Edward Gibbon and Francis Haverfield

Adam Rogers and Richard Hingley

in Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199584727
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595301 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Edward Gibbon and Francis Haverfield

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This chapter examines the intellectual context of Edward Gibbon's monumental and highly influential work The decline and fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88) and its role in the complex history and genealogy of imperialism. It also addresses the impact of the notion of ‘decline’ both on Gibbon's contemporaries and on later writers, thinkers, and politicians in Britain during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when imperialism and the idea of British imperial decline had become major topics for discussion and debate. As a historical work, The decline and fall particularly influenced the writings of the prominent Oxford ancient historian Francis Haverfield (1860–1919), whose publications absorbed many contemporary attitudes about imperialism. Haverfield's work, in turn, influenced the development of the discipline of Roman archaeology for decades to come, especially concerning the themes of cultural superiority and decline.

Keywords: Edward Gibbon; decline and fall; Francis Haverfield; archaeology; Roman Britain; genealogy of imperialism; British Empire; cultural superiority

Chapter.  7415 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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