- Antisemitism in Europe (Middle Ages)
Accusations of deicide
Middle Ages Antisemitismin Europe was religious. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus, a practice originated by Melito of Sardis.
As stated in the
Boston CollegeGuide to Passion Plays, "Over the course of time, Christians began to accept... that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the Jews present at Jesus’ death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have committed the sin of deicide, or God-killing. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history, the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America."Paley, Susan and Koesters, Adrian Gibbons, eds. [http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/pdf/ViewersGuide.pdf "A Viewer's Guide to Contemporary Passion Plays"] , accessed March 12, 2006.]
This accusation was repudiated in 1964, when the Catholic Church under
Pope Paul VIissued the document Nostra Aetateas a part of Vatican II.
The Black Death
Black Death epidemicsdevastated Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than a half of the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats. Dudu spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by violence, in particular in the Iberian peninsula and in the Germanic Empire. In Provence, 40 Jews were burnt in Toulonas soon as April 1348. See Stéphane Barry and Norbert Gualde, "La plus grande épidémie de l'histoire" ("The greatest epidemics in history"), in " L'Histoire" magazine, n°310, June 2006, p.47 fr icon ] "Never mind that Jews were not immune from the ravages of the plague ; they were tortured until they "confessed" to crimes that they could not possibly have committed. In one such case, a man named Agimet was ... coerced to say that Rabbi Peyret of Chambery(near Geneva) had ordered him to poison the wells in Venice, Toulouse, and elsewhere. In the aftermath of Agimet’s "confession," the Jews of Strasbourgwere burned alive on February 14, 1349.Hertzberg, Arthur and Hirt-Manheimer, Aron. "Jews: The Essence and Character of a People", HarperSanFrancisco, 1998, p.84. ISBN 0-06-063834-6]
Pope Clement VItried to protect them by the July 6, 1348 papal bulland another 1348 bull, several months later, 900 Jews were burnt in Strasbourg, where the plague hadn't yet affected the city. Clement VI condemned the violence and said those who blamed the plague on the Jews (among whom were the flagellants) had been "seduced by that liar, the Devil."
The demonizing of the Jews
From around the 12th century through the 19th there were Christians who believed that some (or all) Jews possessed magical powers; some believed that they had gained these magical powers from making a deal with the
devil. See also Judensau, Judeophobia.
On many occasions, Jews were accused of a
blood libel, the supposed drinking of blood of Christian children in mockery of the Christian Eucharist. (Early Christians had been accused of a similar practice based on pagan misunderstanding of the Eucharist ritual.)Fact|date=February 2007 According to the authors of these blood libels, the 'procedure' for the alleged sacrifice was something like this: a child who had not yet reached puberty was kidnapped and taken to a hidden place. The child would be tortured by Jews, and a crowd would gather at the place of execution (in some accounts the synagogue itself) and engage in a mock tribunal to try the child. The child would be presented to the tribunal naked and tied and eventually be condemned to death. In the end, the child would be crowned with thorns and tied or nailed to a wooden cross. The cross would be raised, and the blood dripping from the child's wounds would be caught in bowls or glasses and then drunk. Finally, the child would be killed with a thrust through the heart from a spear, sword, or dagger. Its dead body would be removed from the cross and concealed or disposed of, but in some instances rituals of black magicwould be performed on it. This method, with some variations, can be found in all the alleged Christian descriptions of ritual murder by Jews.The story of William of Norwich(d. 1144) is often cited as the first known accusation of ritual murderagainst Jews. The Jews of Norwich, England were accused of murder after a Christian boy, William, was found dead. It was claimed that the Jews had tortured and crucified their victim. The legend of William of Norwich became a cult, and the child acquired the status of a holy martyr. Recent analysis has cast doubt on whether this was the first of the series of blood libel accusations but not on the contrived and antisemitic nature of the tale. [Bennett, Gillian (2005), "Towards a revaluation of the legend of 'Saint' William of Norwich and its place in the blood libel legend". "Folklore", 116(2), pp 119-21.]
