215. Medieval History Podcasters

Posted on 15 March 2015

In this special episode, Peter chats with the hosts of the History of the Crusades, History of Byzantium, and British History podcasts.


Further Reading

Websites for:

Sharyn Eastaugh's History of the Crusades Podcast

Robin Pierson's History of Byzantium Podcast

Jamie Jeffers' British History Podcast


T. Franke 15 March 2015

So, I learned now, that the phase of the crusades (approx 1100 - 1300) falls into the Platonist phase of Medieval philosophy (esp. school of Chartres). Mere coincidence?


Plato's Republic and the Laws were unknown in Latin christianity. Only Timaeus was known. There is not so much talk about war in the Timaeus ... but wait: There is! It is the war between primeval Athens and Atlantis! A war fought according to the rules of the Republic! Could there be an inspirational link between Latin Platonism, the Athens-Atlantis war in the Timaeus and the crusades?! Every scholar will show rolling eyes on this question, yet, hey: This is serious! I just think of what William of Conches wrote in his Glosae super Platonem XXX concerning the way of Athens' warfare against Atlantis ... a trace worth to be tracked down, I would say.


As far as I understood, on the other side of the conflict, i.e. the Muslim side, a jihad doctrine prevailed, which was based on Plato's concept of state, peace and war developed in the Laws. If it is true that the Timaeus inspired Latin medieval warfare in the crusades' period, then the two basic concepts layed down by Plato in the Republic and in the Laws were at war with each other. If so, then no wonder the Muslims prevailed ...


Today it is the other way round: Western world corresponds more to the Laws, and Muslim world corresponds more to the Republic. Again, no wonder who prevails ...

I'm in love with you T. Franke.

PS: latest episode of the podcast not downloading from iTunes in Canada, sadly. Any other complaints from iTunes subscribers? Was really looking forward to this episode.... 

James Sommerville 21 March 2015

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Seems like it times out or something. I've just downloaded it directly from this site instead. Hopefully next week works out better though. 

OK, thanks. The new one is up now so you can try it. I suppose it could be a problem at your end rather than on iTunes end; do you have the same problem with other podcasts?

bob 28 March 2015



I've always wondered why the "guy in the shed" David Crowther's History of England podcast is never a part of the history podcasters groups. Do you have a comment on that? (also informal rule for 1 person per subject?)


i thought he could be an interesting addition to these talks especially since he mixes primary sources with a couple of basic low level pop history works. 



Good point, I actually don't listen to that one despite having heard good things about it, just because I follow the British History podcast which I assume will get through the same material (eventually!).

Also Crowther isn't part of a group of podcasters who have gotten acquainted with one another via Facebook so that might be part of the explanation. But as I say, I hear it's a good podcast!

Haseef 8 February 2017

Thank you for this detour Prof Adamson. Im glad I now have further series to binge as not far off catching up to your latest podcast.
A quick question about Robin's statement that the Prophet Muhammad is a bit of an unknown figure. Is that coming from a historical critical view where for eg a court historian's manuscript had it existed would've beeen acceptable but the hadith tradition is considered unreliable? And is this a general view in academia?
If you do accept the Arabic tradition, between the Quran, hadith, seerah etc, I would argue that there isn't another historical figure about whom we have so much information; down to even the most intimate moments within the household as narrated by his wives.

Yes, I vaguely recall having a similar (unspoken) reaction during the interview, though I know where Robin is coming from: he had a guest on his own show who argued that much of the "history" of early Islam is actually posthumously invented. This is a huge area of often heated dispute, also within academia, and concerning the Quran and its standardization as well as the hadith. I personally don't have a strong view one way or another as a historian of philosophy; for me what is important is rather how Muhammed was seen by the subsequent tradition, whether accurately or not. Similar issues arise in other religious traditions, e.g. reconstructing the genuine life and teachings of Jesus.

RT 2 July 2018

I am binging your episodes, as may be obvious from the late date of this comment. However I wanted to pause here just to state two things I have realized of late. First, I am absolutely fascinated by medieval philosophy now. It is much more nuanced and thought provoking than I had assumed it would be, and I feel a reason for that realization is in how well you have presented it. Second, I find that you seem to have a natural talent (or at least it is well enough honed to seem natural) for interviewing. In many podcasts I will drudge through the interviews, but yours are rather a delight. Thank you for creating these.

Thanks! That's very encouraging on both counts, though I think the quality of the interviews is more down to the guests than to me. I mostly just try to stay out of the way, if I can (I do send them questions in advance, as you might have guessed, which may help too).

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