Edward Gibbon

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Easton Press Edward Gibbon books

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 volume set) - 1974

Franklin Library Edward Gibbon books

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Great Books of the Western World - 6 Volumes 1980, 1981, 1982


Edward Gibbon biography

Edward Gibbon, born on May 8, 1737, in Putney, Surrey, England, was a prominent British historian and Member of Parliament best known for his magnum opus, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon's work has had a profound impact on the field of history, and he is considered one of the greatest historians of the Enlightenment. Gibbon was born into a prosperous family and received a classical education. His intellectual curiosity and passion for history were evident from an early age. He converted to Roman Catholicism briefly, leading to a temporary estrangement from his family. However, he returned to Protestantism later in life.

In 1761, Gibbon embarked on the first of several journeys to continental Europe, where he immersed himself in classical literature and history. His travels and studies inspired his interest in the Roman Empire, laying the groundwork for his monumental work. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. It traced the history of the Roman Empire from its peak to its eventual collapse, covering a span of over a millennium. Gibbon's narrative skill, extensive research, and critical analysis of historical events set a new standard for historical writing. His work was characterized by its emphasis on causation, the influence of Christianity, and the role of bureaucracy and military institutions in the decline of the Roman Empire.

Despite the groundbreaking nature of his work, Gibbon faced some criticism for his skepticism towards religious explanations of historical events, particularly his treatment of the role of Christianity in the decline of Rome. The work, however, became a classic and a foundational text in the study of history. Apart from his historical pursuits, Gibbon served as a Member of Parliament for a brief period and engaged in literary and social circles. He spent his later years in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he continued to write and revise his work. Edward Gibbon passed away on January 16, 1794. His legacy endures through The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which remains widely read and studied, contributing significantly to the understanding of historical processes and the complexities of large-scale societal change.


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (sometimes shortened to Fall of the Roman Empire) is a book of history written by the English historian Edward Gibbon. It traces the trajectory of Western civilization (as well as the Islamic and Mongolian conquests) from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium.

Edward Gibbon's six-volume History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88) is among the most magnificent and ambitious narratives in European literature. Its subject is the fate of one of the world's greatest civilizations over thirteen centuries its rulers, wars, and society, and the events that led to its disastrous collapse. Here, in book one and two, Gibbon charts the vast extent and constitution of the Empire from the reign of Augustus to 395 AD. And in a controversial critique, he examines the early Church, with fascinating accounts of the first Christian and last pagan emperors, Constantine and Julian.

The work covers the history of the Roman Empire, Europe, and the Catholic Church from 98 to 1590 and discusses the decline of the Roman Empire in the East and West. Because of its relative objectivity and heavy use of primary sources, unusual at the time, its methodology became a model for later historians. This led to Gibbon being called the first "modern historian of ancient Rome"

Easily the most celebrated historical work in English, Gibbon's account of the Roman empire was in its time a landmark in classical and historical scholarship and remains a remarkable fresh and powerful contribution to the interpretation of Roman history more than two hundred years after its first appearance. Its fame, however, rests more on the exceptional clarity, scope and force of its argument, and the brilliance of its style, which is still a delight to read. Furthermore, both argument and style embody the Enlightenment values of rationality, lucidity and order to which Gibbon so passionately subscribed and to which his History is such a magnificent monument.

Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century A.D. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written.

Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire compresses thirteen turbulent centuries into an epic narrative shot through with insight, irony and incisive character analysis. Sceptical about Christianity, sympathetic to the barbarian invaders and the Byzantine Empire, constantly aware of how political leaders often achieve the exact opposite of what they intend, Gibbon was both alert to the broad pattern of events and significant revealing detail. The first of the six volumes, published in 1776, was attacked for its enlightened views on politics, sexuality and religion, yet it was an immediate bestseller and widely acclaimed for the elegance of its prose. Gripping, powerfully intelligent and wonderfully entertaining, this is among the greatest works of history in the English language and a literary masterpiece of its age.

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