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ckkatz1/24/2020 2:37:19 pm PST

Going back to the Pandemic Discussions of a couple of threads ago…

Back in the late 1970’s I read William O’Neill’s “Plagues and Peoples” which is about how infectious diseases affect history.

Since then I have read a bunch of fascinating accounts of how diseases have affected human history and how humans are responding.

For example, The Justinian Plague of 541CE is viewed as probably the first reported occurrence of the Bubonic plague. It is thought to have killed off between one-tenth and one-quarter of world’s human population.

The ramifications it had for the Europe are fascinating.

“The plague’s long-term effects on European and Christian history were enormous. As the disease spread to port cities around the Mediterranean, the struggling Goths were reinvigorated and their conflict with Constantinople entered a new phase. The plague weakened the Byzantine Empire at a critical point, when Justinian’s armies had nearly retaken all of Italy and the western Mediterranean coast; the evolving conquest would have reunited the core of the Western Roman Empire with the Eastern Roman Empire. Although the conquest occurred in 554, the reunification did not last long. In 568, the Lombards invaded Northern Italy, defeated the small Byzantine army that had been left behind, and established the Kingdom of the Lombards. The plague may have also contributed to the success of the Arabs a few generations later in the Byzantine-Arab Wars.

The impact of the Plague of Justinian on the history of Britain was significant. Some scholars have suggested that the plague facilitated the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, as its aftermath coincided with the renewed Saxon offensives in the 550s. Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd in Wales, was said to have died of the “Yellow Plague of Rhos” around 547 and, from 548 to 549, plague devastated Ireland as well. Saxon sources from this period are silent, as there are no 6th-century English documents. “

Plague of Justinian


The plague may have prevented the Byzantine Empire from reuniting the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, from fighting off a series of invasions and possibly from fighting off the Arab Invasions. And it may have been the reason why the native Britons couldn’t fight off the Angle and Saxon invasions.

I’ll probably drop a few more stories as I get time…