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Lesson to study, Year 536 Was the Worst Year to Be Alive - What Happened? (1)

Year 536 Was the Worst Year to Be Alive - What Happened? (1)

The term "worst year ever" gets tossed around a lot these days,

mostly on the internet, and for reasons like,

I was disappointed in the latest Star Wars movie.

But scientists and historians have actually

argued that no year in the long history of this planet

was worse than the year 536.

While, sure, there have been plenty

of worthy contenders for the worst year

ever over the course of history, no single year

has had more of a measurably bad impact for the decades

that followed.

Today, we're going to explain why the year 536 was the worst

year to be alive.

But before we get started, be sure to subscribe

to the Weird History Channel.

Oh, and leave a comment too and let

us know what piece of history you

would like us to explain next.

OK, now let's settle this once and for all--

year 536, worst year ever.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

While serving as a military advisor

to Belisaurius, one of the Byzantine Empire's

most distinguished generals, Byzantine historian Procopius

noticed some trouble was brewing in the air while traveling

with his boss in Sicily in the year 536.

He wrote of a sun that gave forth light without brightness,

during like the moon, during this whole year.

And it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse

for the beams it shed were not clear nor such as it

is accustomed to shed.

Translated, it was all dark outside, like, all the time.

He, of course, wasn't the only one

to notice the sun appeared to be in a mood during 536.

Michael the Syrian, a Byzantine scribe,

would later write of this period, "The sun became dark

and its darkness lasted for 18 months.

Each day it shone for about four hours,

and still this light was only a feeble shadow.

Everyone declared that the sun would never

recover its full light.

The fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes."

This wishy-washy sun situation cast

a non-metaphorical dark cloud over the globe

that darkened the sky for at least a full year in 536.

Researchers later discovered evidence

of a massive volcanic eruption whose ash was likely

a major contributor to the Seattle-like weather, minus all

the rain, spreading ash and destruction on a global scale.

Not to mention, it made the grapes sour and the wine bad.

So that's an easy strike for the year 536.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Basic biology teaches us that plants

need the sun to aid in their growth and survival.

So not having direct sunlight for the duration

of at least a year did a real number on the crop output

around the world and sparked a widespread famine

around the globe.

And it's not just that the plants wanted

to catch their rays, it was just too darn chilly

for crops to grow.

With the sun cloaked in an endless cloud,

the temperature of the Earth dropped between 1.6 and 2.5

degrees Celsius, or 34.88 to 36.5 degrees

Fahrenheit for all the Americans thinking

that doesn't sound so bad.

But it also cooled temperatures for decades to come.

Crop scarcities were reported far and wide around this time

period, including Ireland, who suffered

through their own horrible sounding food depletion

they called "Bread Failure."

[MUSIC PLAYING]

A dusty veil covering the sun wasn't the only bad thing

in the air for these poor people just trying

to live their lives in 536.

There was also a plague or two waiting in the wings

to strike on these vitamin D-deprived immune systems.

Nobody was immune to this infestation.

It swept through the lower classes

all the way to the Imperial Palace.

"Symptoms," as it was lovingly described,

began with a sore that formed on the palm of the hand

and progressed until the afflicted one could not

take a step.

The leg swelled.

Then the buboes burst and pus came out.

Obviously, if this same plague were to infect the world today,

there would probably be a TV show

called Doctor Buboes, Pus Buster,

and with it a new contender for the worst year to be alive.

With the plague beginning to make the rounds

in Constantinople, the city began to stink,

what with the piles of dead sick bodies

just sort of being tossed around into the sea,

only to resurface later.

There wasn't a lot of burial planning going around

back then.

Bring out your dead!

There was more of a "wing it" vibe around the Justinian

Plague.

Emperor Justinian ordered the bodies

to be removed from the city.

I'm not dead.

Oh, he says he's not dead.

Yes, he is.

I'm not!

But all that did was expose more people to the disease,

as healthy people were responsible for moving

deceased, sickly bodies out of the cities.

