The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Volume 2 / Edition 2

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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 volumes three and four, Gibbon vividly recounts the waves of barbarian invaders under commanders such as Alaric and Attila, who overran and eventually destroyed the West. He then turns his gaze to events in the East, where even the achievements of the Byzantine emperor Justinian and the campaigns of the brilliant military leader Belisarius could not conceal the fundamental weaknesses of their empire.

This first volume covers the last two hundred years of the Roman Empire leading up to its collapse.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140433944
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 1024
  • Sales rank: 703,506
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), English historian. It was on a visit to Rome that he conceived the idea of his magnificent and panoramic history The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vol., 1776–88) which won immediate acclaim, despite some harsh criticism. Gibbon himself was assured of the greatness of his work, which is, indeed, one of the most-read historical works of modern times.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter I
The Extent of the Empire in the Age of the Antonines Introduction.

The extent and military force of the empire in the age of the Antonines. In the second century of the Christian Era, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth and the most civilized portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valor. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy period of more than fourscore years [a.d. 98–180], the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this, and of the two succeeding chapters, to describe the prosperous condition of their empire; and afterwards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall, a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth.
The principal conquests of the Romans were achieved under the republic; and the emperors, for the most part, were satisfied with preserving those dominions which had been acquired by the policy of the senate, the active emulation of the consuls, and the martial enthusiasm of the people. The seven first centuries were filled with a rapid succession of triumphs; but it was reserved for Augustusto relinquish the ambitious design of subduing the whole earth, and to introduce a spirit of moderation into the public councils. Inclined to peace by his temper and situation, it was easy for him to discover that Rome, in her present exalted situation, had much less to hope than to fear from the chance of arms; and that, in the prosecution of remote wars, the undertaking became every day more difficult, the event more doubtful, and the possession more precarious, and less beneficial.
Happily for the repose of mankind, the moderate system recommended by the wisdom of Augustus was adopted by the fears and vices of his immediate successors. Engaged in the pursuit of pleasure, or in the exercise of tyranny, the first Caesars seldom showed themselves to the armies, or to the provinces; nor were they disposed to suffer that those triumphs which their indolence neglected should be usurped by the conduct and valor of their lieutenants. The military fame of a subject was considered as an insolent invasion of the Imperial prerogative; and it became the duty, as well as interest, of every Roman general to guard the frontiers entrusted to his care without aspiring to conquests which might have proved no less fatal to himself than to the vanquished Barbarians.
The only accession which the Roman empire received during the first century of the Christian Era was the province of Britain. In this single instance, the successors of Caesar and Augustus were persuaded to follow the example of the former, rather than the precept of the latter. The proximity of its situation to the coast of Gaul seemed to invite their arms; the pleasing though doubtful intelligence of a pearl fishery attracted their avarice; and as Britain was viewed in the light of a distinct and insulated world, the conquest scarcely formed any exception to the general system of continental measures. After a war of about forty years, undertaken by the most stupid, maintained by the most dissolute, and terminated by the most timid of all the emperors, the far greater part of the island submitted to the Roman yoke. The various tribes of Britain possessed valor without conduct, and the love of freedom without the spirit of union. They took up arms with savage fierceness; they laid them down, or turned them against each other, with wild inconsistency; and while they fought singly, they were successively subdued. Neither the fortitude of Caractacus, nor the despair of Boadicea, nor the fanaticism of the Druids could avert the slavery of their country, or resist the steady progress of the Imperial generals, who maintained the national glory when the throne was disgraced by the weakest, or the most vicious of mankind. Such was the state of the Roman frontiers, and such the maxims of Imperial policy, from the death of Augustus to the accession of Trajan. That virtuous and active prince had received the education of a soldier and possessed the talents of a general. The peaceful system of his predecessors was interrupted by scenes of war and conquest; and the legions, after a long interval, beheld a military emperor at their head. The first exploits of Trajan were against the Dacians, the most warlike of men, who dwelt beyond the Danube and who, during the reign of Domitian, had insulted with impunity the Majesty of Rome. To the strength and fierceness of Barbarians they added a contempt for life, which was derived from a warm persuasion of the immortality and transmigration of the soul. Decebalus, the Dacian king, approved himself a rival not unworthy of Trajan; nor did he despair of his own and the public fortune till, by the confession of his enemies, he had exhausted every resource both of valor and policy. This memorable war, with a very short suspension of hostilities, lasted five years [a.d. 101–106]; and as the emperor could exert, without control, the whole force of the state, it was terminated by an absolute submission of the Barbarians. The new province of Dacia . . . formed a second exception to the precept of Augustus.
Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters. The praises of Alexander, transmitted by a succession of poets and historians, had kindled a dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan. Like him, the Roman emperor undertook an expedition against the nations of the East; but he lamented with a sigh that his advanced age scarcely left him any hopes of equaling the renown of the son of Philip. Yet the success of Trajan, however transient, was rapid and specious. The degenerate Parthians, broken by intestine discord, fled before his arms. He descended the River Tigris in triumph, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian Gulf. He enjoyed the honor of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals who ever navigated that remote sea. His fleets ravaged the coast of Arabia; and Trajan vainly flattered himself that he was approaching towards the confines of India. Every day the astonished senate received the intelligence of new names and new nations that acknowledged his sway. They were informed that . . . the rich countries of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria were reduced into the state of provinces. But the death of Trajan soon clouded the splendid prospect; and it was justly to be dreaded that so many distant nations would throw off the unaccustomed yoke when they were no longer restrained by the powerful hand which had imposed it.
It was an ancient tradition that when the Capitol was founded by one of the Roman kings, the god Terminus (who presided over boundaries, and was represented, according to the fashion of that age, by a large stone) alone, among all the inferior deities, refused to yield his place to Jupiter himself. A favorable inference was drawn from his obstinacy, which was interpreted by the augurs as a sure presage that the boundaries of the Roman power would never recede. During many ages, the prediction, as it is usual, contributed to its own accomplishment. But though Terminus had resisted the majesty of Jupiter, he submitted to the authority of the emperor Hadrian. The resignation of all the eastern conquests of Trajan was the first measure of his reign . . . ; and, in compliance with the precept of Augustus, once more established the Euphrates as the frontier of the empire. Censure, which arraigns the public actions and the private motives of princes, has ascribed to envy a conduct which might be attributed to the prudence and moderation of Hadrian. The various character of that emperor, capable, by turns, of the meanest and the most generous sentiments, may afford some color to the suspicion. It was, however, scarcely in his power to place the superiority of his predecessor in a more conspicuous light than by thus confessing himself unequal to the task of defending the conquests of Trajan.
Notwithstanding this difference in their personal conduct, the general system of Augustus was equally adopted and uniformly pursued by Hadrian and by the two Antonines. They persisted in the design of maintaining the dignity of the empire without attempting to enlarge its limits. By every honorable expedient they invited the friendship of the Barbarians; and endeavored to convince mankind that the Roman power, raised above the temptation of conquest, was actuated only by the love of order and justice. During a long period of forty-three years, their virtuous labors were crowned with success; and if we except a few slight hostilities that served to exercise the legions of the frontier, the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius offer the fair prospect of universal peace. The Roman name was revered among the most remote nations of the earth. The fiercest Barbarians frequently submitted their differences to the arbitration of the emperor; and we are informed by a contemporary historian that he had seen ambassadors who were refused the honor which they came to solicit of being admitted into the rank of subjects.
The terror of the Roman arms added weight and dignity to the moderation of the emperors. They preserved peace by a constant preparation for war; and while justice regulated their conduct, they announced to the nations on their confines that they were as little disposed to endure as to offer an injury. The military strength which it had been sufficient for Hadrian and the elder Antoninus to display was exerted against the Parthians and the Germans by the emperor Marcus. The hostilities of the Barbarians provoked the resentment of that philosophic monarch, and, in the prosecution of a just defense, Marcus and his generals obtained many signal victories, both on the Euphrates and on the Danube. The military establishment of the Roman empire, which thus assured either its tranquility or success, will now become the proper and important object of our attention.
In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love, a property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws which it was their interest as well as duty to maintain. But in proportion as the public freedom was lost in extent of conquest, war was gradually improved into an art, and degraded into a trade. The legions themselves, even at the time when they were recruited in the most distant provinces, were supposed to consist of Roman citizens. That distinction was generally considered either as a legal qualification or as a proper recompense for the soldier; but a more serious regard was paid to the essential merit of age, strength, and military stature. . . . After every qualification of property had been laid aside, the armies of the Roman emperors were still commanded, for the most part, by officers of liberal birth and education; but the common soldiers, like the mercenary troops of modern Europe, were drawn from the meanest, and very frequently from the most profligate, of mankind.

