The Plague of Justinian or Justinianic Plague (541–549 AD) was the first major outbreak of the first plague pandemic, the first Old World pandemic of Bubonic plague, the contagious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The disease afflicted the entire Mediterranean Basin, Europe, and the Near East, severely affecting the Sasanian Empire and the Byzantine Empire and especially its capital, Constantinople. The plague is named for the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565) who, according to his court historian Procopius, contracted the disease and recovered in 542, at the height of the epidemic which killed about a fifth of the population in the imperial capital. The contagion arrived at Pelusium in Roman Egypt in 541, spread around the Mediterranean Sea until 544, and persisted in Northern Europe and the Arabian Peninsula until 549.

In 2013, researchers confirmed earlier speculation that the cause of the Plague of Justinian was Yersinia pestis, the same bacterium responsible for the Black Death (1347–1351).

Plague of Justinian in "The Fake Pandemic"[]

With his knowledge of the future, Martinus Paduei was able to convince Tribonian, quaestor of Emperor Justinian, to help stop the plague before it arrived at Pelusium.[1] While Justinian I didn't believe Paduei or Tribonian, he let Tribonian put Paduei's plan into action, and gave him the naval resources he needed to make the plan a success.[2]

While Tribonian initially went to Pelusium, he soon discovered that he'd have more luck in Clysma, which was a functional port, whereas Pelusium was not.[3] Thanks to Tribonian's efforts, the ship carrying the plague was intercepted and destroyed in the summer of 541.[4] Tribonian waited until 542 before he was convinced that the plague had been prevented. He returned home to Justinian's great indifference[5] and Paduei's sincere thanks.[6]


  1. Lest Darkness Fall & Timeless Tales Written in Tribute (second edition), pgs. 388-391, loc. 5085-5122.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 392-396, loc. 5140-5194.
  3. Ibid. pgs. 397-399, loc. 5210-5255.
  4. Ibid. pg. 407-409, loc. 5352-5386.
  5. Ibid., pg. 413-414, loc. 5438-5454.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 415-416, loc. 5472-5490.