Who Was Pope Urban II?

Statue of Pope Urban II overlooking the towers of the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in France

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Pope Urban II was known for beginning the Crusade Movement, instigating with his call to arms at the Council of Clermont. Urban also continued and expanded on the reforms of Gregory VII, and helped the papacy become a stronger political unit.

Urban studied at Soissons and then at Reims, where he became archdeacon, before becoming a monk and retiring to Cluny. There he became prior, and after only a few years was sent to Rome to assist Pope Gregory VII in his attempts at reform. He proved invaluable to the pope, and was made a Cardinal and served as a papal legate. Upon Gregory's death in 1085 he served his successor, Victor II ​until Victor died. He was then elected pope in March 1088, and influenced affairs throughout France, Italy, Europe, and the Holy Land.

Also known as: Odo of Châtillon-sur-Marne, Odon of Châtillon-sur-Marne, Eudes of Châtillon-sur-Marne, Odo of Lagery, Otho of Lagery, Odo of Lagny

Important Dates

The Pontificate of Urban II

As pope, Urban had to deal with the antipope Clement III and the ongoing Investiture Controversy. He was successful in asserting his legitimacy as pope, but his reform policies did not take thorough hold throughout Europe. He did, however, establish a softer stance on the Investiture Controversy that would later make a resolution possible. Long aware of the difficulties pilgrims had been having in the Holy Land, Urban used Emperor Alexius Comnenos' call for help as the basis for calling Christian knights to arms in the First Crusade. Urban also called together several important church councils, including those at Piacenza, Clermont, Bari, and Rome, passing notable reform legislation.

Sources

Butler, Richard U. "Pope Bl. Urban II." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.

Halsall, Paul. “Medieval Sourcebook: Urban II (1088-1099): Speech at Council of Clermont, 1095, Five Versions of the Speech.” Internet History Sourcebooks Project, Fordham University, Dec. 1997.