What is less controversial are the institutions that survived the fall of the Roman Empire. Such institutions include foremost the church. The main structure of this institution survived and it could be argued that it took over aspects of the institution that was the Roman Empire. Even with the fall of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church remained and started spreading across Europe. However, other aspect, such as overall living standards, declined after the fall of the Roman Empire. Cities declined and overall population decreased and became more spread out. Further, tax collection declined or became non existent and the central economy of the Roman Empire collapsed. This lead to a decrease in long-distance trade and a decrease in production. Since taxation became less relevant, wealth started to center around land ownership instead. The wealthy were the ones that owned the most land, however, this development prevented any revival of the taxation centered Roman Empire. There was also a shift from a mostly civilian nobility to a more military one. With the increase of the Germanic people within the Roman Empire more value was placed on the military and more and more nobles joined military ranks. Therefore, while certain aspects of the Roman Empire survived its downfall, other aspects changed to suit the new society that developed in the aftermath.
The best argument for the discontinuity is ...
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...riod of time. It was not a dramatic shift from one day to the next, but happened gradually making it difficult to notice for even the people within the empire. This speaks for a sense of continuity. While changes happened, they happened at such a rate that it could be argued that they were equally due to the movement of people and general change over time.
In conclusion, the fall of the Roman Empire can be viewed as a disastrous event that dramatically changed the culture and society of that time. However, the aftermath of the decline of the Roman Empire can also be viewed as a continuation that slowly transformed the landscape. Change did not happen fast, however, it still took place. While the fall of the Roman Empire was not a complete continuity it also was not a complete discontinuity. Realistically, it probably falls somewhere in the middle of these two views.
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