Reviews For 12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of The Byzantine Empire

I loved this podcast and it comes recommended from the one and only MD founder of History of Rome podcast and Revolutions. Great context and good flow. Now I understand why this was the podcast that got MD on the road to podcasting


I just thought it was boring as hell, if you know that part of history it might be ok. Just a monotone voice. Good to go to sleep too.
After finishing the history of Rome by Mike Duncan I was looking for something similar in presentation and time-frame/content. This was exactly what I was looking for.
Very well put together podcast.
Yo my global teacher makes us all read lars’ book and we get hard tests on it and without this podcast I probs would have done bad on those tests
Great, well researched and informative show! I learned a lot about the Normans as a people and their influence over large parts of the world. Highly recommended!
Where will the next refuge from the chaos be? Now want to visit Istanbul and see those walls.
I listened to this podcast after I finished Mike Duncan's History of Rome. This was a great supplement to the events after. Great audio quality and stories. The final episode still makes an impression on me years after listening.
It's unfortunate to see this podcast so highly rated when Brownworth lifts so liberaly from others work without citation. His segment about Julian, for example, directly quotes John Julius Norwich's "A Short History of Byzantium" several times with no credit. Shame.
Don't let the age of this podcast deter you--it's not like Justinian & Co. are getting any younger!--the material holds up well and the pod host has a casual yet learned style that is easy to digest. Very informative, made me want to learn more about this "forgotten" empire (and the final episode explains why it is so).
I'll refrain from giving 12 Byzantine Rulers the lowest possible rating because Brownworth clearly knows the subject matter and appears to genuinely love Byzantine history. But it's impossible to ignore the elephant in the room: this podcast is deeply, openly, almost comically bigoted. It is commendable that Brownworth loves the Byzantines; what is not commendable is that he appears to hate Muslims, or at least the Islamic civilization that was Byzantium's chief antagonist during its final eight centuries. A single review can't possibly list every example of the contempt with which he holds these Muslims over the span of 17 episodes, but here's a direct quote of something he says in Episode 17 - Conclusion: "After all, the stoutness of its walls checked the seemingly irresistible Muslim tide, forcing the armies of Islam to take the long way through north Africa and Spain, thereby overextending their resources and giving Europe the time it needed to resist. Thomas Cahill was wrong: the Irish didn't save civilization, the Byzantines did." If your view of the world is that the Byzantines "saved civilization" from the "irresistible Muslim tide", you must believe that the various Muslim empires were not just uncivilized, but an actual danger to civilization - this, even though the quality of life, including the level of religious, academic, and economic freedom, was far higher in the Islamic world than it was in the Byzantine empire for virtually the entire 800 years the two civilizations co-existed. And if that's your view, I would submit that you have a problem with bigotry. And that your podcast is fatally flawed.
Almost twelve years after the first episode was released on iTunes, this program has set the bar for what Historical Podcasts can do in the format. Between this Podcast and its sequel concerning the Normans, Mr. Brownworth has created an excellent catalogue of exciting and informative episodes. It is this reviewer's hope that he will one day return to the format he helped develop and continue to create excellent content.


