcast hippodrome theodosian tower galad aqueduct valen determined courage brilliant thrust obscurity comfortable decadent prove calamities inviting office unfit lived erupted collapsing manzikert battle smashed overwhelm extraordinary takes restore wreckage salvage weakening inexorably indomitable vacant shrunk turks byzantines faced dignity weapons fearsome destruction hostile surrounded hollow kind 14th descended shell crippled forgettable aggression turkish associates invincible ravaged free slipped eastern unexpectedly barbarian master dawned 6th savior saved suit accounts closing chaos armies puppets unable sustain dark europe plunging collapsed future hold brightest collection drive unite dream scale stunning shape rose poverty vision dizzying unmatched renaissance decay decline gathered towering greater poised giants collapse verge unify eventually waters treacherous explores pivotal capital supreme achieved figures navigate officer walked civil erase introduction cabbage farmer staff vulnerable tetrarchy chaotic rescuing brink philosopher pagan awkward shy ambitions experience 5th christian caesar appointed impact career megalomania decisions momentous schism undid unifying apogee deserve stability shadow return triumph glittering model reform ended ineffectual orphan divided 780 died traditions latin prisoner virtual 7th onslaught palace beneath sweep defeat odds rebels athens- beautiful icons concentrate neglected successive process weakened worse works finest destroyed internal controversy murdering sole empress grasping auspicious beset iconoclastic terrible facing crumbled resources complete africa tragic difficult momentarily neutralized gothic charismatic abated everywhere- brilliance unquestioned cherished project- turbulent calm goal man- loyalty unswerving rewarded belisarius arose disgrace pushed barbarians rocked likes ancient enemy squandered foolish unchecked persia characters cast epic fruition decade trust dreams restoration testament stands building returned