I've been on a Wikipedia reading binge these past couple of days.
Besides learning that, oddly enough, Jomon (ancient Japanese) seemed to be stuck in an overly long stone age despite being next door neighbors to China and Korea, or that Tengriism, a blend of shamanism, ancestor worship, polytheism, and Christianity was (and remains) a big deal in Mongolia and Turkey, I managed to learn that due to some superstition or another, medieval European Christians were killing cats left and right, especially black ones.
I can't feel too badly for the cats, though- despite having my own beautiful black Bombay cat, those silly buggers got what they deserved when the growing rat population spread the most recent plague around. You may have heard of it- it was the Black Death, and it ravaged Europe for a good long while. I guess that's what you get when you kill all of the cats and kittens you can get your hands on, eh?
Somewhere, though, I read that one of the reasons that the Renaissance was even a thing was that there weren't enough peasants for the upper class fiefs to continue existing, which meant that for nearly the first time ever, peasants were a valuable commodity. Civilization had the steam engine since the creation of the Aeolipile, but it was relegated to a diversion of no particular use instead of having a couple of wheels attached to it. The reason? Perhaps it was more convenient to use serfs, slaves, and horses to pull things than to have a discrete spinning flywheel, which was probably deemed completely useless. After all, who needs a brass spinning machine when we can just get a mass of peasants to pull everything? Renaissance men, that's who.
Makes you wonder what life would have been like if Europe had kept a psuedo-Egyptian love of cats, doesn't it? Would we have ever transformed an inventor's toy into a major scientific advancement, or would we have been in a dark ages forever?