Tag Archives: Gibbon

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

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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

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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

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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

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Monks – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 37 Part 1

Monks

 

Hi, I’m Colin Sanders, this is the History Books Review and this episode covers the rise of monasticism as described by Edward Gibbon in Chapter 37 of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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Attila Invades Italy – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 35 Part 3

Attila Invades Italy

Chalons was hardly a victory in the tradition of Rome.  When you look at the Roman victory over the Dacians portrayed on Trajan’s Column you see a large professional organisation using technology to wipe out a brave but outmatched enemy.  They display tactics, well drilled formations and sophisticated logistics.  It is clear that the Romans are more advanced than the people they are fighting against.  Three hundred years later we are in a world of tribal battles with both sides indistinguishable from each other.  Individual feats of arms are important – so Thorismund the son of Theodoric becomes a hero by dint of his bravery.  Men are inspired to great deeds by orations and martial music.  Omens are sought and used to influence morale.  It wasn’t really a Roman victory in anything other than name and certainly did not herald any kind of rebirth of Roman power in the west. Continue reading

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Revolt of Gainas – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 32 Part 2

 Byzantine Sea Battle

The Byzantine court during the reign of the ineffectual Arcadius in the late fourth century was run by two men.  The emperor’s favourite at court was the corrupt and worldly Eutropius who ran the civil administration of the empire largely for his own benefit.  The army was run by the Goth Gainas. Continue reading

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