As pope he was a severe disciplinarian, discountenanced the pomp and luxury of the cardinals, introduced considerable reforms in the administration of justice, and liberally patronized learning. His pontificate witnessed one of the last flickers of crusading zeal in the expedition of Peter of Lusignan, king of Cyprus, who took Alexandria (October 11, 1365), but soon afterwards abandoned it. The great feature of Urban V's reign was the effort to restore the Papacy to Italy, and to suppress its powerful rivals for the temporal sovereignty there. In 1363 he excommunicated Bernabo Visconti, and ordered a crusade to be preached throughout Italy against him and his kindred, the robbers of the church's estate; but in the following year he found it necessary to purchase peace by removing his ban and making other humiliating concessions.
Continued troubles in Italy caused him to set out for Rome, which he reached on October 16, 1367; but, though he was greeted by the clergy and people with joy, and had the satisfaction of being attended by the emperor in St. Peter's, and of placing the crown upon the head of the empress, it soon became clear that by changing the seat of his government he had not increased its power. Unable any longer to resist the urgency of the French cardinals, he took ship again at Corneto on September 5, 1370, and, arriving at Avignon on the 24th of the same month, died on December 19. He was succeeded by Gregory XI. His canonization was demanded by King Valdemar IV of Denmark and promised by Pope Gregory as early as 1375, but did not take place owing to the disorders of the time. Urban's cultus was approved by Pius IX in 1870.