The bibliography on the Justinianic Plague has been burgeoning in recent years. We recommend that readers orient themselves in current arguments by consulting the two main historiographic surveys of the Justinianic Plague:

  • Stathakopoulos, Dionysios. “The Justinianic Plague Revisited.” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 24 (2000): 256–76. (link)

Covers research on the Justinianic Plague from the mid-19th century to 2000.

  • Eisenberg and Mordechai, “The Justinianic Plague: An Interdisciplinary Review.” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 43:2 (2019): 156-180. (link

Follows Stathakopoulos and covers the more recent developments from 2000-2018.


Dozens of scholarly publications cover the Justinianic Plague; we provide only the most significant developments in scholarly thinking, ordered here chronologically.

  • Biraben, J.-N., and Jacques Le Goff. “The Plague in the Early Middle Ages.” In Biology of Man in History, edited by Robert Forster and Orest Ranum, 48–80. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975.

The article that launched the contemporary research of the Justinianic Plague. Groundbreaking in combining critical research with innovative methodological developments. Invaluable but also introduced biases that continue to plague the field today.

  • Durliat, Jean. “La peste du VIe siècle: pour un nouvel examen des sources byzantines.” In Hommes et richesses dans l’Empire byzantin, edited by Catherine Abadie-Reynal, Cécile Morrisson, and Jacques Lefort, 107–19. Réalités byzantines ; 1. Paris: Lethielleux, 1989.

An early skeptic of the mainstream narrative, his arguments were not well received.

  • Stathakopoulos, Dionysios Ch. Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire: A Systematic Survey of Subsistence Crises and Epidemics. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. (link)

The most significant survey of the Justinianic Plague to date and the most comprehensive catalog.

  • Little, Lester K., ed. Plague and the End of Antiquity: The Pandemic of 541-750. Cambridge University Press, 2007. (link)

The result of a conference on the Justinianic Plague. Covers the regional contexts of plague and a significant shift in methodology.

  • Rosen, William. Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe. London: Jonathan Cape, 2007. (link)

Although considered uncritical by historians, this book was well received among scientists and continues to be cited outside the discipline of history.

  • Harper, Kyle. The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. (link)

The recent most comprehensive maximalist understanding of plague.

  • Mordechai and Eisenberg, "Rejecting Catastrophe: The Case of the Justinianic Plague", Past and Present 244:1 (2019): 3-50. (link

An attempt to question the current maximalist interpretation of plague using various independent types of evidence.