Edward Gibbon

1737 - 1794


The History of the Decline and Fall

of the Roman Empire








Title (1776)

Volume I (1776)

Volume II (1781)

Volume III (1781)

Volume IV (1788)

Volume V (1788)

Volume VI (1788)





Preface of the Author

Chapter I: The Extent and Military Force of the Empire, in the Age of the Antonines.

Chapter II: Of the Union and internal Prosperity of the Roman Empire, in the Age of the Antonines.

Chapter III: Of the Constitution of the Roman Empire, in the Age of the Antonines.

Chapter IV: The Cruelty, Follies, and Murder of Commodus. – Election of Pertinax – His Attempts to reform the State – His Assassination by the Praetorian Guards.

Chapter V: Public Sale of the Empire to Didius Julianus by the Praetorian Guards – Clodius Albinus in Britain, Pescennius Niger in Syria, and Septimius Severus in Pannonia, declare against the Murderers of Pertinax – Civil Wars and Victory of Severus over his three Rivals – Relaxation of Discipline – New Maxims of Government.

Chapter VI: The Death of Severus. – Tyranny of Caracalla. – Usurpation of Macrinus. – Follies of Elagabalus. – Virtues of Alexander Severus. – Licentiousness of the Army. – General State of the Roman Finances.

Chapter VII: The Elevation and Tyranny of Maximin. – Rebellion in Africa and Italy, under the Authority of the Senate. – Civil Wars and Seditions. – Violent Deaths of Maximin and his Son, of Maximus and Balbinus, and of the three Gordians. – Usurpation and secular Games of Philip.

Chapter VIII: Of the state of Persia after the Restoration of the Monarchy by Artaxerxes.

Chapter IX: The state of Germany till the Invasion of the Barbarians, in the Time of the Emperor Decius.

Chapter X: The Emperors Decius, Gallus, Aemilianus, Valerian, and Gallienus. – The general Irruption of the Barbarians. – The thirty Tyrants.

Chapter XI: Reign of Claudius. – Defeat of the Goths. – Victories, Triumph, and Death of Aurelian.

Chapter XII: Conduct of the Army and Senate after the Death of Aurelian. – Reigns of Tacitus, Probus, Carus, and his Sons.

Chapter XIII: The Reign of Diocletian and his three Associates, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius. – General Re-establishment of Order and Tranquillity. – The Persian War, Victory, and Triumph. – The new Form of Administration. – Abdication and Retirement of Diocletian and Maximian.

Chapter XIV: Troubles after the Abdication of Diocletian. – Death of Constantius. – Elevation of Constantine and Maxentius. – Six Emperors at the same Time. – Death of Maximian and Galerius. – Victories of Constantine over Maxentius and Licinus. – Re-union of the Empire under the Authority of Constantine.

Chapter XV: The Progress of the Christian Religion, and the Sentiments, Manners, Numbers, and Condition, of the primitive Christians.

Chapter XVI: The Conduct of the Roman Government towards the Christians, from the Reign of Nero to that of Constantine.



Chapter XVII: Foundation of Constantinople. – Political System of Constantine, and his Successors. – Military Discipline. – The Palace. – The Finances.

Chapter XVIII: Character of Constantine. – Gothic War. – Death of Constantine. – Division of the Empire among his three Sons. – Persian War. – Tragic Deaths of Constantine the Younger, and Constans. – Usurpation of Magnentius. – Civil War. – Victory of Constantius.

Chapter XIX: Constantius Sole Emperor. – Elevation and Death of Gallus. – Danger and Elevation of Julian. – Sarmatian and Persian Wars. – Victories of Julian in Gaul.

Chapter XX: The Motives, Progress, and Effects of the Conversion of Constantine. – Legal Establishment and Constitution of the Christian, or Catholic Church.

Chapter XXI: Persecution of Heresy. – The Schism of the Donatists. – The Arian Controversy. – Athanasius. – Distracted State of the Church and Empire under Constantine and his Sons. – Toleration of Paganism.

Chapter XXII: Julian is declared Emperor by the Legions of Gaul. – His March and Success. – The Death of Constantius. – Civil Administration of Julian.

Chapter XXIII: The Religion of Julian. – Universal Toleration. – He attempts to restore and reform the Pagan Worship – To rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem – His artful Persecution of the Christians. – Mutual Zeal and Injustice.

Chapter XXIV: Residence of Julian at Antioch. – His successful Expedition against the Persians. – Passage of the Tigris – The Retreat and Death of Julian. – Election of Jovian. – He saves the Roman Army by a disgraceful Treaty.

Chapter XXV: The Government and Death of Jovian. – Election of Valentinian, who associates his Brother Valens, and makes his final Division of the Eastern and Western Empires. – Revolt of Procopius. – Civil and Ecclesiastical Administration. – Germany. – Britain. – Africa. – The East. – The Danube. – Death of Valentinian. – His two Sons, Gratian and Valentinian II. succeed to the Western Empire.

