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The "blood libel" is a hideous anti-Jewish myth which has persisted, it would seem, in some parts of the world, into the XXI century. Rose presents an analysis of the first known examples, in England, then in Europe, of accounts of male children, of Christian heritage, being abducted around Eastertide, allegedly to be tortured, in mockery of Christ, and bled dry for baking of matzoh!
She does show that there is nothing that could really stand up as evidence of such practices, but does present interesting, if not proven alternatives.
I'm not English, and have limited knowledge of their history, but luckily for me, her cases are set in the aftermath of an English civil war, corresponding to "Cadfael", so I've got more idea of places and culture, and for all that Cadfael, as fiction of that time in XX century perhaps couldn't go so far, I can see that Rose's thesis fits in to that violent feudal England.
She makes it clear, that, even with no evidence at all, and sometimes not even a body, Jews would be blamed, individually, or more usually, collectively, for "ritual murder" of missing boys.
One bone I'd like to pick with her - she says there were assumptions that Jews (homosexuals) abducted boys to abuse them sexually, and thereby falls into another trap, akin to the "blood libel" atrocity - "gay" = "paedophile". Shame on you, Ms Rose!
Having just re-read "Les Rois Maudits" I understand just how powerful people persecuted, executed, expelled those to whom they owed money, or from whom they could steal it - Templars, Jews, Lombards.
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This book is very well researched in it's detail of the accusation of "blood libel" against Jews in 12th century Europe. Using the death of a young boy in Norwich it traces the story of the blood libel through the cult of the holy innocents and details it's spread through Europe and the religious, economic and political reasons for that spread.
Excellently narrated in an easy, accessible writing style, this book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the mindset of those living in the Middle Ages.
A phenomenal, rich history exploring the blood libel. The writing is beautiful, the story is detailed and nuanced, the performance was lovely. Though academic in nature, it's an accessible read. More people should know the roots of the anti-Semitic trope still in use today and the geopolitical, economic and social factors which allowed for its creation and acceptance.