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Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire$
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Mark Bradley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199584727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199584727.001.0001

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Edward Gibbon and Francis Haverfield

Edward Gibbon and Francis Haverfield

The Traditions of Imperial Decline

(p.189) 7 Edward Gibbon and Francis Haverfield
Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire

Adam Rogers

Richard Hingley

Oxford University Press

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

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