Chapter XXVI: Manners of the pastoral Nations. – Progress of the Huns, from China to Europe. – Flight of the Goths. – They pass the Danube. – Gothic War. – Defeat and Death of Valens. – Gratian invests Theodosius with the Eastern Empire. – His Character and Success. – Peace and Settlement of the Goths.



Chapter XXVII: Death of Gratian. – Ruin of Arianism. – St. Ambrose. – First civil War, against Maximus. – Character, Administration, and Pennance of Theodosius. – Death of Valentinian II. – Second civil War, against Eugenius. – Death of Theodosius.

Chapter XXVIII: Final Destruction of Paganism. – Introduction of the Worship of Saints, and Relics, among the Christians.

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.

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 overrun Gaul. – Usurpation of Constantine in the West. – Disgrace and Death of Stilicho.

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.

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.

Chapter XXXIII: Death of Honorius. – Valentinian III. Emperor of the East. – Administration of his Mother Placidia – Aetius and Boniface. – Conquest of Africa by the Vandals.

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.

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

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.

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.

Chapter XXXVIII: 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.




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.

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. – Abolition of the Schools of Athens, and the Consulship of Rome.

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.

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 Aethiopians.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 and Abyssinians.



Chapter XLVIII: Plan of the Fifth and Sixth Volumes. – Succession and Characters of the Greek Emperors of Constantinople, from the Time of Heraclius to the Latin Conquest.

Chapter XLIX: Introduction, Worship, and Persecution of Images. – Revolt of Italy and Rome. – Temporal Dominion of the Popes. – Conquest of Italy by the Franks. – Establishment of Images. – Character and Coronation of Charlemagne. – Restoration and Decay of the Roman Empire in the West. – Independence of Italy. – Constitution of the Germanic Body.

Chapter L: Description of Arabia and its Inhabitants. – Birth, Character, and Doctrine of Mahomet. – He preaches at Mecca. – Flies to Medina. – Propagates his Religion by the Sword. – Voluntary or reluctant Submission of the Arabs. – His Death and Successors. – The Claims and Fortunes of Ali and his Descendants.

Chapter LI: The Conquest of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, by the Arabs or Saracens. – Empire of the Caliphs, or Successors of Mahomet. – State of the Christians, &c., under their Government.

Chapter LII: The Two Sieges of Constantinople by the Arabs. – Their Invasion of France, and Defeat by Charles Martel. – Civil War of the Ommiades and Abbassides. – Learning of the Arabs. – Luxury of the Caliphs. – Naval Enterprises On Crete, Sicily, and Rome. – Decay and Division of the Empire of the Caliphs. – Defeats and Victories of the Greek Emperors.

Chapter LIII: State of the Eastern Empire in the Tenth Century. – Extent and Division. – Wealth and Revenue. – Palace of Constantinople. – Titles and Offices. – Pride and Power of the Emperors. – Tactics of the Greeks, Arabs, and Franks. – Loss of the Latin Tongue. – Studies and Solitude of the Greeks.

Chapter LIV: Origin and Doctrine of the Paulicians. – Their Persecution by the Greek Emperors. – Revolt in Armenia &c. – Transplantation into Thrace. – Propagation in the West. – The Seeds, Character, and Consequences of the Reformation.

Chapter LV: The Bulgarians. – Origin, Migrations, and Settlement of the Hungarians. – Their Inroads in the East and West. – The Monarchy of Russia. – Geography and Trade. – Wars of the Russians against the Greek Empire. – Conversion of the Barbarians.

Chapter LVI: The Saracens, Franks, and Greeks, in Italy. – First Adventures and Settlement of the Normans. – Character and Conquest of Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia – Deliverance of Sicily by his Brother Roger. – Victories of Robert over the Emperors of the East and West. – Roger, King of Sicily, invades Africa and Greece. – The Emperor Manuel Comnenus. – Wars of the Greeks and Normans. – Extinction of the Normans.

Chapter LVII: The Turks of the House of Seljuk. – Their Revolt against Mahmud Conqueror of Hindostan. – Togrul subdues Persia, and protects the Caliphs. – Defeat and Captivity of the Emperor Romanus Diogenes by Alp Arslan. – Power and Magnificence of Malek Shah. – Conquest of Asia Minor and Syria. – State and Oppression of Jerusalem. – Pilgrimages to the Holy Sepulchre.



Chapter LVIII: Origin and Numbers of the First Crusade. – Characters of the Latin Princes. – Their March to Constantinople. – Policy of the Greek Emperor Alexius. – Conquest of Nice, Antioch, and Jerusalem, by the Franks. – Deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre. – Godfrey of Bouillon, First King of Jerusalem. – Institutions of the French or Latin Kingdom.

