Rhineland massacres

The Rhineland massacres also known as the German Crusade of 1096 , [1] the Persecutions of 1096 Gold Tatten Gzerot [2] ( Hebrew : גזרות תתנ”ו Hebrew for “Edicts of 856”), were a series of mass murders of Jews by Christians of the People’s Crusade in the year 1096, or 4856 according to the Jewish calendar.

Prominent leaders of crusaders involved in the massacres included Peter the Hermit and especially Count Emicho . [3] As part of this persecution, the destruction of Jewish communities in Speyer , Worms and Mainz were noted as “Hurban Shum” (Destruction of Shum ). [4] These were new persecutions of the Jews in which peasant crusaders from France and Germany attacked Jewish communities. A number of historians refer to the antisemitic events as ” pogroms “. [5]

According to David Nirenberg , [6] the events of 1096 in the Rhineland “occupy a significant place in modern Jewish historiography and are often presented as antisemitism that would henceforth never be forgotten and whose climax was the Holocaust.” [7]


The preaching of the First Crusade is an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence. In parts of France and Germany, they were perceived to be as much of an enemy as Muslims: they were held responsible for crucifixion , and they were more immediately visible than the distant Muslims. Many people wondered why they were already non-believers closer to home. [8]

It is also likely that the crusaders were motivated by their need for money. The Rhineland communities were relatively wealthy, both due to their isolation, and because they were not restricted as Catholics were against moneylending . Many crusaders had to go to the market for the first time. as Western Catholicism strictly forbade usury , many crusaders inevitably found themselves indebted to Jewish moneylenders. Having armed themselves by assuming the debt, the crusaders rationalized the killing of Jews as an extension of their Catholic mission. [9]

There had been a movement against Jews by Catholics since the seventeenth century’s mass expulsions and forced conversions. While there had been a number of regional persecutions of Jews by Catholics, such as the one in Metz in 888, a plot against Jews in Limoges in 992, a wave of anti-Jewish persecution by Christian millenarian movements (which believed that Jesus was immediately to descend from Heaven) in the year 1000, and the threat of expulsion from Trier in 1066; thesis are all viewed “in the traditional terms of Governmental outlawry Rather than unbridled popular attacks.” [10] Also contre movements Many Jews (Such As forced conversions by King Robert the Pious of France,Richard II, Duke of Normandy , and Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor around 1007-1012) had been quashed by Catholicism’s papacy or its bishops. [10] The passions aroused in the Catholic populace by Urban II ‘s call for the first crusade moved persecution of Jews into a new chapter.

The extent of the era’s anti-Semitism is apparent in Godfrey of Bouillon , who swore

“Jew, ‘thus arguing about his own burning wrath.” [11]

Emperor Henry IV (after being notified of the pledge by Kalinda Ben Meshullam , the Jewish leader in Mainz ) issued an order prohibiting such an action. Godfrey claimed he never really intended to kill Jews, but the community in Mainz and Cologne sent him a collected bribe of 500 silver marks . [12]

Sigebert of Gembloux wrote that before “a war on behalf of the Lord” could be fought it was essential that the Jews convert; those who resisted were “deprived of their goods, massacred, and expelled from the cities.” [12]

The first outbreaks of violence occurred in France. Write comment Write an anonymous Author in Mainz wrote

“There first arose the officers, nobles, and common people who were in the land of France [Sarefat] who took counsel together and plotted … to make clear the way to go to Jerusalem.” [12]

Richard of Poitiers wrote that Jewish persecution was widespread in France at the beginning of the expeditions to the east. The anonymous chronicler of Mainz admired the Jews

“At the time [Jewish] communities in France heard [about these things], trembling … seized them. They wrote letters and sent messengers to all around the River Rhine, [to the effect] that they should fast … and seek mercy from Him who dwells on high, that He could save them from their hands. When the letter reached the heart of the land [of the Rhine], namely the men of renown … in Mainz, they responded [to their brethren in] France as follows: ‘The communities have decreed a fast. We have done that which was bear [to do]. May the Lord save you and you [who might come] upon you. We are in great fear. ‘” [12]

