Curious minds select the most fascinating podcasts from around the world. Discover hand-piqd audio recommendations on your favorite topics.
Neil Hauer is an independent analyst focused on Syria, Russia, and the Caucasus. Based in Tbilisi, Georgia, he served as senior intelligence analyst at The SecDev Group, an Ottawa-based geopolitical risk consultancy, for three years. He is presently engaged primarily on Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict.
Podcasts should reflect their subject matter, and as such it is quite fitting that the History of Byzantium podcast is on its 185th episode and seventh year. A worthy tribute to the millennia-long existence of its subject matter, reflecting the dedication of its host, Robin Pierson, who now makes his living podcasting.
This episode focuses mostly on military events in the Empire's periphery during the first past of the reign of Constantine IX Monomachos. Pierson discusses the annexation of the Armenian city of Ani, events with the Pechenegs in recently-recaptured Bulgaria, and the rebellion of Leo Tornikios and his siege of Constantinople in 1047. The title refers to Leo's rebel troops and the speeches they gave to the defenders of the capital proclaiming the superior merits of their leader, a rather election-like phenomenon as Pierson contests.
One of the real strengths of this podcast is its ability to present not only the course of events, but to ask thought-provoking 'what if' questions and to give a contemporary view of the situation. Pierson does this very well when he asks the listener to consider the picture after the Romans seized the Armenian Bagratunid dynasty's capital of Ani in 1045. The empire was now pressing itself far east into the Caucasus. By all accounts, it was as strong as it had ever been. What if the Seljuk Turks had not successfully disrupted this scene shortly thereafter? The centre of Armenian culture seemed to be steadily moving westward as their lands were firmly reincorporated into the empire, a process which also would have reflected a greater Armenian character in the elites of the empire itself. An interesting thought to have.
Given the gentle, ASMR-like qualities of Pierson's voice, this made for a nice morning listen. Long live Byzantium.