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Jewish memory and the Crusades: the Hebrew Crusade chronicles and protection from Christian violence

Rist, R. (2016) Jewish memory and the Crusades: the Hebrew Crusade chronicles and protection from Christian violence. In: Cassidy-Welch , M. (ed.) Remembering the Crusades and Crusading. Remembering the Medieval and Early Modern Worlds. Routledge , London, UK, pp. 159-172. ISBN 9781138811140

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From the eleventh century popes called for crusading against Muslims in the Near East and pagans in the Baltic, and, from the thirteenth century, against heretics and political enemies of the Church. The new religious spirit of the eleventh century which ushered in the crusades, combined with new social and economic factors, brought about a considerable deterioration in Christian attitudes to Jews. Although popes never authorised crusades against them, Jewish communities often suffered indirectly from papal calls for crusading. Yet in response to the onset of the crusades and resulting mob violence Jews increasingly looked to the papacy for protection. Following the call by Urban II (1088-1099) for the First Crusade in 1095, attention to specifically papal influence on the well-being of Jewish communities in Western Europe resurfaces in the Hebrew crusade chronicles. From the eleventh century onwards Jewish writers deliberately tried to unite sacred and non-sacred history into a collective, unified vision of a divine design – into a schema of Jewish historical consciousness. The Hebrew crusade chronicles subordinate the description of specific historical events to the elaboration of a grand historical drama in which the Jewish people play a unique role. This paper explores how such chronicles, composed and re-composed by different individuals with a variety of agendas and perspectives, were united by the common goal of attempting to ensure the defence of Jewish communities and Judaism. In particular the issue of papal authority and the Church’s ability to give adequate protection to communities reappears in these chronicles at times of conflict and crisis.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (GCMS)
ID Code:66729

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