Justinian's Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire

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9780143113812: Justinian's Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire

In the middle of the sixth century, the world's smallest organism collided with the world's mightiest empire. With the death of twenty-five million people, the Roman Empire, under her last great emperor, Justinian, was decimated. Before Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that carries bubonic plague, was finished, both the Roman and Persian empires were easy pickings for the armies of Muhammad on their conquering march out of Arabia. In its wake, the plague - history's first pandemic - marked the transition from the age of Mediterranean empires to the age of European nation-states - from antiquity to the medieval world.

A narrative history that melds contemporary sources with modern disciplines, Justinian's Flea is a unique account of one of history's great turning points - the summer of 542 - revealed through the experiences of the remarkable individuals whose lives are a window onto a remarkable age: Justinian, his general Belisarius, the greatest soldier between Caesar and Saladin; his architect, Anthemius who built Constantinople's Hagia Sophia (and whose brother, Alexander, was the great physician of the plague years); Tribonian, the jurist who created the Justinianic Code; and, finally, his empress Theodora, the one-time prostitute who became co-ruler of the empire, the most politically powerful woman in European history until Elizabeth I.

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Review:

"William Rosen doesn´t just give us the most believable, the most human and the most fully rounded Justinian ever, he also conjures up a vivid picture of the age, in a compelling style that makes his weighty learning light" (Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Millennium and Civilizations)

"Ambitious and learned...readers will be swept along by the strong current of Mr Rosen's good natured erudition" ( Economist)

"A massively ambitious work that covers a great deal of ground..... a splendid biography of the emperor Justinian" (Ian Pindar Guardian)

"Assertively modern in language and attitude, Rosen's multi-disciplinary Byzantine history deals not only with fatal microbiology but also celebrates Justinian's major achievements" ( The Times)

"As a feat of scholarship alone this book is extraordinary, but what really impresses is the sense of ease its author manifests in whatever subject he enters. It's as if he had been granted the freedom of late antiquity at birth ... His eloquence, wit, narrative skill, learning and (one dares to add) compassion, hoist this book abouve the miasma of its deeply sombre subject and make it, strangely, a joy" ( Independent on Sunday)

From the Publisher:

Popular history at its best: an epic story in which the newly united Roman Empire under Justinian is decimated by bubonic plague.

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 213 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The epic story of the collision between one of nature s smallest organisms and history s mightiest empire During the golden age of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian reigned over a territory that stretched from Italy to North Africa. It was the zenith of his achievements and the last of them. In 542 AD, the bubonic plague struck. In weeks, the glorious classical world of Justinian had been plunged into the medieval and modern Europe was born. At its height, five thousand people died every day in Constantinople. Cities were completely depopulated. It was the first pandemic the world had ever known and it left its indelible mark: when the plague finally ended, more than 25 million people were dead. Weaving together history, microbiology, ecology, jurisprudence, theology, and epidemiology, Justinian s Flea is a unique and sweeping account of the little known event that changed the course of a continent. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143113812

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Book Description Penguin Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 213 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The epic story of the collision between one of nature s smallest organisms and history s mightiest empire During the golden age of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian reigned over a territory that stretched from Italy to North Africa. It was the zenith of his achievements and the last of them. In 542 AD, the bubonic plague struck. In weeks, the glorious classical world of Justinian had been plunged into the medieval and modern Europe was born. At its height, five thousand people died every day in Constantinople. Cities were completely depopulated. It was the first pandemic the world had ever known and it left its indelible mark: when the plague finally ended, more than 25 million people were dead. Weaving together history, microbiology, ecology, jurisprudence, theology, and epidemiology, Justinian s Flea is a unique and sweeping account of the little known event that changed the course of a continent. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143113812

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