Jewish Life in the Middle Ages

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When King Charles VI decreed in that that no Jew could dwell in his domains, the ensuing expulsion affected an already greatly diminished population.

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Provence, cradle of the mystical interpretation of the Scriptures Qabbalah , flourished as a centre of philosophy, the sciences and literature. When Provence was incorporated into the kingdom of France in , it expelled its Jewish population in , thereby following the French example and a vast pan-European movement.

Theological controversies between Jews and Christians, frequent in the first centuries of Christendom, continued in medieval Europe, where they were usually conducted cordially. During the course of the 11th century, western Christianity stepped up its offensive against heresies in order to maintain its spiritual power. The attitude of Christian clerics to Jewish texts gradually changed from mistrust to outright hostility, and rabbinic literature became a prime target of anti-Judaism. The Pope promulgated a bull ordering the seizure of all copies of the Talmud in France, England, Aragon and Castilla, and the opening of an investigation of the content of the Talmud.

Books were seized throughout France and taken to Paris, where a public disputation was held in the presence of the king and the queen mother, Blanche of Castille, on 25 and 26 June The value and authority of the Talmud, and the exaggerated importance it has for the Jews; II. The blasphemies it contains against Jesus; III. The blasphemies against God and morality; IV. The blasphemies against Christians; V. Errors, nonsense and absurdities. The Jewish clerk of the court was Nathan ben Josef, nicknamed the Official. Despite the oratory prowess and erudition with which the rabbis refuted the accusations point by point, the Talmud was found guilty.

All copies twenty-four cartloads of books, it is said were publicly burnt in Paris, in present-day Place des Vosges, probably in The Jews attempted to rehabilitate their sacred texts. A few years later Pope Innocent IV agreed to re-examine the verdict, but a second commission, presided over by the Dominican Albert le Grand, merely ratified it in In December , the Jewish community, represented by Bonne Vie, Croissant Morin, Croissant le Ceinturier and Hanin le Gainier, came to an agreement with the canons of Notre-Dame, affiliated with the Chapel of Saint-Aignan, regarding the payment of an annual tax of four livres parisis for this cemetery.

Both sites were used until For unknown reasons, the community gave up the rue Galande cemetery, which regent Duke Philip the Bold retroceded to the canons. Only the cemetery in rue de la Harpe was maintained until , when the Jews were expelled from France by King Philip the Fair. The land tax roll of mentions a sergeant by the name of Henri as guard of the Jewish cemetery. Epitaphs from this cemetery were transcribed by scholars in the 16th century.

Its remains were unearthed in during the construction of the Hachette bookshop on the corner of boulevards Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel. Other gravestones, dispersed in various buildings, were subsequently discovered. The dating of most of them 12th and 13th centuries and their typology indicate that they are from the rue de la Harpe cemetery. However, a magnificent rabbinic stele engraved in comes from a third cemetery, created in the Marais in the 14th century. We do not know how the cemetery was laid out since no comparable burial site has survived, but the steles were undoubtedly set upright in the ground on individual graves, in Ashkenazi tradition.

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  7. The stones vary in form. The inscriptions sometimes follow ruled lines, like manuscripts. These steles may include that of rabbi Yehiel of Paris, head of the Talmudic school, who took part in the debate on the Talmud in , and those of his son and daughter. On 31 March , Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille signed the Alhambra Decree in Grenada expelling the Jews from their respective kingdoms, thereby putting a abrupt end to over a thousand years of Jewish presence in the Iberian Peninsula.

    Jewish Life in the Middle Ages

    On a religious level, this expulsion completed a process of national unification achieved politically by the union of the crowns of Castille and Aragon in , and territorially by the fall of Grenada, the last Muslim enclave in the peninsula, in January The expulsion thus completed a process of marginalisation and expulsion begun a decade earlier. From to its tribunals tried some thirteen thousand New Christians, more than a thousand of whom were burnt at the stake. The decree ordered Jews to leave their Spanish properties on pain of death before the end of July , thereby forcing them to sell their possessions at a very low price.

    The only alternative was conversion. The secular clergy and the mendicant orders increased efforts to persuade Jews to renounce their faith. The rift this created amongst the Spanish Jews is epitomised by Isaac Abravanel , who chose exile, and Abraham Senior , chief rabbi of Spain, who accepted baptism.

    "The Medieval Jew" - Norman Cantor

    However, loathe to deprive himself of their skills, he had them forcibly baptised with great violence. The Jews were expelled from kingdom of Navarre in These expulsions set in motion a massive cultural and demographic displacement that profoundly Hispanicised the Mediterranean Jewish world. In the middle ages, the Jewish people were commonly looked down on. During the Roman times, they were considered citizens, but in the middle ages, they were not even that.

    Rediscovered objects shine a light on Jewish life in 14th-century France.

    Instead, they were called resident foreigners. Their lives were a lot like those of the citizens, though. They also were given protection from the king like the serfs were. In fact, before the medieval times, the Christians and the Jews lived together for many centuries. One reason the Christians despised the Jews was because almost all of the people who had power were Christians. The Jews were thought of as being different, strange, and some people even thought they could be siding with the Islamic people who were enemies with the Christians.

    For this reason they were also seen as traitors. Many people disliked the Jews and rules started to be made keeping the Jews from having equal rights to the serfs. One drawback was that the Jews could not own land. They were forced to live in sections of town called ghettos that were reserved for only Jewish people. Not only did the Christians view the Jews as traitors, but they were worried that the Jewish religion would begin to rise over Christianity.

    As a result, the Jewish people were held back in society by the Christian people and leaders. They were very skillful, but because of their religion, not many jobs were available for them.

    Middle Ages

    For example, the Jewish people could not own land, so they could not be farmers. Others who were skilled in medicine could only treat their own people because the Christians did not trust them as doctors. The only jobs the Jews could take were those of artisans, traders, and money lenders. Although some Jews had trouble with these jobs and made little money, some money-lenders became very successful. Christian laws said that Christian people could not lend money out at an interest.

    Treatment of Jews in the Middle Ages

    However, many kings and queens needed money to pay for expenses in the empire. Because the Christian people could not lend money, the Jews took on this job and were rewarded with having a big role in the medieval economy as money lenders. However, this was a risky job to have. By lending out money and profiting by interest, you would lose money if the king or queen did not pay you back.

    Jewish Life in the Middle Ages | work by Abrahams |

    The money was paid back sometimes, but many times, the king found it easier to throw the Jews out of his kingdom. Some kings also started to make laws saying that Christians did not have to pay the Jewish people back the money they had borrowed. Some moved safely to the Netherlands, and others moved to France only to be kicked out by their king, King Philippe a year later in Jewish money lenders. The Jews were welcome in some kingdoms, though. After the first Crusade, when much of the prosecution of the Jews started, many Jews moved to Poland because Crusaders killed many of them in Jerusalem. admin