In June and July 1095 Jewish communities in the Rhineland ( Neuss , Wevelinghoven , Altenahr , Xanten and Moers ) were attacked, but the leadership and membership of these crusader groups was not chronicled. [13] Some Jews dispersed eastward to escape the persecution. [14]

On top of the general Catholic suspicion of Jews at the time, When the French Thousands of members of the People’s Crusade arrived at the Rhine, They HAD run out of provisions. [15] To restock their supplies, they began to plow Jewish food and property while attempting to force them to convert to Catholicism. [15]

Not all crusaders who had run out of supplies some, like Peter the Hermit , used extortion instead. While no one was claiming against the Jews, he went to Trier . The letter urged to Peter and his men. The Solomon bar Simson Chronicle records that they were so terrified by Peter ‘s appearance at the gates that they have agreed to supply their needs. [12] Whatever Peter’s own position on the Jews was, Jews claimed to own their initiative, to plunder their possessions. [12] In the future, such as inRegensburg , a crusading mob rounded up the Jewish community, forced them into the Danube , and performed a mass baptism. After the crusaders had left the region theses Jews returned to practicing Judaism. [10]

Folkmar and Gottschalk

In the spring of 1096, a number of small bands of knights and peasants, inspired by the preaching of the Crusade, set off from various parts of France (Cologne) and Germany (Worms). The crusade of the priest Folkmar , beginning in Saxony , persecuted in Magdeburg and later, on May 30, 1096 in Prague in Bohemia . The Catholic Bishop Cosmas attempted to prevent forced conversions, and the entire Catholic hierarchy in Bohemia preached against such acts. [10] Duke Břetislav II was out of the country and the Catholic Church’s officials’ protests were unable to stop the mob of crusaders. [10]

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church as a whole condemned the persecution of the Jews in the affected regions (though their protests had little effect). Especially vocal were the parish priests (only one monk, named Gottschalk, is recorded as joining and encouraging the mob). [10] Chronicler Hugo of Flavigny recorded how these religious appeals were ignored, writing:

“It certainly seems amazing that we have a lot of things in our lives, we have moved in a violent way, such massacres should have taken place, despite their widespread disapproval and their condemnation as contrary to religion. But we know that they could not have been avoided because of the excommunication imposed by numerous clergymen, and of the threat of punishment on the part of many princes. ” [10]

In general, the crusader mobs do not fear any retribution and the local courts do not have the jurisdiction to pursue them. [10] The pleas of the clergy were ignored on similar grounds (no cases against individuals were brought forward for excommunication) and the mob believed that anyone preaching mercy to the Jews was doing so only because they had succumbed to Jewish bribery. [10]

Gottschalk the monk Went there to lead a crusade from the Rhineland and Lorraine into Hungary , occasionally attacking Jewish communities along the way. In late June 1096, the crusader mob of Gottschalk was welcomed by King Coloman of Hungary , but they soon began plundering the countryside and causing drunken disorder. The King then demanded they disarm. Once their weapons had been secured, the Hungarians fell upon them and “the whole world was covered with bodies and blood.” [16]

The priest Folkmar and his Saxons also put a similar fate to the Hungarians when they started there because “sedition was incited”. [13] [16]


The largest of these crusades, and the most involved in attacking Jews, was led by Count Emicho . Setting off in the early summer of 1096, an army of around 10,000 men, women and children proceeded through the Rhine valley, towards the Main River and then to the Danube . Emicho was joined by William the Carpenter and Drogo of Nesle , among others from the Rhineland, eastern France, Lorraine, Flanders and even England .

Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV , absent in southern Italy , ordered the Jews to be protected when he learned of Emicho’s intent. After some Jews were killed at Metz in May, John, Bishop of Speyer gave shelter to the Jewish inhabitants. Still 12 Jews of Speyer were slain by crusaders on May 3. [12] The Bishop of Worms also attempted to shelter Jews, but the Crusaders broke into his episcopal palace and killed the Jews on May 18. At least 800 Jews were massacred in Worms when they refused Catholic baptism. [12] [17]

