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§ 77. The Jews.

Literature: The Works of Peter the Venerable, and Bernard, in Migne, and the English Chroniclers, William of Newburgh, Walter of Coventry, Matthew Paris, etc., in the Rolls Series.—T. Basnage: Hist. des Juifs depuis Jésus Christ, 5 vols. Rotterdam, 1706.—D. Blossius Tovey: Anglia Judaica or Hist. Antiquities of the Jews in Engl., Oxford, 1738.—Depping: Les Juifs dans le moyen âge, Paris, 1834.—E. H. Lindo: Hist. of the Jews of Spain and Portugal, London, 1848.—Halley: Les Juifs en France, etc., Paris, 1845.—Margoliouth: Hist. of the Jews in Great Britain, 3 vols. London, 1851.—H. H. Milman: Hist. of the Jews, 3 vols. London, 1863.—José Amador de los Rios: Historia social, politica y religiosa de los Judios de Espana y Portugal, 3 vols. Madrid, 1875, 1876.—H. Graetz (Prof. at Breslau, d. 1891): Gesch. der Juden von den aeltesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart, 3d ed., Leipzig, 1888–1894, 11 vols.; Engl. trans. by Bella Löwy, London, 5 vols. 1891–1892.—J. Jacobs: The Jews of Angevin England. Documents and Records from Latin and Hebrew Sources, London, 1893.—I. Abrahams: Jewish Life in the M. A., London, 1896.—E. Rodocanachi: Le Saint Siège et les Juifs, Paris, 1891.—Döllinger: Die Juden in Europa in Akad. Vorträge, I. 208–241.—Lea: Chapters from the Relig. Hist. of Spain, Phil., 1890, pp. 437–469—Hefele: IV.-VI.—Lecky: Hist. of Europ. Morals.—Janssen: Hist. of the German People, II. 73 sqq. The Lives of St. Bernard.—D. S. Schaff: The Treatment of the Jews in the Middle Ages, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1903, pp. 547–571.

Would that it might be said of the mediaeval church that it felt in the well-being of the Jews, the children of Abraham according to the flesh, a tithe of the interest it manifested in the recovery of the holy places of their ancient land. But this cannot be said. Though popes, bishops, and princes, here and there, were inclined to treat them in the spirit of humanity, the predominant sentiment of Europe was the sentiment of hatred and disdain. The very nations which were draining their energies to send forth armaments to reconquer the Holy Sepulchre joined in persecuting the Jews.

Some explanation is afforded by the conduct of the Jews themselves. Their successful and often unscrupulous money dealings, the flaunting of their wealth, their exclusive social tendencies, their racial haughtiness, and their secretiveness, strained the forbearance of the Christian public to the utmost.907907    William of Newburgh, Hamilton’s ed., I. 282, says the tendency of the royal protection in England was to make them proud and stiffnecked against Christians. Green pronounces the attitude of the Jew in England one "of proud and even insolent defiance."Hist. of Engl. People, bk. III. ch. IV. The edicts of councils and civil edicts put it beyond reasonable question that, in an offensive way, they showed contempt for the rites and symbols of the Christian faith. The provocation was great, but it does not justify a treatment of the Jewish people in all parts from Bohemia to the Atlantic which lacked the elements of common humanity. The active efforts that were made for their conversion seem to betray fully as much of the spirit of churchly arrogance as of the spirit of Christian charity. Peter the Venerable, in the prologue to his tract addressed to the Jews, said, "Out of the whole ancient world, you alone were not ignorant of Christ; yea, all peoples have listened, and you alone do not hear. Every language has confessed him, and you alone deny. Others see him, hear him, apprehend him, and you alone remain blind, and deaf, and stony of heart."

The grounds upon which the Jews were persecuted were three: 1. Their fathers had crucified Christ, and the race, predestined to bear the guilt and the punishment of the deed, was receiving its merited portion; 2. They perpetrated horrible atrocities upon Christian children, and mocked the host and the cross; 3. They imposed upon the Christians by exacting exorbitant rates of interest. In no Christian state were they safe. They were aliens in all, and had the rights of citizenship in none. The "enemies of Christ" and "the perfidious" were common names for them, and canonists and theologians use the latter expression. The ritual of Good Friday contained the words, "Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews."908908    Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis. Döllinger, p. 216. The Decretals of Gratian, the Third and Fourth Lateran and other councils class together under one and the same canon the Jews and the Saracens.909909    The caption of Gratian’s Decretals, ch. XV. 6, is de Judaeis et Saracenis et eorum servis. Such eminent men as Peter the Venerable have more good to say of the Saracen than of the Jew.