Copyright© 2003 by Edward Gibbon

Author Biography:

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Table of Contents

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume IIChapter XXVII
Death of Gratian—Ruin of Arianism.—St. Ambrose.—First civil War againt Maximus.—Character, Administration and Pennance of Theodosius.—Death of Valentinian II.—Second civil War, againt Eugenius.—Death of Theodosius.


379-383. Character and Conduct of the Emperor Gratian. His Defects
383 Discontent of the Roman Troops. Revolt of Maximus in Britain. Flight and Death of Gratian
383-387. Treaty of Peace between Maximus and Theodosius
380 Baptism and orthodox Edicts of Theodosius
340-380. Arianism of Constantinople
378 Gregory Nazianzen accepts the mission of Constantinople
380 Ruin of Arianism at Constantinople
381 In the East. The Council of Constantinople. Retreat of Gregory Nazianzen
380-394. Edicts of Theodosius against the Heretics
385 Execution of Priscillian and his Associates
375-397. Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan
385 His successful Opposition to the Empress Justina
387 Maximus invades Italy. Flight of Valentinian. Theodosius takes Arms in the Cause of Valentinian
388 Defeat and Death of Maximus. Virtues of Theodosius. Faults of Theodosius
387 The Sedition of Antioch. Clemency of Theodosius
390 Sedition and Massacre of Thessalonica
388 Influence and Conduct of Ambrose
390 Pennance of Theodosius
388-391. Generosity of Theodosius
391 Character of Valentinian
392 His Death
392-394. Usurpation of Eugenius. Theodosius prepares for War
394 His Victory over Eugenius
395 Death of Theodosius. Corruption of the Times. The Infantry lay aside their Armour

Chapter XXVII
Final Destruction of Paganism.—Introduction of the Worship of Saints, and Relics, among the Christians.


378-395. The Destruction of the Pagan Religion. State of Paganism at Rome.
384 Petition of the Senate for the Altar of Victory
388 Conversion of Rome
381 Destruction of the Temples in the Provinces. The Temple of Serapis at Alexandria
389 Its final Destruction
390 The Pagan Religion is prohibited. Oppressed
390-420. Finally extinguished. The Worship of the Christian Martyrs. General Reflections
I. Fabulous Martyrs and Relics
II. Miracles
III. Revival of Polytheism
IV. Introduction of Pagan Ceremonies

Chapter XXIX
Final Division of the Roman Empire between the Sons of Theodosius—Reign of Arcadius and Honorius—Administration of Rufinus and Stilicho.—Revolt and Defeat of Gildo in Africa.