News of Emicho’s crusade spread quickly, and he was prevented from entering Mainz on May 25 by Bishop Ruthard . Emicho also took an offering of gold raised by the Jews of Mainz in hope to gain his favor and their safety. [12] Bishop Ruthard tried to protect the Jews by hiding them in his lightly fortified palace. Nevertheless, Emicho did not prevent his followers from entering the city [12] on May 27 and a massacre followed. Many among the Christian business class (the burghers ) in Mainz, had working with the Jews and given them shelter from the mobs (as the burghers in Prague had done). [10]The mainz burghers joined with the militia of the bishop and the burgrave (the town’s military governor) in fighting off the first waves of crusaders. This stand abandoned Had To Be When crusaders continued to happen ever in Greater numbers, [10] and the militia of the bishop together with the bishop himself Fled and left the Jews to be Slaughtered by the crusaders. [18] Despite the example of the burghers, many ordinary citizens in the United States and other cities were caught up in the frenzy and joined in the persecution and pillaging. [10] Mainz was the site of the greatest violence, with at least 1,100 Jews and (possibly more) being killed by troops under Clarambaud and Thomas. [12]One man, named Isaac, was forcefully converted, but later, wracked with guilt, killed his family and burned himself alive in his house. Another woman, Rachel, killed her own hands so that they would not be cruelly killed by the crusaders.

Eliezer b. Nathan , a Jewish chronicler at the times, paraphrased Habakkuk 1: 6 and wrote of

“Cruel foreigners, fierce and swift, Frenchmen and Germans …” [who] put them on their clothing and were more plentiful than locusts on the face of the earth. ” [12]

On May 29 Emicho arrived at Cologne , where most Jews had already left or were hiding in Christian houses. In Cologne, other smaller bands of crusaders put Emicho, and they left with a lot of money taken from the Jews there. Emicho continued towards Hungary, soon joined by some Swabians . Coloman of Hungary refused to allow them through Hungary. Count Emicho and his warriors Besieged Meseberg , on the Leitha . This led Coloman to prepare to flee into Russia, but the moral of the crusader has begun to fail. Count Emicho and a few of the leaders escaped to Italy or back to their own homes. [16]William the Carpenter and other survivors joined Eventually Hugh of Vermandois and the main body of crusader knights.

Later attacks on Jews

Later in 1096, Godfrey of Bouillon also collected tribute from the Jews in Mainz and Cologne, and would have participated in pogroms himself if not ordered by Henry IV not to be so. [19] Saint Louis University Professor Thomas F. Madden , author of A Concise History of the Crusades , claims the Jewish defenders of Jerusalem retreated to their synagogue to “prepare for death” the Crusaders had breached the outer walls of the city headquarters of 1099 . [20] The chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi mentions the building was set fire while the Jews were still inside. [21]The Crusaders were supposedly reported as hoisting up their shields and singing “Christ We Adore Thee!” While they circled the fiery complex. ” [22] However, a contemporary Jewish letter written after the siege does not mention the burning synagogue. on the religious schism entre les two sects of Judaism, [23] Arabist SD Goitein speculates the reason the incident is missing from the letter is Because it was written by Karaites and the synagogue Belonged to Jews. [24]

Following the siege, Jews captured from the Dome of the Rock , along with native Christians, were made to clean the city of the slain. [25] Tancred took some Jews as prisoners of war and deported them to Apulia in southern Italy. Many of these Jews have been […] [25] Numerous Jews and their holy books (including the Aleppo Codex ) were held ransom by Raymond of Toulouse . [26] The Jewish Karaite community of Ashkelon (Ascalon) reached out to their coreligionists in Alexandriato first pay for the holy books and then rescued pockets of Jews over several months. [25] All that could be ransomed were liberated by the summer of 1100. The few who could not be rescued were converted to Catholicism or murdered. [27] The First Crusade ignites a long tradition of organized violence against Jews in European culture. Jewish money was also used in France for financing the Second Crusade ; The Jews were also attacked in many instances, but not on the scale of the attacks of 1096. In England, the Third Crusade was the pretext for the expulsion of the Jews and the confiscation of their money. The two Shepherds’ Crusades, in 1251and 1320, also saw attacks on Jews in France; the second in 1320 also attacked and killed Jews in Aragon .

