The History of Byzantium


Episode 229 - John Komnenos with Dr Maximilian Lau

Today we talk to the man whose research has guided our last few podcasts Dr Maximilian Lau.

Dr Lau is Adjunct Professor of Economic History at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, and also a Research Associate in History at St Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford. He has been studying 12th century Byzantine history for many years now and the fruits of that labour can be found in his forthcoming book “Rebuilding New Rome. The Foreign Policy of John II Komnenos.”

The book is written and will be out next year and Dr Lau very generously shared it with me in advance. It’s been incredibly helpful in part because of its quality but also because it follows a format similar to our narrative episodes. It is a chronological account of John’s military and political activity with a discussion of the sources as each incident unfolds. As Dr Lau explains in the interview – John’s reign often gets short shrift in popular Byzantine books because our Roman sources cover him fairly briefly. But there are plenty of other sources to work with and Dr Lau has synthesised them to create a new history of John's reign.

Period: 1118-1143

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Baby and New Schedule

I have big news. A History of Byzantium baby is on the way. The purple room in the Palace is being prepared for the Autumn and I can assure you that the names Justinian and Theodora will not be under consideration. Of course I’m very excited. But it means I think we need to change the way the podcast is scheduled. I plan on being as involved as possible during the first few months of my baby’s life. And so it won’t be possible to keep a normal podcast routine. So what we’re going to do is switch to a sort of TV schedule. Where there is silence for a few months and then I will release a complete series of episodes. So that when the podcast is on air, so to speak, you know that it will be out every week without fail and that whatever period of narrative we’re in will reach a natural conclusion. This will include bonus episodes for those who subscribe over at Patreon.I feel more comfortable switching to this new schedule thanks to Patreon. It means that those of you who kindly support the show can manage your subscriptions however you see fit. And if you’re still in any doubt about how Patreon works - you can pick up a subscription or cancel one any time you like. There is no contract or commitment. And when you resubscribe you get your benefits back instantly. We’re going to switch to this new schedule immediately. So there will now be a period of silence before a run of episodes that will take us from the death of Manuel through to the sack of Constantinople in 1204. I won’t be announcing any dates for this new schedule. The periods of silence will take as long as they take and then there will be loads of episodes in a row to enjoy. It will be an adjustment for all of us but I think it’s for the best. I have pushed myself hard in the past to try and produce the podcast weekly and to leave as few gaps as possible and it can cause a lot of stress. History podcasting just does take a long time. Some topics take weeks to research. And the more I read the better the show gets. I’m hoping this new schedule will make life easier for you and for me. Thank you for your patience and for your support.