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CHRISTIAN TOTALITARIANISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM:

MEDIEVAL TO RENAISSANCE EUROPE

We have already documented the comprehensive system of religious totalitarianism instituted by the seizure of power in the Roman Empire by Christianity.

Unfortunately, as time went by, Christian rule led to a near total collapse of civilization in the west.  The western Roman Empire totally collapsed.  The population of Rome dropped 90% under Christian rule.  In the seventh and eighth centuries 50% of the world's Christians converted to Islam and never looked back, and Islam became the dominant religion in western part of Eurasia and the northern part of Africa.

In the eleventh century a great religious revival swept Europe.  However, it did not lead to peace and love.  Quite the contrary it led to a tidal wave of violence and terror on both the international and the internal level.  Abroad it led to the Crusades.  At home it led to an enormous escalation and refinement of already high levels of religious persecution and state terror with formal creation of the Catholic Inquisition.  Unlike even some of the most brutal modern dictators, the Catholic Church openly endorsed and very specifically authorized the use of torture against religious dissidents.

Before it was over, millions of people would be slaughtered in the "Holy" Land in 300 years of war in the failed attempt to create a Christian kingdom in Israel.  At home hundreds of thousands of Jews would be brutally murdered and ultimately totally expelled from major nations like England and France in wave after wave of religious violence and hysteria.  Ten of thousands of women would be savagely tortured and murdered in a campaign against "witches".

Many of the horrors we associate with modern times have their roots here, such as government edicts requiring Jews to identify themselves with a badge and efforts to make whole countries "Juden frei"  (Jew free).

What follows are some key documentary works on this subject.


NOTE:  A BRIEF STATEMENT OF PUBLICATIONS PRINCIPLES

The World Future Fund serves as a source of documentary material, reading lists, and internet links from different points of view that we believe have historical significance.  The publication of this material is in no way whatsoever an endorsement of these viewpoints by the World Future Fund, unless explicitly stated by us.  As our web site makes very clear, we are totally opposed to ideas such as racism, religious intolerance, and communism.  However, in order to combat such evils, it is necessary to understand them by means of the study of key documentary material.  For a more detailed statement of our publications standards click here.


CRIMES OF THE CRUSADERS • THE JEWISH BADGE • THE INQUISITION • GHETTOIZATION • EXPULSIONS

 PROTESTANT ANTISEMITISM • TIMELINES AND OVERVIEWS


CRIMES OF THE CRUSADERS

THE MASSACRE OF JEWS IN ROUEN, FRANCE

The First Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in 1095.  Its goal was to "liberate" Jerusalem and the rest of the Christian Holy Land from Muslim control.  However, before leaving for the Holy Land (and also on route to the Holy Land), Christian Crusaders lashed out at Jews, whom they believed to be "infidels" living in their midst.  The following quote is an account of the massacre of Jews in Rouen, France, which took place in 1096 and was directed by one of the sons of William the Conqueror.

"In the monastery there was a monk who was a Jew by birth. When the beginning of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem began to be bruited throughout the Latin world, he was thus rescued from his superstition. On a certain day when the people of Rouen who had joined in that expedition under the badge of the cross, began to complain to one another, " We, after traversing great distances toward the East, desire to attack the enemies of God there. But this is wasted labour, since before our eyes there are Jews, of all races the worst foes of God." Saying this and seizing their weapons, they herded them into a certain church, driving them in either by force or guile, and without discrimination of sex or age put them to the sword, but allowed those who accepted Christianity to escape slaughter."

Source: The Autobiography of Guibert, Abbot of Nogent-sous-Coucy, Book 2, Chapter V

THE MASSACRE OF JEWS IN THE RHINELAND

"At the beginning of summer in the same year in which Peter, and Gottschalk, after collecting an army, had set out (i.e. 1096), there assembled in like fashion a large and innumerable host of Christians from diverse kingdoms and lands; namely, from the realms of France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine. ... I know not whether by a judgment of the Lord, or by some error of mind; they rose in a spirit of cruelty against the Jewish people scattered throughout these cities and slaughtered them without mercy, especially in the Kingdom of Lorraine, asserting it to be the beginning of their expedition and their duty against the enemies of the Christian faith. This slaughter of Jews was done first by citizens of Cologne. These suddenly fell upon a small band of Jews and severely wounded and killed many; they destroyed the houses and synagogues of the Jews and divided among themselves a very large, amount of money. When the Jews saw this cruelty, about two hundred in the silence of the night began flight by boat to Neuss. The pilgrims and crusaders discovered them, and after taking away all their possessions, inflicted on them similar slaughter, leaving not even one alive.

