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Urban II

Urban II biography
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Urban II biography

Urban II (1042 – July 29, 1099) Promoter Pope of the Crusades. Odón de Chantillón, christening name, was born in Chantillón Sur Mane, France. From the French nobility. He embraced early the ecclesiastical vocation, studying in Reims, later he joined the Benedictines and joined the Order of Cluny.

He served as prior of the Benedictine monastery of Cluny since 1073. His ecclesiastical life began to be more solid, holding important positions, as Archdeacon of Reims. When finishing the position of prior was requested along with other monks, by Gregory VII, to move to Rome to fulfill his ecclesiastical duties. Over time, his good work led Gregory VII to appoint him Cardinal Bishop of Ostia and in 1084 he was a delegate, adviser and principal assistant to the Pontiff in Germany. Urban II felt an extreme admiration for Gregory VII, read all his speeches and listened attentively to each intervention, and was his support in the hard task of reforming the Church. From 1083, and during two years, he exerted diplomatic functions in France and Germany, where he was captured as a prisoner by Henry IV.

On February 25, 1080, Clement III was appointed Pope by Emperor Henry IV, of the Germanic Roman Empire. This appointment violated the rules of the church, making the designated antipope. This act unleashed the well-known complaint of investiture, a conflict in which the Church basically protested against the appointment of bishops and popes by the emperor, demanding autonomy in order to elect its members from their own institution.

In the Dictatus papae of 1075 we can find the sustenance of the actions of Gregory VII, defending the idea that only the pope could designate and depose the bishops as head of the Church; and took his authoritarianism to defend that it also concerned the pope the appointment of kings, because they have a delegated power of God. But this was not respected, during the reign of Henry V, where the conflict between the parties intensified.

Gregory VII remained under siege in the castle of Sant’Angelo until the Normans of Sicily rescued him, after the rescue Gregory VII, died. Thus, the attempt to impose the Papacy on the secular domains deviated, although the same policy would be sustained by his successor and admirer, Urban II. On March 12, 1088, he was elected by unanimous vote, assuming by name, that of Urban II, and promising a continuation of the policy of Gregory VII, his exemplary predecessor.

He became the first Cluniac Pope. During the first six years of his pontificate, he could not enter Rome because of the presence of the antipope Clement III, imposed by Henry IV, the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The stability of the country was in chaos, and Rome was militarily besieged. So he had to exercise his papal work outside of Rome. In addition, he excommunicated Philip I, for repudiating his wife and supported St. Anselm of Canterbury against King William II of England. He recalled the decrees against simony, forbade the obligation of ecclesiastics to take an oath of fidelity to the laity, the concubinage of clerics and the ecclesiastical investiture in charge of laymen.

While trying to penetrate Rome, Urban II was taken prisoner by Emperor Henry IV but was released very soon. He moved to Saxony where he deposed those whom the Pope had condemned while alive. He held a large synod in Quedlinburg, in which the antipope, Guibert de Ravenna, and his supporters were condemned by name.

Urban II has been recognized for promoting the crusades, in this sense, for 1095 he met a council in Clermont, in which he issued a speech encouraging all Christians to reconquer the sacred places of Palestine in the hands of the Turks, agreeing as a stimulus granting of indulgences and economic advantages for gaining a productive and poorly populated territory for the Catholic religion. From this moment, the holy war against Islam was his banner.

Urban II, a refugee on the Island of San Bartolomé, decided to take his place in Rome, usurped by Clement III, accompanied by the Norman army, who managed to claim the post of Urban II, after bloody fights. Both the emperor and the antipope were excommunicated, although the war against them did not cease.

After several years of battles, assaults, treaties, betrayals, deaths, diseases, and conquests, the Crusaders managed to conquer Jerusalem on July 15, 1099. But Urban did not live to know the news of this event. He died in the house of Pierleone, on July 29, 1099. His remains could not be buried in the Lateranense because the followers of Guiberto still remained in the city, so they were taken to the crypt of San Pedro where they were buried close to the tomb of Hadrian I.

Urban II is relevant in the history of the Catholic Church and also in world history, although his party has never been extended worldwide. His work as Pope was important, in the apse of the oratory of the Palace of Lateran is the figure of Urban II, accompanied by the legend, Sanctus Urbanus Secundus, the head is crowned by a square cloud and is at the feet of Our Lady. The formal act of his beatification took place in the pontificate of Leo XIII.

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