Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe

Disease, Threats

Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe

The Emperor Justinian reunified Romes fractured empire by defeating the Goths and Vandals who had separated Italy, Spain, and North Africa from imperial rule. In his capital at Constantinople he built the world’s most beautiful building, married its most powerful empress, and wrote its most enduring legal code, seemingly restoring Rome’s fortunes for the next five hundred years.

Then, in the summer of 542, he encountered a flea. The ensuing outbreak of bubonic plague killed five thousand people a day in Constantinople and nearly killed Justinian himself.

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Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Policies, Society

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

A study of the downfall of some of history’s greatest civilizations, written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, includes coverage of such cultures as the Anasazi, the Maya, and the Viking colony on Greenland, tracing patterns of environmental damage, climate change, poor political choices, and other factors that were pivotal to their demise. Reader’s Guide available. Reprint.

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