Edward Gibbon’s Eastern Question (1776–1788)
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The first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1737–1794) was published in 1776. It took Gibbon twelve more years to produce his next five volumes, which carried the story through the conflict between the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, past the fall of Constantinople in 1453. When Gibbon thus inserted the Turks into the history of the Roman Empire, which was then the pinnacle of Western civilization in the set classical curriculum, he also introduced the Turks into Europe and European history. Everyone read Gibbon. By not shrinking from Ottoman history but going forward where the narrative took him, Gibbon set Turkey in Britain for educated readers who formed the political nation.