Catholic Church response

The massacre of the Rhineland Jews by the People’s Crusade, and other associated persecutions, were condemned by the leaders and officials of the Catholic Church. [28] The bishops of Mainz, Speyer, and Worms, The People’s Crusade broke in to slaughter them. Fifty years later when St. Bernard of Clairvaux was urging recruitment for the Second Crusade, he specifically criticized the attacks on the First Crusade. There is debate on Bernard’s exact motivations, as well as many other things that caused him to be disappointed in his life. that Bernard was urging the knights to maintain focus on the goal of protecting Catholic interests in the Holy Land. It is possible that Bernard honestly held that the belief that the Jews were immoral, or perceived that the original Rhineland massacre was really motivated by these feelings are echoed by canon Albert of Aachenin his chronicle of the First Crusade. Albert of Aachen’s view was that the people of Crusade were uncontrollable semi-Catholicized country-folk, which hebrew chronicles corroborate), who massacred hundreds of Jewish women and children, and whom the people’s crusade were themselves slaughtered by Muslim forces in Asia Minor.

Jewish reactions

News of the attacks spread quickly and reached the Jewish communities in Jerusalem long before the crusaders themselves arrived. However, Jews were not systematically killed in Jerusalem, despite being caught up in the general indiscriminate violence caused by the crusaders once they reached the city.

The Hebrew Chronicles portray the Rhineland Jews as martyrs who willingly sacrificed themselves in order to honor and honor their own honor. [29]

Sigebert of Gembloux wrote that most of those who believed in the threat of death. [12]

In the years following the crusade, the Jewish communities were faced with troubling questions about murder and suicide, which were normally only for Catholics. The Rhineland Jews looked at historical precedents since the deadly suicide of Saul , the Maccabees revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes , the suicide pact at Masada , and the Bar Kochba revolt were seen as justifiable deaths in the face of stronger enemy. [30]

Previous to the Crusades, the Jews were divided into three major areas which were largely independent of one another. These were the Jews living in the Islamic nations (still the majority), those in the Byzantine Empire and those in the Roman Catholic West. With the persecutions that began around 1096, a new awareness of the whole people took hold of all of these groups, reuniting the three separate strands. [31]

In the late 19th century Jewish historians used the episode as a demonstration of the need for Zionism (that is, for a new Jewish state). [32]


