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Attacks On The Jews Essay

1751 words - 8 pages

Attacks on the Jews

There were a variety of reasons behind the attacks on the Jews during the Angevin Period. These stemmed from the hatreds held or perpetuated by several different groups, all of whom caused of carried out these attacks. These groups were the ordinary people of England, the church, both in England and abroad, the Crusaders who passed through England and the Nobility of England. It must also be added that these attacks were not exclusive to England. However, the way the attacks were carried out in England, and the special causes that lay behind several of them, were actually unique.

Ordinary people hated Jews because of the Jews wealth. Although Jews and their ...view middle of the document...

Despite this, Newburgh and his family attempted to prosecute the local Jews, based on no evidence; thankfully the case was dismissed. However, other Jews who were subjugated to this treatment were not so lucky; many were prosecuted successfully or else simply lynched. This tradition of blood libel then spread from England across Europe like a virus. This was due to the church taking the tales at face value and spreading them themselves. However, those churchman higher up in the churches hierarchy did not encourage Jewish persecution. Although this was partly on theological grounds, it was mainly because for these churchmen, the Jews were useful, providing a ready source of income. However, people still thought that the Jews were worthy of persecution. The stories told about them were told by friars or preachers, which meant that people were far more likely to believe them. However, there were other reasons why churchmen would hate the Jews. These were the same as everyone else; the Jews leant money. Although the church, perhaps more than anyone save the king, realized that the Jews could be very useful to society in the role of usurers, they still hated them because the church had to use them. A surprisingly large number of Jewish loans were made to churches or abbeys; constant building work was costing the church very large sums of money. Thus, they needed a ready source of cash, which the Jews provided. The church tended to borrow from the richer more powerful Jews, although some smaller houses or individuals did borrow from other, poorer Jews.

The Crusades unleashed an entirely new and unprecedented wave of racial hatred towards the Jews. There were almost no other racial minorities in Europe besides the Jews; there were certainly none in England. As a result, they were far more vulnerable to attack from the Crusaders as they moved around england; York in 1190 was the result of a large number of crusaders, heading south to cross the channel, gathering at York. They, and the priests who were traveling with them, incited the local people to greater acts of persecution than were already being committed. Whilst the reasons of the crusaders for attacking the Jews were no different form those of the church, the crusaders were far more likely to use violence against the Jews for two reasons; their own specific mindset and the financial gains of doing so. The majority of crusaders believed that by attacking non christians they would appease god; thus attacking Jews was a good thing for their souls. The second reason was simply that going on crusade costed a lot of money, and so by attacking the wealthy Jewish community in england, the crusaders could get their hands on some much needed cash.

Of all the different groups in English society, it was the probably the nobles of England who hated the Jews the most. It was the nobles who used the Jewish moneylending services most. The Jews provided a ready and available source of cash for the...

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