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Revolts and revolutions: how history reveals the ways coronavirus could change our world forever

From the Plague of Justinian to the Black Death, history shows epidemics don't just change our lives. They can fundamentally change the way the world works

By Jonn Elledge  

Michiel Sweerts' Plague in an Ancient City, c 1652-4.

In the year 527, the man who would be known to history as Justinian the Great set out to rebuild the Roman Empire. By the time he came to the imperial throne in Constantinople, the western empire had been gone for half a century, and the territory he inherited extended no further west than Greece. Justinian wanted to change all that—to roll back to the clock to a time when the empire which still thought of itself as…

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