A knowledgeable friend of mine tells me that Crone's ideas about the formation of European states (referred to in my post about steppe nomads) are horribly outdated, ignoring 50 years of scholarship. Rather than some Germanic element contributing to the unique European sequence, it was all heavily influenced by Rome. The German tribes had had hundreds of years to absorb Roman culture and institutions. Even the Germans who beat the Romans in the Teutoburg forest in 9 A.D. had been trained in the Roman army and spoke Latin.
In fact, the greater the Roman influence the happier I am since the project I mentioned about big history has to do with how the Mediterranean environment - and hence Rome - came to influence medieval and early modern Europe.
Thanks for the clarification, Robert!