Pope Urban II

11th century pope and initiator of the Crusades

Pope Urban II (Latin: Urbanus II; c. 1035 – 29 July 1099), also known as Odo of Châtillon or Otho de Lagery, was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 12 March 1088 to his death in 1099. He is best known for initiating the Crusades.

Pope Urban II preaches the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont (1095)


  • Altars are profaned and broken, Christians tortured, women violated. ... Who will avenge these wrongs? On you, rests this duty, on you. ... That which above all other thoughts should stir you most is the Holy Sepulchre of the Savior and the Holy Places, ravaged and profaned by an impure race. Valiant soldiers, descendants of those who never know defeat, make your way to the Holy Sepulchre and tear the Holy Land from the grasp of this abominable nation.
    • Address to the Council of Clermont (27 November 1095), quoted in John Farrow, Pageant of the Popes (1943), p. 127
  • The church shall be catholic, chaste and free: catholic in faith and the communion of saints, chaste from all contagion of evil, and free from all secular power.
    • Decree, also quoted in Colin Morris, The Papal Monarchy: The Western Church from 1050 to 1250 (1991), p. 125

Quotes about Pope Urban II

  • Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. He was a pacifist and had more in common with Gandhi, perhaps, than with Pope Urban.
    • Karen Armstrong, Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World (2001), p. 4
  • ...the most telling aspect of the First Crusade was that this mighty wave of military enthusiasm owed nothing whatever to any king or emperor. The Pope had summoned the chivalry of Europe round the banner of the cross and St Peter, to overwhelming effect. No secular ruler could have done as much, and there could be no more eloquent demonstration of the centrality of the reformed papacy in the religious imagination of medieval Europe.
    • Eamon Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (2006), p. 138
  • It was at Clermont where, before a Council of several hundred prelates and thousands of clergy and laymen, he delivered a plea for united Christendom, a holy unity which would liberate the precious Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, a Christendom which would defeat and throw off the shameful yoke of oppression. He spoke well, his theme was magnificent, and the moment was propitious. ... His audience wept and groaned in sympathy and with the vast sorrow and deep anger a mighty enthusiasm was born. ... "Who will avenge these wrongs?" cried the Pope with all the power of a flaming conscience. "On you rests this duty...on you!" "God wills it!" shouted his audience in wild excitement. "God wills it." The First Crusade was born.
    • John Farrow, Pageant of the Popes (1943), p. 127
  • Urban spoke with fervour and with all the art of a great orator. The response was immediate and tremendous. Cries of 'Deus le volt!'—'God wills it!'—interrupted the speech. Scarcely had the Pope ended his words before the Bishop of Le Puy rose from his seat and, kneeling before the throne, begged permission to join in the holy expedition. Hundreds crowded up to follow his example. Then the Cardinal Gregory fell on his knees and loudly repeated the Confiteor; and all the vast audience echoed it after him. When the prayer was over Urban rose once more and pronounced the absolution and bade his hearers go home.
    • Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Volume I: The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (1951), p. 108
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