395 Division of the Empire between Arcadius and Honorius
386-395. Character and Administration of Rufinus
395 He oppresses the East. He is disappointed, by the Marriage of Arcadius. Character of Stilicho, the Minister, and General of the Western Empire
385-408. His Military Command
395 The Fall and Death of Rufinus
396 Discord of the two Empires
386-398. Revolt of Gildo in Africa
397 He is condemned by the Roman Senate
398 The African War
398 Defeat and Death of Gildo
398 Marriage, and Character of Honorius

Chapter XXX
Revolt of the Goths.—They plunder Greece. Two great Invasions of Italy by Alaric and Radagaisus.—They are repulsed by Stilicho.—The Germans over-run Gaul.—Usurpation of Constantine in the West.—Disgrace and Death of Stilicho.


395 Revolt of the Goths
396 Alaric marches into Greece
397 He is attacked by Stilicho. Escapes to Epirus
398 Alaric is declared Master-general of the eastern Illyricum. Is proclaimed King of the Visigoths
400-403. He invades Italy
403 Honorius flies from Milan. He is pursued and besieged by the Goths. Battle of Pollentia. Boldness and Retreat of Alaric
404 The Triumph of Honorius at Rome. The Gladiators abolished. Honorius fixes his Residence at Ravenna
400 The Revolutions of Scythia
405 Emigration of the northern Germans
406 Radagaisus invades Italy. Besieges Florence. Threatens Rome. Defeat and Destruction of his Army by Stilicho. The Remainder of the Germans invade Gaul
407 Desolation of Gaul. Revolt of the British Army. Constantine is acknowledged in Britain and Gaul
408 He reduces Spain
404-408. Negociation of Alaric and Stilicho
408 Debates of the Roman Senate. Intrigues of the Palace. Disgrace and Death of Stilicho. His Memory persecuted. The Poet Claudian among the Train of Stilicho's Dependents

Chapter XXXI
Invasion of Italy by Alaric.—Manners of the Roman Senate and People.—Rome is thrice besieged, and at length pillaged by the Goths.—Death of Alaric.—The Goths evacuate Italy.—Fall of Constantine.—Gaul and Spain are occupied by the Barbarians.—Independence of Britain.


408 Weakness of the Court of Ravenna. Alaric marches to Rome. Hannibal at the Gates of Rome. Genealogy of the Senators. The Anician Family. Wealth of the Roman Nobles. Their Manners. Character of the Roman Nobles, by Ammianus Marcellinus. State and Character of the People of Rome. Public Distribution of Bread, Bacon, Oil, Wine, &c. Use of the public Baths. Games and Spectacles. Populousness of Rome. First Siege of Rome by the Goths. Famine. Plague. Superstition
409 Alaric accepts a Ransom, and raises the Siege. Fruitless Negociations for Peace. Change and Succession of Ministers. Second Siege of Rome by the Goths. Attalus is created Emperor by the Goths and Romans
410 He is degraded by Alaric. Third Siege and Sack of Rome by the Goths. Respect of the Goths for the Christian Religion. Pillage and Fire of Rome. Captives and Fugitives. Sack of Rome by the Troops of Charles V. Alaric evacuates Rome and ravages Italy
408-412. Possession of Italy by the Goths
410 Death of Alaric
412 Adolphus, King of the Goths, concludes a Peace with the Empire, and marches into Gaul
414 His Marriage with Placidia. The Gothic Treasures
410-417. Laws for the Relief of Italy and Rome
413 Revolt and Defeat of Heraclian, Count of Africa
409-413. Revolutions of Gaul and Spain. Character and Victories of the General Constantius
411 Death of the Usurper Constantine
411-416. Fall of the Usurpers, Jovinus, Sebastian, and Attalus
409 Invasion of Spain by the Suevi, Vandals, Alani, &c.
414 Adolphus, King of Goths, marches into Spain
415 His Death
415-418. The Goths conquer and restore Spain
419 Their Establishment in Aquitain. The Burgundians
420, &c. State of the Barbarians in Gaul
409 Revolt of Britain and Armorica
409-449. State of Britain
418 Assembly of the Seven Provinces of Gaul

Chapter XXXII
Arcadius Emperor of the East.—Administration and Disgrace of Eutropius.—Revolt of Gainas.—Persecution of St. John Chrysostom.—Theodosius II. Emperor of the East.—His Sister Pulcheria.—His Wife Eudocia.—The Persian War, and Division of Armenia.


395-1453. The Empire of the East
395-408. Reign of Arcadius
395-399. Administration and Character of Eutropius. His Venality and Injustice. Ruin of Abundantius. Destruction of Timasius
397 A cruel and unjust Law of Treason
399 Rebellion of Tribigild. Fall of Eutropius
400 Conspiracy and Fall of Gainas
398 Election and Merit of St. John Chrysostom
398-403. His Administration and Defects
403 Chrysostom is persecuted by the Empress Eudocia. Popular Tumults at Constantinople
404 Exile of Chrysostom
407 His Death
438 His Relics transported to Constantinople
408 Death of Arcadius. His supposed Testament
408-415. Administration of Anthemius
414-453. Character and Administration of Pulcheria. Education and Character of Theodosius the Younger
421-460. Character and Adventures of the Empress Eudocia
422 The Persian War
431-440. Armenia divided between the Persians and the Romans

Chapter XXXIII
Death of Honorius.—Valentinian III. Emperor of the West.—Administration of his Mother Placidia.—Ætius and Boniface.—Conquest of Africa by the Vandals.


