mar 7, 541 - The Plague of Justinian
The Plague of Justinian began in 541 AD and ended in 544 AD. The bacteria that spread throughout this time period was that of yersinia pestis, or in other words the bubonic plague. This was the first time the disease caused such widespread harm in written human history. It originated in Central Asia and was transmitted to Mediterranean Europe through trade routes and ship ports. This transmission resulted in a devastating pandemic, where records state on average 5,000 people became infected with the disease and the died everyday in Constantinople. As such, 40% of the areas population was wiped out by the end of its duration in 544AD. The victims of this terrible illness experienced horrible symptoms- (including:)
-Thick urine (can be black or red)
-Hemorrhaging under the skin
-(ie the appearance of red/black spots)
-Swollen discolored lymph nodes
- before either recovering (which was a 50% chance for those with the bubonic strain) or dying, which took about three to four days after becoming infected. One notable individual who was part of the surviving 50% was Justinian himself. Justinian I was the emperor of the byzantine empire at the time, and served as the public's leader. In this time of crisis, and after suffering from the disease himself, he chose culling as the best course of action to limiting the spread of the disease. Which did not serve to endear him any more to the public, who already viewed their Emperor in the worst possible way. The population deemed Emperor Justinian I at fault for the plague itself because he scandalously chose to marry an actress. In a very superstitious era, the people living within Constantinople attempted to make sense of the horrifying situation around them. As such, they could only surmise that their leader had brought upon them the wrath of God. For this reason the plague that occurred between 541 and 544 AD utilizes his namesake in its title “The Justinian Plague”.
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