Captivating, great story telling
I ran Across this by accident and loved it. I knew little about the byzantines and what I did know wasn't positive. Lars did an amazing job educating and made me want to learn more. I agree with him that every kid in school needs to learn their Byzantine history. Highly recommend to all.
I'm so glad I found this pod cast. It's on a topic I've had an interest in learning more about and this has delivered in a big way. You not only learn something, but are entertained doing. This is a great combination. I look forward to to other topics the same author.
Wish there were more
I just finished all of these episodes. I now consider myself more informed on the ancient past and now I crave more. Thank you so much for this wonderful podcast. It was well done. Now on to the Normans. Please do more like this. I can't get enough.
I love that he is the author of a book in the subject, but he talks to fast. Sometimes I have to hear an episode once or twice so I can remember the important details.
Amazing podcast!!! Very intriguing. I loved it!! Well worth the time I put into listening to the author. Best podcast I have ever listened to.
It doesn't have the rigour or depth of the History of Rome podcast . But it's alright .
There is not much out there on The Byzantine Empire, so this fills a void. Unfortunately, the podcast comes off like Byzantine cheerleading, not very objective. He also fails to remove bias against the female historical figures. They are generally described with pejorative terms that would certainly apply to the men but are rarely applied to them.
I wish Lars would come out with a third podcast. I was shocked to learn he wasn't a college professor
A concise history of the Byzantine Empire, hitting on the major Emperors.
The episodes are very clear and grasping. There are lots of good history podcasts around, but not many are as good as this one in terms of presentation.
... Now I have another historical interest to soak up my valuable reading / listening time! I heard about this podcast from a friend and fellow ancient history enthusiast, but I was lukewarm to the idea of devoting time to a 20-episode podcast. I must admit, my view of the Byzantines was decended directly from Edward Gibbon's dismal view of them, which is well summarized by Lars Brownworth in this series. I was shocked to find that I had been giving short shrift to a fascinating and extremely influential historical era and civilization, and I could hardly stop listening to "12 Byzantine Rulers" until it was finished. This podcast is fascinating, fair-minded and, based on the little I knew about the Byzantines prior to listening, very accurate. The presentation in the first couple of episodes is a little uneven, but it rapidly stabilizes and Mr. Brownworth performs very well from then on. Very interesting and easy to listen to. I cannot recommend "12 Byzantine Rulers" enough.
These podcasts are consistently fascinating and informative. As a listener, I found myself getting really involved in the stories. I hope that once Mr. Brownworth is finished with this series, that he starts another! Update: He did! When you are finished with this, go listen to “Norman Centuries”!
I really enjoyed this podcast. I have been going through a bunch of history podcasts and this one is up there with the greats.
The perfect history podcast. Final episode left chills in my body.
I've listened to both of Lars Brownworth's podcast series often, with great pleasure.
I had no idea who or what the "Byzantine" was when I started this podcast. Very interesting stuff and well presented by Lars. My only problem is that it zooms along a little too fast for me. I get "information overload" from the rapid fire presentation, he could have just done hour long episodes. It's still one of the best history shows I have heard so far.


By Dl3141
This is an excellent short history of the Byzantine empire. The author has a book on the same topic. I especially enjoyed the sections on Justinian in the 6th century
I really enjoy Lars' style and narration.
This is one of the two podcasts that got me into podcasts, and resurrected my interest in Roman and Byzantine history. I have listened to and re-listened to this podcast several times, read Mr. Brownworth’s written works, and then sought more information because it helped to spark an interest in this period in history. Truly great podcast!
I must have listened to this entire series at least 5 times. Some episodes I have listened to over a dozen times.
I like this because both adults and kids can learn life lessons from the selected rulers. It's dramatic and fun. Great composition.


Who knew the Byzantines were to play in Columbus !! Thanks for the awesome introduction to a part of history I was completely ignorant of!!!!!
The only complaint is that it was so short. I just started the Norman Centuries so I think I'll be OK.
Truly terrific job, really outlining Byzanti, thank you
Informative, concise and clear. What more is there to say?
Greatly enjoyed this - filled with great nuggets of "I never realised that" factoids that are part of a rich golden vein of narrative history. Listen to this if you want to understand what happened after the fall of the western Roman Empire and the dawn of the Renaissance.
A look into a rich time and place in history that many of have a vague, fuzzy understanding of, but that shaped and impacted so much of the more classically understood western history as well as events today.
I couldn't stop listening, looked forward to my drive to work every day! I teach history and loved this story telling, and the perspective it gives. World history isn't my forte but it's what I am teaching so I was looking for some insights into pre-modern history. I (seriously) cried as I listened to the final battle and fall of Constantinople! I have told my students and random strangers about this podcast and am starting it again myself! Thank you!!!
What a great companion Lars has been the last several weeks during my commutes in another capital city to model itself after those of the ancient world, Washington D.C. I'm looking forward to getting his book to fill in the gaps of this overview. He's right in his conclusion; we in the west are ill-served by the common exclusion of this history in our childhood education. Where would we be without the Eastern Roman Empire; guardians of Greek and Roman wisdom?
This was great! But having studied Heraclius for sometime I did find some parts inaccurate on episode 10. Heraclius did not wait 10years to face the Persians he actually did so immediately but was defeated multiple times, that is when he returns to the capital and decides to rebuild his army. Some say after watching the Persian heavy cavalry the Byzantine cavalry was made into a replica of the Persians.
I've listened to this multiple times! Lars is one of the few historians that give the Eastern Roman Empire its due respect.