423 Last Years and Death of Honorius
423-425. Elevation and Fall of the Usurper John
425-455. Valentinian III. Emperor of the West
425-450. Administration of his Mother Placidia. Her two Generals, #Ætius and Boniface
427 Error and Revolt of Boniface in Africa
428 He invites the Vandals. Genseric king of the Vandals
429 He lands in Africa. Reviews his Army. The Moors. The Donatists
430 Tardy Repentance of Boniface. Desolation of Africa. Siege of Hippo. Death of St. Augustin
431 Defeat and Retreat of Boniface
432 His Death
431-439. Progress of the Vandals in Africa
439 They surprise Carthage. African Exiles and Captives. Fable of the Seven Sleepers

Chapter XXXIV
The Character, Conquests, and Court of Attila, King of the Huns.—Death of Theodosius the Younger.—Elevation of Marcian to the Empire of the East.


376-433. The Huns. Their Establishment in modern Hungary
433-453. Reign of Attila. His Figure and Character. He discovers the Sword of Mars. Acquires the Empire of Scythia and Germany
430-440. The Huns invade Persia
441, &c. They attack the Eastern Empire. Ravage Europe, as far as Constantinople. The Scythian, or Tartar Wars. State of the Captives
446 Treaty of Peace between Attila, and the Eastern Empire. Spirit of the Azimuntines. Embassies from Attila to Constantinople
448 The Embassy of Maximin to Attila. The royal Village and Palace. The Behaviour of Attila to the Roman Ambassadors. The royal Feasts. Conspiracy of the Romans against the Life of Attila. He reprimands, and forgives the Emperor
450 Theodosius the Younger dies. Is succeeded by Marcian

Chapter XXXV
Invasion of Gaul by Attila.—He is repulsed by Ætius and the Visigoths.—Attila invades and evacuates Italy.—The Deaths of Attila, Ætius, and Valentinian the Third


450 Attila threatens both Empires, and prepares to invade Gaul
433-454. Character and Administration of Ætius. His Connection with the Huns and Alani
419-451. The Visigoths in Gaul under the Reign of Theodoric
435-439. The Goths besiege Narbonne, &c.
420-451. The Franks in Gaul under the Merovingian Kings. The Adventures of the Princess Honoria
451 Attila invades Gaul and besieges Orleans. Alliance of the Romans and Visigoths. Attila retires to the Plains of Champagne. Battle of Châlons. Retreat of Attila
452 Invasion of Italy by Attila. Foundation of the Republic of Venice. Attila gives Peace to the Romans
453 The Death of Attila. Destruction of his Empire
454 Valentinian murders the Patrician Ætius. ravishes the Wife of Maximus
455 Death of Valentinian. Symptoms of the Decay and Ruin of the Roman Government

Chapter XXXVI
Sack of Rome by Genseric, King of the Vandals.—His naval Depredations.—Succession of the last Emperors of the West, Maximus, Avitus, Majorian, Severus, Anthemius, Olybrius, Glycerius, Nepos, Augustulus.—Total Extinction of the Western Empire.—Reign of Odoacer, the first Barbarian King of Italy.


439-445. Naval Power of the Vandals
455 The Character and Reign of the Emperor Maximus. His Death. Sack of Rome by the Vandals. The Emperor Avitus
453-466. Character of Theodoric, King of the Visigoths
456 His Expedition into Spain. Avitus is deposed
457 Character and Elevation of Majorian
457-461. His Salutary Laws. The Edifices of Rome
457 Majorian prepares to invade Africa. The Loss of his Fleet
461 His Death
461-467. Ricimer reigns under the Name of Severus. Revolt of Marcellinus in Dalmatia. of Ætius, in Gaul
361-467. Naval War of the Vandals
462, &C. Negocations with the Eastern Empire
457-474. Leo, Emperor of the East
467-472. Anthemius, Emperor of the West. The Festival of the Lupercalia
468 Preparations against the Vandals of Africa. Failure of the Expedition
462-472. Conquests of the Visigoths in Spain and Gaul
468 Trial of Arvandus
471 Discord of Anthemius and Ricimer
472 Olybrius, Emperor of the West. Sack of Rome, and Death of Anthemius. Death of Ricimer. of Olybrius
472-475. Julius Nepos and Glycerius, Emperors of the West
475 The Patrician Orestes
476 His Son Augustulus, the last Emperor of the West
476-490. Odoacer, King of Italy
476 or 479. Extinction of the Western Empire. Augustus is banished to the Lucullan Villa. Decay of the Roman Spirit
476-490. Character and Reign of Odoacer. Miserable State of Italy

Chapter XXXVII
Origin, Progress, and Effects of the monastic Life.—Conversion of the Barbarians to Christianity and Arianism.—Persecution of the Vandals in Africa.—Extinction of Arianism among the Barbarians.


