|About this Recording
NA0129 - GIBBON, E.: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 5 (The) (Unabridged)
SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS
The doctrines of the primitive church • The schism of the Oriental sects over the incarnation of Christ; his human and divine nature • The position and influence of Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria • The opposition to him of Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople • Contentious Synod of Ephesus • position of Emperor Theodosius • Eutyches supports Cyril • Interposition of Roman pontiff • Council of Chalcedon • Civil and ecclesiastical discord put down by Vitalian in first Christian religious war • Emperor Justinian as a theologian • His intolerance • The Monothelite controversy • Move towards Catholic unity by the end of the 7th century • The opposition and fortunes in the East of: I. The Nestorians — II. The Jacobites — III. The Maronites — IV. The Armenians — V. The Copts and Abyssinians.
Gibbon’s plan for the remainder of his project is to continue with the history of the decline of the Eastern Empire to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 • An assessment of the Greek emperors of the East, from Heraclius to the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins • Heraclius (610–641) • Constantine III (641) • Constans II (641–668) • Constantine IV (668–685) • Justinian II (685–695, banished) • Leontius (695–698) • Tiberius III (698–705) • Justinian II (restored, 705–711) • Philippicus (711–713) • Anastasius II (713–715) • Theodosius III (715–717) • Leo the Isaurian (717–741) • Constantine V (Copronymus) (741–775) • Leo IV the Khazar (775–780) • Constantine VI (780–797) • Irene (797–802) • Nicephorus I (802–811) • Michael I (811–813) • Leo V the Armenian (813–820) • Theophilus (829–842) • Michael III (842–867) • Basil I the Macedonian (867–886) • Leo VI the Philosopher (886–912) • Alexander (912–913) • Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (913–959) (with Romanus I Lekapenos 920–944) • Romanus II (959–963) • Basil II (963–1025) (with Nicephorus II 963–969 and John I Zimisces 969–976) • Constantine VIII (1035–28) • Romanus III (1028–1034) • Michael IV the Paphlagonian (1034–1041) • Michael V Kalaphates (1041–1042) • Constantine IX Monomachus (1042–1055) • Theodora (1055–1056) • Michael VI (1056–1057) • Isaac I Comnenus (1057–1059) • Constantine X Doukas (1059–1067) • Romanus IV Diogenes (1068–1071) • Michael VII Doukas (1071–1078) • Nicephorus III Botaneiates (1078–1081) • Alexius I Komnenos (1081–1118) • John II (1118–1143) • Manuel I (1143–1180) • Alexius II (1180–1183) • Andronicus I (1183–1185)
Influence of Christianity on the fall of the Roman Empire • The growth of the worship of Christian images, and the resulting persecution by Leo III, emperor of the East • Images defended by Italian Pope • Conflict and split between Eastern and Western churches • State of Rome in the 8th century • Temporal rule of Popes • Weakness of Rome encourages attacks from Lombardy • Relief and occupation of Roma and Italy by the Franks • Worship of images restored • The reign of the emperor Charlemagne • His character • Establishment of the Holy Roman Empire in the West • Weakness of his successors • The state of the German provinces • Invasion and conquest of Italy by the German confederates • Uniting of German interests, formation of Hanseatic League and establishment of government by monarch, church and third estate
Description of Arabia, its inhabitants, their character and nature • Their religion before Mohammed • The birth, character and doctrine of Mohammed • Comparison of Jewish, Christian and Moslem religions • The Koran • Legends of Mohammed • Aspects of the Mohammedan religion • Early history of Mohammed, his conversions etc. • Mohammed adopts an aggressive policy • Conversion by the sword • The taking of Mecca • Last days and death of Mohammed • Assessment of Mohammed, the pros and cons • Abubeker becomes Mohammed’s successor • Disputes and conflicts over subsequent successors • The claims and fortunes of Ali and his descendants • Mohammed’s achievement and lasting influence
Strife among the Moslems after the death of Mohammed • His successors assume the title of Caliph and inspire a Holy War • Moslem fanaticism and zeal over a period of 100 years subdues Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa and Spain to the rule of Moslem religion
The Arabs twice besiege Constantinople and are repelled • The Greeks powerful weapon: ‘Greek fire’ • Some provinces of Gaul successfully attacked by the Arabs • Gaul and the future of Christendom ensured by the arms of Charles Martell • Rivalry among the Moslems, civil war of the Ommiades and Abbassides • Unity of Moslem cause weakened by factions and pursuit of pleasure • The spread of Arabic learning • Harun al-Rashid exacts tribute from Constantinople • Subduing of Crete, Sicily and Rome by the Moslems • Rome relieved by Caesarius and his fleet • Decay and division of the Caliphs • Nicephorus Phocas, general of the East, recovers Crete from the Arabs • More victories for the Greek emperors
The state of the Eastern Empire in the 10th century • Its weakness and vulnerability • The importance of the manufacture of silk to the East’s economy • The decadence of the emperors • Their ostentatious architecture, ceremonies and offices • The defensive and offensive systems of the Greeks, Muslims and Franks • Loss of the Latin language in the East, and separation of Western and Eastern cultures • Growth in the Eastern Empire of the study of the learning of Classical Greece • The insularity of the Byzantine Greeks
The state of Christianity in the 7th century • A new sect, the Paulicians, a branch of the Manichaeans, formed in the East • Its nature and radical beliefs • The spread of the Paulician doctrine by Constantine-Silvanus • Opposition of the emperors and conflict • Revolt in Armenia • Transplantation of sect, by Constantine Copronymus, into Thrace • Subsequent propagation of Paulician doctrine in the West • Seeds of the Reformation sown by Paulicians in 11th and 12th centuries • Their influence on Luther, Calvin and Zuinglius, and on the progress and consequences of the Reformation
