Edward Gibbon (1737–1794)
|Born||April 27, 1737|
Putney, England, UK
|Died||January 16, 1794 (aged 56)|
London, England, UK
Edward Gibbon (April 27, 1737 – January 16, 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. Events 1124 - David I becomes King of Scotland. 1296 - Battle of Dunbar: The Scots are defeated Year 1737 ( MDCCXXXVII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Putney is a district of south-west London in the London Borough of Wandsworth. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland The Kingdom of Great Britain, also known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain, was a State in northwest Europe, in existence from 1707 to 1800 Events 27 BC - The title Augustus is bestowed upon Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian by the Roman Senate. Year 1794 ( MDCCXCIV) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a London ( ˈlʌndən is the capital and largest urban area in the United Kingdom. Events 1124 - David I becomes King of Scotland. 1296 - Battle of Dunbar: The Scots are defeated Year 1737 ( MDCCXXXVII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Events 27 BC - The title Augustus is bestowed upon Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian by the Roman Senate. Year 1794 ( MDCCXCIV) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a A Member of Parliament, or MP, is a representative elected by the voters to a Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (known popularly as The History) was written by English Historian The History is known principally for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open denigration of organized religion, though the extent of this is disputed by some critics. 
Edward Gibbon was born in 1737, the son of Edward and Judith Gibbon at Lime Grove, in the town of Putney, near London, England. Putney is a district of south-west London in the London Borough of Wandsworth. London ( ˈlʌndən is the capital and largest urban area in the United Kingdom. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland He had six siblings: five brothers and one sister, all of whom died in infancy. His grandfather, also named Edward, had lost all in the notorious South Sea Bubble scandal, but eventually regained nearly all of it, so that Gibbon's father was able to inherit a substantial estate. For the Noel Coward play see South Sea Bubble (play. The South Sea Bubble of 1720 was an Economic bubble that occurred
As a youth, his health was under constant threat. He described himself as "a puny child, neglected by my Mother, starved by my nurse. " At age nine, Gibbon was sent to Dr. Woddeson's school at Kingston-on-Thames, shortly after which his mother died. He then took up residence in the Westminster School boarding house, owned by his adored "Aunt Kitty," Catherine Porten. The Royal College of St Peter in Westminster, almost always known as Westminster School, is one of Britain 's leading boys' Independent schools with Soon after she died in 1786, he remembered her as rescuing him from his mother's disdain, and imparting "the first rudiments of knowledge, the first exercise of reason, and a taste for books which is still the pleasure and glory of my life. " By 1751, Gibbon's reading was already voracious and certainly pointed toward his future pursuits: Laurence Echard's Roman History (1713), William Howel(l)'s An Institution of General History (1680–85), and several of the 65 volumes of the acclaimed Universal History from the Earliest Account of Time (1747–1768). Laurence Echard (circa 1670 - 1730 was a British Historian. He was born at Barsham, Suffolk, and educated at Cambridge took orders and became Archdeacon 
Following a stay at Bath to improve his health, Gibbon in 1752 at the age of 15, was sent by his father to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was enrolled as a gentleman-commoner. Magdalen College redirects here see also Magdalene College Cambridge Magdalen College (ˈmɔːdlɨn "maudlin" is one of the constituent He was ill-suited, however, to the college atmosphere and later rued his 14 months there as the "most idle and unprofitable" of his life. But his penchant for "theological controversy," (his aunt's influence), fully bloomed when he came under the spell of rationalist theologian Conyers Middleton (1683–1750) and his Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers (1749). Conyers Middleton ( December 27, 1683 - July 28, 1750) was an English clergyman In that tract, Middleton denied the validity of such powers; Gibbon promptly objected. The product of that disagreement, with some assistance from the work of Catholic Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627–1704), and that of the Elizabethan Jesuit Robert Parsons (1546–1610), yielded the most memorable event of his time at Oxford: his conversion to Roman Catholicism on June 8, 1753. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet ( September 27, 1627 - April 12, 1704) was a French Bishop and theologian, renowned Robert Persons (born June 24 1546, Nether Stowey, Somerset, England - died April 15 1610, Rome He was further "corrupted" by the 'free thinking' deism of the playwright/poet couple David and Lucy Mallet; and finally Gibbon's father, already "in despair," had had enough. David Mallet (or Malloch) ( c 1705–1765 was a Scottish Dramatist.
