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Toward the Impact of the Justinianic plague (541-750) on the Demographic Structure of the Byzantine Empire*
Theodor Dimitrov

It will not be far-fetched to claim that plague pandemics are among the factors to affect immensely the development of medieval states and societies. A typical example in this respect is the so-called Justinianic plague1, which local epidemic outbreaks occurring in an average of 12 year cycles, affect Byzantium between 541 and 748 AD. It is not surprising then why a number of modern scholars like Av. Cameron2, J. F. Haldon3, M. Whittow4, W. Treadgold5, Chr. Wickham6, D. Dimitrov7, St. Mitchell8 etc., include the pandemic (surely together with barbarian invasions and the expansion of Islam) within the context of the general polemics about the causes for the deep socio-economic, administrative and cultural transformation of the Byzantine empire in the 6th-8th century period. Without claiming surplus completeness the present paper focuses on one of the effects of the Justinianic plague which doubtlessly concerns the metamorphosis of the imperial structures in the next centuries. That is the demographic decline, resulting from the pandemic, with its natural effect on the Byzantiums economic and military potential9. Or, if we want to follow Fernand Braudels advice: Clearly, our starting point must be the people.10 First of all, there is a need to emphasize the fact that a conventional demographic approach to the problem, i.e. compiling statistics for the number of victims of the pandemic, is inapplicable in this case due to the almost complete lack of information in the historical sources of the period11. A curious digression from the common rule present several partial records of the local epidemics of 542, 585/586 and 747 AD in Constantinople. Thus, for example, Procopius of Caesarea reports that in the summer of 542 AD for three months the tale of dead reached five thousand each day, and again it even came to ten thousand and still more than that.12 In his detailed account of the same events John of Ephesus claims that the (people of Constantinople) reached the point of disappearing, only few remaining, whereas (of) those only who had died on the streets if anybody wants us to name their number, for in fact they were counted over 300, 000 were taken off the streets.13 Even if we accept these figures as reliable they still remain more or less useless, given

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the fact that the number of the population of the capital is a subject of presumptions varying from 192 000 to 1000 000 people14. Equally irrelevant are the reports of the disaster from 585/586 and 747 AD15. This example illustrates M. Karamihovas humorous observation that Rule number one of historical demography states that: Sources are not being preserved in order to achieve historical demographic reconstruction!16 Nevertheless, certain contemporary clinical observations on the pathology of the disease, together with individual data from the sources, contribute to the clarification of the demographic damage Byzantine society has taken. According to one of the most popular epidemiological models, also used in contemporary studies in historical demography, epidemics and pandemics in preindustrial societies tend to take much more victims in cities than in the less urbanized countryside. Based on the assumption that the necessary prerequisite for the spreading of infectious diseases are the intensive contacts with infected individuals, the model could be narrowed down to the following: concentration of population on scanty space along with low levels of hygiene of the city environment bring about a drastic rise in the rates of morbidity and mortality in percentage17. However, bubonic plague (since the symptoms the sources describe do not support the thesis for the presence of its pneumonic variety18!) is an epizootic disease the transmission of which does not necessarily require a direct contact with infected individuals. In connection with this Procopius of Caesarea, whom we have already cited, notices in puzzlement that neither physicians, nor other persons were found to contract this malady through contact with the sick or with the dead, for many who were constantly engaged either in burying or in attending those in no way connected with them held out in the performance of this service beyond all expectation, while with many others the disease came on without warning and they died straightway.19 The church historian Evagrius Scholasticus shares almost identical impressions from the epidemic in Antioch and Apamea in 594 AD. According to him: And the ways in which it [plague Th. D.] was passed on were various and unaccountable. For some were destroyed merely by being and living together, others too merely by touching, others again when inside their bed-chamber. and others in the public square. And some who have fled from diseased cities have remained unaffected, while passing on the disease to those who were not sick. Others have not caught it at all, even though they associated with many who were sick, and touched many not only who were sick, but even after their death. Others who were indeed eager to perish because of the utter destruction of their children or household, and for this reason made a point of keeping company with the sick, nevertheless were not affected, as if the disease was contending against their wish.20 The main vector of the Yersinia pestis pathogen the causative agent of the bubonic plague is the Xenopsylla Cheopis flea, which is a parasite on the black rat (Rattus rattus)21. If we follow the logic of a number of approved epidemiological models dealing with epizootic diseases, we could come to the conclusion that in the case of the Justinianic plague rates of morbidity and mortality have depended mostly on the spread of rodents on Byzantine territory22. On the same topic the authoritative scholar S. R. Ell confidently states: The mechanism of the great plague pandemic 452

