The modern world was shaped by a range of events and powerful people. One of the first most influential people was Clovis. Clovis was the founder of the Merovingian dynasty of Frankish kings, and one who defeated the Roman rule in Gaul along with defeating a range of Germanic people, creating the kingdom that is known as France nowadays. Most notably, it was this ruler's conversion to Christianity which had a profound impact on the nation for years to come. Charles Martel might not be as famous as other rulers, but he had a significant impact on the development of the modern world in that he was able to stop the advance of the Moors into his land. Charles the Great is remembered more profoundly throughout time in that he was the leader of numerous holy wars against a variety of non-Christian groups. Charles the great cherished Christianity and made others convert to Christianity or die; he also valued education and was incredibly temperate in many of his actions, including eating and drinking. However, his commitment to Christianity had a profound influence in shaping his kingdom and in expanding his territories. His work had a profound impact on the Frank kingdom, making it even greater and stronger when he received it, given from his father. Clovis had the impact of doubling the size of this territory and adding to it, thus over a period of time he was able to vanquish and make cohesive all of the wild and barbarous tribes which were located in Germany between the sea and the Danube and along the Rhine. This set standards for sophisticated and modern society: education was key, as was Christianity, elements which shaped the Western Roman Empire in the time to come.
Another event which had a powerful and undeniable impact on the development of the modern world was the rise of the French Empire, something which undeniably began during the 9th century with a great deal of rise and aplomb. Aside from furthering the spread of Christianity and attempting to expand the French empire, Louis IX engaged in actions which were to have a catastrophic impact on the French people: in the heat of Louis IX religious fervor, he declared all cats demonic and many were killed. However, the cats weren't around to stop the spread of rats and the diseases that rats carry, so Louis IX's actions directly caused the bubonic plague. This plague wiped out around half of Europe and had a catastrophic impact on the development of this Empire and all Empires. However, this plague did function by providing a certain learning experience to all: it was determined once and for all that cats did indeed have a certain function in hygienic society. If cats had that function, then they couldn't be demonic.
One can't discuss the development of the modern world without discussing the development of the Roman Catholic Church and its rule and power. From approximately the 600s to the 1500s, the Roman Catholic Church was an enormous force in the western world: it controlled religion, philosophy, lifestyle, art and the way people were educated: some scholars refer to it as the dark ages for this particular religion as some of the more peaceful doctrines of Biblical Christianity had fundamentally vanished, and with the neglect of these doctrines came the ideology of worshipping one God. It also opened the door for the church becoming a super-power. One could argue that the modern world developed in spite of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church was a place where the sickness of theology flourished and people were controlled with an iron fist and unbelievable corruption: At this time Rome had made serious departures from the Bible and was enmeshed in various types of heresy. One needs to truly take in the corruption of this religious sector to truly appreciate how marvelous the Reformation was and to see how aggravated the spiritual needs of the modern world had become in the 1500s. In the history of the Roman Catholic Church the period from 590 to 1517 simply can't be glossed over, but needs to be seen as an embarrassment and "black spot" to all of Christian history. However, it does speak to the persistence of the human spirit and the sheer desire for modernity to evolve in spite of the shackles that the Roman Catholic Church had presented.
A person who had a truly bountiful and exacting influence on the development of modernity was Otto the Great, a name which is not as familiar to American audiences, but which is well-known in Europe. Otto protected Europeans from the Magyars in the mid 900s, thus putting an end to the invasion of Europe by Hungary. This was no small victory to be experienced as it gave Europe the safety and ability to expand. Otto was also the person who was able to conquer Italy, expanding the borders of his empire even more. However, Otto did have conflict with the Papacy, something which undermined the power of the Papacy at the time. Otto was also one of the few rulers at the time who actively sought to better relations with the Byzantine Empire: something he even worked so hard at that he had his son marry a Byzantine princess. These actions were extremely effective in creating a more cohesive and harmonious state with the Byzantine Empire, at least more than any other leader had accomplished.
The development and evolution of ancient Britannia also had a strong impact on the formation of the Western world. In AD 45, the Emperor Claudius, in conquering this area, had a heavy influence on how it later evolved: because Claudius made it into a Roman province, it was a region where Christianity was heavily practiced. Once the Roman Empire eventually declined in this area, the land was abandoned, which made room for barbarian tribes to infiltrate, such as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes; these tribes did however, annihilate the Celts, forcing any survivors to flee to Scotland, Wales, and/or Ireland.
Patrick of Ireland, known to Christians as Saint Patrick, is someone who has had a truly significant impact on the development of the modern world. This individual had a truly scary and devastating childhood where he was the prisoner of pirates and a slave to others. However, this figure was extremely prominent in teaching people in the British Isles about Christianity and in fending off the overwhelming paganism of the Druids.
The Anglo-Saxons were yet another group who had a truly profound impact on the shaping of the modern world. This group refers to the settlers who originated from German areas of Angeln and Saxony who eventually ended up in Britain around the time of AD 400. Roman soldiers and armies weren't interested in this area as it was considered lacking value and too remote. The Anglo-Saxons were a group of settlers who continued to expand, developing their own values and cultural norms and spreading those values to others. For example, the Anglo-Saxons were also responsible for offering up their own religious beliefs, but the coming of Saint Augustine in at around 600 meant that the bulk of the people in this area were converted to Christianity. In fact one could argue that the manner in which the Anglo-Saxons divided their people into smaller tribal groups and smaller, more manageable kingdoms and sub-kingdoms had a lot of influence on the political and governmental organizations of later modern society. Later on the Vikings ultimately invaded England and it was Alfred, the King of Wessex who was able to triumph over them. Alfred's presence on the development of England and modernity as a whole cannot be overestimated. Alfred demonstrated the importance of a strong military, as he was the one who strengthened the military of England. This leader was also the one who developed a uniform legal code, which was not surprisingly based on principles found in Christianity. While Alfred accomplished all these things among others, England was still overtaken by Vikings years later by Canute the Dane.
Anglo-Saxon poets were also important to history in that they created a record of war heroes by writing stories about them, with the most famous one being about Beowulf, one which remains a powerful poem in all of literature and one which has been studied intensely for centuries. However, it was the Christianization of England which meant that it achieved a more cohesive nationalism and forced it to unify within one country. Alfred the great was also extremely instrumental in helping to fashion England into one sole country. He was able to accomplish practical tasks like fortifying the English military and developing their naval fleet, inventing the legal code and promoting education, including all biblical related literature. National patriotism within the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle along with a more cohesive history of the English people was something which was also celebrated and accomplished by this leader.