Within weeks of his conversion, the youngster was removed from Oxford and sent to live under the care and tutelage of David Pavillard, Reformed pastor of Lausanne, Switzerland. Lausanne ( pronounced, Losanna is a city in Romandy, the French -speaking part of Switzerland, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva It was here that he made one of his life's two great friendships, that of Jacques Georges Deyverdun; the other being John Baker Holroyd (later Lord Sheffield). John Baker-Holroyd 1st Earl of Sheffield ( 21 December 1735 &ndash 30 May 1821) was an English Politician who came from Just a year and a half later, on Christmas Day 1754, he reconverted to Protestantism. Protestantism refers to the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated in the 16th century Protestant Reformation. "The articles of the Romish creed," he wrote, "disappeared like a dream. " He remained in Lausanne for five intellectually productive years, a period that greatly enriched Gibbon's already immense aptitude for scholarship and erudition: he read Latin literature; traveled throughout Switzerland studying its cantons' constitutions; and aggressively mined the works of Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, John Locke, Pierre Bayle, and Blaise Pascal. Hugo Grotius or Huig de Groot, or Hugo de Groot; ( Delft, 10 April 1583 Rostock, 28 August 1645 Baron Samuel von Pufendorf ( January 8, 1632 &ndash October 13, 1694) was a German Jurist, political Philosopher John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704 was an English Philosopher. Pierre Bayle ( November 18, 1647 December 28, 1706) was a French Philosopher and writer Blaise Pascal (blɛz paskal (June 19 1623 &ndash August 19 1662 was a French Mathematician, Physicist, and religious Philosopher
He also met the one romance in his life: the pastor of Crassy's daughter, a young woman named Suzanne Curchod, who would later become the wife of Louis XVI's finance minister Jacques Necker, and the mother of Madame de Staël. Suzanne Curchod (1737&ndash 6 May 1794) was the wife of Jacques Necker. Jacques Necker ( September 30, 1732 &ndash April 9, 1804) was a French statesman of Swiss origin and finance Baronne Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein ( née Necker ( April 22, 1766 &ndash July 14, 1817) (stal commonly known as The two developed a warm affinity; Gibbon proceeded to propose marriage, but ultimately wedlock was out of the question, blocked both by his father's staunch disapproval and Curchod's equally staunch reluctance to leave Switzerland. Gibbon returned to England in August 1758 to face his father's steely scowl. There could be no refusal of the elder's wishes. Gibbon put it this way: "After a painful struggle I yielded to my fate: I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son. " He proceeded to cut off all contact with Curchod, even as she vowed to wait for him. Their final emotional break apparently came at Ferney, France in the spring of 1764, though they did see each other at least one more time a year later. Ferney-Voltaire is a commune in the department of Ain in eastern France. 
Upon his return to England, Gibbon published his first book, Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature in 1761, which produced an initial taste of celebrity and distinguished him, in Paris at least, as a man of letters. Year 1761 ( MDCCLXI) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a  From 1759 to 1770, Gibbon served on active duty and in reserve with the South Hampshire militia, his deactivation in December 1762 coinciding with the militia's dispersal at the end of the Seven Years' War. Year 1759 ( MDCCLIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year Year 1770 ( MDCCLXX) was a Common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year starting on Friday The Seven Years' War (1756&ndash1763 involved all of the major European powers of the period causing 900000 to 1400000 deaths  The following year he embarked on the Grand Tour (of continental Europe), which included a visit to Rome. The Grand Tour was the traditional travel of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means Rome ( Roma ˈroma Roma is the capital city of Italy and Lazio, and is Italy's largest and most populous city with more than 2 The Memoirs vividly record Gibbon's rapture when he finally neared "the great object of [my] pilgrimage":
I can neither forget nor express the strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered the eternal [C]ity. After a sleepless night, I trod, with a lofty step, the ruins of the Forum; each memorable spot where Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, or Caesar fell, was at once present to my eye; and several days of intoxication were lost or enjoyed before I could descend to a cool and minute investigation. 
