Population, Demography, and Disease

Dionysios Stathakopoulos

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Population, Demography, and Disease

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In the course of the eleven centuries of its existence, the Byzantine Empire underwent major territorial fluctuations, frequently with demographic consequences. These were by no means linear in a direction of growth or decline. Other important factors that influenced the movement of population within the empire included warfare and major epidemics. The outbreak of the so-called Justinianic Plague (541–750) represents a watershed for the demographic development of the Byzantine state. One aspect of the demography of the period that needs to be addressed is the one connected with the widespread phenomenon of urban decline. In the last fifty years of its existence, the Byzantine Empire became an even smaller, territorially insignificant state before it fell to the Ottomans in 1453. Constantinople held some 40,000 to 50,000 inhabitants in the fifteenth century, one-tenth of the population it had contained during its prime.

Keywords: Byzantine Empire; demography; population; warfare; epidemics; Justinianic Plague; urban decline; Constantinople

Article.  3495 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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