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of sixth-century Europe is hard to explain without Rattus rattus.23 Although H. Zinsser24 is completely aware of the epizootic nature of the Justinianic plague, as early as the mid-1930s he expresses his doubts that the colonies of the black rat had reached Byzantium before the Age of Crusades, thus contradicting some of his own theses. Half a century later D. Davis25 brings out a similar (with certain minor changes) idea. According to him the role of the black rat in the outbreak and spread of the so-called Black death (and hence of the Justinianic plague) is overrated in contemporary historiography. The author defends his thesis by emphasizing the extremely scarce (written and archaeological) data on the presence of the black rat in Medieval Europe. Of course, as zooarchaeological research gradually moves on, Zinsser and Davis theses can freely be rejected as groundless. The black rat colonies exceed permanently the ecological borders of their natural habitat in South East Asia not later than the early 2nd century AD and reach not only the Mediterranean Basin26 but also France and the British Isles27. Within the territory of the Byzantine Empire their expansion has been facilitated (at least until the first decades of the 7th century AD) by the fleets carrying the so-called annona28. In this context it is no surprise that the excavations of Nicopolis ad Istrum testify of the abundance of black rats towards mid-2nd century AD, which is probably the earliest documented presence of the rodents on the Balkan Peninsula at the moment29. A series of exploratory researches in Apamea, Kalapodi (Boeotia, Greece), Naples, Carthage etc. reveal a similar picture, namely a mass spread of Rattus rattus in the 5th-7th centuries layers30. John, bishop of Nikiou (Egypt) gives record of a sinister but very indicative episode in the man and rat coexistence in Antioch in the 6th century. According to him some magistrate named Eutocius possessed a silk embroidered garment, namely, a tunic, and he gave orders to his steward to fetch it to him. And when he brought it to him, he found that the rats had eaten and destroyed it. And he was wroth with the steward, and cast him into a pit which was full of rats, and he closed the pits mouth for many days, and (the rats) eat him and he died. And after many days he sought him, and found him dead and putrid.31 The remains of a rat have been found also in a 7th century layer in Novae32, though its sub-species is unidentifiable. This does not mean that the presence of Rattus rattus could be easily denied. In this case the question of the existence of a clear imbalance between the numbers of black rat populations in the city countryside level on Byzantine territory is very important. As modern zoology has well established the structure and size of the populations vary depending on the presence of easily obtainable sources of food33. In this regard the numerous grain storages in the Early and Middle Byzantine cities together with indiscriminate throwing of all kinds of biological waste34 have probably provided perfect conditions for the bioinvasion of the rodents. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the number of black rats in the megapoleis has considerably exceeded that in the countryside. However, a series of recently conducted laboratory experiments has clearly proven that the speed of spread, the range and the morbidity of bubonic plague increase drastically at the presence of a variety of vectors and a relatively low number of rats (i.e. in the cases when the infected fleas are compelled 453

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to feed from humans)35. What we have so far outlined corresponds with a very cautiously stated hypothesis by A. E. Laiou36, according to which the degree of urbanization has not affected the demographic loss, i.e. that the mortality rates in the cities and in the countryside have been roughly equal in percentage. If their hypothesis is proven, it will mean that the Byzantine countryside has not played the role of a certain reservoir of demographic resource, which can make up for the loss in the urban centers through the natural migration of the population. Therefore, the gradual recovery of the population has taken a very long period of time. Apropos, John of Ephesus suggests a possible argument in favor of the hypothesis of the severe impact in the byzantine countryside37. In the late spring of 542 AD he travelled from Syria towards Constantinople and in fact witnessed the aftermath of the disease38. According to him: At the same time that in the region of the capital these things were as yet known (only) by rumour, since they were still remote, and also before the plague (reached) Palestine, we were there. (Then) when it was at its peak we went from Palestine to Mesopotamia and then came back again when the chastisement reached there also, as well as (going) to other regions Cilicia, Mysia, Syria, Iconium, Bithynia, Asia, Galatia and Cappadocia, through which we travelled in terror (on our way) from Syria to the capital (during) the height of the plague. Day by day we too like everybody knocked at the gate of the tomb. If it was evening we thought that death would come upon us in the night, and again if morning had broken, our face was turned the whole day toward the tomb. In these countries we saw desolate and groaning villages and corpses spread out on the earth, with no one to take up (and bury) them; - other (villages) where some few (people) remained and went to and fro carrying and throwing (the corpses) like a man who rolls stones (off his field), going off to cast (it away) and coming back to take (another