It was at Rome, on the [fifteenth] of October[,] 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare[-]footed fryars were singing [V]espers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the [C]ity first started to my mind. The Roman Empire was the post-Republican phase of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial The Capitoline Hill, between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. In Roman mythology, Jupiter was the king of the gods and the god of Sky and Thunder. 
His father died in 1770, and after tending to the estate, which was by no means in good condition, there remained quite enough for Gibbon to settle fashionably in London at 7 Bentinck Street, independent of financial concerns. By February 1773 he was writing in earnest, but not without the occasional self-imposed distraction. He took to London society quite easily, joined the better social clubs, including Dr. Johnson's literary Club, and looked in from time to time on his friend Holroyd in Sussex. Samuel Johnson (often referred to as Dr Johnson) (18 September He succeeded Oliver Goldsmith at the Royal Academy as 'professor in ancient history' (honorary but prestigious). Oliver Goldsmith (10 November 1730 or 1728 &ndash 4 April 1774 was an Anglo-Irish writer poet and Physician known for his Novel The Vicar In late 1774, he was initiated a freemason of the Premier Grand Lodge of England. The Premier Grand Lodge of England was founded on 24 June 1717 as the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster and it existed until 1813 when it  And, perhaps least productively in that same year, he was returned to the House of Commons for Liskeard, Cornwall through the intervention of his relative and patron, Edward Eliot. Liskeard ( IPA /lɪˈskɑd/ — correctly stressed on the second syllable but often wrongly on the first (Lys Kerwyd or Lyskerrys is an ancient stannary and Cornwall ( Kernow ˈkɛɹnɔʊ is the most southwesterly county of England, on the Peninsula that lies to the west of the River Tamar Edward Craggs-Eliot 1st Baron Eliot (born 'Edward Eliot' London on July 8 1727 &ndash February 17 1804 Port Eliot, He became the archetypal back-bencher, benignly "mute" and "indifferent," his support of the Whig ministry routinely automatic. Gibbon's indolence in that position, perhaps fully intentional, subtracted little from the progress of his writing. 
After several rewrites, and Gibbon "often tempted to throw away the labours of seven years," the first volume of what would become his life's major achievement, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published on February 17, 1776. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (known popularly as The History) was written by English Historian Year 1776 ( MDCCLXXVI) was a Leap year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Through 1777, the reading public eagerly consumed three editions for which Gibbon was rewarded handsomely: two-thirds of the profits amounting to approx. £1000.  Biographer Leslie Stephen wrote that thereafter, "His fame was as rapid as it has been lasting. Sir Leslie Stephen, KCB (28 November 1832 &ndash 22 February 1904 was an English author critic and mountaineer and the father of Virginia Woolf and " And as regards this first volume, "Some warm praise from [David] Hume overpaid the labour of ten years. David Hume (26 April 1711 25 August 1776 Scottish Philosopher, Economist, and Historian is an important figure in Western philosophy "
Volumes II and III appeared on March 1, 1781, eventually rising "to a level with the previous volume in general esteem. " Volume IV was finished in June 1784; the final two were completed during a second Lausanne sojourn (Sept. 1783 to Aug. 1787) where Gibbon reunited with his friend Deyverdun in leisurely comfort. By early 1787, he was "straining for the goal;" and with great relief the project was finished in June. From the Memoirs:
It was on the . . . night of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden. . . . I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom; and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind by the idea that I had taken my everlasting leave of an old and agreeable friend. 
