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§ 19. Victor III. and Urban II. 1086–1099.


Compare the chapter on the Crusades.


At the death of Gregory, his imperial enemy was victorious in Germany, and had recovered part of Saxony; Lombardy remained loyal to the empire; Matilda was prostrated by grief and sickness; the anti-pope Wibert (Clement III., 1080–1100) continued to occupy a part of Rome (the Lateran palace and the castle of St. Angelo); Roger, the new duke of the Normans, spent his whole force in securing for himself the sole rule over Calabria and Apulia against his brother Bohemund. There was a papal interregnum of twelve months.

At last the excellent Abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino, who had raised that convent to the height of its prosperity, was elected to succeed his friend Gregory, May 24, 1086. He accepted after long delay, but ruled only eighteen months as Victor III. He loved monastic solitude, and died Sept. 16, 1087.

He was followed by Otto (Odo), cardinal-bishop of Ostia, a Frenchman, formerly prior of Cluny, and one of the intimate counsellors of Hildebrand. He assumed the name Urban II., and ruled from March 12, 1088, to July 29, 1099. He followed in the steps of Gregory, but with more caution and adaptation to circumstances. He spent his pontificate mostly outside of Rome, but with increasing moral influence. He identified himself with the rising enthusiasm for the holy war of the Cross against the Crescent. This was an immense gain for the papacy, which reaped all the credit and benefit of that extraordinary movement.

He took a noble stand in favor of the sanctity of marriage against the licentious King Philip I. of France, who cast away his legitimate wife, Bertha, 1092, and held adulterous intercourse with Bertrada of Montfort, the runaway wife of the rude Count Fulco of Anjou. This public scandal led to several synods. The king was excommunicated by a synod at Autun in Burgundy, Oct. 16, 1094, and by the Synod of Clermont in 1095. He afterwards dismissed Bertrada, and was absolved by the pope.

Urban continued the war with Henry IV. without scruple as to the means. He encouraged the rebellion of his eldest son, Conrad, a weak and amiable man, who fled for protection to the Countess Matilda, was crowned king of Italy at Monza, and paid the pope the homage of holding his stirrup (the officium stratoris) at Cremona (1095). Urban, who had been consecrated pope outside of Rome, was able, 1088, with the aid of the Normans, to enter the city and possess himself of all its parts except the castle of St. Angelo, which remained in the hands of the followers of Wibert. Wibert had been in possession of St. Peter’s, which he held as a fortress against Victor III. The streets of the papal city resounded with the war-cries of the two papal armies, while pope and anti-pope anathematized one another. Urban died at Florence in 1101.

The pope arranged an unnatural matrimonial alliance between the widowed countess and the young Guelph of Bavaria, whose father was the most powerful of the emperor’s enemies in Germany. It was a purely political match, which made neither party happy, and ended in a divorce (1095). But it gave the papal party a political organization, and opened the long-continued war between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, which distracted every city in Italy, and is said to have caused seventy-two hundred revolutions and more than seven hundred atrocious murders in that country.9494    Guelfi, Welfen, from Welf, Wolf, a family name of the dukes of Bavaria. Ghibellini, Ghibellinen, from Waiblingen, the patrimonial castle of Conrad of Hohenstaufen in Swabia. Comp. Ferrari, Histoire des révolutions d’Italie, ou Guelfes et Ghibellins, Paris, 1858, 4 vols. From the Guelphs descended the house of Brunswick and Hanover, and the royal family of England since George I., 1714.rn to an inheritance of hatred and revenge, and could not help sharing in the conflict of factions headed by petty tyrants. The Guelphs defended the pope against the emperor, and also the democracy against the aristocracy in the city government. They were strong in pulling down, but were unable to create a new State. The Ghibellines maintained the divine origin and independent authority of the State in all things temporal against the encroachments of the papacy. The party strife continued in Italy long after the German emperor had lost his power. Dante was at first a Guelph, but in mature life joined the Ghibellines and became the most formidable opponent of Pope Boniface VIII.

Urban was able to hold a synod at Piacenza in Lombardy, where Henry IV. had his chief support, during Lent, 1095. It was attended by four thousand priests and monks and over thirty thousand laymen, and the meeting had to be held in the open field. The pope permitted Praxedis (Adelheid), the second wife of Henry IV., to recite the filthy details of acts of impurity to which she had been subjected by her husband, endorsed her shameless story, absolved her from all uncleanness, and remitted every penitential observance, "because she had not blushed to make a public and voluntary confession of her involuntary transgression."9595    Praxedis or Eupraxia, or (as the Germans called her) Adelheid was a Russian princess, who married Henry in 1089, two years after Bertha’s death. She had preferred the same horrible charges before a synod at Constance in 1094. See Pertz, Tom. VII. 458, XVII. 14; Hefele-Knöpfler, V. 211 sq. and 216; Greenwood, IV. 561.e true and essential presence of the body and blood of Christ in the eucharist was asserted against the heresy of Berengar.

More important was the Synod of Clermont in France, Nov. 18–28, 1095, which inaugurated the first crusade. Here Urban preached the most effective sermon on record, and reached the height of his influence.

He passed in triumphal procession, surrounded by princes and prelates, through France and Italy. He exhorted the people everywhere to repent of their sins and to prove the sincerity of their conversion by killing as many enemies of the cross as they could reach with their swords. When he reached Rome the anti-pope had been driven away by the Crusaders. He was enabled to celebrate the Christmas festival of 1096 with unusual magnificence, and held two synods in the Lateran, January, 1097, and April, 1099. He died, July 29, 1099, a fortnight after the capture of Jerusalem (July 15) by the Crusaders.



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