stone) and again having thrown (it) upon a heap, returns to pull forth (the next one) and thus rolls (them) the whole day; - others, heaping them up, dug tombs for them; - (still) others who had totally disappeared, having left their homes void of (their) inhabitants; - staging-posts on the roads full of darkness and solitude filling with fright everyone who happened to enter and leave them; - cattle abandoned and roaming scattered over the mountains with nobody to gather them; - flocks of sheep, goats, oxen and pigs which had become like wild animals, having forgotten (life in) a cultivated land and the human voice which used to lead them; - areas that were tilled and full of all kinds of fruits (which) had become overripe and fallen for lack of anyone to gather (them); - fields in all the countries through which we passed from Syria to Thrace, abundant in grain which was becoming white and stood erect, but there was none to reap or gather in; - vines for which the time to be stripped of their fruits had come and passed: the (following) winter being severe, they shed their leaves while the fruit still remained hanging on the vines, there being no one to pick or press them.39 454

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A very similar account of the local plague epidemic that struck Liguria in 565/566 AD is given by Paul the Deacon. His famous History of the Lombards provides detailed and colorful description of the severe impact of the disease according to which: In the times of this man [Narses Th. D.] a very great pestilence broke out, particularly in the province of Liguria. For suddenly there appeared certain marks among the dwellings, doors, utensils, and clothes, which, if any one wished to wash away, became more and more apparent. After the lapse of a year indeed there began to appear in the groins of men and in other rather delicate places, a swelling of the glands, after the manner of a nut or a date, presently followed by an unbearable fever, so that upon the third day the man died. But if any one should pass over the third day he had a hope of living. Everywhere there was grief and everywhere tears. For as common report had it that those who fled would avoid the plague, the dwellings were left deserted by their inhabitants, and the dogs only kept the house. The flocks remained alone in the pastures with no shepherd at hand. You might see villas or fortified places lately filled with crowds of men, and on the next day, all had departed and everything was in utter silence. Sons fled, leaving the corpses of their parents unburied; parents forgetful of their duty abandoned their children in raging fever. If by chance long-standing affection constrained any one to bury his near relative, he remained himself unburied, and while he was performing the funeral rites he perished; while he offered obsequies to the dead, his own corpse remained without obsequies. You might see the world brought back to its ancient silence: no voice in the field; no whistling of shepherds; no lying in wait of wild beasts among the cattle; no harm to domestic fowls. The crops, outliving the time of the harvest, awaited the reaper untouched; the vineyard with its fallen leaves and its shining grapes remained undisturbed while winter came on; a trumpet as of warriors resounded through the hours of the night and day; something like the murmur of an army was heard by many; there were no footsteps of passers by, no murderer was seen, yet the corpses of the dead were more than the eyes could discern; pastoral places had been turned into a sepulchre for men, and human habitations had become places of refuge for wild beasts.40 The possible analogies with the 14th century pandemic in their own turn also support the above-mentioned hypothesis according to which the mortality rates in the cities and in the rural areas have been roughly equal. When in 1429-1430 AD bubonic plague outbreaks in Egypt, the contemporary sources testify of equally severe demographic damage in both cities and the countryside41. Bubonic plague pathology is the other factor that concerns directly the question of the demographic changes of the 6th-8th century period. Therefore, it will not be unnecessary to recall one of the main principles of contemporary epidemiology, according to which: Disease experiences within populations differ in subgroups of the population.42 Once inoculated in human organism the Yersinia pestis pathogen needs an exogenous source of iron in order to accelerate its reproduction. As levels of serum iron in the blood vary in different individuals in regard with sex and age, certain risk groups can be outlined, the members of which are particularly susceptible to infection. Historical sources together with clinical tests conducted during the so-called Third Plague Pandemic (1882-1955) and after it show that 455

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the most likely victims are individuals between the age of 5 and 35, especially males between the age of 15 and 3543. Lower mortality rates among women impress deeply Agathias of Myrina. Being a witness of the outbreak of the bubonic plague of the 558 AD spring in Constantinople, he emphasizes: People died in great numbers as though sized by a violent and sudden attack of apoplexy. Those who stood up to the disease longest barely lasted five days. The form the epidemic took was not unlike that of the earlier outbreak. A swelling in the glands of the groin was accompanied by a high non-intermittent fever which raged night and day with unabated intensity and never left its victim until the moment of death. Some experienced no pain or fever or any of the initial symptoms but simply dropped dead while about their normal business at home or in the street or wherever they happened to be. People of all ages were struck down indiscriminately, but the heaviest toll was among the young and