Pandemics That Changed History.

Pandemics That Changed History.

We, the human beings through times, have all been a testimony to some of the other pandemic in the world. The realm of infectious diseases has declared pandemics as the biggest boon to the world and individuals. With an epidemic spreading beyond the borders of a country, this is when the disease officially becomes a well-known pandemic.


These pandemics indeed have had a consequential influence in redefining human history, politics, and society. With civilization, humans came into existence, with building cities and trade routes connecting one city to the other, and pandemics soon came into being. Right from the sixth century introducing us to Justinian Plague to the last century exposing individuals to Spanish Flu, with the year 2020 showing us what a standstill world looks like, pandemics have taken over the world in no time.

Let us explore a few of the pandemics that have significantly altered the history and transformed the world’s statistics in the shortest period of time.

Justinian Plague

While we are talking about pandemics, we cannot start without drawing a mention of the Justinian Plague. Known as being one of the deadliest pandemics to being ever recorded, Justinian Plague broke out in the sixth century in Egypt. It slowly spread to Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.


The name was given after the then Emperor of Byzantine, Justinian. The pandemic was so massive that it typically spread from Constantinople to the East and then to the West. The brutal plague recorded a fatality of up to 25 to 100 million individuals, which accounts for about 26% of the world population. When the plague hit Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire was at the zenith of its power, and the epidemic kept coming back in distinct ways, with finally waving off in AD 750. 

However, with its disappearance, it also took away a substantial part of the strong Empire which was weakened throughout the pandemic. In addition to this, Justinian Plague also had hit Constantinople on the economic ground, which fundamentally weakened the war machine. By the time it finally vanished, the Empire was already astray of its territories.

The Black Death

A pandemic that was responsible for causing the death of one-third of the entire worldly population, the Black Death was another deadly outbreak of its times. Also known as pestilence, this pandemic had initially hit Europe and Asia back around the 14th century, which is also considered as being the deadliest pandemic to have ever been recorded in the realm of human history. 


It arrived in Europe right in 1347, which resulted in affecting as many as 50% of the population. It caused significant upheavals in European society, which was so wrathful that dead bodies became extremely prevalent and remained rotting on the ground while creating a constant stench across cities. France and England have incapacitated as a result of the pandemic that resulted in the war declaration. 

Although some cities maintained social distancing with considerable success, however, the epidemic was more dampening than you can imagine. The Black Death was also a testimony to the British feudal system collapsing in no time with the plague changing economic circumstances along with the demographics. Interest rates and land rents eventually dropped in Europe with wages tripling as labor demand started to rise.

With the economy starting to improve, the popular landowning class enforced authorities to check the impending labor costs. It was extremely massive, which even led to immense scale persecution of the Jewish in the European land. Jews were eventually blamed for spreading illness while being burnt alive across several parts of the continent.

Cocoliztli Disease

The 16th century and Mexico witnessed massive significant social and cultural disruption as caused due to Spanish conquest along with smallpox pandemic. The impact was extremely devastating on the Mexican region with killing as many as a few million. Franciscan scholar, Bernardino de Sahagun had experienced three waves of this popular disease and recorded in the Florentine Codex, which is also a significant work that chronicled varied aspects of the life believes of Aztec.


The term had been given to the pandemic taking place in the territory of New Spain and had significantly ravaged the entire Mexican highlands in a proportion beyond control. The disease was named by the native Aztecs, which also is incurring a devastating impact on the demography of today. The vast death toll records the epidemic to be the worst disease in the entire history of the Mexican land. 

A recent study conducted by modern researchers has suggested Salmonella, a serotype of Salmonella enteric also called Paratyphi C to be responsible for the outbreak. The indigenous fever was inflamed by the most consequential droughts to ever take place in the region in 500 years, with worsening the living conditions in the country. 


The first pandemic of the deadly disease witnessed its inception in Jessore, India, with soon spreading across the region and also to the neighboring areas. The pandemic was also the very first of the seven significant cholera pandemic to kill as many as a few million populations. It was John Snow, the British physician who came as a blessing in disguise, being aware of the preventive methods.


In 1854, the outbreak was stemmed from significantly isolating the source to a specific water pump in the popular Soho neighborhood of London. Being named as ‘the forgotten pandemic’ by the World Health Organization, cholera that began its impact in 1961 continues to draw its effect even till the present times.

Cholera reportedly infects millions even today, with affecting a minimum of 1.3 million each year, with causing annual fatalities. As the disease is usually caused due to ingesting water or contaminated food, hence it can potentially harm countries that lack social development and wellness amenities. 

Spanish Flu

Another notable pandemic of the former times, Spanish Flu was a deadly disease of the last century by causing a drastic impact on affecting about 50 million individuals worldwide. With its advent in Europe, the Flu spread fast across Asia and America reaching the Indian subcontinent in no time. The pandemic was extremely menacing that took as many lives as 50 million that counts to approximate 6% of the entire world population.


With reports of the Flu out breaking in Madrid, the pandemic was soon named as 'Spanish Flu'. The Flu had hit in the spring, and by October there were a few million dead with posing scarcity in the body storage capacity. 

Apart from taking away lives, it also was significant to resulting in a war between Germany and Austria. Both the countries were severely affected by the fly, and it also derailed the offensives. German General also believed that the pandemic was one of the major reasons for them to incur defeat, with the diseases weakening the German units considerably. Moreover, the countries even failed to come up with an efficient vaccine or drug to treat the killer pandemic.

Although the armistice was signed by both countries with the war ending soon, however, the pandemic continued to demolish several parts of the world for a significant number of months. The threat finally disappeared in the next summer 1919 with most individuals developing a strong immunity for the infection and the other remaining population not being alive.


The ongoing international outbreak, Covid-19, or Corona Virus has practically put the entire world to a standstill movement. It is too early to assume the outbreak source with multiple types of research been carried upon. However, the pandemic has been a life-altering one for all, and that too globally.


If there has been ever that the entire world has witnessed a complete shutdown across all fronts of life, it has indeed been during the times of COVID 19. The pandemic had witnessed its outbreak in China with slowly spreading across the entire world, disrupting every walk of life across every city, state, and country. The infectious disease has enforced official governments to declare a state of isolation and maintain social distancing from one and all. This has enforced the state of lockdown across a number of countries in the world.

The statistics have maintained its ball game, with them rising every single day, all around the world.  It has already infected an approximate number of 2 million individuals worldwide, with killing more than 1, 30,000 individuals. The impact has been extremely severe across countries, with the USA, Iran, Spain, and India being the most affected. In addition to this, the economic front has also suffered a major crisis with maximum businesses being shut and being unable to incur revenue for months.

This has further increased the rate of unemployment with companies cutting most of their workforce during the pandemic crisis. The outbreak has known no barriers and is still raging its way across states and countries, with governments facing a tough time curbing the situation while hoping for a vaccine miracle to take the front row. 

Final Thoughts:

The deadly pandemics thus have redefined history by altering the statistics across distinct frontiers around the globe.

Also Read: Politics Of The United States

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