Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-wq2xx Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-20T06:38:28.518Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

The Justinianic plague: origins and effects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2002

Trinity College, Cambridge.


This article addresses the subject of the first well-attested outbreak of bubonic plague in the history of the Mediterranean world – the so-called ‘Justinianic Plague’ of the sixth century. The African origin of the disease is examined and contextualized, whilst recent revisionist arguments in relation to the scale of the depopulation caused by the plague are responded to with reference to the numismatic, legal, and papyrological sources. The numismatic evidence in particular points to a major crisis in imperial finances for which large-scale depopulation would be the most likely cause. The legal and papyrological sources record how both landowners and the imperial authorities responded to this situation.

Research Article
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)