Not long after this, they started upon their journey, as they had vowed, and arrived in a great multitude at the city of Mainz. There Count Emico, a nobleman, a very mighty man in this region, was awaiting, with a large band of Teutons, the arrival of the pilgrims who were coming thither from diverse lands by the King's highway.

The Jews of this city, knowing of the slaughter of their brethren, and that they themselves could not escape the hands of so many, fled in hope of safety to Bishop Rothard. They put an infinite treasure in his guard and trust, having much faith in his protection, because he was Bishop of the city. Then that excellent Bishop of the city cautiously set aside the incredible amount of money received from them. He placed the Jews in the very spacious hall of his own house, away from the sight of Count Emico and his followers, that they might remain safe and sound in a very secure and strong place.

But Emico and the rest of his band held a council and, after sunrise, attacked the Jews in the hall with arrows and lances. Breaking the bolts and doors, they killed the Jews, about seven hundred in number, who in vain resisted the force and attack of so many thousands. They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex. The Jews, seeing that their Christian enemies were attacking them and their children, and that they were sparing no age, likewise fell upon one another, brother, children, wives, and sisters, and thus they perished at each other's hands. Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised."

Sources: The Account of Albert of Aix see also Solomon bar Samson, "The Crusaders in Mainz, May 27, 1096"

"Just at that time, there appeared a certain soldier, Emico, Count of the lands around the Rhine, a man long of very ill repute on account of his tyrannical mode of life. Called by divine revelation, like another Saul, as he maintained, to the practice of religion of this kind, he usurped to himself the command of almost twelve thousand cross bearers. As they were led through the cities of the Rhine and the Main and also the Danube, they either utterly destroyed the execrable race of the Jews wherever they found them (being even in this matter zealously devoted to the Christian religion) or forced them into the bosom of the Church."

Source: The Account of Ekkehard of Aura

THE MASSACRE AT JERUSALEM

During the First Crusade, on July 14, 1099, the Christian army laying siege to Jerusalem launched a three-pronged assault on the city.  After two days of fighting the Crusaders broke through Jerusalem's defenses.  As the city's defenders fell back in disarray toward the Temple Mount, Crusaders followed them, killing everyone they could find.  Every Jew and Muslim in Jerusalem, as well as a large number of Eastern Orthodox Christians, was slaughtered on this day.  The number of civilians killed has never been firmly established.  According to J. Arthur McFall, Taking Jerusalem: The Climax of the First Crusade,

"The Crusaders spent at least that night and the next day killing Muslims, including all of those in the al-Aqsa Mosque, where Tancred's banner should have protected them. Not even women and children were spared. The city's Jews sought refuge in their synagogue, only to be burned alive within it by the Crusaders. Raymond of Aquilers reported that he saw "piles of heads, hands and feet" on a walk through the holy city. Men trotted across the bodies and body fragments as if they were a carpet for their convenience. The Europeans also destroyed the monuments to Orthodox Christian saints and the tomb of Abraham. ... While the slaughter was still going on, many churchmen and princes assembled for a holy procession. Barefoot, chanting and singing, they walked to the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre through the blood flowing around their feet."

Three Christians with the Crusader army described the events as follows:

"Both day and night, on the fourth and fifth days of the week, we made a determined attack on the city from all sides. However, before we made this assault on the city, the bishops and priests persuaded all, by exhorting and preaching, to honor the Lord by marching around Jerusalem in a great procession, and to prepare for battle by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Early on the sixth day of the week we again attacked the city on all sides, but as the assault was unsuccessful, we were all astounded and fearful. However, when the hour approached on which our Lord Jesus Christ deigned to suffer on the Cross for us, our knights began to fight bravely in one of the towers - namely, the party with Duke Godfrey and his brother, Count Eustace. One of our knights, named Lethold, clambered up the wall of the city, and no sooner had he ascended than the defenders fled from the walls and through the city. Our men followed, killing and slaying even to the Temple of Solomon, where the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles....

