Pope Urban II and the crusades

So I was watching the TV series Mankind the story of all of us, and I got to this episode about the crusades. In it it portrays crusaders and the pope as evil narrow minded barbarians.it quotes Pope Urban II as saying

“the Lord beseeches you to destroy all of that vile race from the lands of our friends. All who die by the way will have immediate remission of sins”

and claims this is him saying that no matter what they did or how much they sinned they were assured to go to heaven by the Pope. I need to know a couple things because my older brother who’s Baptist and pretty anti-catholic is also watching this and is sure to use this against us.

Was what they quoted the pope as saying really accurate? Can anyone direct me to any document of what he said or where they might have gotten this from? Particularly concerned with him calling them a “vile race” and calling for their “destruction”. Please if anyone can help with this.

The second thing is how would I explain the indulgence that was given? Is this more like confession and penance? Did the pope even actually grant this to crusaders?

Please please if anyone can help it would be so much appreciated!


Buy this book for him. Also, write the the person who put on the series and tell them what you think. There is a lot of myths about the Crusades online and on TV. Youtube if full of it.

That’s from the speech he gave to the Council of Clermont on November 27th, 1095.
No exact transcript exists from the speech that was taken down at the time.
The earliest account of his speech was written down a few years later. There are five slightly different versions of his speech.
The one you write here looks to be taken from the one written by Fulcher of Chartres–a Catholic chaplain and chronicler of the First Crusade–who was present at the council and witnessed the speech and wrote that the pope said this (an excerpt):
"On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.

"All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. T****his I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ!
With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago.
Let those who for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians.
Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward.
Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let hem eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide."*

Here are the five different written versions in full that we have of his speech:



Pope Urban offered an indulgence, but no it will still require that the individuals be in a state of grace when they died. No Pope has the authority to grant an indulgence to those in a state of mortal sin. This, like all Papal decrees, must be understood in the context of Catholic law and tradition.
The Byzantine Emperor had implored the Pope to bring the Western forces to their aid. They had been defending themselves against Muslim attackers and desperately needed help. The Pope was responding to this request. The Crusades were initially understood to be an act of self-defense…Western Christendom coming to the aid of Eastern Christendom against the onslaught of Muslim attacks.

Is this the book published by Catholic Answers?


OK, then we’re talking about the First Crusade (1096-1099). That’s good. This is the only one of the eight Crusades that many apologists here care to defend. This was the “good Crusade.”

Eastern Christian lands had been conquered by Muslim forces and Islam imposed upon the population. The Byzantine Emperor appealed to Western Catholics volunteers to liberate his lands from these foreign invaders, especially the Holy City of Jerusalem (which is exactly what they did).

Pope Urban-2 saw this as a righteous cause and supported it. I don’t see how anyone (except maybe disgruntled Muslims) could disagree.

Was what they quoted the pope as saying really accurate?

The bit about the vile invaders is probably accurate (or surely something very similar was said). But the Pope never gave a preemptive pardon for any and all future sins. HOWEVER…

The second thing is how would I explain the indulgence that was given? Is this more like confession and penance? Did the pope even actually grant this to crusaders?

Crusaders were granted an indulgence, but for past sins, not for future sins. But future sins could still be forgiven…

The Crusade was considered a Holy War, waged for God against God’s enemies, so dying in this war meant dying a martyr’s death.

I don’t know if the implications of a martyr’s death have been formally defined by the Church (and I don’t believe they have), but it is an ancient and common pious belief that a martyr’s death restores our Baptismal Grace, should it have been lost (just as the Church teaches that a martyr’s death confers Baptismal Grace upon those who are not saved). We see evidence for this “martyr’s redemption” in the Scriptures:

Whoever finds his life will loose it, and whoever looses his life for my sake will find it [Matt 10:39]

Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever looses his life for my sake will find it. [Matt 16:25]

He that hands over his life in this world will keep it unto life eternal. [John 12:25]

And we also see that the Church “relaxes the requirements” for Confession in cases of extreme necessity (CCC 1483).

