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comment by historyarch
historyarch  ·  375 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Fall of Constantinople

I enjoyed reading Gibbon, or I should say skimming a lot of Gibbon. Much of what he wrote is outdated but I wouldn't say irrelevant. I enjoyed one commentator who as I paraphrase disagreed with the conclusion that Christianity caused the downfall of Rome by responding that the very religious Byzantines would be surprised to hear that and would take issue.

I forget the name of the historian who said it, but his observation was basically "history is a conversation because no one can fully describe every event or know its precise impact." (another paraphrase). Gibbon did get the conversation started and his flawed conclusions led to more research and differing conclusions. I think about the disadvantages historians of the past had in not having access to primary sources, the difficulties in gathering materials, etc. It's much easier today of course.

I like your remark about the ancient world going "poof." The Byzantines thought of themselves as Roman even though they were quite different but as I tried to emphasize in the article, those changes occurred very gradually over centuries. One thing I have learned in writing about Charlemagne, the Franks and now the Eastern Empire is how hard multiple parties tried to restore Rome after it fell. Several like Theodoric and Justinian had some limited success. Even a millennium later, the urge to restore the glory of Rome and all its achievements contributed to the emergence of the Renaissance and has echoed throughout history ever since.

Actually, that would make for a pretty good post.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article and post your comment.

kleinbl00  ·  375 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Allow me to rephrase. Gibbon did a good thing by writing Decline and Fall. However, it became the be-all end-all discussion on the subject despite being 200-odd years old. We don't hold Elizabethan attitudes about any other aspect of sociology and history is being constantly revised, but European history remains "there were Romans, they were geniuses, then the Vandals came and it was all PURE DARKNESS EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD FOR 1200 YEARS."

I honestly believe Americans and Europeans would be a lot more empathetic of the rest of the world if children were taught "and now we're going to cover that thousand years where we sucked bilgewater and the Muslims invented half the stuff we consider modern and preserved the rest from our syphilitic alcoholism."

am_Unition  ·  375 days ago  ·  link  ·  

this is the hubski police, paging kleinbl00