reply to post by ModernAcademia
This is something i have also thought about, at length over the years. My thoughts are on the following lines....
In AD 440 (maybe 441) Attila and the Huns invaded the Eastern Roman Empire as revenge for a punitive campaign against his forces (actually ordered by
the Western Roman Empire but carried out by forces based in the Eastern Roman Empire, separate entities by that time). After destroying the Eastern
Empire Field Army, they destroyed town after town, village after village and church / monastery after church / monastery. However, they never took
Constantinople and left to attack the Western Roman Empire.
Whilst this was going on, Attila was allied to Genseric of the Vandals. They attacked North Africa and took it (Carthage, etc). This area was just
about the greatest source of wealth anywhere in the combined Emnpires at the time. The loss of that wealth, as well as the food supplies, made an
extremely serious impression on the Western Roman Empire. Indeed, at the time Attila began his invasions in the Eastern Empire, the Western Empire
Field Army was in Massilia (Sicily) preparing to depart for North Africa to take back the provinces lost to Genseric. Attila's invasions in the East
meant this was put off (and never restarted).
Attila then turned on the Western Empire, culminating at the Battle of the Catevaullanian Fields in Gaul in AD 451.The Western Empire, allied to the
Visigoths (based at Tolosa, present day Toulouse, following Alaric's sack of Rome a hundred years before) defeated Attila's army but the cost was
the destruction of the Western Army.
This left Rome with no money to raise new armies, no law in the provinces (and no means of enforcing any law). The lack of order resulted in the
collapse of a stable society, degenerating to war bands and war everywhere for the following few hundred years. No stable society equals no advances
in learning (actually equals a loss of technology). In the old Western Roman Empire, society stagnated and degraded.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Empire just about held on, leading to the eventual creation of the Byzantine Empire. Knowledge was treasured here and indeed
continued to prosper for another 1'000 years (until falling to the Ottoman's). The provinces of the old Eastern Empire also became hubs of learning,
as did traditional old Roman enemies such as Persia, etc. Big advances were made in these regions in the fields of mathematics, medicine, etc.
Now, i am sure there is more to it than that but that is certainly the beginning of what you are speaking of (i think). A truly fascinating (and
terrifying) period of time that is well worth further research.