vigorous and especially among the men, women being on the whole much less affected.44 An indirect evidence for such a tendency could be also found in the early 7th century Sasanian legislation. The so-called Book of a Thousand Decisions (probably compiled around 620 AD) reveals considerable improvement of the legal status of sasanian women during the second half of the 6th century. According to Y. Elman this process was motivated and/or accelerated by a demographic crisis a shortage of adult upper-class males brought on by the Justinianic plague45. Or, following his own words: As we know from medieval and modern records, adult women resist the plague bacillae better than adult men, and thus survive in greater proportions, while hardly any children of either sex survive. This, together with the continuous wars of the sixth century, led to a severe shortage of adult males. In the end, an upper-class Iranian woman was permitted to manage the family estates, and thus represent the estate in court, give testimony, alienate her husbands property, inherit a double-share from her husband and a half-share from her father, and sometimes choose her own mate.46 The age attribution of the disease is also reflected in several sources. For instance, Evagrius Scholasticus mentions that when he had been five or six years old47 he had fallen ill with plague. According to the confession of the church historian: And so at the outset of this great misfortune [542 AD Th. D.] I was affected by what are called buboes while I was still attending the elementary teacher.48 In the Life of St. Theodore of Sykeon we come across a very indicative note that when [Theodore] was 12 years old [i.e. in 542 AD49 Th. D.], a death from bubo appeared in that area [Sykeon and its hinterland Th. D.], so that he fell ill to the brink of death.50 In his description of the plague epidemic of 556 AD, Theophanes the Confessor explicitly states: In December there occurred a plague among men in various cities, particularly affecting children.51 Giving an account of the next epidemic wave of 558 AD he makes the explicit statement: In February a bubonic plague broke out, particularly among the young, so that the living were too few to bury the dead. The plague raged from February till July.52 This directly corresponds to the impressions of Agathias of Myrina who, as we have already seen, claims that the epidemic struck mostly the young and vigorous persons53. We should regard within the same context a note in the Miracles of St. Demetrius, connected with the outbreak of the disease in 597 AD in Thessalonica. Apart from all other things, 456

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the note mentions that the young and those in their prime perished but the old and close to grave were preserved.54 A very similar reference could be found in the story of Theophylact Simocatta about the invasion of the Avars in Thrace in the late spring/summer of 598 AD. The Byzantine historian states that the desecration of the tomb of the martyr Alexander in Drizipera provoked the wrath of God. Divine retribution was not late and the barbarian army was stricken by the plague. Seven of his [of the Avar Chagan Th. D.] sons were afflicted by swellings and a raging fiery fever, the same author writes, and departed this life on a single day. And so in this way the Chagan had ill-fated good fortune in victory celebrations: for in the place of paeans, songs, hymns, clapping of hands, harmonious choirs, and waves of laughter, he had dirges, tears, inconsolable griefs, and intolerable punishment. For he was assailed by angelic hosts, whose blows were manifest but whose array was invisible.55 If we take into consideration everything we have so far stated, we could draw the conclusion that the Justinianic plague has radically transformed the demographic structure of the Byzantine Empire, reducing the most active (in economic56 and military57 aspect) groups of the population. What is even more, the cyclical outbreaks of the local epidemics within the pandemic has probably prevented the overcoming of the human loss through increased birth rates58. According to J. C. Russells morbid comment, the 12-year cycles59 have only allowed those born in the post epidemic circumstances to enter the risk group and to directly become a kind of human crop to be harvested by each succeeding epidemic60. His opinion could be accepted, though with certain reservations, as long as it provides a satisfactory explanation for some of the causes for the demographic stagnation the Byzantine Empire struggles with until the early 9th century.
Endnotes: * A shorter variant of this paper was published in , 2011, 1-2, 5-15. 1 In specialized literature this pandemic is also known as the First Plague Pandemic. Historiography accumulated so far on the matter has a respective volume. Despite this the following studies could be mentioned as the most important: Seibel, V. Die groe Pest zur Zeit Justinians I. und die ihr voraus und zur Seite gehenden ungewohnlichen Natur-Ereignisse: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des sechsten Jahrhunderts christlicher Zeitrechnung. (Gymnasialprogramm). Dillingen, 1857; McNeill, W. H. Plagues and Peoples. Oxford, 1977; Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire: A Systematic Survey of Subsistence Crises and Epidemics. (Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs, Vol. 9). Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002; Plague and the End of Antiquity: The Pandemic of 541-750. Ed. by L. K. Little. Cambridge, 2006; , . ., . . . . . : . , 2006; W. Rosen. Justinians Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe. New-York, 2007. 2 Cameron, Av. The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity AD 395-600. London-New York, 1993, 123 f., 164. 3 Haldon, J. F. Byzantium in the Seventh Century: The Transformation of a Culture.

