A Concise Overview of Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon
“All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance.”

This outline provides a concise summary of Gibbon’s life and scholarly contributions.

I. Edward Gibbon’s Early Life and Rise to a Scholar

• Edward Gibbon was born into a wealthy family in southern London in a district called Putney on April 27, 1737. Edward was a sickly child and was the oldest of seven. His mother died when he was young during her seventh childbirth. His father, a member of the British Parliament, then had the task of raising Edward and his siblings on his own.
• Edward was a very astute pupil, but his studies were cut short by his sickly condition. Yet, Edward continued to study using the abundance of books he had at his father’s house. When Edward was just fifteen years old, his father sent him to study at Oxford.   Through his university studies he began to appreciate the importance of history and the Bible. Edward was influenced by various books and other sources, which encouraged him to convert to Roman Catholicism. His father, upon hearing the news, was outraged by Edward’s change and had him sent to Lausanne, Switzerland where he studied under the fervent Calvinist scholar, Daniel Pavilliard. Pavilliard converted him back to the Anglican Church and had him renounce Catholicism all together. In addition to studying religion in Lausanne, Edward also acquired proficiency in both Latin and French.

II. Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

• In October of 1764 Edward Gibbon traveled to the city of Rome and had a first hand experience of the ancient ruins that once made the Roman Empire. This trip is believed to have inspired Gibbon to write his famous series The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Yet, it was not until over a decade later in 1776 that Gibbon first published his book series.
• In the series Gibbon discusses how Rome started to decline and eventually how it fell. The text starts with the death of Marcus...