Among the most significant plagues in European history, the plague of Justinian was one of the most devastating epidemics. It happened around 540 AD in the Byzantine Empire and was named after the emperor Justinian who ruled during the plague’s first outbreak. Interestingly, the epidemic came back to the area multiple times throughout the following centuries. When the first outbreak occurred, the plague of Justinian killed a large part of the world’s population – while it spread in the Empire, it also traveled to other European regions including England and Italy. The number of deaths had an effect on the life inside and outside of Byzantine Empire.
First of all, the people affected by the plague could not work. Many of the infected were farmers who could no longer grow crops or feed animals. As a result, the region suffered from the lack of resources and funds as the traders could not present any goods and the officials could not collect taxes from the working people. The empire relied on these taxes and trade for money as it was in the middle of multiple conflicts. For instance, Justinian hoped to win the Gothic War that separated the Empire from some parts of Italy and the nearby coast territories. If the plague of Justinian did not occur, the Byzantine Empire could have won the war and unite the areas of the Roman Empire. It would gain even more authority over one of the dominant cultures that it had at that time.
The conflict with Goths was disrupted by the epidemic with affected the Empire financially and limited its resources. Without the effects of the plague, farming would generate products which, in turn, would create revenue and supply the armies with necessary support. If Justinian won the Gothic war and did not encounter difficulties with keeping the army strong, other Germanic peoples would not have been able to claim the territories in later years. Still, focusing on the role of the Justinian plague in politics, it is impossible to ignore the fact that it killed more than 30 million people living in Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Asia. As a result, the lack of human resources led to a lot of negative changes in communities. Therefore, all events of the Gothic War were influenced by significant changes in the European demographics during that period.