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Cambridge, 1997, 92-124, 144. Whittow, M. The Making of Byzantium, 600-1025. Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1996, 66-68. 5 Treadgold, W. A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, 1997, 196-207. 6 Wickham, Chr. Framing the Early Middle Ages. Europe and the Mediterranean 400-800. Oxford-New York et al., 2005, 457, 548 f. 7 , . . . (- ). , 2005, 126-131. 8 Mitchell, St. A History of the Later Roman Empire, AD 284-641: The Transformation of the Ancient World. Oxford, 2007, 10-11, 331, 373, 394. 9 Such a tendency, characteristic of all pre-industrial agrarian societies, is wonderfully systematized by Brenner, R. Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe. Past and Present, 1976, 70, 30-75, on the basis of extremely rich material from the Middle Ages in Western Europe. 10 Braudel, F. Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century. Vol. I: The Structures of Everyday Life. The Limits of the Possible. London-Glasgow et al. 1981, 31. 11 Allen, P. The Justinianic Plague. Byzantion, 1979, 49, 10. According to Patlagean, E. Sur la limitation de la fcondit dans la haute poque byzantine. Annales: conomies, Socits, Civilisations, 1969, 24, 1353: Tracing the fluctuations of population between late 3th and early 7th centuries is obviously impossible to do, at least in comparison with historical demography operating with European data since 14th century. Her conclusion that the very first signs of demographic decline in the Early Byzantine society are traceable prior to 541 AD has already been fully revised. Cf. McCormick, M. Origins of the European Economy. Communications and Commerce, A. D. 300-900. Cambridge, 2001, 32 ff. 12 Procopius of Caesarea, The Persian War. With an English Translation by H. B. Dewing. London, 1914, II, 23. 2. 13 Pseudo-Dionysios of Tel-Mahre, Chronicle: Known Also as the Chronicle of Zuqnin. Part III. Translated with notes and introduction by W. Witakowski. Translated Texts for Historians, vol. 22. Liverpool, 1996, 87. 14 The main presumptions about the number of the population can be summed up in an ascending order as follows: Russell, J. C. Late Ancient and Medieval Population Control. (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 48). Philadelphia, 1958, 93: 192 000 people; Teall, J. L. The Grain Supply of the Byzantine Empire, 330-1025. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 1959, 13, 104 f.: 250 000 people; Jones, A. H. M. The Later Roman Empire, 284-602: A Social, Economic and Administrative Survey. Vol. II. Oxford, 1964, 1040 ff: circa 350000 people; Mango, C. Le dveloppement urbain de Constantinople (IVe-VIIe sicles). (Travaux et mmoires du CNRS, Monographies 2). Paris, 1985, 51: between 300 000 and 400 000 people; Magdalino, P. Constantinople mdivale: tudes sur lvolution des structures urbaines. Paris, 1996, 57: circa 400000 people; Jacoby, D. La population de Constantinople lpoque byzantine: un problme de dmographie urbaine. Byzantion, 1961, 31, 90: circa 571000 people; Durliat, J. Lapprovisionnement de Constantinople. In: Constantinople and its Hinterland: Papers from the Twenty-seventh Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Oxford, April 1993. Ed. by C. Mango and G. Dagron. (Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies, Publications 3). Aldershot: Ashgate, 1995, 21 sq.: 600000 people; Andrads,
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A. La population de lEmpire byzantin. , 1935, 9, 119: circa 700 000 people; Stein, E. Introduction lhistoire et aux institutions byzantines. Traditio, 1949/1951, 7, 154: up to 900000 people; , . . . , 2006, 181: 1 000 000 people (based on a suggestion by Ch. Diehl). Cf. well-founded criticism of part of the precise demographic figures in question in Charanis, P. Observations on the Demography of the Byzantine Empire. In: Proceedings of the XIII International Congress of Byzantine Studies. Oxford, 5-10 September 1966. Ed. by J. M. Hussey, D. Obolensky, St. Runciman. London, 1967, 448-450. 15 Agapius of Menbidj writes in connection with the local epidemic in Constantinople in 585/586: In the fourth year of [reign of] Maurice a great pestilence was raging in Constantinople and had taken 400 000 of its inhabitants. Cf. Agapius de Menbidj, Kitab al-Unvan. dite et traduit en franais par A. A. Vasiliev. Patrologia Orientalis, vol. 8. Paris, 1912, 439. As for the 747 AD events Liber Pontificalis. Texte, introduction et commentaire par L. Duchesne. Vol. I. Paris, 1886, 402, records that about 300 000 citizens of Constantinople perished in the plague. The disaster is dated in 717 AD, i.e. amidst the Arab siege of Constantinople. It is a well-known fact that the Maslamah army has indeed been affected by the disease but neither Byzantine nor Arab sources mention a spread into the capital. This is why I. Rochow believes that in this case the anonymous author of the text has interpolated the 747 AD events into 717 AD: Rochow, I. Byzanz im 8. Jahrhundert in der Sicht des Theophanes: quellenkritisch-historischer Kommentar zu den Jahren 715-813. (Berliner Byzantinische Arbeiten 57). Berlin, 1991, 92. 16 , . , . , 1998, 2, 175. 17 Of course, as it could be expected, there are various objections against the application of this model in certain situations. Although the polemic on its adequate use in most of the contemporary studies in historical demography is far from being closed, the main pro and contra arguments are put forward in Woods, R. Urban-Rural Mortality Differentials: An Unresolved Debate. Population and Development Review, 2003, 29, 29-46. 18 By analyzing the symptoms of the disease, described in detail by Procopius of Caesarea, T. L. Bratton discovers both direct and indirect evidence of the presence of two varieties of plague bubonic and septicemic. The author, however, remains skeptical about the presence of the pneumonic variety: Bratton, T. L. The Identity of the Plague of Justinian. (Pt. I). Transactions and Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1981, 3, 119, 123 f. His observations are supported by Leven, K.-H. Die Justinianische Pest. Jahrbuch des Instituts fr Geschichte der Medizin der Robert Bosch Stiftung, 1987, 6, 141, who includes additional sources in the identification of the diseases varieties, and Cunha, C. B., B. A. Cunha. Great Plagues of the Past and Remaining Questions. In: Paleomicrobiology: Past Human Infections. Ed. by D. Raoult and M. Drancourt. BerlinHeidelberg, 2008, 16-17. Cf. also some conclusions in Benedictow, O. J. What Disease was Plague? On the Controversy over the Microbiological Identity of Plague Epidemics of the Past. (Brills Series in the History of the Environment, Vol. 2). Leiden-Boston, 2010, 327-329. 19 Procopius of Caesarea, The Persian War, II, 22. 23.

