Byzantium Founding Myth (02:02)
Simon Sebag Montefiore explains how King Byzas consulted the Oracle of Delphi on where to establish his city that became an Empire.
City of Passion (01:46)
In this series, Simon will explore how Byzantium became a holy city claimed by Christian and Muslim Empires.
Basilica Cistern (05:38)
Evidence of Istanbul's past are visible in Roman ruins. Simon explores a water system built in 537 AD by Justinian. Medusa statues demonstrate the city's Greek origins.
Byzantium Origins (02:19)
Learn about immoral behavior of early residents. In 196 AD, Septimus transformed the Greek fishing port into a Roman town.
New Rome (02:23)
In 330 AD, Constantine followers gathered in the Hippodrome to dedicate Byzantium as capital of the Roman Empire.
Constantine made Byzantium the new Rome to gain access to Asia and to foster a Christian capital—transforming Christianity into the dominant Western religion.
Theory of Constantine's Heresy (04:47)
The emperor's 13th coffin suggests he claimed divine status. Learn why a sarcophagus in the Hagia Eirene may be his final resting place, and why it was relocated.
Little Hagia Sofia (03:28)
Constantinople lacked a holy site. Architectural details in the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus show how Justinian and Theodora combined holiness with power and prestige.
Justinian and Theodora (02:48)
Learn how the Byzantine emperors embraced Christianity to hide their shameful histories.
Nika Riots (01:41)
Learn how Justinian and Theodora crushed the 532 Hippodrome rebellion, killing 30,000 Constantinople subjects.
Hagia Sofia (03:23)
Justinian built the cathedral to prove his divine right. Consecrated in 537. it was the largest building in Christendom and represented the Byzantine Empire.
Justinian's Legacy (02:33)
Byzantium suffered after Theodora's death. Justinian had transformed Constantinople into a New Rome—but the city lacked a patron saint.
Siege of Constantinople (03:52)
After Justinian's death, the Empire fell into chaos. In 626, three armies attacked at once; Heraclius appealed to the Virgin Mary to save the city. She became its patron saint.
Islamic Invasion (02:03)
In 717, Muslim armies besieged Constantinople a second time. Emperor Leo questioned whether the Christian God had abandoned him, and saw icon worship as a weakness.
Battle of the Icons (04:33)
Orthodox patrons of St. George remind us of Byzantine Christian conflicts. Leo banned icon worship and ordered religious images destroyed—founding iconoclasm.
Orthodox Christian Triumph (02:32)
After a century-long conflict, icon worship was allowed—a victory celebrated in Hagia Sofia mosaics. An art historian explains iconoclasm's demise.
Iconoclasm Legacy (01:33)
The conflict over holy images damaged East-West relations. Constantinople and Rome became enemies and the Pope excommunicated the Emperor in 1054.
Credits: Byzantium: Tale of Three Cities—Byzantium (00:41)
Credits: Byzantium: Tale of Three Cities—Byzantium
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