We’re kicking it old-school this time with some Gibbon.
In the second century of the Christian era, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle, but powerful, influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence. The Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of [this huge-ass book] to describe the prosperous conditions of their empire; and afterwards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall: a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth.
At times it can be quite a read. To be honest, I’m doing a bit of reading for my next CKII game – probably Byzantium->Roman Empire. For those who know what I’m talking about, I made a picture of the goal I have in mind for my current Aquitaine game (which entered the fourteenth century):
Spain? Aquitaine. Italy? Aquitaine. Who needs Francia when you’ve got Aquitaine. Anyway, I’ll stop before going on a non-book-related rant. Won’t happen again. Ah, who am I kidding…
>Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-89; Ware, 1998), 3. Note: the original title of Gibbon’s work is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, though the abbreviated title is quite common. Like title, this edition is abbreviated. BTW, you can find it on GoogleBooks, which I LOVE LOVE LOVE.