Volumes IV, V, and VI finally reached the press in May 1788, publication having been delayed since March to coincide with a dinner party celebrating Gibbon's 51st birthday (the 8th).  Mounting a bandwagon of praise for the later volumes were such contemporary luminaries as Adam Smith, William Robertson, Adam Ferguson, Lord Camden, and Horace Walpole. Adam Smith ( baptised 16 June 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneer of Political economy. Field Marshal Sir William Robert Robertson 1st Baronet, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, DSO ( 29 January 1860 – Adam Ferguson, also known as Ferguson of Raith (20 June 1723 ( O Charles Pratt 1st Earl Camden ( baptised 21 March 1714 &ndash 18 April 1794) Lord Chancellor of Great Britain Horace Walpole 4th Earl of Orford ( 24 September, 1717 &ndash 2 March, 1797) more commonly known as Horace Walpole, was a politician Smith remarked that Gibbon's triumph had positioned him "at the very head of [Europe's] literary tribe. "
The years following Gibbon's completion of The History were filled largely with sorrow and increasing physical discomfort. He had returned to London in late 1787 to oversee the publication process alongside Lord Sheffield. With that accomplished, in 1789 it was back to Lausanne only to learn of and be "deeply affected" by the death of Deyverdun, who had willed Gibbon his home, La Grotte. He resided there with little commotion, took in the local society, received a visit from Sheffield in 1791, and "shared the common abhorrence" of the French Revolution. In 1793, word came of Lady Sheffield's death; Gibbon immediately deserted Lausanne and set sail to comfort a grieving but composed Sheffield. His health began to fail critically in December, and at the turn of the new year, he was on his last legs.
Gibbon is believed to have suffered from hydrocele testis, a condition which causes the scrotum to swell with fluid in a compartment overlying either testicle. A hydrocele testis is an accumulation of clear fluid in the Tunica vaginalis, the most internal of membranes containing a Testicle.  In an age when close-fitting clothes were fashionable, his condition led to a chronic and disfiguring inflammation which left Gibbon a lonely figure.  As his condition worsened, he underwent numerous procedures to alleviate the condition, but with no enduring success. In early January, the last of a series of three operations caused an unremitting peritonitis to set in and spread. Peritonitis is defined as Inflammation of the Peritoneum (the Serous membrane which lines part of the abdominal cavity and some of the Viscera The "English giant of the Enlightenment" finally succumbed at 12:45 pm, January 16, 1794 at age 56, to be buried in the Sheffield family graveyard at the parish church in Fletching, Sussex. 
Gibbon's work has been criticized for its aggressively scathing view of Christianity as laid down in chapters XV and XVI. Those chapters were strongly criticised and resulted in the banning of the book in several countries. Gibbon's alleged crime was disrespecting, and none too lightly, the character of sacred Christian doctrine in "treat[ing] the Christian church as a phenomenon of general history, not a special case admitting supernatural explanations and disallowing criticism of its adherents" as the Roman church was likely expecting. More specifically, Gibbon's blasphemous chapters excoriated the church for "supplanting in an unnecessarily destructive way the great culture that preceded it" and for "for the outrage of [practicing] religious intolerance and warfare".  Gibbon, though assumed to be entirely anti-religion, was actually supportive to some extent, insofar as it did not obscure his true endeavour - a history that was not influenced and swayed by official church doctrine. Some argue that though it is true that the most famous two chapters are heavily ironical and cutting about religion, that it is interesting that it is in no way utterly condemned, and that the apparent truth and rightness is upheld however thinly.
Gibbon, in letters to Holroyd and others, expected some type of church-inspired backlash, but the utter harshness of the ensuing torrents far exceeded anything he or his friends could possibly have anticipated. Contemporary detractors such as Joseph Priestley and Richard Watson stoked the nascent fire, but the most severe of these attacks was an "acrimonious" piece by the young cleric, Henry Edwards Davis. Joseph Priestley (13 March 1733 ( Old Richard Watson (1781-1833 was a British Methodist theologian who was one of the most important figures in 19th century Methodism  Gibbon subsequently published his Vindication in 1779, in which he categorically denied Davis' "criminal accusations", branding him a purveyor of "servile plagiarism. " Davis followed Gibbon's Vindication with yet another reply (1779).