Things weren't all bad for Emperor Justinian

though as the plague that took all of these lives

and made the city a smelly nightmare would later be named

the "Plague of Justinian."

So that was probably nice for him.

Less so, for the estimated 50 million people

that died from it, however.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Around 536, the climate in China started its journey

into madness, doing perfectly normal things

like raining dust you could scoop into your hands.

Not only should it not rain dust,

it certainly shouldn't be measurable by the scoopful.

The Nan Shi, a sixth century chronicle,

reported a yellow ash-like substance falling from the sky.

They named their freak weather hui, or dust,

and said it was yellow in color.

Whether this was volcanic ash or just

some random unexplained climate reaction is not known.

However, this was just the beginning

of China's climate disruption.

The chronicles of the southern dynasties

reported on a rare summer-winter weather event with frost

in the mid-summer and snow in August.

Like a Southern California girl in Chicago in January,

the crops were not here for this cold snap.

Summer crops were destroyed.

And the city of [? Xinzhou, ?] along with others,

were thrown into a deadly famine that lasted for two years

and resulted in the deaths of around 70% to 80%

of the population.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Researchers discovered evidence deep

in the ice sheets of Iceland and Greenland

that indicated a major volcanic event occurred around 536.

Volcanic eruptions in Iceland in 540 and 547

thrust people into the literal Dark Ages,

with ash lining the skies and blocking out the shiny, hot sun

thing in the sky that the people of the 6th century

were starting to get used to having around.

Based on a tropical volcanic ash later discovered,

some scholars have suggested a volcano in El Salvador

went blasting off around the year 535 or 536.

Still others pointed to a volcanic eruption

in North America as a contributor

to the dark skies around the world.

When combined with the two Icelandic volcano eruptions,

it kicked off it was adorably called the "Late Antique Little

Ice "Age.

This cute little ice age cooled off

the planet for at least a decade and resulted

in the death of crops and, subsequently, people.

Both directly through starvation and indirectly,

a malnourished population was more

susceptible to diseases, of which there were plenty

running around.

Well, there's one thing that certainly couldn't

claim it had a bad year--

exploding volcanoes.

[PEOPLE SCREAMING]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

By the time the 6th century rolled around,

the Roman had migrated east to Constantinople.

And, under the guiding hand of Emperor Justinian,

the Romans sought to get back to the glory days of the empire,

much like a high school graduate who still hangs around campus

and wears their letterman jacket.

I mean, it is pretty cool.

Though some of Justinian's generals

saw success in this cool goal--

most notable, Belisaurius, who fought

against several different armies,

including Goths, Vandals, and others--

Justinian himself couldn't mirror

the success due to constant uprisings

and imperial instability.

Those pesky uprisings, always getting in the way of success.

To add sickness to war defeats, the Byzantine Empire

would never fully recover from the disease and famine sparked

by the events of 536.

The Byzantine Empire lost between 35% to 55%

of their population in the year 541.

Once the bubonic plague moved in,

it did what the plague did best--

kill depressingly high percentages

of entire populations.

Historians believe the plague could have been transported

by plague-infested rats hitching a ride on military trains

during this attempt to bring the Roman Empire back

to its peak, which clearly backfired.

[MAN SCREAMING]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

The horribleness of 536 didn't discriminate.

The Moche civilization of Peru wouldn't count 536

as their banner year either.

The Moche civilization-- a once dominant force in the region--

were known to be avid fishermen and developers

of an advanced irrigation system that allowed a variety of crops

to grow.

Their agricultural talents were the backbone of their economy.

But the weather conditions in the 6th century

caused their pocketbooks to take a deep hit.

It was around this time that an unusually strong El Niño

weather system caused waters to warm,

which decimated the fish supply.

The freak weather system also caused heavy flooding,

which ruined their irrigation systems

and devastated their ability to grow enough food

to feed their people.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

People, probably tired of listening to Twitter users

claim X and X was the worst year ever,

a group of scholars set out to set the record straight

once and for all.

Harvard historian Michael McCormick

and a group of scholars decided to science their way out

of the age-old question, what was the worst year to be alive?