Barbarian attacks on the Empire between the 7th and 12th centuries • The Bulgarians cross the Danube and attack the Eastern Empire • Their origin • The Hungarians attack • Their origin, their nature, culture and customs • Inroads of the Hungarians into the East and West • Their progress checked by the Saxons • The emergence of the Russians as a power • Their origins, customs, culture and trade • Their attack on Constantinople by sea and land • Their defeat by John Zimisces • Conversion of the Russians to Christianity • Conversion of the barbarians to Christianity during the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries
Attacks on Italy by the Saracens and Franks • United forces of Eastern and Western Empires temporarily hold off the attacks • The rise of the Normans • Their origins and early military successes, their settlement • Robert Guiscard • His character and success as a leader of the Normans • His Italian conquests, Apulia and Calabria • Deliverance of Sicily from the Saracens by Roger, his brother • Robert determines to conquer the Eastern Empire • He attacks Constantinople • Defended by Alexius Comnenus, with mercenary support from the West – Robert’s victories over the emperors of the East and West • Death of Robert • Robert’s nephew Roger creates the Kingdom of Sicily • He attacks Africa and renews the Norman attack on the Eastern Empire • His adversary, the Emperor Manuel Comnenus, negotiates a truce • The decline and extinction of the Norman race
EMPERORS OF ROME
AUGUSTUS: 27 BC–14 AD
Emperors of the Western Empire after Theodosius I
End of the Western Empire: Odoacer, King of Italy
EMPERORS OF THE EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE
CONSTANTINE I: 306–337
Dynasty of Theodosius
THEODOSIUS I, the Great: 379–395 (sole emperor after 392)
Dynasty of Leo
LEO I, the Thracian: 457–474
Dynasty of Justinian
JUSTIN I: 518–527
Dynasty of Heraclius
Syrian or Isaurian Dynasty (the Iconoclasts)
LEO III, the Isaurian: 717–741
Phrygian or Amorian Dynasty
MICHAEL II, the Amorian: 820–829
BASIL I, the Macedonian: 867–886
Dynasty of the Comneni
ALEXIOS I, Komnenos: 1081–1118
Dynasty of the Angeli
ISAAC II, Angelos: 1185–1195 (dethroned)
Capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade and establishment of Latin emperors in the city
Latin Emperors of the East
BALDWIN I: 1204–1205
Eastern Emperors in Nicaea
THEODORE I, Laskaris: 1204–1222
Recapture of Constantinople and reestablishment of the Eastern emperors there
Dynasty of the Palaiologi
MICHAEL VIII, Palaiologos: 1261–1282
Capture of Constantinople by Mahomet II
End of the Roman Empire
It was at Rome, on the 15th of October, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefoot friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind.
Memoirs of My Life and Writings, 1796
Gibbon was born at Putney, Surrey, on 8 May 1737, into a comfortable, though not particularly wealthy, family. At the age of ten, his mother died and he was brought up by an aunt. During childhood he was always sick and of a weak disposition. This interrupted any regular attendance at school and led to his being privately educated at home, where he had access to his father’s extensive library. This developed the natural scholar in Gibbon at an early age.
At age 15, he went to Magdalen College, Oxford, and he ‘arrived with a stock of erudition that might have puzzled a doctor’ (Gibbon, Memoirs).
Ever curious, Gibbon challenged the Anglican clergymen who were his tutors as to the true faith. His inclination was towards the Roman Catholic faith, and after consultation with a Roman Catholic student, he converted to Catholicism. It was a rash decision, for by English law, Roman Catholics were excluded from public office and ostracised from many rights available to their Anglo-Catholic brethren.
When Gibbon’s father learnt of his son’s actions he was furious and insisted that his son should be sent to Lausanne, Switzerland, which was a centre of Calvinism, to be re-indoctrinated to the Protestant faith.
Gibbon studied there under the Calvinist minister Daniel Pavilliard for nearly five years (1753–1758). During this time he renounced his conversion, became fluent in French and Latin, had a meeting with Voltaire, and for the one and only time in his life, fell in love, with a beautiful and highly intelligent girl, Suzanne Curchod. Once again, Gibbon was thwarted by his father who would not countenance ‘this strange alliance’, and Gibbon reluctantly returned to England. Reflecting on this in his Memoirs, Gibbon wrote: ‘I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son.’
With the advent of the Seven Years War in 1760, Gibbon dutifully joined, with his father, the local militia, which was assembled in response to the possibility of a French invasion. He does not seem to have shone as an officer. At the end of his term of service he embarked on a grand tour of Europe, an obligatory experience for educated young men in the 18th century. Arriving in Rome early in October 1764, he was overwhelmed by its magnificence and antiquities, and as he said in his memoirs it was here he first began to conceive his magnum opus, but it would be nine years before he began to write it. The first volume of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, shortened here to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in 1776. It was an instant success and quickly ran into three editions. Volumes II and III appeared in 1781, with equivalent success. In the same year, Gibbon was elected as an MP for Lymington, but despite a dead end job in the board of trade in Lord North’s declining government, his parliamentary career was uneventful. Resorting to his true vocation, he moved back to Lausanne and shared accommodation with an old student friend, George Deyverdun, and completed the last three volumes of his Decline and Fall, which were all published in 1788, to coincide with his 51st birthday.
In 1793, when the effects of the French Revolution began to intrude on his Swiss idyll, he returned to England. His health had begun to fail, an enlarged scrotum caused him considerable pain and despite several unsuccessful operations, he died in his sleep on 16 January 1794, at the age of 56.
A NOTE ON THE TEXT
The text used in this recording of Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is the standard Everyman edition of 1910. It is a clean text unabridged and unedited, and in six volumes it reflects the division of chapters of the original edition of the 1780s.
Notes by David Timson
Close the window