The Retrospectors - Today In History / A Deadly Day At The Races

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Episode notes

Chariot racing was a dangerous and violent sport at the best of times, but on 13th January, 532, a hooligan-led protest at the Hippodrome of Constantinople - known as ‘the Nika rebellion’ - ultimately lead to over 30,000 deaths and the destruction of half the City. 


Upon hearing his wife urge him that ‘royalty is a good burial shroud’, the Emperor Justinian reportedly decided to slaughter his own people to maintain his position of power. Yet, despite this, he was ultimately deemed to have earned his epithet: ‘The Great’. 


In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly unearth the tradition of ‘curse tablets’; explain why Empress Theodora switched allegiances from the ‘greens’ to the ‘blues’; and reveal how a eunuch wielding gold coins helped to stabilise the Byzantine empire…


Further Reading:


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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2021.


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