The winner of the Adolf for worst person of the century goes to Pope Urban II. The century in question is the first one of the previous millennium, or 1000-1100. Like many other Adolf award winners, Urban perpetrated evil deeds that have continued to provoke hatred, war and suffering even to the present day. HIs principal crime: Pope Urban fabricated a litany of Muslim atrocities in order to incite Christians to wrest Jerusalem from a “race” that he called “absolutely alien to God.” In November, 1095, in Clermont in the south of France, Urban told an eager audience that Muslims had circumcised Christians and spread their unspeakable blood on baptismal fonts; that they had “cut open the navels of others, tearing out their vital organs” and that they had committed appalling atrocities upon women “of which it is more evil to speak than to keep silent.” Some say that his catalogue of mutilations and barbarities was based on faulty intelligence but most think it was his own invention. Urban did not just incite and condone warfare, he sanctified it. His crusade would be a pilgrimage -- and therefore a form of penance. Combatants who died in its course would be purified. God, it was claimed, has instituted “holy wars” so that knights might find a new path to salvation. Roughly one hundred thousand crusaders answered his call and set out for the Levant to take Jerusalem from the infidels.On the way, they warmed to their task by conducting genocidal attacks of unprecedented brutality upon the Jewish communities of the Rhineland (communities that had been in place before the advent of Christianity). These quasi-sanctioned raids are now known as “the first holocaust.” The passage of the crusaders to the middle East was made easier because the Muslims were divided into two factions --Shiite and Sunni -- that were perpetually at daggers drawn. The crusaders laid siege to Antioch in October, 1099, and when they took the city, slaughtered its entire Muslim population. In possession of Antioch, they found themselves entirely surrounded by hostile armies. But God was on their side. The timely intervention of “countless armies with white horses… led by the saints George, Mercurius, and Demetrius“ allowed them to fight their way out of the city. The crusaders headed south and in midsummer of 1099 besieged Jerusalem. The Muslim defenders taunted the crusaders by setting up crosses and urinating on them; in response, the Christians catapulted the bodies of captured Muslims over the walls. When Jerusalem fell, the celebration was euphoric. The Provencal crusader Raymond of Aguilers reported that “some of the pagans were mercifully beheaded, others were tortured for a long time and burned to death in searing flames. Piles of heads, hands and feel lay in the houses and streets. Infants were seized by the soles of their feet from their mothers’ laps or their cradles, and dashed against the wall, breaking their necks.” Covered with gore, weighed down with plunder, “rejoicing and weeping from excessive gladness," the crusaders "worshipped at the Sepulchre of Jesus the Savior.”
Although Pope Urban II died just two weeks after the fall and sack of Jerusalem, there is no question but that his Adolf was well and truly earned and that his legacy lives on.