Gibbon's antagonism to Christian doctrine spilled over into the Jewish faith, inevitably leading to charges of anti-Semitism. For example, he wrote:
Humanity is shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties which [the Jews] committed in the cities of Egypt, of Cyprus, and of Cyrene, where they dwelt in treacherous friendship with the unsuspecting natives;¹ and we are tempted to applaud the severe retaliation which was exercised by the arms of legions against a race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous superstition seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government, but also of humankind. ²
Gibbon is considered to be a son of the Enlightenment and this is reflected in his famous verdict on the history of the Middle Ages: "I have described the triumph of barbarism and religion. The Age of Enlightenment or The Enlightenment is a term used to describe a phase in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century " However, politically, he aligned himself with the conservative Edmund Burke's rejection of the democratic movements of the time as well as with Burke's dismissal of the "rights of man. Edmund Burke ( 12 January, 1729 9 July, 1797) was an Irish statesman author orator Political theorist, and "
Gibbon's work has been praised for its style, his piquant epigrams and its effective irony. Winston Churchill memorably noted, "I set out upon. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC, PC (Can ( 30 November 1874 . . Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [and] was immediately dominated both by the story and the style. . . . I devoured Gibbon. I rode triumphantly through it from end to end and enjoyed it all. " Churchill modelled much of his own literary style on Gibbon's. The future Prime Minister, like the "English Voltaire," dedicated himself to producing a "vivid historical narrative, ranging widely over period and place and enriched by analysis and reflection. "
Unusually for the 18th century, Gibbon was never content with secondhand accounts when the primary sources were accessible (though most of these were drawn from well-known printed editions). "I have always endeavoured," he says, "to draw from the fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to depend. " In this insistence upon the importance of primary sources, Gibbon is considered by many to be one of the first modern historians:
In accuracy, thoroughness, lucidity, and comprehensive grasp of a vast subject, the 'History' is unsurpassable. It is the one English history which may be regarded as definitive. . . . Whatever its shortcomings the book is artistically imposing as well as historically unimpeachable as a vast panorama of a great period. 
The subject of Gibbon's writing as well as his ideas and style have influenced other writers. Besides his influence on Churchill, Gibbon was also a model for Isaac Asimov in his writing of The Foundation Trilogy. Isaac Asimov (c January 2 1920 &ndash April 6 1992 ˈaɪzək ˈæzɪmʌv originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as, was a Russian The Foundation Series is an epic Science fiction series written over a span of forty-four years by Isaac Asimov.
Evelyn Waugh admired Gibbon's style but not his secular viewpoint. Arthur Evelyn St John Waugh (ˈiːvlɪn ˈwɔː (28 October 1903 &ndash 10 April 1966 was an English Writer, best known for such darkly humorous and In Waugh's 1950 novel Helena the early Christian author Lactantius worried about the possibility of " '. Helena, published 1950, is the sole Historical novel of Evelyn Waugh. Lucius Caelius (or Caecilius? Firmianus Lactantius was an Early Christian author (ca . . a false historian, with the mind of Cicero or Tacitus and the soul of an animal,' and he nodded towards the gibbon who fretted his golden chain and chattered for fruit. Marcus Tullius Cicero ( Classical Latin ˈkikeroː usually ˈsɪsərəʊ in English January 3, 106 BC &ndash December 7, 43 BC was a Roman Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus (ca 56 &ndash ca 117 was a senator and a Historian of the Roman Empire. Gibbons are the small Apes in the family Hylobatidae. The family is divided into four genera based on their Diploid Chromosome "
The majority of this article, including quotations unless otherwise noted, has been adapted from Stephen, DNB (see References).
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||English historian|
|DATE OF BIRTH||April 27, 1737|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Putney, near London, England|
|DATE OF DEATH||January 16, 1794|
|PLACE OF DEATH||London, England|