Blood Libel in the Time of Cholera

CholeraIn September 1348 thousands of Jews living in Europe were burned after the charges of conspiracy and distribution of terrible diseases.

Rumors of an unknown terrible disease from which people died within a few days, and their bodies were covered with black spots began to penetrate into Europe in the summer of 1346. This was told merchants returning from the East, who saw an unknown plague befell as God’s punishment for sinners.

In the spring of 1347 there was a plague on the Crimean peninsula and began to spread along the coast of the Black Sea, and then to the Mediterranean Sea, affecting the inhabitants of Thrace, Macedonia, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Judea. In November 1347 the disease reached Marseilles, even a few months – to Avignon, and has spread deep into France. By early next year the plague has been invaded Spain.

Pope Clement VI, foreclosure Avignon with the intention of turning it into a cultural capital locked up in the palace and constantly burning fire in the premises to smoke infection. To determine the cause of the disease, he ordered to dissect corpses, and when they were so many that no one had time to bury them, the Pope consecrated the river, and the bodies of the dead began to be discharged directly into it.

European ports plague spread inland. By the spring of 1348 she got to Florence. In the Mediterranean, there were loads of drifting ships, on board of which there was not a living person. Summer disease has reached the Atlantic coast and one of the merchant ships came to England.

In early September, on the way to Castile’s daughter died of the plague of the English king Edward III Joanna Plantagenet. Ten days later, died in Paris of France Queen Jeanne of Burgundy.

One of the consequences of the terrible plague has been the rise of religious fanaticism among Europeans. Some thought the disease, punishment over and tried to beg God for salvation with the help of public flogging. Others were looking for the source of the disease in the environment and to invent various conspiracies against Christians in the organization who were accused of the Jews.

Then the plague did not know much and mistook it for a new kind of leprosy, the peak of the distribution of which in Europe took place in the XIII century. As soon as someone infected with leprosy, he became an outcast: a patient deprived of citizenship and property, and then threw him a handful of earth, after which he was regarded as virtually dead in front of people, and in front of the church.

Rumors about the cooperation of Jews and lepers began to spread at the beginning of the XIV century. King of the Moors was allegedly unhappy that Christians constantly gain the victory over him, and decided to destroy them, conspired with the Jews. Those, in turn, with the help of the devil persuaded lepers infect their illness all Christians, turning them into the dregs of society. For the provision of the services promised to the Jews allegedly infected a generous reward.

In this theory, it was a lot of witnesses and evidence. Many of them have their origins in 1321, when he was discovered such conspiracy lepers.

At the head of the Roman Catholic Church then was John XXI, have a fear of witchcraft and from the very first days in office who conducted a witch hunt. Among the incoming pope denunciations was a letter from Count Philip of Anjou, which contained a report on the search of the house of a Jew Bananiasa after the eclipse. In one of his caskets inquisitors found parchment, written in Hebrew. All questioned the Jews translated the contents of this letter are equally innocent, however, when there were connoisseurs of language among Christians, it turned out that it was written to the king of the Saracens. Jews allegedly wanted to sign him, and partnership in exchange for the return of Jerusalem to give yourself the Saracen ruler throne in Paris. In the same message mentioned bribery lepers to poison the waters. We are triumphing, because these Christians poisoned his brothers – then translated scribes theologians – a sure sign of discord and disagreement.

Witnesses said that water contamination lepers used bags, which was a head lizard, toad legs and something like women’s hair, smeared with black, smelly liquid. This mixture is not burned in the fire, which was considered proof that this – a strong poison. According to another version, the poison consisted of dried and ground into powder for human blood and urine with a touch of the body of Christ.

By 1346, the beginning of the epidemic of black death, in addition to a new wave of rumors about anti-Christian conspiracy, anti-Semitic sentiment grew on the basis of the accusations of the Jews in the death of Jesus Christ. In addition, the Europeans did not like the Jews because of their occupation – trade and usury, which, firstly, give them some influence on local politics through the provision of loans to large cities, and secondly, the poor debtors brought to destitution.

The first pogrom during the plague occurred in April 1348 in the Jewish quarter of Toulon, where an angry mob dealt with four dozen Jews in their homes. Shortly thereafter, a wave of violence swept through Barcelona and other cities of Catalonia.

Clement VI issued the Bull twice, trying to protect the Jewish community – in July and September 1348. He wanted to explain to his congregation that the accusation of the Jews in the plague comes from Satan, and asked the clergy to stand up in their defense. Pope’s personal physician said that Jews were dying of the plague in the same way as the others. In some cities, where the disease was raging, the Jews never lived and did not even appear.

In September, a rumor of poisoning of waters reached the Swiss Chillon. Jews living in the city were arrested, and one of them, a doctor Balavignus, under torture, confessed that he and several of his comrades had been poisoned local wells powder of Christian hearts, spiders, frogs, lizards, human flesh and consecrated bread. The news quickly became known in Bern, where it smashed all over Switzerland and Germany. September 21 some Jews were burned in Zurich, the remainder underwent exile.

In early January 1349 600 Jews were arrested and shackled in Basel. They were herded into a specially built wooden barn and burned. Several surviving children forcibly converted to Christianity. After this, Jews were forbidden to live in the next 200 years. January 22 came the city Shpeyra where many committed suicide to avoid baptism. Pogroms in Jewish neighborhoods have also occurred in Augsburg, Freiburg, Salzburg, Munich and other cities. In the possession of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, the property was sold to slaughter Jews.

Intends to support the Jewish mayor of Strasbourg, was dismissed. On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1349, in the city were burnt alive 900 Jews. Legend of the conspiracy reached Augsburg, W├╝rzburg, Salzburg, Munich and other settlements, most of which there were mass beatings and burning of Jews. In March, there was a massacre of the Jewish community in Erfurt that killed, according to various estimates, from several hundred to three thousand people. Many of them have themselves set fire to their house and died in the fire, without waiting for them to come to lynch. In cities where there were no Jews were accused of poisoning wells gravediggers.

Pandemic Black Death was completed in 1351. For four years, the plague wiped out, according to various estimates, between a quarter and two-thirds of the population of Europe and the Europeans defeated the 50 large and 150 small Jewish communities.

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