Enlightenment was the climax of intellectual revolution which begun in England in 17th century and gained strength in France in 18th century. Opposition to religion and theology and sought secularism in every realm of life and thought. Enlightenment is based on reason. “Reason is the only guide to wisdom”. The real founders of wisdom were Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, David Hume, Adams Smith, Voltaire and Gibbon belonged to the age of enlightenment. Adams Smith wrote “Wealth of the Nation”, Voltaire wrote “Philosophical Dictionary”, “Utopia of El Derado” and “Essai”. Edward Gibbon wrote “The decline and fall of Roman empire”. It had its beginning in Hume and Montesquieu.
Gibbon was born in Putney in England. He has his higher education at Oxford. He studied Latin and French. For the collection of materials, he studied Greek and Latin.
His work falls into two parts. The first part is in 4 volumes covering Roman history for 460 years from 2nd century AD. Second part in 2volumes covering a period of 800 years. It bridges the ancient period with modern period.
He rejected theological interpretation of history and said historical change is caused by human nature and not by supernatural force. As a historian, he was never content with the secondary sources when primary materials were available. He always has attention upon analysis, criticism of super human influence. He was the first one to discover the concept of continuity in history. His style has elegance. He extra labored minute accuracy and excellent style gave him name.
Like a18th century historian, he had no high opinion about eastern Roman Empire and had no knowledge about Byzantine, Greek language. As he failed to see Roman Empire, as a distant world of culture, he expressed the history of civilization in just two volumes. He focused on military and political developments, but did not give importance to social, economic and artistic value, which shaped the movement. He treated history as a record of crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind, while Montesquieu found motive in force of history with geography, environment and nature. Gibbon found it in irrationality, barbarity and religion.