Black Death Jewish persecutions

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Representation of a massacre of the Jews in 1349 Antiquitates Flandriae (Royal Library of Belgium manuscript 13076/77)

The Black Death persecutions and massacres were a series of violent attacks on Jewish communities blamed for an outbreak of the Black Death in Europe from 1348 to 1350.



[edit] History of persecutions

In Germany there had already been massacres stirred up by local demagogues: the Roettingen "Knight Rindfleisch," the Rintfleisch massacres (1298), and the innkeeper-knight Arnold von Uissigheim König Armleder ("King Leatherarm") of the Armleder massacres (1336–38).[1]

As the plague swept across Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than half the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats, in part because better hygiene among Jewish communities and isolation in the ghettos meant in some places that Jews were less affected. Accusations spread that Jews had caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells.

The first massacres directly related to the plague took place in April 1348 in Toulon, France, where the Jewish quarter was sacked, and forty Jews were murdered in their homes, then in Barcelona.[2] In 1349 massacres and persecution spread across Europe, including the Erfurt massacre (1349), the Basel massacre, massacres in Aragon, and Flanders.[3][4] 900 Jews were burnt alive on 14 February 1349 in the "Valentine's Day" Strasbourg massacre, where the plague had not yet affected the city.[5] Many hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed in this period.

[edit] Government responses

In many cities the civil authorities either did little to protect the Jewish communities or actually abetted the rioters.[6] Although Pope Clement VI (the French born Benedictine, Pierre Roger) tried to protect the Jewish communities by two papal bulls (the first on July 6, 1348 and another 26 September 1348) saying that those who blamed the plague on the Jews had been "seduced by that liar, the Devil" and urging clergy to protect the Jews, his efforts were in part undone by the newly elected Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor making property of Jews killed in riots forfeit, giving local authorities a financial incentive to turn a blind eye.[7]

[edit] Aftermath

As the plague waned in 1350, so did the violence against Jewish communities. In 1351 the plague and the immediate persecution was over, though the background level of persecution and discrimination remained. Ziegler (1998) comments that "there was nothing unique about the massacres."[8] 20 years after the Black Death the Brussels massacre (1370) wiped out the Belgian Jewish community.[9]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust; p. 1437 Shmuel Spector, Geoffrey Wigoder (eds.) - 2001 "Jews were victimized in the Rindfleisch (1298) and Armleder (1336) massacres and the community was destroyed in the Black Death persecutions of 1348-49. Subsequently J. settlement was banned for three centuries."
  2. ^ Anna Foa The Jews of Europe after the black death 2000 p. 13 "This was the context in which the Plague made its appearance in 1348. THE BLACK DEATH The Plague was not unknown in ... The first massacres took place in April 1348 in Toulon, where the Jewish quarter was sacked and forty Jews were murdered in their homes. Shortly afterward, violence broke out in Barcelona and in other Catalan cities."
  3. ^ Codex Judaica: chronological index of Jewish history; p. 203 Máttis Kantor - 2005 "1349 The Black Death massacres swept across Europe. ... The Jews were savagely attacked and massacred, by sometimes hysterical mobs — normal social order had ..."
  4. ^ John Marshall John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture; p. 376 2006 "The period of the Black Death saw the massacre of Jews across Germany, and in Aragon, and Flanders,"
  5. ^ See Stéphane Barry and Norbert Gualde, «La plus grande épidémie de l'histoire» ("The greatest epidemic in history"), in L'Histoire magazine, n° 310, June 2006, p. 47 (French)
  6. ^ Howard N. Lupovitch Jews and Judaism in world history p92 - 2009 "In May 1349, the city fathers of Brandenburg passed a law a priori condemning Jews of well poisoning: Should it become evident and proved by reliable men that the Jews have caused or will cause in the future the death of Christians,..."
  7. ^ Howard N. Lupovitch Jews and Judaism in world history p92 2009 "On July 6, 1349, Pope Clement tried to curb anti-Jewish violence by issuing a papal bull. Its effectiveness was limited by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who made arrangements for the disposal of Jewish property in the event of a ..."
  8. ^ Philip Ziegler The Black Death 1998 "The persecution of the Jews waned with the Black Death itself; by 1351 all was over. Save for the horrific circumstances of the plague which provided the incentive and the background, there was nothing unique about the massacres."
  9. ^ The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia Mordecai Schreiber - 2011 "In 1370, after the Black Death, the brutal Brussels Massacre wiped out the Belgian Jewish community"
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