Gibbon, among others, famously argued that the rise of Christianity contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire, in the West, anyway: In the East, the Empire lasted another 1000 years, which is a long time to fall by any standards. A new book from Harvard University Press, The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy, discusses the establishment of Christianity in the Empire, among other topics, in its account of the last two centuries of the Empire in the West. The author is historian and classicist Michael Kulikowsi (Penn State). Here’s the publisher’s description:
A sweeping political history of the turbulent two centuries that led to the demise of the Roman Empire.
The Tragedy of Empire begins in the late fourth century with the reign of Julian, the last non-Christian Roman emperor, and takes readers to the final years of the Western Roman Empire at the end of the sixth century. One hundred years before Julian’s rule, Emperor Diocletian had resolved that an empire stretching from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, and from the Rhine and Tyne to the Sahara, could not effectively be governed by one man. He had devised a system of governance, called the tetrarchy by modern scholars, to respond to the vastness of the empire, its new rivals, and the changing face of its citizenry. Powerful enemies like the barbarian coalitions of the Franks and the Alamanni threatened the imperial frontiers. The new Sasanian dynasty had come into power in Persia. This was the political climate of the Roman world that Julian inherited.