I. Institution of the Monastic Life
Origin of the Monks
305 Antony, and the Monks of Egypt
341 Propagation of the monastic Life at Rome
328 Hilarion in Palestine
360 Basil in Pontus
370 Martin in Gaul. Causes of the rapid Progress of the monastic Life. Obedience of the Monks. Their Dress and Habitations. Their Diet. Their manual Labour. Their Riches. Their Solitude. Their Devotion and Visions. The Coenobites and Anachorets
395-451. Simeon Stylites. Miracles and Worship of the Monks. Superstition of the Age
II. Conversion of the Barbarians
360, &c. Ulphilas, Apostle of the Goths
400, &c.The Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, &c. embrace Christianity. Motives of their Faith. Effects of their Conversion. They are involved in the Arian Heresy. General Toleration. Arian Persecution of the Vandals
429-477. Genseric
477 Hunneric
484 Gundamund
496 Thorismund
523 Hilderic
530 Gelimer. A general View of the Persecution in Africa. Catholic Frauds. Miracles
500-700. The Ruin of Arianism among the Barbarians
577-584. Revolt and Martyrdom of Hermenegild in Spain
586-589. Conversion of Recared and the Visigoths of Spain
600, &c. Conversion of the Lombards of Italy
612-712. Persecution of the Jews in Spain. Conclusion

Reign and Conversion of Clovis.—His Victories over the Alemanni, Burgundians, and Visigoths.—Establishment of the French Monarchy in Gaul.—Laws of the Barbarians.—State of the Romans.—The Visigoths of Spain.—Conquest of Britain by the Saxons.


The Revolution of Gaul
476-485. Euric, King of the Visigoths
481-511. Clovis, King of the Franks
486 His Victory over Syagrius
496 Defeat and Submission of the Alemanni. Conversion of Clovis
497, &c. Submission of the Armoricans and the Roman Troops
499 The Burgundian War
500 Victory of Clovis
532 Final Conquest of Burgundy by the Franks
507 The Gothic War. Victory of Clovis
508 Conquest of Aquitain by the Franks
510 Consulship of Clovis
536 Final Establishment of the French Monarchy in Gaul. Political Controversy. Laws of the Barbarians. Pecuniary Fines for Homicide. Judgments of God. Judicial Combats. Division of Land by the Barbarians. Domain and Benefices of the Merovingians. Private Usurpations. Personal Servitude. Example of Auvergne. Story of Attalus. Privileges of the Romans of Gaul. Anarchy of the Franks. The Visigoths of Spain. Legislative Assemblies of Spain. Code of the Visigoths. Revolution of Britain
449 Descent of the Saxons
455-582. Establishment of the Saxon Heptarchy. State of the Britons. Their Resistance. Their Flight. The Fame of Arthur. Desolation of Britain. Servitude of the Britons. Manners of the Britons. Obscure or fabulous State of Britain. Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

Chapter XXXIX
Zeno and Anastasius, Emperors of the East.—Birth, Education, and first Exploits of Theodoric the Ostrogoth.—His Invasion and Conquest of Italy.—The Gothic Kingdom of Italy.—State of the West.—Military and Civil Government.—The Senator Boethius.—Last Acts and Death of Theodoric.


455-475. Birth and Education of Theodoric
474-491. The Reign of Zeno

491-518. of Anastasius
475-488. Service and Revolt of Theodoric
489 He undertakes the Conquest of Italy. His march
489-490. The three Defeats of Odoacer
493 His Capitulation and Death
493-526. Reign of Theodoric, King of Italy. Partition of Lands. Separation of the Goths and Italians. Foreign Policy of Theodoric. His defensive Wars
509 His Naval Armaments. Civil Government of Italy according to the Roman Laws. Prosperity of Rome
500 Visit of Theodoric. Flourishing State of Italy. Theodoric an Arian. His Toleration of the Catholics. Vices of his Government. He is provoked to persecute the Catholics. Character, Studies, and Honours, of Boethius. His Patriotism. He is accused of Treason
524 His Imprisonment and Death
525 Death of Symmachus
526 Remorse and Death of Theodoric

Chapter XL
Elevation of Justin the Elder.—Reign of Justinian:—I. The Empress Theodora.—II. Factions of the Circus, and Sedition of Constantinople.—III. Trade and Manufacture of Silk.—IV. Finances and Taxes.—V. Edifices of Justinian.—Church of St. Sophia.—Fortifications and Frontiers of the Eastern Empire.—VI. Abolition of the Schools of Athens, and the Consulship of Rome.


482 or 483. Birth of the Emperor Justinian
518-527. Elevation and Reign of his Uncle Justin I.
520-527. Adoption and Succession of Justinian
527-565. The Reign of Justinian. Character and Histories of Procopius. Division of the Reign of Justinian. Birth and Vices of the Empress Theodora. Her Marriage with Justinian. Her Tyranny. Her Virtues
548 And Death. The Factions of the Circus. At Rome. They distract Constantinople and the East. Justinian favours the Blues
532 Sedition of Constantinople, surnamed Nika. The Distress of Justinian. Firmness of Theodora. The Sedition is suppressed. Agriculture and Manufactures of the Eastern Empire. The Use of Silk by the Romans. Importation from China by Land and Sea. Introduction of Silk-worms into Greece. State of the Revenue. Avarice and Profusion of Justinian. Pernicious Savings. Remittances. Taxes. Monopolies. Venality. Testaments. The Ministers of Justinian. John of Cappadocia. His Edifices and Architects. Foundation of the Church of St. Sophia. Description. Marbles. Riches. Churches and Palaces. Fortifications of Europe. Security of Asia after the Conquest of Isauria. Fortifications of the Empire, from the Euxine to the Persian Frontier
488 Death of Perozes, King of Persia
502-505. The Persian War. Fortifications of Dara. The Caspian or Iberian Gates. The Schools of Athens. They are suppressed by Justinian. Proclus

485-529. His Successors. The last of the Philosophers
541 The Roman Consulship extinguished by Justinian

Chapter XLI
Conquests of Justinian in the West.—Character and first Campaigns of Belisarius.—He invades and subdues the Vandal Kingdom of Africa.—His Triumph.—The Gothic War.—He recovers Sicily, Naples, and Rome.—Siege of Rome by the Goths.—Their Retreat and Losses.—Surrender of Ravenna.—Glory of Belisarius.—His domestic Shame and Misfortunes.


