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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 115, Essay 2 – Pope Urban II’s Speech

Pope Urban II was the pope during the First Crusade.  When the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos, called upon him for assistance against the Muslims forces who were threatening Constantinople, he was tasked with the job of rallying men into an army.  What did the Urban say that day that convinced 60,000 men to join the war?

In 1095, Urban delivered a rousing speech to the public.  There was no complete and accurate transcription of the speech, but we have five different versions that should roughly tell us what he said that day.

It seemed that Urban started the speech by describing the situation in the other parts of the Christian world.  He told the people that the bishops in these areas either were not doing their job, or were struggling to do their job.

He then moved onto the topic of the Muslims.  He described that pillaging and torture that the Muslims were conducting against their Christian brethren.  He talked about the burning of towns and Churches, the killing of innocents.  In effect, all the things that would pull at a person’s heartstrings. 

I saw this as Urban riling the people up.  He was aiming to trigger strong emotions against the Muslims so he could successfully carry out his call to action: the summoning of men to fight for the cause.

He called upon knights, bishops, farmers, and anyone who wanted to fight for the valiant cause of defending their fellow Christians.  He assured that everyone who joined the cause would be absolved of all of their sins.

As you can see, Urban knew what he had to say to convince men to go to war.  He used emotions to rile them up and, theoretically, guaranteed a place in heaven to those who decided to join.  Some could consider this as emotional manipulation, and while I do not deny that, I have to commend Urban for his compelling public speaking skills.

Thanks for reading!


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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