Well i think the title say's all but here some necessary details to make some focus:

I would like to know if there's a record of a Battle or a Siege (or War, but only optional) which have been decided due to an epidemic plague: most soldiers, warrior got at least a grave disease?

decided: Ended, either both sides "resigned" or one side could win because the other couldn't really fight!


  • As Time Period i would like to take the middle-ages, more exactly 8th-15th Century!
  • Also i would like to emphasize on battles in which the fighting parties had different ethnic groups!

This is just a Question that came to my mind and as i myself have no idea how many battles could have this special ending i'd say:

This is explicitly an list question, so feel free to provide list answers.

But i'm still open for helpful comments and further inquiries to make the Question more focused!

I only know about a malaria epidemic which weakened the Ottomans during the siege of Belgrade 1717.

  • 2
    Do you mean "plague" literally or will any deadly disease do? Also are you including sieges?
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 10:40
  • @SteveBird well i mean disease or epidemic disease, i didn't think of sieges but yes that would be also an interesting matter! Thanks for that helpful comment! But if it's still too broad i would concentrate on battles excluding sieges!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 11:04
  • 4
    Once a siege was started, it usually ended because a) the city was stormed b) the city surrendered due to illness/lack of food c) a relief army forced the besiegers to leave d) the besiegers were starving or ill. Check wikipedia for medieval sieges that ended with b) or d)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 11:31
  • 2
    @SJuan76 - Wikipedia has a category page for "Sieges Ending in Disease"? Also, I think a battle that ended because one side was too sick to carry on the fight would be interesting and not trivially answered. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 14:07
  • 3
    Dude there were a ton. Most historical campaigns were settled by disease/logistic failures. The majority of sieges were settled by disease/starvation. This is common knowledge among military historians. The question focuses on "battles" which is odd as a disease would not have time to impact a battle. Once battle is joined - technology, tactics and operational maneuver are the primary factors - the strategic stuff has already occurred (or not). Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 17:03

3 Answers 3


Quite easy to recall the siege of Tunis, 1270 by Louis IX during 8th Crusade.

Also 5th siege of Gibraltar in 1349-1350, where Alfonso XI died of that very same "black death".

In both cases the besiegers heavily suffered of epidemies and had no success.


The most obvious example would be the Siege of Kaffa, in which the Golden Horde tried to take control of what was then a Genoese colony, situated on Crimea. However, the Black Death spread in the mongol army, and they had to abandon the siege. Before they left, they hurled dead corpses into the city, in the hope that the plague would spread. It eventually did, and from there to the rest of Europe. Here is a blog post discussing the more medical aspects, which also cites a primary source in some length.


In fall 546, Gao Huan launched another major attack on Western Wei, apparently to make one final attempt to destroy it. He put Yubi under siege, intending to attract Western Wei forces to Yubi in order to destroy it, but Western Wei did not respond. The general in charge of defending Yubi, Wei Xiaokuan, however, defended against all kinds of siege tactics that Gao Huan tried, for 50 days, and Eastern Wei forces suffered 70,000 deaths from the battle and the illnesses. Gao Huan himself was physically and emotionally drained, and he became ill, and he was forced to withdraw. Western Wei subsequently declared that Wei had killed Gao Huan with a powerful crossbow, and Gao Huan, in order to dispel the rumor, appeared before his army to sing Chile songs with Hulü Jin. As he did, he wept bitterly.


Most causalities in this battle was due to plague.

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