Three classes are to be taken into account in following the treatment of the Jews,—the popes, including the prelates, the princes, and the mass of the people with their priests.

Taking the popes one by one, their utterances were, upon the whole, opposed to inhumane measures and uniformly against the forced baptism of the Jews. Gregory the Great protected them against frenzied persecution in Southern Italy. Innocent IV., 1247, denied the charge of child murder brought against them, and threatened with excommunication Christians oppressing them.910910    . Graetz, VII. l06. Martin IV., in 1419, issued a bull in which he declared that he was following his predecessors in commanding that they be not interrupted in their synagogal worship, or compelled to accept baptism, or persecuted for commercial transactions with Christians. On the other hand, the example of Innocent III. gave countenance to the severest measures, and Eugenius IV. quickly annulled the injunctions of his predecessor, Martin IV.

As for the princes, the Jews were regarded as being under their peculiar jurisdiction. At will, they levied taxes upon them, confiscated their goods, and expelled them from their realms. It was to the interest of princes to retain them as sources of revenue, and for this reason they were inclined to protect them against the violence of blind popular prejudice and rage. Frederick II. imposed upon them perpetual slavery as a vengeance upon them for the crucifixion.911911    Perpetuam servitutem ad perpetuam Judaici sceleris ultionem, Bréholles, I. 57.

The inception of the Crusades was accompanied by violent outbursts against the Jews. Innocent III., in 1216, established the permanent legal basis of their persecution. Their expulsion from Spain, in 1492, represents the culminating act in the mediaeval drama of their sufferings. England, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, and Hungary joined in their persecution. In Italy they suffered least. Tens of thousands were burned or otherwise put to death. They were driven, at one time or another, from almost every country. The alternative of baptism or death was often presented to them. The number of those who submitted to death was probably larger than the number who accepted baptism. Most of those, however, who accepted baptism afterwards openly returned to the faith of their fathers or practised its rites in secret.912912    Döllinger’s statement, p. 235, that the number who submitted to compulsory baptism was very insignificant compared to the number who accepted death is not justified by the statistics given by Graetz.

It is an interesting fact that, during these centuries of persecution, the Jews, especially in Spain and France, developed an energetic literary activity. Gerschom, Raschi, and the Kimchis belong to France. The names of Maimonides and Benjamin of Tudela head a long list of scholarly Spanish Jews. The pages of Graetz are filled with the names and achievements of distinguished students in medicine and other departments of study.913913    Jacobs, Jews in Angevin England, tries to prove that the English Jews also developed a culture of their own. Graetz positively denies this, VI. 225.

The path of anti-Semitism was early struck by Church and Christian state. The mediaeval legislation followed closely the precedent of earlier enactments.914914    See art. The Treatment of the Jews, in Bibl. Sac., 1903, 552 sqq. and the authorities there cited. The synod of Elvira, 306, forbade Christians to eat with Jews and intermarry with them. Theodosius II., 439, excluded them from holding public office. The civil edicts, offering the alternative of baptism or death, were inaugurated by King Sisibut of Spain. When princes, as in Lyons, protected Jewish merchants, prelates violently protested, as did Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, apostle as he was in some particulars of modern enlightenment.915915    Agobard wrote five tracts against the Jews. See Wiegand’s instructive brochure, Agobard von Lyon und die Judenfrage, Erl., 1901. Agobard asserted that Judaism and Christianity were as far apart as Ebal and Gerizim. Among the enactments of this period are the following: The Jews were forbidden to employ Christian nurses, servants, or laborers, to publicly sell meat, to work on Sundays or feast days, to employ Christian physicians,916916    The reason given by the synod of Salamanca, 1335, against the employment of Jewish physicians was that they were bent upon the extermination of the Christians. or to practise usury, and were commanded to make a money payment to the priest at Easter, and to wear a distinguishing patch or other object on their garments. On the other hand, Christians were forbidden to attend Jewish funerals and marriages, and were punished for borrowing from Jews.

None of the regulations was so humiliating as the one requiring the Jew to wear a distinguishing costume or a distinguishing patch upon his garments. This patch was ordered placed on the chest, or on both chest and back, so that the wearer might be distinguished from afar, as of old the leper was known by his cry "unclean," and that Christians might be prevented from ignorantly having carnal connection with the despised people. At the instance of Stephen Langton the synod of Oxford, 1222, prescribed a woollen patch, and Edward I., 1275, ordered the yellow patch worn by all over seven. Louis IX. ordered that the color of the patch should be red or saffron, the king of England that it should be yellow. Its size and shape were matters of minute enactment. The Fourth Lateran gave the weight of its great authority to this regulation about dress, and decreed that it should be enforced everywhere. Dr. Graetz pronounces this law the culminating blow in the humiliation of his kinsmen. He declares that Innocent III. brought more misery upon the Jews than all their enemies had done before, and charges him with being the first pope who turned the inhuman severity of the Church against them.917917    VII. 4, 16.