Count Raymond brought his army and his tower up near the wall from the south, but between the tower and the wall there was a very deep ditch. Then our men took counsel how they might fill it, and had it proclaimed by heralds that anyone who carried three stones to the ditch would receive one denarius. The work of filling it required three days and three nights, and when at length the ditch was filled, they moved the tower up to the wall, but the men defending this portion of the wall fought desperately with stones and fire. When the Count heard that the Franks were already in the city, he said to his men, "Why do you loiter? Lo, the Franks are even now within the city." The Emir who commanded the Tower of St. David surrendered to the Count and opened that gate at which the pilgrims had always been accustomed to pay tribute. But this time the pilgrims entered the city, pursuing and killing the Saracens up to the Temple of Solomon, where the enemy gathered in force. The battle raged throughout the day, so that the Temple was covered with their blood. When the pagans had been overcome, our men seized great numbers, both men and women, either killing them or keeping them captive, as they wished. On the roof of the Temple a great number of pagans of both sexes had assembled, and these were taken under the protection of Tancred and Gaston of Beert. Afterward, the army scattered throughout the city and took possession of the gold and silver, the horses and mules, and the houses filled with goods of all kinds.

Rejoicing and weeping for joy, our people came to the Sepulchre of Jesus our Saviour to worship and pay their debt [i.e. fulfil crusading vows by worshiping at the Sepulchre]. At dawn our men cautiously went up to the roof of the Temple and attacked Saracen men and women, beheading them with naked swords. Some of the Saracens, however, leaped from the Temple roof. Tancred, seeing this, was greatly angered.

Source: Gesta Francorum (The Deeds of the Franks), 1100-1101

"When the city was practically captured by the Franks, the Saracens were still fighting on the other side, where the Count was attacking the wall as though the city should never be captured. But now that our men had possession of the walls and towers, wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies. The city was filled with corpses and blood. Some of the enemy took refuge in the Tower of David, and, petitioning Count Raymond for protection, surrendered the Tower into his hands.

Now that the city was taken, it was well worth all our previous labors and hardships to see the devotion of the pilgrims at the Holy Sepulchre. How they rejoiced and exulted and sang a new song to the Lord! For their hearts offered prayers of praise to God, victorious and triumphant, which cannot be told in words. A new day, new joy, new and perpetual gladness, the consummation of our labor and devotion, drew forth from all new words and new songs. This day, I say, will be famous in all future ages, for it turned our labors and sorrows into joy and exultation; this day, I say, marks the justification of all Christianity, the humiliation of paganism, and the renewal of our faith."

Source: The account of Raymond of Aguiliers

"At the noon hour on Friday, with trumpets sounding, amid great commotion and sbouting "God help us," the Franks entered the city. When the pagans saw one standard planted on the wall, they were completely demoralized, and all their former boldness vanished, and they turned to flee through the narrow streets of the city. Those who were already in rapid flight began to flee more rapidly.

Count Raymond and his men, who were attacking the wall on the other side, did not yet know of all this, until they saw the Saracens leap from the wall in front of them. Forthwith, they joyfully rushed into the city to pursue and kill the nefarious enemies, as their comrades were already doing. Some Saracens, Arabs, and Ethiopians took refuge in the tower of David, others fled to the temples of the Lord and of Solomon. A great fight took place in the court and porch of the temples, where they were unable to escape from our gladiators. Many fled to the roof of the temple of Solomon, and were shot with arrows, so that they fell to the ground dead. In this temple almost ten thousand were killed. Indeed, if you had been there you would have seen our feet colored to our ankles with the blood of the slain. But what more shall I relate? None of them were left alive; neither women nor children were spared."

Source: The account of Fulcher of Chartres


THE JEWISH BADGE

The Fourth Lateran Council, November 1215

Lateran Councils are called by the Pope in order to discuss issues of importance to the Catholic Church as a whole.  The Fourth Lateran Council was called in 1213 by Pope Innocent III to meet in November 1215.  Its purpose, according to Innocent III was "to eradicate vices and to plant virtues, to correct faults and to reform morals, to remove heresies and to strengthen faith, to settle discords and to establish peace, to get rid of oppression and to foster liberty, to induce princes and Christian people to come to the aid and succour of the holy Land."