533 Justinian resolves to invade Africa
523-530. State of the Vandals. Hilderic
530-534. Gelimer. Debates on the African War. Character and Choice of Belisarius
529-532. His Services in the Persian War
533 Preparations for the African War. Departure of the Fleet. Belisarius lands on the Coast of Africa. Defeats the Vandals in a first Battle. Reduction of Carthage. Final Defeat of Gelimer and the Vandals
534 Conquest of Africa by Belisarius. Distress and Captivity of Gelimer. Return and Triumph of Belisarius
535 His sole Consulship. End of Gelimer and the Vandals. Manners and Defeat of the Moors. Neutrality of the Visigoths
550-620. Conquests of the Romans in Spain
534 Belisarius threatens the Ostrogoths of Italy
522-534. Government and Death of Amalasontha, Queen of Italy
535 Her Exile and Death. Belisarius invades and subdues Sicily
534-536. Reign and Weakness of Theodatus, the Gothic King of Italy
537 Belisarius invades Italy, and reduces Naples
536-540. Vitiges, King of Italy
536 Belisarius enters Rome
537 Siege of Rome by the Goths. Valour of Belisarius. His Defence of Rome. Repulses a general Assault of the Goths. His Sallies. Distress of the City. Exile of Pope Sylverius. Deliverance of the City. Belisarius recovers many Cities of Italy
538 The Goths raise the Siege of Rome. Lose Remini. Retire to Ravenna. Jealousy of the Roman Generals. Death of Constantine. The Eunuch Narses. Firmness and Authority of Belisarius
538, 539. Invasion of Italy by the Franks. Destruction of Milan. Belisarius besieges Ravenna
539 Subdues the Gothic Kingdom of Italy. Captivity of Vitiges
540 Return and Glory of Belisarius. Secret History of his Wife Antonina. Her Lover Theodosius. Resentment of Belisarius and her Son Photius. Persecution of her Son. Disgrace and Submission of Belisarius

Chapter XLII
State of the Barbaric World.—Establishment of the Lombards on the Danube.—Tribes and Inroads of the Sclavonians. Origin, Empire, and Embassies of the Turks.—The Flight of the Avars.—Chosroes I. or Nushirvan King of Persia.—His prosperous Reign and Wars with the Romans.—The Colchian or Lazic War.—The Æthiopians.


527-565. Weakness of the Empire of Justinian. State of the Barbarians. The Gepidæ. The Lombards. The Sclavonians. Their Inroads
545 Origin and Monarchy of the Turks in Asia. The Avars fly before the Turks, and approach the Empire
558 Their Embassy to Constantinople
569-582. Embassies of the Turks and Romans500-530. State of Persia
531-579. Reign of Nushirvan, or Chosroes. His Love of Learning
533-539. Peace and War with the Romans
540 He invades Syria. And ruins Antioch
541 Defence of the East by Belisarius. Description of Colchos, Lazica, or Mingrelia. Manners of the Natives. Revolution of Colchos. Under the Persians, before Christ, 500. Under the Romans, before Christ, 60
130 Visit of Arrian
522 Conversion of the Lazi
542-549. Revolt and Repentance of the Colchians
549-551. Siege of Petra
549-556. The Colchian or Lazic War
540-561. Negociations and Treaties between Justinian and Chosroes
522 Conquests of the Abyssinians
533 Their Alliance with Justinian

Chapter XLIII
Rebellions of Africa.—Restoration of the Gothic Kingdom by Totila.—Loss and Recovery of Rome.—Final Conquest of Italy by Narses.—Extinction of the Ostrogoths.—Defeat of the Franks and Alemanni.—Last Victory, Disgrace and Death of Belisarius.—Death and Character of Justinian.—Comets, Earthquakes, and Plague.


535-545. The Troubles of Africa
543-558. Rebellion of the Moors
540 Revolt of the Goths
541-544. Victories of Totila, King of Italy. Contrast of Greek Vice and Gothic Virtue
544-548. Second Command of Belisarius in Italy
546 Rome besieged by the Goths. Attempt of Belisarius. Rome taken by the Goths
547 Recovered by Belisarius
548 Final Recal of Belisarius
549 Rome again taken by the Goths.
549-551. Preparations of Justinian for the Gothic War
552 Character and Expedition of the Eunuch Narses. Defeat and Death of Teias, the last King of the Goths. Invasion of Italy by the Franks and Alamanni
554 Defeat of the Franks and Alamanni by Narses
554-568. Settlement of Italy
559 Invasion of the Bulgarians. Last Victory of Belisarius
561 His Disgrace and Death
565 Death and Character of Justinian
531.539. Comets. Earthquakes
542 Plague-its Origin and Nature
542-594. Extent and Duration

Chapter XLIV
Idea of the Roman Jurisprudence.—The Laws of the Kings.—The Twelve Tables of the Decemvirs.—The Laws of the People.—The Decrees of the Senate.—The Edicts of the Magistrates and Emperors.—Authority of the Civilians.—Code, Pandects, Novels, and Institutes of Justinian:—I. Rights of Persons.—II. Rights of Things.—III. Private Injuries and Actions.—IV. Crimes and Punishments

The Civil or Roman Law. Laws of the Kings of Rome. The Twelve Tables of the Decemvirs. Their Character and Influence. Laws of the People. Decrees of the Senate. Edicts of the Prætors. The perpetual Edict. Constitutions of the Emperors. Their Legislative Power. Their Rescripts. Forms of the Roman Law. Succession of the Civil Lawyers


