Will Durant, in his History of Civilization, remarked that when Luther and the other Protestant groups broke from Rome, it was as if the German peoples had thrown off Rome’s hegemony a second time–the first being the taking over of the Western Roman Empire.

This remark is interesting, because it touches a point often made but seldom studied. Western European culture and society as we know them are essentially Germanic in origin–even if much of the culture and the arts are Greco-Roman.

These Germanic characteristics were infused into the larger Roman mold and transformed it significantly enough to help create a new civilization.