The Roman empire produced no scientific progress in the area of cosmology, and the Church tainted it during most of the Middle Ages. Europe forgot most of the discoveries of the Greeks until they were reintroduced by Arab astronomers in the XII-th century through the Crusades and other less distressing contacts. The Renaissance brought a breath of fresh air to this situation, and allowed for the heretofore untouchable dogmas to be re-examined, yet, even in this progressive climate, the influence of the Church was still enormous and this hampered progress.
In the XVI-th century the Copernican view of the solar system saw the light. In this same era the quality of astronomical observations improved significantly and Kepler used these data to determine his famous three laws describing the motion of the planets. These discoveries laid the foundation for the enormous progress to be achieved by Galileo and then Newton.