303-648. The first Period
648-988. Second Period
988-1230. Third Period. Their Philosophy. Authority. Sects


527 Reformation of the Roman Law by Justinian
528, 529. The Code of Justinian
530-533. The Pandects or Digest. Praise and Censure of the Code and Pandects. Loss of the ancient Jurisprudence. Legal Inconstancy of Justinian
534 Second Edition of the Code
534-565. The Novels
533 The Institutes
I. OF PERSONS. Freemen and Slaves. Fathers and Children. Limitations of the paternal Authority. Husbands and Wives. The religious Rites of Marriage. Freedom of the Matrimonial Contract. Liberty and Abuse of Divorce. Limitations of the Liberty of Divorce. Incest, Concubines, and Bastards. Guardians and Wards
II. OF THINGS. Right of Property. Of Inheritance and Succession. Civil Degrees of Kindred. Introduction and Liberty of Testaments. Legacies. Codicils and Trusts.
III. OF ACTIONS. Promises. Benefits. Interest of Money. Injuries
IV. OF CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS. Severity of the Twelve Tables. Abolition or Oblivion of penal Laws. Revival of capital Punishments. Measure of Guilt. Unnatural Vice. Rigour of the Christian Emperors. Judgments of the People. Select Judges. Assessors. Voluntary Exile and Death. Abuses of Civil Jurisprudence

Chapter XLV
Reign of the younger Justin.—Embassy of the Avars.—Their Settlement on the Danube.—Conquest of Italy by the Lombards.—Adoption and Reign of Tiberius.—Of Maurice.—State of Italy under the Lombards and the Exarchs.—Of Ravenna.—Distress of Rome.—Character and Pontificate of Gregory the First.


565 Death of Justinian
565-574. Reign of Justin II. or the Younger
566 His Consulship. Embassy of the Avars. Alboin, King of the Lombards—his Valour, Love, and Revenge. The Lombards and Avars destroy the King and Kingdom of the Gepidæ
567 Alboin undertakes the Conquest of Italy. Disaffection and Death of Narses
568-570. Conquest of a great Part of Italy by the Lombards
573 Alboin is murdered by his Wife Rosamond. Her Flight and Death. Clepho, King of the Lombards. Weakness of the Emperor Justin
574 Association of Tiberius
578 Death of Justin II.
578-582. Reign of Tiberius II. His Virtues
582-602. The Reign of Maurice. Distress of Italy
584-590. Autharis, King of the Lombards. The Exarchate of Ravenna. The Kingdom of the Lombards. Language and Manners of the Lombards. Dress and Marriage. Government
643 Laws. Misery of Rome. The Tombs and Relics of the Apostles. Birth and Profession of Gregory the Roman
590-604. Pontificate of Gregory the Great, or First. His spiritual Office. And temporal Government. His Estates. And Alms. The Saviour of Rome

Chapter XLVI
Revolutions of Persia after the Death of Chosroes or Nushirvan.—His Son Hormouz, a Tyrant, is deposed.—Usurpation of Baharam.—Flight and Restoration of Chosroes II.-His Gratitude to the Romans.—The Chagan of the Avars.—Revolt of the Army against Maurice.—His Death.—Tyranny of Phocas.—Elevation of Heraclius.—The Persian War.—Chosroes subdues Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor.—Siege of Constantinople by the Persians and Avars.—Persian Expeditions.—Victories and Triumph of Heraclius.


Contest of Rome and Persia
570 Conquest of Yemen by Nushirvan
572 His last War with the Romans
579 His Death
579-590. Tyranny and Vices of his son Hormouz
590 Exploits of Bahram. His Rebellion. Hormouz is deposed and imprisoned. Elevation of his Son Chosroes. Death of Hormouz. Chosroes flies to the Romans. His Return, and final Victory. Death of Bahram
591-603. Restoration and Policy of Chosroes
570-600. Pride, Policy, and the Power of the Chagan of the Avars
595-602. Wars of Maurice against the Avars. State of the Roman Armies. Their Discontent. And Rebellion
602 Election of Phocas. Revolt of Constantinople. Death of Maurice and his Children
602-610. Phocas Emperor. His Character. And Tyranny
610 His Fall and Death
610-642. Reign of Heraclius
603 Chosroes invades the Roman Empire
611 His Conquest of Syria
614 Of Palestine
616 Of Egypt. Of Asia Minor. His Reign and Magnificence
610-622. Distress of Heraclius. He solicits Peace
621 His Preparations for War
622 First Expedition of Heraclius against the Persians
623, 624, 625. His second Expedition
626 Deliverance of Constantinople from the Persians and Avars. Alliances and Conquests of Heraclius
627 His third Expedition. And Victories. Flight of Chosroes
628 He is deposed. And murdered by his Son Siroes. Treaty of Peace between the two Empires

Chapter XLVII
Theological History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation.—The Human and Divine Nature of Christ.—Enmity of the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Constantinople.—St. Cyril and Nestorius.—Third General Council of Ephesus.—Heresy of Eutyches.—Fourth General Council of Chalcedon.—Civil and Ecclesiastical Discord.— Intolerance of Justinian.—The Three Chapters.—The Monothelite Controversy.—State of the Oriental Sects:—I. The Nestorians.—II. The Jacobites.—III. The Maronites.—IV. The Armenians.—V. The Copts.—VI. The Abyssinians


