Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

Length: 770 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview


The decline of the Roman Empire has been the subject of intense scholarly research. Yet the causes of the decline are still the subject of vigorous debate. The classic work on the collapse is the massive text titled The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, written in 1776 by the English historian Edward Gibbon. Over two hundred theories have been advanced to explain the decline.
Despite many areas for conjecture regarding the decline of the Roman Empire, at least three points seem to be beyond dispute. First, its decline was slow, proceeding at a glacial pace over several centuries. Second, a critical turning that hastened its decline occurred in 337 when its rule was divided into three zones – the east, central and west. Third, even though many scholars disagree that it marks the end point of the overall Roman Empire, 476 is commonly cited as the year that marks the end of its western section.
A critical turning point in the history of the Roman Empire that significantly contributed to its demise occurred in 337 when its rule was divided between three brothers. Many scholars argue this division strategically weakened the empire and increased its exposure to attack from aggressive rivals. The division followed the death of the emperor Constantine the Great. During his life, Constantine had indicated that his successor would be either one of his three sons (Constantius, Constans and Constantine II) or his two nephews (Gallus and Julian). Gallus and Julian were respectively aged only twelve and six at the time (and were eventually executed in Athens during 354).
By agreement of the three brothers, the empire was divided amongst themselves. Constantine II (also known as Constantinus) took the west, Constans the centre and Const...


... middle of paper ...


...ry. Its beginning is defined by the fall of the western Roman Empire. The Middle Ages are often identified as the middle of a three-period division of history – Classic (Antiquity), Medieval and Modern.
The early centuries of the Middle Ages are commonly referred to as the Dark Ages since they were characterized by a continuation of unfavourable trends that had begun in late-Antiquity including slowed population growth and urbanization as well as increased barbarian invasions and rule. They also marked a general decline in scholarship. From a religious perspective North Africa and the Middle East, formerly lands part of the eastern Roman Empire, turned toward Islam. The later part of the Middle Ages saw the emergence of feudalism and systematic agriculture, accelerated population growth, the spread of Christianity as well as the return of scholarship and the arts.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

- Despite being an immediate bestseller, shortly after publishing, Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire became unpopular with large groups of the British reading public. The abridged edition consecutively presents the stories behind the Empire’s leadership and course of action. Gibbon revivifies the complex and compelling period of the Romans by detailing the prosperous conditions of the empire, the decline, and the aftermath of the fall. At the same time, Gibbon efficiently scrutinizes the declining virtue of the Roman people....   [tags: Literary Review ]

Better Essays
1845 words (5.3 pages)

The Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

- ... Other reasons believed to have caused the Roman Empire to decline and fall are climate change, population decline, too much poisoning of the upper class population in the empire. Despite there being many overlapping reasons for the fall of the empire, according to me among the major reasons that led to the fall of the Roman Empire include the following, 1. Large amounts of ambitious general all whom wanted to be emperor. Many of these ambitious generals either wanted to be the masters of soldiers and extend their interests over and beyond the interest of the empire....   [tags: economic, political, and military reforms]

Better Essays
1093 words (3.1 pages)

The Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

- The Fall of the Roman Empire A reason that leads to Rome's inability to remain self-sustaining as an Empire was its lack of technology. Technological advance did not increase at a rate proportional to the increase of the people per square mile. This lead to the inability of the Romans to become self-sustaining. Once again the slave trade was a reason that their technology levels failed to increase. The bulk of work done in the Roman Empire was always carried out by the slaves. This provided very little need or incentive for new discoveries....   [tags: Ancient History]

Better Essays
1279 words (3.7 pages)

Reasons For The Fall Of The Roman Empire Essay

- Reasons for the Fall of the Roman Empire (Second Revise) Ancient Rome origin of the many romance languages such as; Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian ( “Ancient Rome”), and home of the beautiful, elegant buildings and long Roman roads and the making of aqueducts.Let 's not forget the ingenious Roman theater, literature, and art. Rome was the birthplace of satire, and it 's brilliant way of sarcastic humor; it 's astonishing literature including the famous work the Aeneid by Virgil, and realistic statues and incredible mosaics....   [tags: Roman Empire, Ancient Rome, Byzantine Empire]

Better Essays
2073 words (5.9 pages)

Rome 's Influence On The Roman Empire Essay

- Once Rome was a land empire the republic encountered many other Mediterranean cultures. These cultures include Egypt, Greece, Celts and many more. Rome adopted different ideas from these cultures and incorporated them to shape the Roman Empire we know today. The Romans accepted these new cultures as a new way of living and a standard norm as the Roman Empire continued. Whether they learned or stole these ideas, they all assist in the Roman culture. Some of the characteristics that were brought to the Roman culture include coinage, religion, architecture, art, clothing, and many others....   [tags: Roman Empire, Ancient Rome, Greeks, Roman Republic]

Better Essays
1558 words (4.5 pages)

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

- The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire The primary reason for the Roman Empires decline and eventual fall was the dwindling of the Roman Empire's economic might. This affected nearly every aspect of Roman life, from the decline of the population to the lack of maintenance of foundation. There were also some military aspects that led to there demise and because people became disinterested in joining the Roman army Rome was left unprotected against all of their enemies. The primary cause of the deterioration of the economy was the lack of circulating currency in the Western Empire....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
570 words (1.6 pages)

The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire Essay

- The era dominated by Roman empire is one the most well-known and influential periods of history, home to famous names from Julius Caesar to Jesus Christ. At its height, Rome’s territory stretched from the Atlantic coastline to the Middle East, reigning over 60 million people, one-fifth of the population of the ancient world. However, the Roman empire’s treatment of their conquered people’s and their own citizens ultimately led to the permanent downfall of Rome. Even in the century before the official replacement of the Roman republic by the empire, Rome expanded immensely as a result of the Punic wars....   [tags: Ancient Rome]

Better Essays
1027 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on The Relationship between Byzantines and Muslims in History

- Recent literature has established an inseparable relationship between the Islamic Empire of the 15th century and the Eastern Roman Empire. The emphasis is less on Islamic forces acting as a separate and direct antagonist against Byzantines to their fall, but rather a series of circumstances that gradually weakened the empire until it fell in 1453. Within the most recent decades scholars have begun to examine at the international negotiations and cultural exchanges between Byzantines and Muslims to establish both empires were much closer than early historians believed....   [tags: Interactions, Roman Empire Fall]

Better Essays
1968 words (5.6 pages)

The Fall of Rome Essay

- The Roman Empire was the most powerful Empire during Antiquity. It is traditionally considered to have “fallen” in 476, when Rome’s last emperor was deposed. Many theories have been presented as to why it fell, from unsound economic and social policies to mass lead poisoning. The actual cause of Rome’s fall is the result of many factors, but was mainly caused by Rome’s poor economic policies. A question that must first be addressed is whether or not Rome actually fell. There are two main theories which have lead to this conclusion....   [tags: Ancient Rome, Roman history]

Better Essays
1119 words (3.2 pages)

Decay of the Roman Empire Essay

- Decay of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon says the decay of Rome was inevitable. He writes that instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, it is surprising that it subsisted so long. Gibbons' argument comes down to four major arguments, divided into rulership, the abuse of Christianity, the expansion of the Barbarians, and finally the loss of the Roman military power. Edward Gibbon was one of the greatest English historians of the late 1700's. His father entered him in Magdalen College, University of Oxford but shortly after his enrollment in 1753 he decided to convert to Roman Catholicism....   [tags: Ancient Rome Roman History]

Free Essays
847 words (2.4 pages)