Anti-Semitism and Medieval Europe

The History of Anti-Semitism and Persecution of Jews

The anti-Semitism has been represented through hatred, biases and bigotry against Jews because of their legacy and popular belief that they have killed Jesus. Since the days of previous culture, the Jews have known this hate for a long time. They were expelled from the major cities through resentment of the Jews, and there were blood divorces. In the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, the attacks against the Jews became more and more frequent and were the highest after the end of the medieval era (Cohen, 2017).

Religious Beliefs and Discrimination

During the medieval period many Christians, which included most members of the clergy believed that the Jewish were the once who were directly responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. Religion played a significant role in the antisemitism, because of what the Christians and their leaders believed in, much Jewish were killed in Europe and other parts of the world. Others were driven out of the cities that they were living in. The Christians believed that the Jewish committed the sin of deicide, they killed God, and for this reason, they did not deserve to live. The people did not want to accept the fact that the Jewish who were alive during the era of Jesus had long gone and that there was no need of unleashing hate and violence to the Jewish.

Discrimination and Economic Marginalization

There was also a lot of discrimination that was directed towards the Jewish because of what they had been charged with, killing God. The leaders who were mostly Christians locked the Jewish out many opportunities during this period. The lucrative and noble positions were not given to the Jewish, they were pushed into marginal professions and occupations, which included; rent and tax collection and lending of money (Cohen, 2017). The Jewish were made to feel socially inferior to other communities that they lived with. The jobs that the Jewish did such as lending money for interest were considered to be sin by the Roman Catholic Church and Christians were not allowed to engage in such type of jobs. Because of this, the Jewish were labeled as sinful people who stole from others. In addition to this, the Jewish were the once who collected taxes on behalf of the lords who were Christians. The peasants who paid taxes to the Jewish developed personal hatred to the Jewish, there was also tension amongst the creditors who were mostly Jewish and debtors who were mostly Christians who were not able to service their debts. This made it easier for the Christians to turn against the Jewish at the slightest provocation.

The Impact of the Crusades

After the Crusades many Christians turned against the Jewish people, this saw them being attacked and expelled from France, England, and Germany. During these attacks much Jewish were put to death, it is reported that in some areas such as Speyer, Treves, Worms Cologne and Mainz the entire Jewish communities that were living here were killed by a mob army after the first Crusade (Cohen, 2017). Many Jewish lost their lives after such attacks; they were the ones who controlled the trade between the East and Europe they had a monopoly before the attacks. After the attacks and Crusades, a class of Christian business merchants arose, now the Jewish were restricted to do trading in a trade that they had been controlling and that they enjoyed a monopoly over the time. The Muslims were also treated the same way as the Jewish were being treated. The leaders of the church during this period tried to stop the hatred that was spreading against the Jewish and Muslims, but they could not do much to stop the Crusades. Effects from the Crusades were disastrous, and they impacted heavily on the lives of the Jewish.

Expulsions and Persecutions

Some of the leaders who had good terms with the Jewish were also not spared. For instance, Raymond VI and Raymond VII of the County of Toulouse were made to swear that they will stop being hospitable to the Jewish and that they will not allow them to hold offices in the County, this was after the Albigensian Crusade. At this time, no ruler has been authorized to show compassion to the Jewish, the new leaders who were joining office became more harsh and hostile to the Jewish. They imprisoned them without any valid reason, the properties that were belonging to the Jewish were seized, and their money was also taken (Wolfthal & Diane, 2016 ). They organized house raids where they raided their homes and took their religious books. After the Albigensian Crusade, the Catholic Church made an official statement on the discrimination of the Jewish and their prosecution. The attacks were increased, and there were more persecutions after the Albigensian Crusade that was held in Southern France.During this period there was organized expulsion of the Jewish from European countries such as England, France, Spain, Portugal, and France. The deportations have been held in a way that they took place in intervals; these expulsions also affected other small communities that were marginalized either politically, religiously or ethnically. The period was also characterized by massacres of Jewish done by Crusaders as they moved towards the East. Leaders who tried to stop these killings failed to make an influence, for instance in Germany the emperor sought to halt the persecution citing economic reasons, but he did not make any impact. The properties and money for the Jewish who had been expelled were seized by the Christians who remained behind, the Jewish could be admitted back temporary but had to pay some ransom which was meant to enrich those who were in the ruling class.

Contrasting Relationships: Christians, Jews, and Muslims

The relationship between the Jewish and Muslims was good as compared to that of the Christians and Jewish. The Muslims did not persecute the Jewish at any point. In Muslim territories the Jewish were given equal opportunities to trade as the Muslims, the trading terms were fair, and there were no restrictions such as those imposed in Christian territories (Wolfthal & Diane, 2016 ). The Muslims also did not take up all the right jobs as Christians; they shared office positions with the Jewish. They had an understanding that both their religions originated from the same place and so they lived like brothers. Unlike Christians, the Muslims had not charged the Jewish with the offense of killing God, this was the reason why there was much hatred between the Christians and the Muslims. Comparing the relationships between these different religions brings very contrasting differences. It is not an option in comparing this relationship, they both have different beliefs and different reasons why they do their actions. For instance, Muslims were traders and maintained their relationship with the Jewish mainly because of trade.


Cohen, Jeffrey. "The Murder of William of Norwich: The Origins of the Blood Libel in Medieval Europe by EM Rose." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 47.3 (2017): 410-411.

Wolfthal, Diane. "Complicating Medieval Anti-Semitism: The Role of Class in Two Tale of Christian Violence against Jews." Gesta 55.1 (2016): 105-127.

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