Pope Urban II
Who is Pope Urban II?
Pope Urban II (1042 –1099), born Otho de Lagery (alternatively Otto, Odo, or Eudes), was the head of the Catholic Church from 12 March 1088 to his death in 1099. He is best known for initiating the First Crusade (1096–1099) and setting up the modern-day Roman Curia in the manner of a royal ecclesiastical court to help run the Church.
Pope Gregory VII named him cardinal-bishop of Ostia ca. 1080. He was one of the most prominent and active supporters of the Gregorian reforms, especially as legate in Germany in 1084 and was among the few whom Gregory VII nominated as possible successors to be pope.
Desiderius, abbot of Monte Cassino was first chosen pope as Victor III when Gregory VII died in 1085, but after Victor's short reign, Otho was elected Pope Urban II by acclamation (March 1088) at a small meeting of cardinals and other prelates held in Terracina in March 1088.
He took up the policies of Pope Gregory VII, and while pursuing them with determination, showed greater flexibility and diplomatic finesse. At the outset, he had to reckon with the presence of the powerful antipope Clement III in Rome, but a series of well-attended synods held in Rome, Amalfi, Benevento, and Troia supported him in renewed declarations against simony, Investiture Controversy, clerical marriages (partly via the cullagium tax), and continued opposition to Emperor Henry IV.
In accordance with this last policy, the marriage of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany with Guelph of Bavaria was promoted; Prince Conrad of Italy was assisted in his rebellion against his father and crowned King of the Romans at Milan in 1093; and Henry IV's wife, the Empress (Adelaide), was encouraged in her charges of sexual coercion against her husband.
In a protracted struggle with King Philip I of France, whom he had excommunicated for his adulterous marriage to Bertrade de Montfort, Urban II finally proved victorious.
Urban II exchanged much correspondence with Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, to whom he extended an order to come urgently to Rome just after the archbishop's first flight from England, and earlier gave his approval to Anselm's work De Incarnatione Verbi (The Incarnation of the Word).
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