During the Middle Ages blood libels were directed against Jews in many parts of Europe. The believers of these accusations reasoned that the Jews, having crucified Jesus, continued to thirst for pure and innocent blood and satisfied their thirst at the expense of innocent Christian children. Following this logic, such charges were typically made in Spring around the time of
Passover, which approximately coincides with the time of Jesus' death. [Ben-Sasson, H.H., Editor; (1969). "A History of The Jewish People". Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. ISBN 0-674-39731-2 (paper).]
The story of
Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln(d. 1255) said that after the boy was dead, his body was removed from the cross and laid on a table. His belly was cut open and his entrails were removed for some occultpurpose, such as a divination ritual. The story of Simon of Trent(d. 1475) emphasized how the boy was held over a large bowl so all his blood could be collected.
More recently blood libel stories have appeared a number of times in the state-sponsored media of a number of
Arabnations, in Arab television shows, and on websites.
Jews were sometimes falsely accused of desecrating consecrated hosts in a reenactment of the
Crucifixion; this crime was known as host desecrationand carried the death penalty.
Disabilities and restrictions
Jews were subject to a wide range of legal restrictions throughout the Middle Ages, some of which lasted until the end of the 19th century. Jews were excluded from many trades, the occupations varying with place and time, and determined by the influence of various non-Jewish competing interests. Often Jews were barred from all occupations but money-lending and peddling, with even these at times forbidden. The number of Jews permitted to reside in different places was limited; they were concentrated in
ghettos, and were not allowed to own land; they were subject to discriminatory taxes on entering cities or districts other than their own, were forced to swear special Jewish Oaths, and suffered a variety of other measures, including restrictions on dress.
yellow badge, Judenhut"
Fourth Lateran Councilin 1215 was the first to proclaim the requirement for Jews to wear something that distinguished them as Jews. It could be a coloured piece of cloth in the shape of a star or circle or square, a hat ( Judenhut), or a robe. In many localities, members of the medieval society wore badges to distinguish their social status. Some badges (such as guildmembers) were prestigious, while others ostracised outcasts such as lepers, reformed heretics and prostitutes. Jews sought to evade the badges by paying what amounted to bribes in the form of temporary "exemptions" to kings, which were revoked and re-paid whenever the king needed to raise funds.
Crusades were a series of several military campaigns sanctioned by the Papacy that took place during the 11th through 13th centuries. They began as Catholic endeavors to recapture Jerusalemfrom the Muslims but developed into territorial wars.
The mobs accompanying the first three Crusades, and particularly the
People's Crusadeaccompanying the first Crusade, attacked the Jewish communities in Germany, France, and England, and put many Jews to death. Entire communities, like those of Treves, Speyer, Worms, Mayence, and Cologne, were slain during the first Crusade by a mob army. About 12,000 Jews are said to have perished in the Rhenish cities alone between May and July, 1096. Before the Crusades the Jews had practically a monopoly of trade in Eastern products, but the closer connection between Europe and the East brought about by the Crusades raised up a class of merchant traders among the Christians, and from this time onward restrictions on the sale of goods by Jews became frequent. The religious zeal fomented by the Crusades at times burned as fiercely against the Jews as against the Muslims, though attempts were made by bishops during the First crusadeand the papacyduring the Second Crusadeto stop Jews from being attacked. Both economically and socially the Crusades were disastrous for European Jews. They prepared the way for the anti-Jewish legislation of Pope Innocent III, and formed the turning point in the medieval history of the Jews.
County of Toulouse(now part of southern France) the Jews were received on good terms until the Albigensian Crusade. Toleration and favour shown to the Jews was one of the main complaints of the Roman Church against the Counts of Toulouse. Following the Crusaders' successful wars against Raymond VIand Raymond VII, the counts were required to discriminate against Jews like other Christian rulers. In 1209, stripped to the waist and barefoot, Raymond VI was obliged to swear that he would no longer allow Jews to hold public office. In 1229his son Raymond VII, underwent a similar ceremony where he was obliged to prohibit the public employment of Jews, this time at Notre Dame in Paris. Explicit provisions on the subject were included in the Treaty of Meaux(1229). By the next generation a new, zealously Catholic, ruler was arresting and imprisoning Jews for no crime, raiding their houses, seizing their cash, and removing their religious books. They were then released only if they paid a new "tax". A historian has argued that organised and official persecution of the Jews became a normal feature of life in southern France only after the Albigensian Crusade because it was only then that the Church became powerful enough to insist that measures of discrimination be applied. [Michael Costen, "The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade", p 38]
The expulsions from England, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain
The practice of expelling the Jews accompanied by confiscation of their property, followed by temporary readmissions for
ransom, was utilized to enrich the French crown during 12th-14th centuries. The most notable such expulsions were: from Parisby Philip Augustus in 1182, from the entirety of France by Louis IX in 1254, by Charles IV in 1306, by Charles V in 1322, by Charles VI in 1394.
