John Romer recreates the glory and history of Byzantium. From the Hagia Sophia in present-day Istanbul to the looted treasures of the empire now located in St. Marks in Venice.

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1997  
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John Romer ...
 Host / ... (4 episodes, 1997)
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John Romer recreates the glory and history of Byzantium. From the Hagia Sophia in present-day Istanbul to the looted treasures of the empire now located in St. Marks in Venice.

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For Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire) Geeks!
22 June 2004 | by (New York, N.Y.) – See all my reviews

This astonishing program is basically for geeks/lovers of the subject of the Eastern Roman Empire aka the Byzantine Empire. If you are just coming into this subject, a lot of what is presented will be somewhat lost on you. Mr. Romer does not elaborate on a lot of things. He tells the story of Byzantium in a fragmented way piecing bits of stories with architectural analysis and such. For example, he doesn't dwell very long or in much detail on the pivotal sack of Constantinople by the Venetians (and others) in the so called "Fourth Crusade" in 1204. The events leading up to this tragic event are long and he doesn't delve into the whys-and-wherefores so the viewer may be caught dumbstruck as to why this occurred.

What Mr. Romer DOES do well is imbue this documentary with his own sense of passion for the Empire and what it's loss meant to historians. You can tell by the way he describes the Golden Gate and the Emperor's palace that he truly loves the subject. His hand movements alone convey such a passion for the subject that he actually becomes part of the story. And he's got a great, soothing speaking voice.

If you want to know more about Byzantium, read John Julius Norwich's trilogy on the subject or the condensed version of the subject called "A Short History of Byzantium." When you watch this documentary after reading them, it will open your eyes and your senses to a whole new seemingly undiscovered world!


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