If restoration of Baptismal Grace at the time of our death assures our salvation then a Crusader who committed any number and type of sins while marching to Jerusalem would be absolved if he was killed in the cause of Christ.

The Pope certainly did not encourage bad behavior, but the Crusaders weren’t stupid, and they understood the implications of their martyrdom. Some of them surely figured they could pretty much do whatever they wanted and yet be saved if they were killed (and, if they survived, they could always attend Confession).

It’s really no different than a mortally wounded (but still living) Crusader calling for a priest and making his Confession before he dies. No matter how much raping and pillaging he had done during the march, he would be saved.

Correct. And it’s interesting to frame this within the historic timeline. The Great Schism which divided Eastern and Western Catholicism happened in 1054, when the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople mutually excommunicated each other.

Suffice to say that relations between East and West were at an all-time low.

Yet, just 41 years later, the East called upon the West to help defend and recapture her lands.

And Rohan - er, I mean, Rome, answered the call. And the First Crusade was a complete success.

Hey thanks everyone for helping exlain this. If anyone has more info please share!

If only they’d listened to the Pope then.

Imagine there was still a Christian Emperor in the Near East and he appealed to the West to protect the Christian populations of Syria and Iraq from the onslaught of ISIS. I think it was a comparable situation.

:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: this is soooo funny :thumbsup:

I think so. Go to the top of this page and to shop. That will take you to it.

the Lord beseeches you to destroy all of that vile race from the lands of our friends.

Had they fulfilled that command, the Catholic Church would be guilty of genocide.

How is that good?

Read the quote again:

destroy all of that vile race from the lands of our friends

That’s not genocide. That’s liberation of a specific territory from an invading military force. You’re focusing on the first part, while ignoring the second part.

The Pope never commanded the Crusaders to destroy all Muslims - only those who had invaded and subjugated the “lands of our friends.” There was no plan to march into Africa and “finish the job” (which would have been genocide).

Destroying an invading army is not the same as killing an entire race.

Considering that the Baptists didn’t yet exist, and the only Christians at that point were Catholics, your brother really doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to pointing fingers.

I’m ignoring the second part because I do not see how a localised version of genocide, slaughtering every member of a particular race within a defined space, is morally distinct from doing so in a general area.

The instruction does not specify an army: it specifies a race. Whilst that is partly due to C11th conceptions, the modern validation of it has no such excuse, and should at least take into account the fact that the majority of any people group are not soldiers, if not also the facts that soldiers are not necessarily volunteers and that ethnicity and religion are not coterminous.

I think it’s safe to say that the fourth crusade was the all time low.


"We have to get educated to respond to the talking points of the Left whenever ridiculous comments make headlines like President Obama’s speech at today’s National Prayer Breakfast.

Learn the key elements about exactly what the crusades were, when they occurred and why. We no longer learn any of this in American public schools, doesn’t that feel like it’s probably by design?"

There is no denying that christians (yes even christians) and muslims both did awful things to innocent people during the crusades. Thats not even up for debate. The mentality of the times and the siege tactics and military tactics in general led to awful things happening to civilians and non-combatants. Rape pillaging and plunder happened. More than once. The reason for the crusades may very well have been just, but to say that the crusades were all good or that the christian mercenaries and armies’ actions were all morally justifiable would be incredibly naive.

Not saying that anyone here is being naive, but I felt like i had to point that out. Lots of people were involved in the crusades, and not all were good people. And for the record, I dont hold the Catholic Church responsible for everything that was done. Nor do I hold the present day catholocs respondsible for what happened. And I dont think that things that happened during the middle ages is in any way an excuse for what ISIS is doing. The presidents comments were shortsighted.

But they turned out in practice to be conducted by a group of thugs hell bent on carving out their own kingdoms and glory at the expense of others.

From the Western European perspective, it gave some violence prone men an opportunity to go abroad and allowed the emerging kingdoms to have the possible competition otherwise occupied.

No, I’m not sympathetic toward the Crusades or the Crusade fan boys.

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