Around the year 542 AD a great plague came to Constantinople that so gripped the city and eventually the rest of Europe that it has altered the course of history completely. The plague reached Constantinople, the capital of Rome, during the reign of Emperor Justinian, 15 years after he took power. While we will never know the total number of people who perished from the plague it is estimated that at its height the daily death count reached 10,000 people or more.
Most of the information that we have today about the Plague and its origins was written by a man named Procopius who was a legal advisor to a General named Belisarius. Procopius journeyed with Belisarius throught the Mediterranean area around the time the plague exploded. Procopius recorded his observations on how the disease effected the people, and how it ran its course, and because of his accounts, the whole of Europe eventually awakened to the reality and impending doom of the disease spreading everywhere.
From the records we have today we are able to see that thefirst place the plague was really noticed was the Egyptian harbor town of Pelusium. The town, as most towns throughout Europe and the Mediterranean area, had a large problem with rats. Unknown to the people of that era, rats were the medium through which the disease spread from person to person, city to city, and throughout the continent. Itfirst spread to Alexandria as it work its way northward towards Palestine. Procopius writes that the disease after that point "seemed to spread all over the world." His perception of events was that the plague was "so overwhelming that the human race appeared close to annihilation."
As mentioned previously, the people alive in that age were not aware that the disease was being spread by rats. They had no idea how a person got infected, or how to prevent communion of the disease. The plague was caused by bacteria and parasites that lived in rats as…