Some 1,500 years later, Harvard University medieval historian Michael McCormick has reached a similarly grim conclusion about not just 536, but the dreadful decade that followed that terrible year. For people living across Europe in 536, "It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year," McCormick recently said.
As McCormick told AccuWeather, it was all set off by rapid, drastic climate change. In the spring of 536, a volcanic eruption triggered the Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA), McCormick told AccuWeather. And its ramifications, on top of ensuing eruptions in 540 and 547, were devastating.