The Crusades and the Jews - Prof. Kenneth Stow

The First Crusade of 1096 witnessed the slaughter – as well as the conversion to Christianity, both forced and voluntary – of hundreds of Jews in the central Rhineland cities of Speyer, Worms, and especially Mainz.

 

The events of the first Crusade, compounded, although not greatly, by events of the second and third Crusades in 1146 and 1189, have seared themselves into historical memory as turning points in medieval Jewish-Christian relations. Reinforcing this perception are not only Hebrew chronicles, but also Latin Christian ones that condemn the slaughter, alongside the memorial lists of those murdered.

 

The question is what happened and how do we approach the standard historiographical (the way historians perceive the past) evaluation. To some extent, that evaluation is correct, but, as we shall learn, not in all respects. We shall divide our attention during two meetings first to the status of the Jews in pre-Crusade Europe and, second, to the events of the First Crusade itself and their affects.

 

 

Historical events in the Jewish world in pre-Crusade Europe

 

The Jewish medieval world: geography and diversity of Jewish cultures

 

 

Was the Jewish early Middle Ages (4th-11th centuries) peaceful?

 

Many forces fear a Jewish presence, specifically, the potential contamination of a “Christian Society.” Supposed plots, intrigues, Jewish violence against converts to Christianity, Jewish black magic, most of all contamination of purity (and the Eucharist) through social proximity, especially eating together. Yet law and Pauline teachings contain extremes, certainly violence. Visigothic Spain is the exception. The law also propounds a system of restrictions, which will mature with time, yet remain essentially constant.

 

 

 

  In English I Sunday I July 4 I 8pm (1pm EDT)  

 

 

 

 

 

The First Crusade of 1096, and the following Second and Third Crusades, have seared themselves into historical memory as turning points in medieval Jewish-Christian relations.
 

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