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Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History. Translated with an introduction by M. Whitby. Translated Texts for Historians, vol. 33. Liverpool, 2000, IV, 29. This extract is also of interest because of the information it provides on certain types of collective behavior in times of plague epidemic. 21 The role of the Xenopsylla Cheopis flea as the main vector of the Yersinia pestis bacteria in human populations has first been established by P. L. Simmond during the plague epidemics in India in the 1890s.: Simond, P. L. La propagation de la peste. Annales de lInstitut Pasteur, 1898, 12, 625-687. Although the majority of his conclusions have by now either been altered beyond recognition or fully rejected, the significance of Xenopsylla Cheopis for the transmission of bubonic plague remains undisputed. Cf. Gage, K. L. Fleas, the Siphonaptera. In: Biology of Disease Vectors. Ed. by W. C. Marquardt. London-New York et al., 2005, 85; van der Weijden, W. J., R. A. L. Marcelis, W. Reinhold. Invasions of vector-borne diseases driven by transportation and climate change. In: Emerging pests and vector-borne diseases in Europe (Ecology and control of vector-borne diseases, Vol. 1). Ed. by W. Takken and B. G. J. Knols. Amsterdam, 2007, 443; Wimsatt, J., D. E. Biggins. A review of plague persistence with special emphasis on fleas. Journal of Vector-Borne Diseases, 2009, 46, 86 f. 22 Benedictow, O. J. Morbidity in Historical Plague Epidemics. Population Studies, 1987, 41, 401-431; Carmichael, A. G. Bubonic Plague. In: The Cambridge Historical Dictionary of Disease. Ed. by K. F. Kiple. Cambridge, 2003, 61; Sallares, R. Ecology, Evolution, and Epidemiology of Plague. In: Plague and the End of Antiquity: The Pandemic of 541-750. Ed. by L. K. Little. Cambridge, 2006, 268; , . . : . : Civitas Divino-humana in honorem annorum LX Georgii Bakalov. . . . . , 2004, 340-341. 23 Ell, S. R. Interhuman Transmission of Medieval Plague. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 1980, 54, 501. 24 Zinsser, H. Rats, Lice, and History. London, 1935, 195. 25 Davis, D. E. The Scarcity of Rats and the Black Death: An Ecological History. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1986, 16, 455-470. Recently his arguments have almost literally been reproduced by Scott, S., C. J. Duncan. Biology of Plagues: Evidence from Historical Populations. Cambridge, 2001, 55-57, who use them to support their idea that the identification of the 541 AD and 1347 AD pandemics as plagues is completely wrong. A well-founded criticism of S. Scott and C. J. Duncans exotic thesis could be found in Horden, P. Mediterranean Plague in the Age of Justinian. In: The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Ed. by M. Maas. Cambridge, 2006, 148-151, and Benedictow, O. J. What Disease was Plague?, 73-150. 26 Although at this stage it impossible to even relatively date when the black rat (Rattus rattus) reaches the Mediterranean Basin, zooarchaeological studies pinpoint its spread to Corsica between 393 and 151 BC, as well as on Minorca in the 200-100 BC period. Cf. Ruffino, L., E. Vidal. Early colonization of Mediterranean islands by Rattus rattus: a review of zooarcheological data. Biological Invasions, 2010, 12, 2391. 27 OConnor, T. The Archaeology of Animal Bones. Stroud-Gloucestershire, 2004, 157; Audoin-Rozeau, F. Le rat noir (Rattus rattus) et la peste dans loccident antique et mdieval.