  1. Jump up^ Gilbert, M. (2010). The Routledge Atlas of Jewish History . Routledge. ISBN  9780415558105 . Retrieved 2014-10-05 .
  2. Jump up^ David Nirenberg, ‘The Rhineland massacres of Jews in the First Crusade, Medieval and Modern Memories’, in Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, p.279-310
  3. Jump up^ Robert Chazan (1996). European Jewry and the First Crusade . U. of California Press. pp. 55-60.
  4. Jump up^ Shum Hebrew: Shaperra, Wermieza and Magenzza.
  5. Jump up^ Sources describing these attacks as pogroms include:
    • Richard S. Levy . Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution , ABC-CLIO, 2005, ISBN  9781851094394 . p. 153.
    • Christopher Tyerman. God’s War: A New History of the Crusades , Harvard University Press, 2006, ISBN  9780674023871 , p. 100.
    • Israel Jacob Yuval. Two Nations in Your Womb: University of California Press, 2008, ISBN  9780520258181 , p. 186.
    • Nikolas Jaspert. The Crusades , Taylor & Francis, 2006, ISBN  9780415359672 , p. 39.
    • Louis Arthur Berman. The Akedah: The Binding of Isaac , Jason Aronson, 1997, ISBN  9781568218991 , p. 92.
    • Anna Sapir Abulafia, “Crusades”, in Edward Kessler, Neil Wenborn. A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations , Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN  9780521826921 , p. 116.
    • Ian Davies. Teaching the Holocaust: Educational Dimensions, Principles and Practice , Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000, ISBN  9780826448514 , p. 17.
    • Avner Falk . A Psychoanalytic History of the Jews , Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996, ISBN  9780838636602 , p. 410.
    • Hugo Slim. Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality in War , Columbia University Press, 2010, ISBN  9780231700375 , p. 47.
    • Richard A. Fletcher . The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity , University of California Press, 1999, ISBN  9780520218598, p. 318.
    • David Biale. Power & Powerlessness in Jewish History . Random House, 2010, ISBN  9780307772534 , p. 65.
    • IS Robinson. Henry IV of Germany 1056-1106 , Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN  9780521545907 , p. 318.
    • Will Durant. The Age of Faith. The Story of Civilization 4 , Simon & Schuster, 1950, p. 391.
  6. Jump up^ “David Nirenberg | Department of History | The University of Chicago” . history.uchicago.edu . Retrieved 2014-10-05 .
  7. Jump up^ Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, page 279Chapter 13, The Rhineland Massacres of Jews in the First Crusade, Memories Medieval and Modern, by David Nirenberg
  8. Jump up^ C. Tyerman, The Crusades, p.99
  9. Jump up^ Hans Mayer. “The Crusades” (Oxford University Press: 1988) p. 41.
  10. ^ Jump up to:l Salo Wittmayer Baron (1957). Social and Religious History of the Jews, Volume 4 . Columbia University Press.
  11. Jump up^ Patrick J. Geary, ed. (2003). Readings in Medieval History . Toronto: Broadview Press.
  12. ^ Jump up to:m Norman Golb (1998). The Jews in Medieval Normandy: a social and intellectual history . Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
  13. ^ Jump up to:b John France (1997). Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade . Cambridge University Press, 1994. p. 92.
  14. Jump up^ Robert S. Robins and Jerrold M. Post (1997). Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred . Yale College. p. 168.
  15. ^ Jump up to:b Max I. Dimont (1984). The Amazing Adventures of the Jewish People . Springfield, NJ: Behrman House, Inc.
  16. ^ Jump up to:c T. A. Archer (1894). The Crusades: The Story Of The Latin Kingdom Of Jerusalem . GP Putnam Sounds.
  17. Jump up^ Jim Bradbury (2004). The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare . New York, NY: Routledge. p. 182.
  18. Jump up^ Marvin Lowenthal, The Jews Of Germany (1939)
  19. Jump up^ P. Frankopan, The First Crusade: The Call from the East (London, 2012), p. 120.
  20. Jump up^ CROSS PURPOSES: The ArchivedCrusades2007-10-31 at theWayback Machine. (Hoover Institutetelevision show). The whole episode can be viewed with RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.
  21. Jump up^ Sherman HA R. The Damascus Chronicle of the Crusades: Extracted from the Chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi. Dover Publications, 2003 (ISBN 0486425193), p.48
  22. Jump up^ Rausch, David. Legacy of Hatred: Why Christians Must Not Forget the Holocaust. Baker Pub Group, 1990 (ISBN 0801077583), p.27
  23. Jump up^ Goitein, SDA Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World as Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza. Flight. V: The Individual: Portrait of a Mediterranean Personality of the High Middle Ages as Reflected in the Cairo Geniza. University of California Press, 1988 (ISBN 0520056477), p.358
  24. Jump up^ Kedar, Benjamin Z. “The Jerusalem Massacre of July 1099 in the Western Historiography of the Crusades.” The Crusades. Flight. 3 (2004) (ISBN 075464099X), pp. 15-76, pg. 64
  25. ^ Jump up to:c Goitein, SD “Contemporary Letters on the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders.” Journal of Jewish Studies 3 (1952), pp. 162-177, pg 163
  26. Jump up^ Goitein, “Contemporary Letters on the Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders,” pg. 165
  27. Jump up^ Goitein, “Contemporary Letters on the Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders”, p.166
  28. Jump up^ http://catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0070.htmlThe Church and the Jews in the Middle Ages
  29. Jump up^ (German)Mentgen, Gerd (1996). Die Juden des Mittelrhein-Mosel-Gebietes im Hochmittelalter unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kreuzzugsverfolgungen . Der Erste Kreuzzug 1096 und seine Folgen, Die Verfolgung der Juden im Rheinland . 9 . Evangelical Church in the Rhineland(Schriften Archivs der Evangelischen Kirche im Rheinland.
  30. Jump up^ Haverkamp, ​​Eva (2009). “Martyrs in rivalry: the 1096 Jewish martyrs and the Thebean legion”. Jewish History . 23 (4): 319-342. JSTOR  25653802 .
  31. Jump up^ Hacker, Joseph (1966). “On the Persecutions of 1096”. Zion . 31 .
  32. Jump up^ Althoff, Gerd; Fried, Johannes; Geary, Patrick J. (2002). Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography . Cambridge UP. pp. 305-8.

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