Pope Urban II

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Blessed Pope Urban II (ca. 1035 – 29 July 1099), born Otho de Lagery (alternatively: Otto, Odo or Eudes), was Pope from 12 March 1088 until his death. He is most known for starting the First Crusade (1095–1099) and setting up the modern day Roman Curia, in the manner of a royal 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, who became Pope Victor III (1086–1087), was chosen Pope initially, but, after his short reign, Otho was elected Pope Urban II by acclamation (March 1088) at a small meeting of cardinals and other prelates held in Terracina. 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 (1080, 1084–1100) 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, and clerical marriages, and a continued opposition to Emperor Henry IV (1050–1106).

In accordance with this last policy, the marriage of the countess Matilda of Tuscany with Guelph of Bavaria was promoted, Prince Conrad was helped in his rebellion against his father and crowned King of the Romans at Milan in 1093, and the Empress (Adelaide or Praxedes) encouraged in her charges against her husband. In a protracted struggle also with Philip I of France (1060–1108), whom he had excommunicated for his adulterous marriage to Bertrade de Montfort, Urban II finally proved victorious.

Urban II had 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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