A Hymn To The Enlightenment – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 4

 

Edward Gibbon

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is permeated from beginning to end with the atmosphere of the Enlightenment.  But at the end of the third volume, he comes out and says directly what he believes in.

Gibbon wonders whether some unknown threat could arise that would once again destroy the civilisation of the western world of his time.  After all the Arabs had appeared out of nowhere in the eighth century.  Could the same thing happen again?  Luckily the existence of gunpowder had changed the rules of the game.  Mounted bow wielding horsemen no longer needed to be feared – Attila’s Huns would be no match for a column of men with muskets.  And it is not just gadgets.  The whole of Europe has progressed and moved forward to a brighter age. Continue reading A Hymn To The Enlightenment – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 4

Conquest of Britain – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 2

Conquest of Britain

Although Roman influence in Britain ended before it did in Gaul, Gibbon chooses to place it in the narrative afterwards.  You can see why.  The situation in Gaul steadily evolved and are developed. It’s very much part of the story of the fall of the Western Empire. What happened in Britain seems to be a very different story indeed, it does feel very much like a footnote to the rest of the book. Continue reading Conquest of Britain – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 2

Why did Rome Fall? – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 3

Ruins of Ancient RomeAt the end of Volume 3 of Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Gibbon is in a reflective mood. It feels very much like he is intending on finishing his story here with the end of the Roman Empire in the West as a legal entity.  In fact I think that is exactly what his intentions were.  This is how he puts it. Continue reading Why did Rome Fall? – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 3

Reign and Conversion of Clovis – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 1

Reign of Clovis

 

Hi, this is the History Books Review and I am Colin Sanders, currently engaged on mopping up operations.  We have seen that the last Roman emperor had been removed by Odoacer in Italy, and in this episode we follow the ramifications to Roman Gaul in Chapter 38 Part 1 of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Continue reading Reign and Conversion of Clovis – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 38 Part 1

Conversion of the Barbarians – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 37 Part 3

Conversion of the barbarians

 

It isn’t too hard to explain why Christianity became the predominant religion in the Roman Empire.  It was well organised.  It provided social security at a time of great insecurity.  It also had all the coercive power of the state behind it.   But how did the conversion of the barbarians make such inroads into the German tribes? Continue reading Conversion of the Barbarians – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 37 Part 3

Simeon Styllites – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 37 Part 2

simeon-styllites
Remains of Simeon’s Pillar

There are many reasons for reading the Decline and Fall of the Roman empire. For a start you get to know a lot about Roman history.  You also learn a lot about 18th Century Britain. I hope, or at least aspire, to get these across to people who haven’t read the book itself. But one thing my paraphrasing can never get across is just how good a book it is simply from the point of view of style. Nobody writes like that anymore.  I have already done quite a few quotes that hopefully give a flavour.  But here is a passage that demonstrates Gibbon’s writing style extremely well and which stands alone as a piece of writing.   Continue reading Simeon Styllites – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 37 Part 2

Extinction of the Western Empire – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 36 Part 3

Extinction of the Western Empire

Leo was an unlikely man to end up being called ‘the Great’.  Emperors had become mere figureheads. Military strongmen of barbarian origin actually called the shots and decided who sat on the throne in Constantinople.  Leo looked very much like a figurehead.  He had no particular credentials for joining the imperial ranks, and only got the job as the frontman for the army chief Aspar.   Continue reading Extinction of the Western Empire – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 36 Part 3

Last Emperors of the West – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 36 Part 2

Last Emperors in the westMaximus had achieved almost nothing in his short reign.  And certainly, setting up the most humiliating sack of Rome itself earns him pretty much the uncontested medal for the most unsuccessful holder of the purple.  But his foreign policy did bear one fruit.  He had sent the seasoned veteran politician Avitus to negotiate with the Visigoths.  The negotiations went well and Avitus got the support of the Visigothic king Theoderic. Continue reading Last Emperors of the West – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 36 Part 2

The Vandals Sack Rome – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 36 Part 1

Vandals Sack Rome

The death of Attila was greeted with enthusiasm and relief by most of the courts of Europe. It must have been like having a troublesome neighbour finally move away. But in Carthage there was one man who was sad to see him go. His alliance with Attila had been Genseric’s trump card which had prevented the long overdue reassertion of the empire’s authority over the fertile strip of northern Africa that the Vandals and their Alan allies had wrested from them. Continue reading The Vandals Sack Rome – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 36 Part 1