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Bulletin de la Socit de Pathologie Exotique, 1999, 92, 424 f.; Twigg, G. The Black Rat and the Plague. In: Medieval Animals. Ed. by A. Pluskowski (Archaeological Review from Cambridge, Vol. 18). Cambridge, 2002, 82. Taking into account the finds from Arras, Mirebeau, Sierentz-Landstrasse and Levroux, the appearance of the rodents could be attributed to even earlier period according to Lepetz, S., F. Audoin-Rozeau, J.D. Vigne. Nouvelles observations du rat noir (Rattus rattus) dans moiti nord de la France la priode gallo-romaine. Revue archologique de Picardie, 1993, 3, 173-177. 28 McCormick, M. Bateaux de vie, bateaux de mort. Maladie, commerce, transports annonaires et le passage conomique du Bas-Empire au Moyen ge. In: Morfologie sociali e culturali in Europa fra tarda antichita e alto Medioevo (Settimane di studio del Centro italiano di studi sull alto Medioevo 45). Spoleto, 1998, 49-65. 29 Parfitt, S. A. The Small Mammals. In: Nicopolis ad Istrum: A Late Roman and Early Byzantine City. Ed. by A. G. Poulter. Vol. III: The Finds and the Biological Remains. London, 2007, 201-202, 210-219; Beech, M. The Environmental Archaeology Research Programme at Nicopolis: Methodology and Results. In: Nicopolis ad Istrum, Vol. III, 232 f. 30 Armitage, P. L. Unwelcome Companions: Ancient Rats Reviewed. Antiquity, 1994, 68, 234; McCormick, M. Rats, Communications, and Plague: Toward an Ancient and Medieval Ecological History. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2003, 34, 9, n. 12. 31 John, Bishop of Nikiou, Chronicle. Translated from Zotenbergs Ethiopic Text by R. H. Charles. Text and Translation Society series, vol. 3. London-Oxford, 1916, 163 f. 32 Makowiecki, D., M. Makowiecka. Animal remains from the 1989, 1990, 1993 Excavations of Novae (Bulgaria). In: The Roman and Late Roman City. The International Conference Veliko Turnovo 26-30 July 2000. Ed. by L. Slokoska, R. Ivanov, V. Dintchev. Sofia, 2002, 212, 215 (Tabl. 1-2). 33 Becker, K. Rattus rattus. In: Handbuch der Sugetiere Europas. Hrsgg. J. Niethammer und F. Krapp. Bd. I. Wiesbaden, 1978, 394-396; McCormick, M. Rats, Communications, and Plague, 16. 34 For more details cf. Thry, G. E. Die Wurzeln unserer Unweltkrise und die griechischrmische Antike. Salzburg, 1995, 23-26; Scobie, A. Slums, Sanitation, and Mortality in the Roman World. Klio, 1986, 68, 418-420; Morley, N. The salubriousness of the Roman city. In: Health in Antiquity. Ed. by H. King. London-New York, 2005, 197; Horden, P. Health, hygiene, and healing. In: The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies. Ed. by E. Jeffreys, R. Cormack and J. F. Haldon. Oxford, 2008, 687; , . , . ( - ). , 2009, 4, 53. 35 Keeling, M. J., C. A. Gilligan. Bubonic Plague: A Metapopulation Model of a Zoonosis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 2000, 267, 2222. 36 Laiou, A. E. The Human Resources. In: Economic History of Byzantium. From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century. (Dumbarton Oaks Studies 39). Ed. by A. E. Laiou. Vol. I. Washington, D. C., 2002, 49 f. It is a paradox that in a later study by A. E. Laiou and C. Morrison on Byzantine economy a polar opposite standpoint is being defended. In their own words It [plague Th. D.] affected cities more than the countryside, villagers

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more than nomads and contributed to de-urbanization. Cf. Laiou, A. E., C. Morrisson. The Byzantine Economy. Cambridge-New York et al., 2007, 38. In this case we have a kind of a revival of one of McNeill, W. H. Plagues and People, 115-116, 129-131, theses, according to which the nomads of Central Asia have been far more resistant to infection with the disease than the Byzantines, i.e. they have had an immunity acquired during a long period of inhabiting areas with plague foci. Lately the Polish scholar A. Sotysiak has made an unconvincing attempt to apply the same explanatory model in regard with the Slavs: Sotysiak, A. The plague pandemic and Slavic expansion in the 6th-8th centuries. Archaeologia Polona, 2006, 44, 352. However, as the undisputed authority Pollitzer, R. Plague. (World Health Organization, Monograph Series No. 22). Geneva, 1954, 133, states: There is no sure reason to believe that certain races are less susceptible to this type of the infection [bubonic plague Th. D.] than others. 37 Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Death in the countryside: some thoughts on the effects of famine and epidemics. Antiquit Tardive, 2012, 20, 109. 38 Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Travelling with the plague. In: Travel in the Byzantine World. Papers from the Thirty-fourth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Birmingham, April 2000. Ed. by R. Macrides. (Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies. Publications, Vol. 10). Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002, 100. 39 Pseudo-Dionysios of Tel-Mahre, Chronicle: Known Also as the Chronicle of Zuqnin. Part III, 80-81. 40 Paul the Deacon, History of the Lombards. Translated by W. D. Foulke. Edited with introduction by E. Peters. Philadelphia, 2003, II, 4. 