To finance his war to conquer
Wales, Edward I of Englandtaxed the Jewish moneylenders. When the Jews could no longer pay, they were accused of disloyalty. Already restricted to a limited number of occupations, the Jews saw Edward abolish their "privilege" to lend money, choke their movements and activities and were forced to wear a yellow patch. The heads of Jewish households were then arrested, over 300 of them taken to the Tower of Londonand executed, while others killed in their homes. "See also:-Massacres at London and York (1189 – 1190)." The complete banishment of all Jews from the country in 1290 led to thousands killed and drowned while fleeing and the absence of Jews from England for three and a half centuries, until 1655, when Oliver Cromwellreversed the policy.
Ferdinand II of Aragonand Isabella of Castileissued "General Edict on the Expulsion of the Jews" from Spain("see also Spanish Inquisition") and many SephardiJews fled to the Ottoman Empire, some to the Land of Israel.
The Kingdom of Portugal followed suit and in December 1496, it was decreed that any Jew who did not convert to Christianity would be expelled from the country. However, those expelled could only leave the country in ships specified by the King. When those who chose expulsion arrived at the port in Lisbon, they were met by clerics and soldiers who used force, coercion, and promises in order to baptize them and prevent them from leaving the country. This period of time technically ended the presence of Jews in Portugal. Afterwards, all converted Jews and their descendants would be referred to as "New Christians" or
Marranos, and they were given a grace period of thirty years in which no inquiries into their faith would be allowed; this was later to extended to end in 1534. A popular riot in 1504 would end in the death of two thousand Jews; the leaders of this riot were executed by Manuel.
Frederick II of Prussialimited Breslauto only ten so-called "protected" Jewish families and encouraged similar practice in other Prussian cities. In 1750 he issued "Revidiertes General Privilegium und Reglement vor die Judenschaft": the "protected" Jews had an alternative to "either abstain from marriage or leave Berlin" (quoting Simon Dubnow). In the same year, Archduchess of AustriaMaria Theresa ordered Jews out of Bohemiabut soon reversed her position, on condition that Jews pay for readmission every ten years. This extortionwas known as "malke-geld" (queen's money). In 1752 she introduced the law limiting each Jewish family to one son. In 1782, Joseph II abolished most of persecution practices in his "Toleranzpatent", on the condition that Yiddish and Hebrew are eliminated from public records and judicial autonomy is annulled. Moses Mendelssohnwrote that "Such a tolerance... is even more dangerous play in tolerance than open persecution".
Anti-Judaism and the Reformation
Martin Luther, an Augustinianmonk and an ecclesiasticalreformer whose teachings inspired the Reformation, wrote antagonistically about Jews in his book "On the Jews and their Lies", which describes the Jews in extremely harsh terms, excoriates them, and provides detailed recommendations for a pogromagainst them and their permanent oppression and/or expulsion. According to Paul Johnson, it "may be termed the first work of modern antisemitism, and a giant step forward on the road to the Holocaust."Johnson, Paul. "A History of the Jews", HarperCollins Publishers, 1987, p.242. ISBN 5-551-76858-9] In his final sermon shortly before his death, however, Luther preached "We want to treat them with Christian love and to pray for them, so that they might become converted and would receive the Lord."Luther, Martin. "D. Martin Luthers Werke: kritische Gesamtausgabe", Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1920, Vol. 51, p. 195.] Still, Luther's harsh comments about the Jews are seen by many as a continuation of medieval Christian antisemitism."See also Martin Luther and Antisemitism"
Jews in the Middle Ages
Christianity and antisemitism
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