A religion that was on the rise as Rome fell was Christianity. From a small, persecuted sect during the height of Rome's power to official state religion in the time of the Emperor Theodoric, Christianity gained even greater prominence under the Emperor Constantine, who recognized it as a cohesive force that might keep the Empire unified. When centers of Christian thought in North Africa such as Alexandria and Carthage, and in Antioch and Jerusalem, were conquered by Muslims, the Bishop of Rome—the pope—gained a new importance in Christendom, and the stage was set for a shifting alliance between royalty and the papacy that lasted for centuries.


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