Justinian's Flea

Justinian's Flea

The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire

Book - 2008
Average Rating:
Rate this:
From the acclaimed author of Miracle Cure and The Third Horseman , 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.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2008, 2007.
ISBN: 9780143113812
Branch Call Number: 949.5013 ROS
Characteristics: 367 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 21, 2018

Packed with information! I enjoyed this detailed look at the Emperor Justinian. It was very much a biography, as well as an overview and explanation of the course of this first recorded plague. Justinian contracted the disease and survived, but an estimated 25 million other people died.

Jan 12, 2018

Justinian's Flea is an interesting delve into the social, political, cultural, economic, military and religious life of the sixth century. The author sometimes strays from the central (albeit) broad points at times, but usually ties up his thoughts by the end of the chapter. Each chapter has breaks within, so there are convenient places to pause and reflect.


Add a Summary

Jan 12, 2018

Justiniian's Flea is a substantial political, social, religious, cultural, economic and dynastic history of the sixth century, focusing on the Byzantine empire in Constantinople, but including the various, although more brief, profiles of the dominant cultures of the era. The main premise is the influence of the the Bubonic plague (carried by the fleas of rats, hence the title) on all of these factors. This book highlights the end of the "Roman" era and the shift in power to an emerging Europe, China and later Muslim dominance.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at HPL

To Top