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Pope Urban Ii

POPE URBAN II. (Odo or Otho or Eudes de Lagary), pope from the 12th of March 1088 to the 29th of July 1099, was born of knightly rank at Lagary (or Lagery or Lagny), near Reims. He studied for the church, became archdeacon of Auxerre, and later joined the congregation of Cluny. Displaying great ability as reformer and theologian, he was chosen subprior of the celebrated monastery. He was created cardinal-bishop of Ostia in 1078 by Gregory VII., to whom he displayed such loyalty, especially as papal legate in Germany (1084), that he was imprisoned for a time by Henry IV. He was designated by Gregory as one of four men most worthy to succeed him, and, after a vacancy of more than five months followirig the decease of Victor III., he was elected pope on the 12th of March 1088 by forty cardinals, bishops, and abbots assembled at Terracina, together with representatives of the Romans and of Countess Matilda. He frankly took up the policy of Gregory VII., but, while pursuing it with equal determination, showed greater flexibility and diplomatic skill. Throughout the major part of his pontificate he had to reckon with the presence of the powerful antipope Clement III. (Guibert of Ravenna) in Rome; but a series of well-attended synods at Rome, Amalfi, Benevento and Troia, supported him in renewed declarations against simony, lay investiture, and clerical marriages, and in a policy of continued opposition to Henry IV. He maintained an alliance with the Norman Duke Roger, Robert Guiscard's son and successor, and united the German with the Italian opposition to the emperor by promoting the marriage of the Countess Matilda with young Welf of Bavaria. He aided Prince Conrad in his rebellion against his father and crowned him king of the Romans at Milan in 1093, and likewise encouraged the Empress Praxedis in her charges against her husband. By excommunicating Philip I. of France for matrimonial infidelity in 1095, Urban opened a struggle which was not terminated until after his death. Invited to Tuscany by the Countess Matilda, he convoked a council at Piacenza in March 1095, attended by so vast a number of prelates and laymen that its sessions were held in the open air, and addressed by ambassadors of Alexis, the Byzantine emperor, who sought aid against the Mussulmans. Urban crossed the Alps in the summer, and remained over a year in France and Burgundy, being everywhere reverently received. He held a largely attended council at Clermont in November 1095, where the preaching of the First Crusade marked the most prominent feature of Urban's pontificate. Thenceforth until his death he was actively engaged in exhorting to war against the infidels. Crusaders on their way through Italy drove the antipope Clement III. finally from Rome in 1097, and established Urban firmly in the papal see. With a view to facilitating the crusade, a council was held at Bari in October 1098, at which religious differences were debated and the exiled Anselm of Canterbury combated the Eastern view of the Procession of the Holy Ghost. Urban died suddenly at Rome on the 29th of July 1099, fourteen days after the capture of Jerusalem, but before the tidings of that event had reached Italy. His successor was Paschal II.

It is well established that Urban preached the sermon at Clermont which gave the impetus to the crusades. The sermon was written out by Bishop Baudry, who heard it, and is to be found in full in J. M. Watterich, Pontif. Roman. Vitae. Letters of Urban are published in J. P. Migne, Patrol. Lat., vol. 151.

See J. Langen, Geschichte der romischen Kirche von Gregor VII. bis Innocenz HI. (Bonn, 1893); F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. 4, trans, by Mrs G. W. Hamilton (London, 1900-2); K. J. von Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vol. 5 (2nd ed., 1873-90); Jaffe-Wattenbach, Regesta pontif. Roman, vol. I (1885-88); H. H. Milman, History of Latin Christianity, vol. 3 (London, 1899); M. F. Ste'n, Zur Biographic des Papstes Urbans II. (Berlin, 1883); A. de Brimont, Un Pape au moyen age Urbain II. (Paris, 1862); W. Norden, Das Papsttum und Byzanz (Berlin, 1903); Gigalski, " Die Stellung des Papstes Urbans II. zu den Sacramentshandlungen der Simonisten, Schismatiker und Haretiker," in the Tubinger theol. Quartalschrift (1897).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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