The position Innocent took was that God intended the Jews to be kept, like Cain, the murderer, to wander about on the earth designed by their guilt for slavery till the time should come in the last days for their conversion.918918    In letters to Alfonso of Castile, 1205, and to the count of Nevers, 1208.

With this view, the theologians coincided. Peter the Venerable, a half-century before Innocent, presented the case in the same aspect as did the great pope, and launched a fearful denunciation against the Jews. In a letter to Louis VII. of France, he exclaimed, "What would it profit to fight against enemies of the cross in remote lands, while the wicked Jews, who blaspheme Christ, and who are much worse than the Saracens, go free and unpunished. Much more are the Jews to be execrated and hated than the Saracens; for the latter accept the birth from the Virgin, but the Jews deny it, and blaspheme that doctrine and all Christian mysteries. God does not want them to be wholly exterminated, but to be kept, like the fratricide Cain, for still more severe torment and disgrace. In this way God’s most just severity has dealt with the Jews from the time of Christ’s passion, and will continue to deal with them to the end of the world, for they are accursed, and deserve to be."919919    ad majus tormentum et ad majorem ignominiam … sic de damnatis damnandisque Judaeis, lib. IV. ep. 36; Migne’s ed., vol, 189, 365-367. He counselled that they be spoiled of their ill-gotten gains and the money derived from their spoliation be applied to wrest the holy places from the Saracens.

Of a different mind was Bernard. When the preparations were being made for the Second Crusade, and the monk Radulf went up and down the Rhine, inflaming the people against the Jews, the abbot of Clairvaux set himself against the "demagogue," as Neander called Radulf.920920    Otto of Freising says that "very many were killed in Mainz, Worms, Spires, and other places."De gestis Frid. I. 37-39. He wrote a burning epistle to the archbishop of Mainz, reminding him that the Lord is gracious towards him who returns good for evil. "Does not the Church," he exclaimed, "triumph more fully over the Jews by convincing and converting them from day to day than if she once and for all should slay them by the edge of the sword!" How bitter the prejudice was is seen in the fact that when Bernard met Radulf face to face, it required all his reputation for sanctity to allay the turbulence at Mainz.921921    Graetz, VI. 148, 151, pronounces Bernard "a truly holy man, a man of apostolic simplicity of heart."

Turning to England we find William of Newburgh, Roger de Hoveden, and other chroniclers. approving the Jewish persecutions. Richard of Devizes922922    Howlett’s ed., p. 383. speaks of "sacrificing the Jews to their father, the devil," and of sending "the bloodsuckers with blood to hell." Matthew Paris, in some of his references, seems not to have been in full sympathy with the popular animosity.

Among great English ecclesiastics the Jews had at least two friendly advocates in Hugh of Lincoln and Robert Grosseteste. Grosseteste laid down the principle that the Jews were not to be exterminated, on the grounds that the law had been given through them, and that, after passing through their second captivity, they would ultimately, in accordance with the eleventh chapter of Romans, embrace Christianity. He, however, declared that Cain was the type of the Jews, as Abel was the type of Christ. For the sake of God’s mercy, they should be preserved, that Christ might be glorified; but for the sake of God’s justice, they were to be held in captivity by the princes, that they might fulfil the prediction concerning Cain, and be vagabonds and wanderers on the earth. They should be forcibly prevented from pursuing the occupation of usurers.923923    Grosseteste’s Letters, Luard’s ed., 33-39. Stevenson, Life of Grosseteste, 97-101, holds that he had no intention of discouraging the countess in her humane effort. The bishop was writing to the dowager countess of Winchester, who had offered a refuge on her lands to the Jews expelled by Simon de Montfort from Leicester. That he was not altogether above the prejudices of his age is vouched for by a letter, also written in 1244, in which he calls upon his archdeacons to prevent Jews and Christians living side by side. Grosseteste’s predecessor, Hugh of Lincoln, protected the Jews when they were being plundered and massacred in 1190, and Jews showed their respect by attending his funeral.924924    Thurston, Life of St. Hugh of Lincoln, 277 sqq., 547.

No charge was too serious to be laid at the door of the Jews. When the Black Death swept through Europe in 1348, it did not occur to any one to think of the Saracens as the authors of that pestilence. The Jew was guilty. In Southern France and Spain, so the wild rumor ran, he had concocted poisons which were sent out wholesale and used for contaminating fountains. From Barcelona and Seville to the cities in Switzerland and Germany the unfortunate people had to suffer persecution for the alleged crime. In Strassburg, 1349, the entire Hebrew population of two thousand was seized, and as many as did not consent to baptism, were burnt in their own graveyard and their goods confiscated. In Erfurt and other places the entire Jewish population was removed by fire or expulsion.

