Jews in Medieval Christian Europe 1096–1497


Map Code: Ax01426

It did not require religious bigotry to render money-lending to the powerful dangerous in Medieval Europe. Philip IV of France destroyed the Christian Knights Templar to avoid honouring his debts to them. But the French monarchy used Jewish expulsion repeatedly as a means of erasing their debts and then charging a ransom for their return. The early Medieval popes were generally tolerant, condemning the anti-semitic massacres associated with the First Crusade. But Innocent III (1215) decreed segregation both in dwelling and dress, and the horror of the Black Death produced a wave of pogroms (the Jews were accused of causing the epidemic by poisoning wells). National expulsions began in England (1290), Naples (1288–93) and France (1394). A wave of expulsions, ranging from Lithuania (1495) to Portugal (1497), probably derived from the growth of alternative gentile financing as well as religious intolerance. Poland and the Ottoman Balkans welcomed the Jewish refugees.

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