Initially, however, this was not the ultimate goal of McCormick

and his group of 12 interdisciplinary scholars.

The group came together to study metal usage, coinage,

and changes to the 7th century monetary systems.

Somewhere in this thrilling subject matter,

one probably began to ponder if they were living in the worst

year to be alive.

Their findings included an analysis of volcanic fragments

from an Icelandic volcano in ice core samples

from Swiss glaciers that, yes, dated back to 536, confirming

the volcanic event that thrusted a good portion

of the northern hemisphere into unprecedented darkness,

setting off a global catastrophe.

Yeah, but in 1998, both Armageddon and Deep Impact

were released.

And people had to choose between which two asteroid-based action

movies they liked best.

That's a tough year.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

The planet left behind plenty of evidence of climate trauma

that resulted in a chain of climate events

that spiraled over into real human suffering.

Remember, we only get one Earth, everyone.

Please recycle.

Dendrochronologists, people who study tree rings to determine

a tree's age since that's a science and not a wild guess,

noticed some disturbing patterns emerging

when examining Icelandic trees.

The rings indicated a period when the tree's growth had

slowed, suggesting a significant cool down

had occurred around the middle of the sixth century.

This, combined with the newly unearthed ice core

evidence discovered in 2018, helped date the time

of the catastrophic event that ruined Earth, for a little bit,

to the year 536.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

In researching for the worst year to be alive,

things weren't always so bleak.

In fact, the research started by our friends

at Harvard ended on a positive note.

While the events of 536 were the spark

for some truly literal dark days in our planet's history,

the researchers were also able to find the moments things

really started to turn around.

When researching coinage, they noticed the reappearance

of lead in the ice core samples, indicating

that people were producing silver again for money.

Ah, capitalism, the life force of us all.

Experts argued the prevalence of silver

meant more coins were being produced, which was

a sign of a thriving economy.

The lesson being, as bad as it may seem,

it will almost always get better, almost always.

So what do you think?

Would you like to go into a time machine

and play the ultimate game of Survivor?


Year 536 Was the Worst Year to Be Alive - What Happened? (1)

**The term "worst year ever" gets tossed around a lot these days,**

mostly on the internet, and for reasons like,

I was disappointed in the latest Star Wars movie.

But scientists and historians have actually

argued that no year in the long history of this planet

was worse than the year 536.

While, sure, there have been plenty

of worthy contenders for the worst year

ever over the course of history, no single year

has had more of a measurably bad impact for the decades

that followed.

Today, we're going to explain why the year 536 was the worst

year to be alive.

But before we get started, be sure to subscribe

to the Weird History Channel.

Oh, and leave a comment too and let

us know what piece of history you

would like us to explain next.

OK, now let's settle this once and for all--

year 536, worst year ever.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

While serving as a military advisor

to Belisaurius, one of the Byzantine Empire's

most distinguished generals, Byzantine historian Procopius

noticed some trouble was brewing in the air while traveling

with his boss in Sicily in the year 536.

He wrote of a sun that gave forth light without brightness,

during like the moon, during this whole year.

And it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse

for the beams it shed were not clear nor such as it

is accustomed to shed.

Translated, it was all dark outside, like, all the time.

He, of course, wasn't the only one

to notice the sun appeared to be in a mood during 536.

Michael the Syrian, a Byzantine scribe,

would later write of this period, "The sun became dark

and its darkness lasted for 18 months.

Each day it shone for about four hours,

and still this light was only a feeble shadow.

Everyone declared that the sun would never

recover its full light.

The fruits did not ripen and the wine tasted like sour grapes."

This wishy-washy sun situation cast

a non-metaphorical dark cloud over the globe

that darkened the sky for at least a full year in 536.

Researchers later discovered evidence

of a massive volcanic eruption whose ash was likely

a major contributor to the Seattle-like weather, minus all

the rain, spreading ash and destruction on a global scale.

Not to mention, it made the grapes sour and the wine bad.

So that's an easy strike for the year 536.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Basic biology teaches us that plants

need the sun to aid in their growth and survival.