Constitution 68, Jews Appearing in Public

"A difference of dress distinguishes Jews or Saracens from Christians in some provinces, but in others a certain confusion has developed so that they are indistinguishable. Whence it sometimes happens that by mistake Christians join with Jewish or Saracen women, and Jews or Saracens with Christian women. In order that the offence of such a damnable mixing may not spread further, under the excuse of a mistake of this kind, we decree that such persons of either sex, in every Christian province and at all times, are to be distinguished in public from other people by the character of their dress -- seeing moreover that this was enjoined upon them by Moses himself, as we read. They shall not appear in public at all on the days of lamentation and on passion Sunday; because some of them on such days, as we have heard, do not blush to parade in very ornate dress and are not afraid to mock Christians who are presenting a memorial of the most sacred passion and are displaying signs of grief. What we most strictly forbid however, is that they dare in any way to break out in derision of the Redeemer. We order secular princes to restrain with consign punishment those who do so presume, lest they dare to blaspheme in any way him who was crucified for us, since we ought not to ignore insults against him who blotted out our wrongdoings."

Source: The Fourth Lateran Council

The Lateran Council also affirmed a Papal Bull issued by Innocent III calling for "any Jew above the age of thirteen, or Jewish woman above eleven, to wear a mark, usually a patch, front and back, on the outer garment." See Attitudes Toward Jewry

The following countries implemented the marking of Jews as follows:

  • In England, Jews are ordered to wear a badge depicting two stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments.
     

  • In France, St. Louis orders the badge to be made of red felt or saffron-yellow cloth, cut in the shape of a wheel and worn on the upper garment, one in front and one in back, so that those thus branded may be recognized from all sides.
     

  • In the German States, Jews are forced to wear the Rotella, a patch of yellow cloth in the shape of a wheel or an O.
     

  • In Spain and the Italian States, the badge is a yellow patch symbolizing Judas' betrayal of Christ for gold pieces.

For more information see The Jewish Badge


THE INQUISITION

The start of the medieval inquisition is generally dated to 1231 when Pope Gregory IX announced his Papal Bull ExcommunicamusThe Excommunicamus (to read the Latin text click here) established inquisitorial courts answerable directly to the pope.  These courts bypassed courts created by local Bishops, as had been Church practice until the 13th century.  Inquisitorial courts were comprised of specially appointed, permanent ecclesiastical judges who carried with them the authority of the Catholic Church wherever they sat.  Two inquisitors with equal authority bestowed directly by the pope were in charge of each tribunal, aided by assistants, notaries, police, and counselors.  In the beginning, inquisitors were chosen exclusively from the Dominican Order, which had been created by Pope Innocent III.  Later on, at the Council of Lerida in 1237, members of the Franciscan Order were also authorized to serve as inquisitors.

Inquisitorial courts were created in order to combat heresy throughout Christendom, generally meaning the activities of Christian sects whose beliefs did not conform to the established doctrine of the Catholic Church (See The Cathars as an example of such an heretical sect).  Severe penalties were proscribed for heresy, including imprisonment, excommunication, and execution.  Convicted heretics could be punished by burning at the stake.  Although torture was likely used in the early years of the Inquisition, compelling confessions by torture was not officially sanctioned until 1252, when Pope Innocent IV authorized its use in the Papal Bull Ad Extirpanda.

In 1246, Cathar resistance to the Catholic Church fell in southern France.  The Inquisition established its headquarters in Toulouse and hundreds of Cathars were burned at the stake.  By 1252, Pope Innocent IV had decreed that the Inquisitors operated above civil law.  Another decree by Innocent IV demanded that all civil rulers and all commoners must assist the work of the Inquisition or face excommunication.

The inquisitorial persecution of Jews began in 1232.  Ironically, a theological dispute within the Jewish community of Provence, France led several rabbis to denounce the Jewish thinker Maimonides to the Dominicans.  Happy to become involved, the Dominican-led court burned Maimonides' books.  Eight years later, on June 25, 1240 in Paris, the Talmud was put on trial and condemned by an inquisitorial court.  Two years after that, on June 6, 1242, twenty-four wagon loads of Jewish books were burned. The investigation and persecution of Jews became a common occurrence by Church inquisitorial courts in the centuries thereafter.