Chapter LIX: Preservation of the Greek Empire. – Numbers, Passage, and Event, of the Second and Third Crusades. – St. Bernard. – Reign of Saladin in Egypt and Syria. – His Conquest of Jerusalem. – Naval Crusades. – Richard the First of England. – Pope Innocent the Third; and the Fourth and Fifth Crusades. – The Emperor Frederic the Second. – Louis the Ninth of France; and the Two last Crusades. – Expulsion of the Latins or Franks by the Mamelukes.

Chapter LX: Schism of the Greeks and Latins. – State of Constantinople. – Revolt of the Bulgarians. – Isaac Angelus dethroned by his Brother Alexius. – Origin of the Fourth Crusade. – Alliance of the French and Venetians with the Son of Isaac. – Their naval Expedition to Constantinople. – The Two Sieges and final Conquest of the City by the Latins.

Chapter LXI: Partition of the Empire by the French and Venetians, – Five Latin Emperors of the Houses of Flanders and Courtenay. – Their Wars against the Bulgarians and Greeks. – Weakness and Poverty of the Latin Empire. – Recovery of Constantinople by the Greeks. – General Consequences of the Crusades.

Chapter LXII: The Greek Emperors of Nice and Constantinople. – Elevation and Reign of Michael Palaeologus. – His false Union with the Pope and the Latin Church. – Hostile Designs of Charles of Anjou. – Revolt of Sicily. – War of the Catalans in Asia and Greece. – Revolutions and present State of Athens.

Chapter LXIII: Civil Wars, and Ruin of the Greek Empire. – Reigns of Andronicus, the Elder and Younger, and John Palaeologus. – Regency, Revolt, Reign, and Abdication of John Cantacuzene. – Establishment of a Genoese Colony at Pera or Galata. – Their Wars with the Empire and City of Constantinople.

Chapter LXIV: Conquests of Zingis Khan and the Moguls from China to Poland. – Escape of Constantinople and the Greeks. – Origin of the Ottoman Turks in Bithynia. – Reigns and Victories of Othman, Orchan, Amurath the First, and Bajazet the First. – Foundation and Progress of the Turkish Monarchy in Asia and Europe. – Danger of Constantinople and the Greek Empire.

Chapter LXV: Elevation of Timour or Tamerlane to the Throne of Samarcand. – His Conquests in Persia, Georgia, Tartary, Russia, India, Syria, and Anatolia. – His Turkish War. – Defeat and Captivity of Bajazet. – Death of Timour. – Civil War of the Sons of Bajazet. – Restoration of the Turkish Monarchy by Mahomet the First. – Siege of Constantinople by Amurath the Second.

Chapter LXVI: Applications of the Eastern Emperors to the Popes. – Visits to the West, of John the First, Manuel, and John the Second, Palaeologus. – Union of the Greek and Latin Churches, promoted by the Council of Basil, and concluded at Ferrara and Florence. – State of Literature at Constantinople. – Its Revival in Italy by the Greek Fugitives. – Curiosity and Emulation of the Latins.

Chapter LXVII: Schism of the Greeks and Latins. – Reign and Character of Amurath the Second. – Crusade of Ladislaus, King of Hungary. – His Defeat and Death. – John Huniades. – Scanderbeg. – Constantine Palaeologus last Emperor of the East.

Chapter LXVIII: Reign and Character of Mahomet the Second. – Siege, Assault, and Final Conquest, of Constantinople by the Turks. – Death of Constantine Palaeologus. – Servitude of the Greeks. – Extinction of the Roman Empire in the East. – Consternation of Europe. – Conquests and Death of Mahomet the Second.

Chapter LXIX: State of Rome from the Twelfth Century. – Temporal Dominion of the Popes. – Seditions of the City. – Political Heresy of Arnold of Brescia. – Restoration of the Republic. – The Senators. – Pride of the Romans. – Their Wars. – They are deprived of the Election and Presence of the Popes, who retire to Avignon. – The Jubilee. – Noble Families of Rome. – Feud of the Colonna and Ursini.

Chapter LXX: Character and Coronation of Petrarch. – Restoration of the Freedom and Government of Rome by the Tribune Rienzi. – His Virtues and Vices, his Expulsion and Death. – Return of the Popes from Avignon. – Great Schism of the West. – Reunion of the Latin Church. – Last Struggles of Roman Liberty. – Statutes of Rome. – Final Settlement of the Ecclesiastical State.

Chapter LXXI: Prospect of the Ruins of Rome in the Fifteenth Century. – Four Causes of Decay and Destruction. – Example of the Coliseum. – Renovation of the City. – Conclusion of the whole Work.