Gibbon, Edward (1737–1794), an English historian. Gibbon's six-volume The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88) was immediately recognized as a masterpiece because of its scholarship and high literary quality. Gibbon spent 25 years in writing it. The first part covers the Roman Empire until its collapse in Western Europe about 500 A.D. At this point he declares: “I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion.” “Barbarism” refers to the constant attacks of the barbarians, “religion” to Christianity; in Gibbon's view, Christianity, along with luxury and despotism, weakened the warlike spirit of the Romans. The second part relates the history of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire until its destruction in 1453.
Gibbon attended Oxford University, but only briefly. He was a member of the House of Commons, 1774–80 and 1781–83.