History of The Decline And Fall of The Roman Empire

"[Of the emperor Gordian] Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested to the variety of his inclinations, and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than ostentation. [Footnote] By each of his concubines the younger Gordian left three or four children. His literary productions were by no means contemptible." (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)

Edward Gibbon was born in Putney on May 8th, 1737 into a wealthy Parliamentary family whose children had a habit of dying early. He was a sickly child and this ill-health no doubt influenced him to write his great work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire rather than, say, The Ascent and Rise of the Roman Empire. He attended Westminster School for a while, but proved too sickly to withstand the rigours of public-school life and retired to the country where he was taught by a succession of tutors. However, at the age of fifteen, he began to grow stronger and was soon entered at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Gibbon turned to Roman Catholicism whilst at Oxford. It was still a religion whose practitioners where barred from public office and he was swiftly sent abroad by his father. He went to Lausanne where he began his first work: An Essay on Literature, written entirely in French. It was, rather confusingly, about English and German Literature. Gibbon was received back into the arms of the Protestant Church and his family at Christmas 1754. "It was here," Gibbon stated, "that I suspended my religious enquiries, acquiescing with implicit belief in the tenets and mysteries which are adopted by the general consent of Catholics and Protestants." Gibbon became firm friends with many of the great thinkers who congregated around Lausanne at this time, most notably Voltaire.

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon's greatest work, was first published in 1776 and gained him praise and censure in equal measure. He dealt with the rise of Christianity with great irony and this lead for him to be condemned by some members of the Church. This did not, however, affect the popularity of the work, which is still the greatest history of the downfall of the Empire. Gibbon died in London on January 16th, 1794.

Tom Moran's Eduard Gibbon Page Extensive information page on who is Eduard Gibbon
Eduard Gibbon resource site Includes a biography and further information
Calendar of Author Resource site which contains a biography and more information on Eduard Gibbon A brief biography of Edward Gibbon and some quotes

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