The Roman Empire declined due to weakening of central authority and the Barbarian invasions by the Goths, Vandals and Franks. The Eastern Empire was known as Byzantium. Its capital was Constantinople. Barbarians became familiar with Roman culture. Barbarians had brought their own cultures and traditions with them. The Holy Roman Empire extended its control over Germany and Austria. The spread of the Christianity was one of the most important developments in early medieval Europe. The Monasteries became great centers of scholarship for education in the fields of art, literature and Religious studies. Oxford University and Cambridge University were the educational institutions that grew out of the Church orders. Pope Urban II began the crusades, the first major effort of the reformed Church to put in practice its political power. The crusades were a series of campaigns led by the papacy to regain the Holy Land, especially Jerusalem, which had been under Islamic rule since 639. Turks captured Jerusalem, which was also the Holy land of Christians. Crusades failed in their main objective to free the holy land- Jerusalem, from Turks. The Third Crusade was fought against Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, who had conquered Jerusalem from Christians during the First Crusade. The Third Crusade ended with the treaty between Saladin and Richard. The crusaders learnt the use of gunpowder and guns from Muslims. Roman church fostered religious and cultural unity in Western Europe during medieval period.
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