fall of constantinople 2

Greetings, fans and followers of my Byzantine history Twitter feed, CryForByzantium! For most of you this will be the first time you’ve heard the real “voice” of the person behind the account except for those quick and infrequent [OFF STORY] posts. As you know, the nature of the account means I always have to be “in character.” But, as we are now entering the final battle for Constantinople and the end of the history of the Eastern Roman Empire, I thought I might say a few words about the Twitter account and what’s going to be happening with it in the next days or weeks.

Note: those of you who are regular readers of this blog or my “normal” Twitter, Sean_Munger, I’m talking about, and to the followers of, my historical account CryForByzantium. This was a little project I began back in July of 2009. My objective was to tweet the entirety of Byzantine history, from the accession of Constantine the Great in 306 A.D. to the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks on May 29, 1453.

After three and a half years, that project is nearing completion. Just today, CryForByzantium began tweeting the final siege of Constantinople, which began April 6, 1453.

If you haven’t been following CryForByzantium, here’s how it works: the tweets are sent out from the point of view of the Byzantine emperor, who is always the “I” speaking. Tweets go four times a day–midnight, 6AM, noon and 6PM–all day, all night, every day. Obviously the emperors change pretty frequently, and in fact since the first tweet in July 2009 there have been 88 of them–the last being Constantine XI Palaeologus. According to Twitter I’ve done 5,133 tweets so far. Now the end is near–as well as the beginning!

CryForByzantium is an automatic feed. That is to say, I write the tweets far ahead of time and program them into a scheduler (usually Twuffer or Gremln) that doles them out at the appropriate time. I’m quite proud of the fact that CryForByzantium has been tweeting continuously, 4 times a day, since July 12, 2009, with very few interruptions. Since 2009 I’ve tweeted chronologically through the entirety of the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. You name it, it’s been done: Constantine’s conversion, the “fall” of the Western Empire, the Nika riots, Heraclius, Iconoclasm, the wars with Bulgars, Avars, Persians, Saracens and Turks, the Crusades, the Latin Empire, the Palaeologian Restoration, the Black Death, and battles almost too numerous to count, with weird names like Manzikert, Verbitza Pass, Cannae, Taginae, and Milvian Bridge.

Now I’m coming to the end of the story. For a long time I wondered what I would do when I finally reached 1453. The three obvious choices were: continue on past 1453, start over at the beginning, or shut down the Twitter feed entirely.

I’ve decided to take the second of those two options. The final siege and battle for Constantinople which began tweeting today, January 9, will end on January 15–in order to provide greater detail and keep the story moving, tweets will now be going every hour, all day and night, until the end–and, after a two-week break, CryForByzantium will “reboot” on February 1. All the tweets I’ve done since the very beginning have been written down, and now it’s simply a matter of programming them into the automatic feed. Writing Byzantine tweets and “loading” them has become such a routine job for me that I almost can’t imagine not doing it, and as the vast majority of you CryForByzantium followers were not there at the very beginning of Byzantine history, many of you have been urging me to “reboot” so they can enjoy the whole thing from the start.

Therefore, if you’ve been enjoying Byzantine history on Twitter, you’ll be happy to know that it’s going to continue–and in fact repeat itself.

If you’re not yet following CryForByzantium, this is a very good time to start, for two reasons:

1. The final 1453 siege is pretty exciting, and I’m covering it in much greater detail than I normally do.

2. The whole story will be re-starting, so you can get in on it from the beginning!

I want to thank everybody who has been following CryForByzantium so faithfully since 2009. It’s very interesting, and gratifying, to know that the account is actually far more popular than my own personal account–at this writing CFB has nearly 3,000 followers, where my personal account has just shy of 700. The format of the account is such that I can’t really converse with many of my followers, since the tweets are pre-loaded and I have to stay “in character.” However, as I’ve said elsewhere, I do read each and every @ reply I receive, even though I actually answer very few of them. I really appreciate the comments, quips, jokes and the occasional correction that I receive through Twitter.

Here’s something that followers of CFB may not know: I have a book coming out on February 4, and it’s–guess what–about Byzantium! It’s a fiction book, in fact horror, called “Zombies of Byzantium,” and it will be released through Samhain Publishing in just under a month. It will be out in a print version and also an e-book version for your Kindle. It’s just for fun, and obviously is not intended as anything scholarly, but if you love Byzantium as much as I do (and many of you do!) I thought you all might get a kick out of it.

Anyway, I really hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through a fascinating and crucial part of history, which is not well known by most people. It’s been a wonderful ride, and I definitely look forward to rebooting the account in February. Until then, keep your head down and try to avoid the Ottoman cannonballs!