The Crusades and the Persecution of the Jews

Authored by: J. A. Watt

The Medieval World

Print publication date:  October  2001
Online publication date:  September  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415181518
eBook ISBN: 9781315016207
Adobe ISBN: 9781136500053

10.4324/9781315016207.ch9

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Abstract

Persecution of Jews in the medieval world took many forms. One of the most threatening to the future survival of the European Jewries came with the war against Islam. The crusades brought to Jews violence of hitherto unparalleled ferocity. Holy War against one sort of unbeliever seemed reason to attack another. Why combat one set of God’s enemies overseas, the argument ran, and yet leave unscathed an even worse set of enemies at home, living among us? It was a logic which at the time challenged the orthodoxies of Church and State, and which now confronts the historian of that age with a particularly significant phenomenon in the history of medieval anti-Semitism. ‘A microcosm of medieval Jewish disasters’ (Stow 1992: 115. Cf. Liebeschütz 1959; Abulafia 1996).

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