The Catholic Church has a reputation for strict unbending theology, but it may have inadvertently triggered the non-conformist and individual culture of today’s western societies, researchers believe.
Academics now believe that rules enshrined in canon law in the 9th century, which limited the marriage of relatives to prevent incest, fundamentally changed the culture of Europe, breaking apart old clans and ushering in a new era of cooperation.
Western societies are generally viewed as quite odd by sociologists because they tend to view individuals as more important than the group, they conform less to a central ideal and they have a far greater trust of strangers.
In contrast, older more traditional societies tend to comprise tight-knit tribes where members show fierce loyalty, obedience, adherence to tradition and a general mistrust of outsiders.
Until now, academics had been puzzled as to what caused the transition, but they have now discovered that areas that were early adopters the Medieval Catholic Church marriage rules transitioned into modern western societies.
Insisting that people marry outside even the wider family grouping does rather break up clans. They’re really quite sure they’ve proven the correlation at least as well.
Which brings on the next question, Why was the early medieval church so insistent upon this?