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Edward Gibbon: The Roman and British Empires;A Study in the Concept of Empire

John Pocock, Johns Hopkins University

Date & Time

Dec. 6, 2010
3:00pm – 4:30pm ET


The Roman Empire was a Mediterranean phenomenon, the result of one city state's conquests over other city states. Its central problem was the organization of military power in relation to political legitimacy. It was neither an empire of settlement nor an empire over peoples alien and unassimilable cultures. The British Empire was oceanic and commercial. By the end of the War of American Independence it had ceased to be an empire of settlement, but had acquired in India an empire over peoples not assimilable to European or British culture. The contrast has enduring relevance to the problems of today.

John G. A. Pocock is professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. His books include The Machiavellian Moment (1975), The Discovery of Islands: Essays in British History (2005), and Political Thought and History: Essays on Theory and Method (2009). He is completing a multi-volume study of Edward Gibbon. He is a recipient of the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction.



Christian F. Ostermann

Christian F. Ostermann

Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project;
Woodrow Wilson Center
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The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

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