The most famous period of inquisitorial activity began in 1478 with the initiation of the Spanish Inquisition.  However, there was little unique about this affair except for the fact that clever diplomacy by the Spanish monarchy enabled them to control the terror directly instead of having to seek instructions from the Pope for torture and executions. One motive behind the Spanish Inquisition was the consolidation of political power by Ferdinand and Isabella.  For centuries Spain had been the home to numerous disparate religions and traditions, including Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  The use of religious persecution was therefore a political tool for uniting Spain under the monarchy.

In this context, the so-called Conversos, Jews (and Muslims) who had allegedly converted to Christianity but who had been caught or accused of practicing their former religion, found that they were targets of the Spanish Inquisition.  Thousands of Conversos lived in Spain as a result of its diverse ethnic and religious composition.  Altogether, more than 13,000 Conversos were tried by the Spanish Inquisition from 1480-1492.  Most of these trials were convened under the authority of Tomas de Torquemada, who was named Grand Inquisitor in 1482.  Torquemada also supported the complete expulsion of Jews from Spain, which occurred in 1492.  This was one of the most appalling crimes of the Medieval period in which over 100,000 people were driven out of the country by a vicious campaign of religious persecution.

The inquisition in Spain remained in operation until 1834.

For more on the Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition see

Timeline for Medieval Christianity

The Jewish Virtual Library: The Inquisition

Catholic Encyclopedia: The Inquisition

Jewish History: The Inquisition

FAQ about the Inquisition

Wikipedia: The Spanish Inquisition

Biblia: The Spanish Inquisition

The Inquisition in the New World

Interesting Woodcuts: Christian Barbarity

A History of the Inquisition

A First Hand Anonymous Account from and Italian Jew

Tomas de Torquemada

A History of the Inquisition in Spain


THE CHURCH AND GHETTOIZATION

The first Papal Bull ordering the complete physical separation of Jews and Christians was the Dundum ad nostram audientium issued by Eugenius IV on August 8, 1442.  Article 8 of the Bull stated "Inter christianos non habitent sed infra certum viculum seu locum a christianis separati et segregati, extra quem mullatenus mansiones habere valeant, inter se degant."

The Church's call to form separate Jewish quarters (i.e. ghettoes) was only partially applied, however, and it was not until the following century that its principles were fully enforced by Pope Paul IV.

On July 14, 1555, Paul IV issued the Papal Bull Cum nimis absurdum, articles 1 and 2 of which were ostensibly responsible for the establishment of Jewish ghettoes in Rome and other states under Papal control.

The Bull stated, “it is absurd and inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery, can ... show such ingratitude toward Christians and affront them by asking for their mercy ... have become so bold as to not only live amongst Christians but near their churches without any distinctive clothing. ”

Concerning the ghetto of Rome, following the Papal Bull the Jews of the city were packed into one of Rome's poorest quarters after all of the Christian residents had been forced to move.  Construction then commenced on a high, thick wall which had only two doors.  These doors were locked at night and guarded from the Christian side.

The Papacy's creation of a formal ghetto in Rome lagged well behind the informal development of Jewish ghettoes elsewhere in Europe.  For example, the Jewish quarter in Venice had been enclosed by a wall in 1516.  Ghettoes had also been established in London in 1276, Bologna in 1417, and Turin in 1425.

For more on the history of the ghettoization of Jews see the following links.

Jewish Ghettoes: General Information

Timeline of Jewish Persecution from 1201-1800

Overview: 200 Years of Jewish Persecution


EXPULSIONS

The Expulsion of Jews from France 1182

The Expulsion of Jews from England in 1290

The English Edict of Expulsion

The Expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492

The Spanish Edict of Expulsion

The Expulsion of Jews from Hungary in 1349


PROTESTANT ANTISEMITISM

Martin Luther and Religious Persecution


TIMELINES AND OVERVIEWS

The History of the Jewish People

Legislation Affecting Jews from 300 to 800 C.E.

Catholic Timeline of Anti-Jewish Events

The Persecution of Jews Throughout History

Hallmarks of Antisemitism from 70-1920 PDF


CRIMES OF THE CRUSADERS • THE JEWISH BADGE • THE INQUISITION • GHETTOIZATION • EXPULSIONS

 PROTESTANT ANTISEMITISM • TIMELINES AND OVERVIEWS