Week 1: Tuesday, October 6, 2015
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire


In our first week of study during the History of Medieval Italy, we will look back at the fall of the Roman Empire and examine the many theories about the causes.

“The Fall of the Western Roman Empire was the period of decline in the Western Roman Empire in which it disintegrated and split into numerous successor states. By 476 AD when Odoacer deposed the Emperor Romulus, the Western Roman Empire wielded negligible military, political, or financial power and had no effective control over the scattered Western domains that could still be described as Roman. Invading “barbarians” had established their own polities on most of the area of the Western Empire. While its legitimacy lasted for centuries longer and its cultural influence remains today, the Western Empire never had the strength to rise again.” from Wikipedia. Photo above: Edward Gibbon by Henry Walton.


The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon published in 1776-1789

“The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (sometimes shortened to Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) is a book of history written by the English historian Edward Gibbon, which traces the trajectory of Western civilization (as well as the Islamic and Mongolian conquests) from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. It was published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776 and went through six printings. Volumes II and III were published in 1781; volumes IV, V, and VI in 1788–89. The original volumes were published in quarto sections, a common publishing practice of the time. The work covers the history of the Roman Empire, Europe, and the Catholic Church from 98 to 1590 and discusses the decline of the Roman Empire in the East and West. Because of its relative objectivity and heavy use of primary sources, unusual at the time, its methodology became a model for later historians. This led to Gibbon being called the first “modern historian of ancient Rome”. (from Wikipedia)