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Urban II

Urban II, c.1042–1099, pope (1088–99), a Frenchman named Odo (or Eudes) of Lagery; successor of Victor III. He studied at Reims and became a monk at Cluny. He went to Rome, as prior of Cluny, early in the reign of St. Gregory VII. The pope kept him there, finding in Odo one of his ablest assistants in the great reform; he made him cardinal and bishop of Ostia. Odo worked especially as legate in Germany. When he was elected pope, Urban pursued the cause of reform, undaunted by the opposition of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and his antipope, Clement III (Guibert of Ravenna). He began work in the lands that recognized him, those of the Normans (S Italy), of the Countess Matilda (Tuscany), and the Lombard cities. He could not stay in Rome until 1093, when the antipope was expelled. Urban's method was to travel about, summoning great councils of the whole population, to advertise and gain popularity for the reforms. The principal councils were at Piacenza (Mar., 1095), Clermont (Nov., 1095), Rome (1097), Bari (1098), and Rome again (1099). At Clermont, Urban preached a sermon that brought forth the First Crusade (see Crusades). At Bari the reunion of East and West was the theme; St. Anselm was the apologist for the West. Urban's resolute condemnation of Philip I of France in the matter of Philip's repudiation of his wife exemplifies his fearlessness. Without Urban's work, most of Gregory's reform movement would probably have been ephemeral. He was succeeded by Paschal II. Urban was beatified in 1881.

See study by F. J. Gossman (1960).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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