On May 29 of this year, the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, I announced that after seven years of running the CryForByzantium Twitter feed, the project would be ending when I reached the end of the cycle. You can follow the link above and read my reasons for wanting to be done with the project. I announced in that post that the Twitter feed which many have followed and loved for years would be going dormant soon. I’m now happy to announce that this will not be happening. The CryForByzantium project will be restarting back at the beginning of Byzantine history after we reach the end of the final siege. I, Sean Munger, will no longer be involved. The new proprietor of CFB will be Michael Birlin, who graciously stepped forward to shoulder the huge commitment of keeping the project going.
In case you don’t know what all this is about, let me explain. In July 2009 I opened a Twitter account called CryForByzantium, with the purpose of tweeting the entirety of Byzantine history in 140-character increments, seen from the eyes of each of the 88 emperors and empresses who ruled this fantastic empire. It turned out to be a very large project. I started in 306 with Constantine I, and three and a half years later, in January 2013, I reached the final day of Byzantium’s existence, May 29, 1453. After a short break I restarted the cycle, recycling the tweets from the beginning of the empire. Now, July 2016, we’re again nearing the end. After two cycles and loading thousands of tweets into various Twitter clients to schedule them, I decided to go off to the west myself and give myself a break. Naturally, many of the over 5,000 people who follow CryForByzantium were sorry to hear this. One of them, Michael Birlin, contacted me and offered to take over the project.
Here I am at the Capitoline Museum in Rome in 2006, posing with what remains of a giant statue of Constantine I, the first Byzantine Emperor.
I admit I was skeptical at first–mostly that anyone could or would want to take over the burden of running the account, which involves more than just posting tweets. Constant maintenance, changing the names and profile pictures of emperors, dealing with sometimes unfriendly responses, and committing to do it for at least 3 1/2 years, is a pretty big thing to ask of anyone. In the six weeks I’ve been working with Michael behind the scenes, though, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the project is going into very capable hands and that it’s going to continue on with the same richness, vibrancy and humor that I’ve tried to build into it since the beginning. In fact Michael himself has been running the account for a couple of stretches over the past six weeks, and everything has worked out well.
Passing off the project to someone else is, I confess, something like selling your family business or watching your kid go off to college. I created CryForByzantium, the concept, I researched the tweets and wrote them, and I have been the emperor’s face, so to speak, on Twitter for the past 7 years, with all the good and bad that entails. But I’m now looking forward to being what most of you reading this are: an enthusiastic fan, following and enjoying the tweets of Byzantine history as they flow by day after day on my phone or computer screen. I’m very happy the project has been saved, very grateful to Michael, and ever appreciative of all the love and support I’ve gotten on CFB, and on my own Twitter, over the years from people who have enjoyed the project.
The profile page of CryForByzantium will not look like this again until 2018 or even 2019.
Today is July 17, and I estimate the current cycle will be complete in the first weeks of August. After that time, when you see Byzantine history “reboot” back to the early 4th century CE, Michael will be in charge and I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job. The guard will change and the baton will pass to someone else. I couldn’t be happier about it!