So not having direct sunlight for the duration

of at least a year did a real number on the crop output

around the world and sparked a widespread famine

around the globe.

And it's not just that the plants wanted

to catch their rays, it was just too darn chilly

for crops to grow.

With the sun cloaked in an endless cloud,

the temperature of the Earth dropped between 1.6 and 2.5

degrees Celsius, or 34.88 to 36.5 degrees

Fahrenheit for all the Americans thinking

that doesn't sound so bad.

But it also cooled temperatures for decades to come.

Crop scarcities were reported far and wide around this time

period, including Ireland, who suffered

through their own horrible sounding food depletion

they called "Bread Failure."

[MUSIC PLAYING]

A dusty veil covering the sun wasn't the only bad thing

in the air for these poor people just trying

to live their lives in 536.

There was also a plague or two waiting in the wings

to strike on these vitamin D-deprived immune systems.

Nobody was immune to this infestation.

It swept through the lower classes

all the way to the Imperial Palace.

"Symptoms," as it was lovingly described,

began with a sore that formed on the palm of the hand

and progressed until the afflicted one could not

take a step.

The leg swelled.

Then the buboes burst and pus came out.

Obviously, if this same plague were to infect the world today,

there would probably be a TV show

called Doctor Buboes, Pus Buster,

and with it a new contender for the worst year to be alive.

With the plague beginning to make the rounds

in Constantinople, the city began to stink,

what with the piles of dead sick bodies

just sort of being tossed around into the sea,

only to resurface later.

There wasn't a lot of burial planning going around

back then.

Bring out your dead!

There was more of a "wing it" vibe around the Justinian

Plague.

Emperor Justinian ordered the bodies

to be removed from the city.

I'm not dead.

Oh, he says he's not dead.

Yes, he is.

I'm not!

But all that did was expose more people to the disease,

as healthy people were responsible for moving

deceased, sickly bodies out of the cities.

Things weren't all bad for Emperor Justinian

though as the plague that took all of these lives

and made the city a smelly nightmare would later be named

the "Plague of Justinian."

So that was probably nice for him.

Less so, for the estimated 50 million people

that died from it, however.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Around 536, the climate in China started its journey

into madness, doing perfectly normal things

like raining dust you could scoop into your hands.

Not only should it not rain dust,

it certainly shouldn't be measurable by the scoopful.

The Nan Shi, a sixth century chronicle,

reported a yellow ash-like substance falling from the sky.

They named their freak weather hui, or dust,

and said it was yellow in color.

Whether this was volcanic ash or just

some random unexplained climate reaction is not known.

However, this was just the beginning

of China's climate disruption.

The chronicles of the southern dynasties

reported on a rare summer-winter weather event with frost

in the mid-summer and snow in August.

Like a Southern California girl in Chicago in January,

the crops were not here for this cold snap.

Summer crops were destroyed.

And the city of [? Xinzhou, ?] along with others,

were thrown into a deadly famine that lasted for two years

and resulted in the deaths of around 70% to 80%

of the population.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Researchers discovered evidence deep

in the ice sheets of Iceland and Greenland

that indicated a major volcanic event occurred around 536.

Volcanic eruptions in Iceland in 540 and 547

thrust people into the literal Dark Ages,

with ash lining the skies and blocking out the shiny, hot sun

thing in the sky that the people of the 6th century

were starting to get used to having around.

Based on a tropical volcanic ash later discovered,

some scholars have suggested a volcano in El Salvador

went blasting off around the year 535 or 536.

Still others pointed to a volcanic eruption

in North America as a contributor

to the dark skies around the world.

When combined with the two Icelandic volcano eruptions,

it kicked off it was adorably called the "Late Antique Little

Ice "Age.

This cute little ice age cooled off

the planet for at least a decade and resulted

in the death of crops and, subsequently, people.

Both directly through starvation and indirectly,

a malnourished population was more

susceptible to diseases, of which there were plenty

running around.

Well, there's one thing that certainly couldn't

claim it had a bad year--

exploding volcanoes.

