In the thirteenth century the Roman papacy, despite an outward appearance of strength, faced a severe struggle for survival. Within Catholic Europe itself, the Hohenstaufen and their allies questioned clerical prerogatives and, as a result, often suffered excommunication and anathema. In southern France and northern Italy the alarming growth of heresy threatened to detach a significant area of Europe from allegiance to Rome. Simultaneously, a Mongol army menaced Europe's eastern flank, while the Crusader states were soon to fall again into Moslem hands. In Italy papal involvement in communal politics fanned suspicion and distrust of clerical motives. Within the church itself, debate raged between conservatives and radicals, contemplative and active orders, concerning the best means of combatting these threats while fulfilling the Christian Gospel.