I’m not sure most historians would agree that the collapse of Rome was necessary to permit an efflorescence of creativity and science within the much smaller states that emerged from its ruin. The dead hand of the Roman Catholic Church suppressed most knowledge and innovation for over a thousand years and The Enlightenment occurred only because the fragmentation of the Protestant sects meant none was large enough to impose a similar lasting terror and conformity in those territories that broke free from Catholic influence. Furthermore, whereas Rome had a stable system of laws, astonishing modern conveniences, and innovative engineering the thousand years that followed had nothing that remotely compared. It is difficult to argue convincingly that Europe going backwards for a thousand years led to an inevitable series of late-in-the-day improvements the results of which we enjoy today.

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