The Infamous Plague Of Justinian

Samuel Reason - November 1st, 2019

Most people have heard of the black plague and know it is one of the deadliest diseases to have ever roamed the Earth. Fewer people know that there have been many devastating plagues throughout human history, and none were worse than The Justinian Plague which is estimated to have killed over 5,000 people per day in Constantinople alone. It is also considered to be the first pandemic that was recorded in history, this was because it swept swiftly across three whole continents.

listverse.com

It is thought the disease started in Egypt during AD 541 and traveled quickly across the world due to rodents carrying the disease on merchant ships. Once it hit Constantinople, the major city of the time, it is thought to have killed 300,000 people in the first year. The plague is named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who was trying to bring his empire back to the glory days of ancient Rome. The plague annihilated his army and economy, even infecting the emperor, but he miraculously recovered. Farmers were nearly all killed which meant massive food shortages across his empire.

This plague had similar microbes of the Black Death which killed up to 200 million Europeans from 1347 to 1351, however, the Justinian Plague was seen worldwide. Over 50 years this plague killed 100 million people across Europe, Asia, Arabia, and North Africa. The scary part is that scientists have even recovered the disease from exhumed bodies in 2016, and reconstructed the virus.

Historians of the time did not understand the concept of medical science like we do, so it was mostly believed that the Justinian Plague was caused by a demon. The Greek history Procopius wrote that many believers was convinced that the disease was created by a malevolent spirit or demon, this led to people barricading themselves in their homes to stop the spirits coming in.

It would start with a mild fever and then huge swellings would start to form, black blisters filled with pus were the sure sign someone had the plague. At this point most victims would fall into a coma and slowly die, however, many became delirious and paranoid. The latter would regularly lose their minds and become suicidal, making caring for them nearly impossible. It was a fast-acting plague that would strike within days.

There were so many bodies that they ran out of graves, they ended up dumping bodies in mass burial sites or out to sea – only for the infested bodies to wash back up to shore. Other bodies were dumped in towers which were then closed up. It was so likely you would die that people wore name tags at all times to ensure their bodies could be identified for their family members to be notified.

Next Article
  • Byzantine Emperor Justinian II Was Called The Slit Nosed

    Justinian II or as many called him The Slit Nosed, was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian dynasty. This was a dynasty that took place from 685 to 695, and then again from 705 to 711. Justinian II had extremely ambitious plans and was passionate about growing the empire. His aim was to restore...

    Read More
  • Great Depression Started Dance Marathons For Food

    Events that offered the promise of food and money during the Great Depression attracted people like flies. As a result, huge dance marathons would happen where the winners would get food. The problem was everyone was starving with no solution in sight, they were all determined to win. This caused many dancers to suffer from...

    Read More
  • France’s Deadly WWI Red Zone

    The Zone Rouge, or Red Zone as it is known in English, is a quarantine area throughout Northeastern France that the government decided was inhabitable after World War I. Though the area is non-contiguous, it was deemed unfit for life. Originally, the land covered over 1,200 square kilometers. All of it was considered too damaged...

    Read More
  • Sally Ride First American Women In Space

    On June 18, 1983, NASA Astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman to enter space. She launched with her four crewmates on the Shuttle Challenger, on mission STS-7. The ride had been selected with five other women to be part of NASA’s space program back in 1978. With the advances of the space shuttles...

    Read More
  • Reindeer In A WW2 Submarine

    One of the more unusual moments of World War II was when a British submarine transported around a reindeer it had been given by the Russians as a gift. In 1941, the crew of the HMS Trident was given a reindeer by the USSR navy. The reindeer then spent the next 6 weeks living with...

    Read More
  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand Killed Over 300,000 Animals While Hunting

    Over one hundred years ago, the heir to the Astro Hungarian throne was a crazy guy called Franz. Well Archduke Franz Ferdinand to be exact, his assassination led to the turn of events that caused the start of World War I. Pulling in the Russian Empire, Germany, France, Italy, China, and the U.S. into one...

    Read More
  • The Legend Of Snake Rock In Naka Cave

    Naka Cave is found in Phu Langka National Park in Thailand, and in Thai it means snake. There is a real reason for this, the cave looks like a giant snake. The texture of the stones appears to resemble the scaled skin of a snake. Over the years there have been hundreds of articles publishing...

    Read More