[PEOPLE SCREAMING]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

By the time the 6th century rolled around,

the Roman had migrated east to Constantinople.

And, under the guiding hand of Emperor Justinian,

the Romans sought to get back to the glory days of the empire,

much like a high school graduate who still hangs around campus

and wears their letterman jacket.

I mean, it is pretty cool.

Though some of Justinian's generals

saw success in this cool goal--

most notable, Belisaurius, who fought

against several different armies,

including Goths, Vandals, and others--

Justinian himself couldn't mirror

the success due to constant uprisings

and imperial instability.

Those pesky uprisings, always getting in the way of success.

To add sickness to war defeats, the Byzantine Empire

would never fully recover from the disease and famine sparked

by the events of 536.

The Byzantine Empire lost between 35% to 55%

of their population in the year 541.

Once the bubonic plague moved in,

it did what the plague did best--

kill depressingly high percentages

of entire populations.

Historians believe the plague could have been transported

by plague-infested rats hitching a ride on military trains

during this attempt to bring the Roman Empire back

to its peak, which clearly backfired.

[MAN SCREAMING]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

The horribleness of 536 didn't discriminate.

The Moche civilization of Peru wouldn't count 536

as their banner year either.

The Moche civilization-- a once dominant force in the region--

were known to be avid fishermen and developers

of an advanced irrigation system that allowed a variety of crops

to grow.

Their agricultural talents were the backbone of their economy.

But the weather conditions in the 6th century

caused their pocketbooks to take a deep hit.

It was around this time that an unusually strong El Niño

weather system caused waters to warm,

which decimated the fish supply.

The freak weather system also caused heavy flooding,

which ruined their irrigation systems

and devastated their ability to grow enough food

to feed their people.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

People, probably tired of listening to Twitter users

claim X and X was the worst year ever,

a group of scholars set out to set the record straight

once and for all.

Harvard historian Michael McCormick

and a group of scholars decided to science their way out

of the age-old question, what was the worst year to be alive?

Initially, however, this was not the ultimate goal of McCormick

and his group of 12 interdisciplinary scholars.

The group came together to study metal usage, coinage,

and changes to the 7th century monetary systems.

Somewhere in this thrilling subject matter,

one probably began to ponder if they were living in the worst

year to be alive.

Their findings included an analysis of volcanic fragments

from an Icelandic volcano in ice core samples

from Swiss glaciers that, yes, dated back to 536, confirming

the volcanic event that thrusted a good portion

of the northern hemisphere into unprecedented darkness,

setting off a global catastrophe.

Yeah, but in 1998, both Armageddon and Deep Impact

were released.

And people had to choose between which two asteroid-based action

movies they liked best.

That's a tough year.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

The planet left behind plenty of evidence of climate trauma

that resulted in a chain of climate events

that spiraled over into real human suffering.

Remember, we only get one Earth, everyone.

Please recycle.

Dendrochronologists, people who study tree rings to determine

a tree's age since that's a science and not a wild guess,

noticed some disturbing patterns emerging

when examining Icelandic trees.

The rings indicated a period when the tree's growth had

slowed, suggesting a significant cool down

had occurred around the middle of the sixth century.

This, combined with the newly unearthed ice core

evidence discovered in 2018, helped date the time

of the catastrophic event that ruined Earth, for a little bit,

to the year 536.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

In researching for the worst year to be alive,

things weren't always so bleak.

In fact, the research started by our friends

at Harvard ended on a positive note.

While the events of 536 were the spark

for some truly literal dark days in our planet's history,

the researchers were also able to find the moments things

really started to turn around.

When researching coinage, they noticed the reappearance

of lead in the ice core samples, indicating

that people were producing silver again for money.

Ah, capitalism, the life force of us all.

Experts argued the prevalence of silver

meant more coins were being produced, which was

a sign of a thriving economy.

The lesson being, as bad as it may seem,

it will almost always get better, almost always.

So what do you think?

Would you like to go into a time machine

and play the ultimate game of Survivor?