Byzantine time traveller answers our three "Byzantine" questions below. Check what he says about the awareness of Byzantine history in The Philippines.
Also, check the rest of the interviews with Portuguese fan of Byzantium here: Click here
and with one from Japan here: Click here
How did you first learn about Byzantium and what did you like about it?
I first came across Byzantium in the video game Assassin’s Creed Revelations and when learning it for my history subject in high school but I did not get to learn its full history there. 2 years ago in my 2nd year at college, I discovered a book in my house which was “Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire” by Judith Herrin and out of curiosity I read it because I was already fascinated with Ancient Rome, therefore I wanted to learn more about the Byzantine Empire which was its continuation, and there was no turning back after that, as here I got myself into the fascinating world of the Byzantine Empire. Following this, I read more and more books about the Byzantine Empire and discovered more interesting media that focus on Byzantine history including the History of Byzantium podcast and Youtube channels Kings and Generals, Eastern Roman History, and Dovahhatty that made Byzantine history even more interesting. Over time, I made several articles about Byzantium for my blog “The Byzantium Blogger” as well as Byzantine-era Lego films for my channel “No Budget Films” and Byzantine fan art. On the other hand, I have also seen some of the most spectacular Byzantine-era destinations on earth including the Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome in Constantinople, Thessaloniki, and the impressive mosaics of Ravenna, in which all made me inspired by their history even more. Now, there are so many reasons why I like the history of Byzantium but to put it short, it is because the story itself of an empire that lasted for more than a thousand years going through so many high and low points yet almost coming to the point of near extinction is something very impressive and one of a kind but also because their history is very rich with colorful personalities, and I personally enjoy empires with a more complex history.
What is your favourite story/period/ emperor?
For me, the entire 1,100-year history of Byzantium is already very fascinating but if I were to choose a period that would fascinate me most, it is the period of the Byzantine Renaissance under the Macedonian Dynasty (867-1056) as it had shown Byzantium as a cultural and military power while at the same time having some of the most interesting and complex personalities in their history including intellectual emperors, powerful and ambitious generals, epic battles, and complex diplomacy. When it comes to who my favorite emperor is, that is a very tough question since there are a lot of Byzantine emperors that I find very interesting but if I were to choose one it would be Michael VIII Palaiologos (1261-1282) because he is a very intriguing historical figure and in fact, I even made a number of Lego films and drawings of him. What is very intriguing about Michael VIII is that he managed to recapture the capital Constantinople from the Latin Empire ending their 57-year occupation and as emperor, he ruled in a very intelligent way in terms of diplomacy and foreign relations despite his ruthlessness in gaining the throne and in enforcing his policies, but at the end, no matter how unpopular he became with his people, he did everything for the greater good of keeping his empire alive at a very difficult time. On the other hand, I also like Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos (913-959) as he shows a good example that an emperor can be both a skilled administrator while a very learned scholar at the same time.
Do the people in your country learn(how) or know anything about Byzantium?
In my country (the Philippines), it is very rare to find someone who knows about the history of Byzantium much less fans compared to fans of let’s say Ancient Greece, Rome, or Medieval Europe. Although we may come across Byzantium but very quickly in our history subject in high school, and some might be familiar with the word “Byzantine” or “Byzantium” but nothing more. Honestly, I used to feel left out being the only one so fascinated with something no one around me could really understand which is Byzantine history, but now after starting a Byzantine history Instagram account and Facebook page, I can say that I am glad to be sharing a very fascinating history to people in my own country and beyond that are not very familiar with it.
Check his Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV3PEHiU3tDKr2Z2i5sY26w