Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1 by Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon's six-volume History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88) is among the most magnificent and ambitious narratives in European literature. Its subject is the fate of one of the world's greatest civilizations over thirteen centuries - its rulers, wars and society, and the events that led to its disastrous collapse. Here, in volumes one and two, Gibbon charts the vast extent and constitution of the Empire from the reign of Augustus to 395 ad. And in a controversial critique, he examines the early Church, with fascinating accounts of the first Christian and last pagan emperors, Constantine and Julian.