41 Borsch, S. J. The Black Death in Egypt and England: A Comparative Study. Austin, TX, 2005, 24 f. 42 Bhopal, R. S. Concepts of Epidemiology: An integrated introduction to the ideas, theories, principles and methods of epidemiology. Oxford-New York, 2002, 15. This extremely important in terms of methodology principle in the study of the Justinianic plague is also enshrined in the monograph of Patlagean, E. Pauvret economique et pauvret sociale Byzance, 4e-7e sicles. Mouton-Paris-La Haye, 1977, 89, according to which: The varieties of the disaster [plague Th. D.] among the different categories of population are connected to age, sex and social status. 43 Ell, S. R. Immunity as a Factor in the Epidemiology of Medieval Plague. Reviews of Infectious Diseases, 1984, 6, 871; Idem. Iron in Two Seventeenth-Century Plague Epidemics. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1985, 15, 449 f.; Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire, 133-134. On the morbidity and mortality differentials between men and women during different local epidemics in the period between late 16th and early 20th century see the brilliant article by Delille, G. Un problme de dmographie historique: homes et femmes face la mort. Mlanges de lEcole Francaise de Rome, 1974, 86, 419-443. 44 Agathias, Histories. Translated with an introduction and short explanatory notes by Joseph D. Frendo. Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae, vol. II A, series: Berolinensis, 1975, V, 10.3-4. 45 Elman, Y. Marriage and Marital Property in Rabbinic and Sasanian Law. In: Rabbinic Law in its Roman and Near Eastern Context. Ed. by C. Hezser. (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, Vol. 97). Tbingen, 2003, 273-274; Idem. Scripture versus Contemporary

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Needs: A Sasanian/Zoroastrian Example. Cardozo Law Review, 2006/2007, 28, 153169. 46 Elman, Y. Scripture versus Contemporary Needs, 153. 47 In his description of the local plague epidemic in Antioch and Apamea in 594 AD Evagrius Scholasticus (Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, IV, 29) writes that at that time the disease had been raging for 52 years and he was in the 58th year of his life, i.e. Evagrius was born circa 536 AD and at the time of the outbreak of the first epidemic wave of the Justinianic plague he must have been 5-6 years old. Cf. Allen, P. Evagrius Scholasticus, the Church Historian. (Spicilegium sacrum Lovaniense, Vol. 41). Louvain, 1981, 193-194. 48 Evagrius Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, IV, 29. 49 Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire, 289. 50 Vie de Thodore de Sykn. dite et traduit en franais par A.-J. Festugire. Subsidia hagiographica, vol. 48. T. I. Brussels, 1970, 7. 51 Theophanes Confessor, Chronicle: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284813. Translated with Introduction and Commentary by C. Mango and R. Scott with the assistance of G. Greatrex. Oxford-New York et al., 1997, 337. 52 Ibidem, 340. 53 Cf. note 44. 54 Lemerle, P. Les plus anciens recueils des Miracles de Saint Dmtrius et la pntration des Slaves dans les Balkans. Vol. I. Paris, 1979, 77. 55 Theophylact Simocatta, History. An English Translation with Introduction and Notes by M. Whitby. Oxford-New York et al., 1997, V, 15.2-3. This note should be used with a pinch of salt due to its strong ideological charge. The latter becoming clearly visible in the use of the motif of the Divine retribution coming upon Byzantines enemies. 56 Kaplan, M. Les hommes et la terre Byzance du VIe au XIe sicle: proprit et exploitation du sol. (Byzantina Sorbonensia 10). Paris, 1992, 458-461; Patlagean, E. Pauvret economique et pauvret sociale Byzance, 90; Laiou, A. E. The Human Resources, 49 f. 57 Treadgold, W. Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081. Stanford, 1995, 16-17, 71, 204-205; Haldon, J. F. Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, 565-1204. London, 1999, 242-243; Fotiou, A. Recruitment Shortages in Sixth Century Byzantium. Byzantion, 1988, 58, 65-66. 58 Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Population, Demography and Disease. In: The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies. Ed. by E. Jeffreys, R. Cormack and J. F. Haldon. Oxford, 2008, 310 f. 59 Of course, this chronology is based on average results. In the endemic zones the disease outbreaks are in far too short intervals, while in other areas the outbreaks are relatively rare. The first more serious attempt to compile a chronological table of the local plague epidemics within the pandemic with references to the main historical sources belongs to Biraben, J.-N., J. Le Goff. La peste dans le Haut Moyen Age. Annales: conomies, Socits, Civilisations, 1969, 24, 1494-1497. The table has been reproduced in Biraben, J.-N. Les hommes et la peste en France et dans les pays europens et mditeranens. (Civilisations et Socits, Vol. 35). Vol. I. Paris-La Haye, 1975, 27-32. However, it has

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certain inaccuracies, which are a logical consequence of both mediated reading of Greek language sources through more general courses in Byzantine history like E. Steins, or misidentification as plague of certain diseases. J.-N. Biraben and J. Le Goffs chronology is corrected in detail in Stathakopoulos, D. Ch. Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire, 113-124. 60 Russell, J. C. That Earlier Plague. Demography, 1968, 5, 180.

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