Anti-Semitic Literature

Entertainment / Literature / Anti-Semitic Literature: Literature that vilifies Jews or encourages racist attitudes toward them. Much of the religious literature produced in medieval and Renaissance Europe unfortunately engaged in anti-Semitism to one degree or another. This is due to a series of sociological causes too lengthy to discuss here. Typical allegations accused Jews of killing and cannibalizing Christians, secretly poisoning wells, spreading plague and leprosy among non-Jewish neighbors, kidnapping Christian children, defiling communion wafers, and engaging in various economic crimes. The irony is that, although Jews were blamed for various outbreaks of plague and the contamination of water supplies, in many such communities there were no Jews present at all. They had often been kicked out of the country long before the 'crimes' took place. In 1182 Philip II banished the Jews from France, causing many Jews to flee to England, where many other Jews had sought shelter in the eleventh century. Anti-Semitic violence intensified after the crusades, culminating in the church's Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which passed laws requiring Jews to wear distinctive clothing and forbidding them from holding political office in Chrstian-controlled lands. Local bishoprics and principalities embraced these new laws, and often added their own twists, such as requiring Jews to pay additional taxes, or requiring the most senior Jewish Rabbi to submit to various ritual humiliations before the community at Easter. (In one French city, for instance, the most prestigious Rabbi had to appear on the doorsteps of the bishop's cathedral on Easter afternoon to receive a ritual blow and communal rejection.) Other secular authorities followed the ecclesiastical example by making it illegal for Jews to own land or to labor in an occupation that would compete with local Christians. Ironically, this policy forced Jews to train themselves in highly skilled professions such as law, medicine, accounting, gem-cutting, and whatnot. These lucrative professions only further aroused the envy and ire of less-skilled, less educated, and less wealthy citizens of the European kingdoms. In 1275, Edward I began to default on the loans he owed Jewish moneylenders, and in 1287, he imprisoned some 3,000 Jewish subjects, whom he ransomed to their families for cash. In spite of the Jewish payment in good faith, he issued an edict in 1290 banishing all Jews from England and confiscating all their properties. After Jews were allowed to return to France, French King Philip IV expelled them again in 1306, forcing them to flee to Germany. Mass burnings and executions of Jews took place in Germany in 1349 after an outbreak of plague, and so on--right up to the Holocaust of World War II, in which the genocide was horrifying not for its novelty, but rather for its continuation of a centuries-long tradition with the added efficiency of modern technologies like gas chambers and incinerators.

Other Words for Literature

Literature Adjective Synonyms: writing(s), letters, belles-lettres, creative writing(s)
MORE

Periods Of English Literature

Entertainment / Literature / Periods Of English Literature: The common historical eras scholars use to divide literature into comprehensible sections through periodization. Dividing literature into these sometimes arbitrary periods allows us to better compare MORE

Metaliterature

Entertainment / Literature / Metaliterature: Literary art focused on the subject of literary art itself. Often this term is further divided into metapoetry, metafiction, and metadrama. MORE

Literature Of Sensibility

Entertainment / Literature / Literature Of Sensibility: Eighteenth-century literature that values emotionalism over rationalism. This literature tends to perceive feelings as more reliable guides to morality and truth than abstract principles, and thus it MORE

Links
Home
Glossary
Thesaurus