The ritual-child-murder accusation: its dissemination and Harold of Gloucester*

The boundaries that have traditionally divided ‘maiority’ from ‘minority’ history have begun to break down . . . we need to begin to think more broadly, to tie our understanding of Anglo-Jewish history to what we know about the general medieval history of England and France.1

Most fearful of all the charges levied against the European Jewry was that of ritual child murder. Such charges antedate Christianity; they were made by Hellenistic Greeks in 167 BC and Josephus regarded them as serious enough to merit rebuttal in Agoz’nstApion. In 415 CE drunken Jews at Imestar, Syria, were accused of tying a young Christian to a cross during Purim, the festival commemorating the defeat of Haman the Agagite by Mordecai and Esther, and mocking him in such a way that he died.2 Then, for more than seven centuries, the records are, apparently, silent.

The first recorded medieval accusation was made at

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