The Incarnation of Christ
I. A pure Man to the Ebonites. His Birth and Elevation
II. A pure God to the Docetes. His incorruptible Body
III. Double Nature of Cerinthus
IV. Divine Incarnation of Apollinaris
V. Orthodox Consent and verbal Disputes
412-444. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria
413, 414, 415. His Tyranny
428 Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople
429-431. His Heresy
431 First Council of Ephesus. Condemnation of Nestorius. Opposition of the Orientals
431-435. Victory of Cyril
435 Exile of Nestorius
448 Heresy of Eutyches
449 Second Council of Ephesus
451 Council of Chalcedon. Faith of Chalcedon
451-482. Discord of the East
482 The Henoticon of Zeno
508-518. The Trisagion, and religious War, till the Death of Anastasius
514 First religious War
519-565. Theological Character and Government of Justinian. His Persecution of Heretics. Of Pagans. Of Jews. Of Samaritans. His Orthodoxy
532-698. The three Chapters
553 Vth general Council: IId of Constantinople
564 Heresy of Justinian
629 The Monothelite Controversy
639 The Ecthesis of Heraclius
648 The Type of Constans
680, 681. VIth general Council: IIId of Constantinople. Union of the Greek and Latin Churches. Perpetual Separation of the Oriental Sects
I. The Nestorians
500 Sole Masters of Persia.
500-1200 Their Missions in Tartary, India, China, &c.
883 The Christians of St. Thomas in India
II. The Jacobites
III. The Maronites
IV. The Armenians
V. The Copts or Egyptians

537-568. The Patriarch Theodosius
538 Paul
551 Apollinaris
580 Eulogius
609 John. Their Separation and Decay
625-661. Benjamin, the Jacobite Patriarch
VI. The Abyssinians and Nubians
530 Church of Abyssinia
1525-1550 The Portuguese in Abyssinia
1557 Mission of the Jesuits
1626 Conversion of the Emperor
1632 Final Expulsion of the Jesuits

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 74 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2005

    A Monument For The Ages -- In A Flawed Edition

    This legendary work, which some consider the greatest history writing of all time, may strike potential readers as too intimidating to actually read, but resist that. Much more than the story of the Roman Empire from Augustus to 476 AD, it encompasses Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and some of outer Asia from ancient times through the whole of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Renaissance, and also tells much of the history of Christianity and Islam. Gibbon's justly famous prose style, with its combination of weightiness, good humor and perfect balance-- a kind of linguistic equivalent of the music of contemporaries Mozart and Haydn-- will rock you through all 3,000-plus pages/1,500-or-so years. Its old-fashioned emphasis on personal drama first, then ideas, makes it a surprisingly easy and compelling read, albeit long. Read some of it every day while reading other books on the side and you will be comfortably carried through the ages. (It took me about eight enjoyable months.) What the book does better than any work you're ever going to read is make you truly feel the rhythm and weight of that ongoing accumulation of time and our actions in it that we call history, and the way Gibbon balances these moments, from the highest attempts of consciousness in art and faith and government and law, to the lowest breakdowns of human violence, whether by the 'civilized' people or barbarians, gives the work its truth. That truth, plus its style, has made it a classic. Plus the sheer cinematic excitement of hurtling through the ages and passing Augustus, Constantine, Christ, Attila, Justinian, Mohammed, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, et al, in action, along with armies of lesser but still overwhelmingly vivid actors and actresses. Yes, modern scholarship has supplemented this work, especially in considering the economic reasons for Rome's decline, and you don't have to accept every one of Gibbon's judgments (for instance, blaming Christianity for an effeminate sapping of old Roman vigor), but today's historians can only dream of achieving his style and sweep. Warning: Don't read when young. You need to have lived some and read a lot and traveled some and thought a lot first. Second warning: While the book itself is five stars plus, the Penguin edition of it has real failings: An absolutely incredible complete absence of maps, republishing the inadequate original index, and above all else the infuriating and outrageous refusal of editor David Womersley to translate Gibbon's Latin, Greek and French footnotes, the most famous footnotes ever written, which make up (with the English footnotes) a volume of their own. By not doing so he has blacked out an important part of this great work. But the rest will amaze you.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Unreadable with massive typos

    Unreadable bad scan

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Horrible OCR. Not worth getting

    A miserable attempt at an e-book . So many errors you will feel you are translating it yourself.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    poorly assembled

    The pagination is disastrious. Poorly assembled e-book.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2013

    Great work but flawed

    Good book needs some editing though

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2000



    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Starts at chapter XLVII

    OCR errors

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2001

    A Remarkable History

    Although over two centuries old, Gibbon's narrative is still the definitive history of Rome and its collapse. The tale begins with the reigns of the Antonines and continues until the reigns of Constantine and Julian. Gibbon combines sweeping historical themese with minute but interesting anecdotes, tempering all with an Enlightenment view of the world. At times charming, at times shocking, Gibbon shows us the world of the Romans and uses them as a fable, a moral guide for our own lives. Certainly not outdated, endlessly fascinating, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all who wish to know both Rome and themselves better

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Easy grand prose, breat stories

    All presented in just enough does to keep one interested. A truly important and fascinating piece of sholarship.

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    Not the Penguin edition despite being sold via a link on that page

    I purchased this ebook directly from the page for the Penguin edition of the unabridged Decline and Fall, where it is offered as a substitute edition. Unfortunately it is not clearly marked as such - the print saying so is so minuscule that an ant couldn't read it. So be forewarned it is not the Penguin edition. No ebook is yet available for the Penguin edition prepared by David P. Womersley. Penguin has responded to my inquiry about the ebook and says that their edition of Gibbons will be available in the future. They are in the process of converting their vast number of publications to ebook form and are uncertain when they'll get to this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Worthless Google scanned version.

    No proof-reading whatsoever. Totally unreadable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 1, 2012

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