The canonical regulations against usury gave easy excuse for declaring debts to the Jews not binding. Condemned by Tertullian and Cyprian, usury was at first forbidden to laymen as well as clerics, as by the synod of Elvira; but at the council of Nice, 325, the prohibition was restricted to the clergy. Later Jerome, Augustine, and Leo I. again applied the prohibition to all Christians. Gratian received it into the canon law. Few subjects claimed so generally the attention of the mediaeval synods as usury.925925    See index in Hefele under Wucher. On the whole subject of Usury see Jacobson, art. Wucher, in Herzog, 2d ed., XVII. 341-349. In 1228 the king of Spain restricted Jewish money lenders to the rate of 20%. Hefele, V. 986. In 1368 the city of Frankfurt paid Jewish brokers 52% on a loan of 1000 florins. In Augsburg, Vienna, and other cities the interest was often as high as 86²/3%. See Janssen, II. 74. Alexander III., at the Third Lateran, 1179, went so far as to declare usury forbidden by the Old Testament as well as by the New Testament. Clement V. put the capstone on this sort of legislation by declaring, at the council of Vienne, 1311, null and void all state and municipal laws allowing usury and pronouncing it heresy to deny that usury is sin. No distinction was made between rates of interest. All interest was usurious. The wonder is that, with such legislation on the Church’s statute-books, any borrower should have felt bound by a debt to a Jew.

Eugenius III. offered all enlisting in the Second Crusade exemption from interest due Jewish creditors. Gregory IX. made the same offer to later Crusaders.

The charge was frequently repeated against the Jews that they were guilty of the murder of Christian children for ritualistic purposes, especially at the time of the Passover. This almost incredible crime again and again stirred the Christian population into a frenzy of excitement which issued in some of the direst miseries the Jewish people were called upon to endure.926926    Lea, in his Hist. of Spain, 437-469, cites a large number of cases down to recent times.

In France, Philip Augustus, using as a pretext the alleged crucifixion of a Christian child, in 1182, expelled the Jews from his realm and confiscated their goods. The decree of expulsion was repeated by Louis IX. in the year before he set out on his last crusade, by Philip the Fair in 1306 and 1311, and by other French monarchs, but it was never so strictly enforced as in Spain. Louis IX. also ordered all copies of the Targum destroyed. In 1239 Gregory IX. issued a letter to the archbishops of France, Castile, Aragon, Portugal, and England, commanding the same thing.927927    Graetz, VII. 401-406.

In Germany, from the First Crusade on, the Jews were subjected to constant outbreaks, but usually enjoyed the protection of the emperors against popular fury. In the fifteenth century, they were expelled from Saxony 1432, Spires and Zürich 1435, Mainz 1438, and other localities.

In England the so-called Jewries of London, Lincoln, Oxford, and three or four other cities represented special tribunals and modes of organization, with which the usual courts of the land had nothing to do.928928    It is possible the first Jews came to England with William the Conqueror. Jacobs, p. 3. A law of Edward the Confessor, however, has a reference to Jews. From the reign of Henry II., 1133–1189, when the detailed statements of Jewish life in England begin, bishops, priests, and convents were ready to borrow from the Jews. Nine Cistercian convents were mortgaged to the famous Aaron of Lincoln, who died 1187. He boasted that his money had built St. Albans, a boast which Freeman uses to prove the intolerable arrogance of the Jews. The arm of St. Oswald of Peterboro was held by a Jew in pawn. The usual interest charged was two pence a week on the pound, or forty-three per cent a year. And it went as high as eighty per cent. The promissory note is preserved which Herbert, pastor of Wissenden, gave to Aaron of Lincoln for 120 marks at two pence a week.929929    Jacobs, p. 67, 308. The mortgages were called cartae debitorum, M. Paris, Luard’s ed., II. 358, etc. Jacobs, p. 381, estimates the number of Jews in England in 1200 at 2000. London had 100 families, Lincoln 82, Norwich 42, etc. Peter the Venerable also bears witness to the money dealings of convents with Jews, de mirac., II. 15; Migne, 189, 927 The Jews were tallaged by the king at pleasure. They belonged to him, as did the forests.930930    Stubbs, Const. Hist., II. 530 sqq. The frequency and exorbitance of the exactions under John and Henry III. are notorious. At the time of the levy of 1210 many left the kingdom. It was at that time that the famous case occurred of the Jew of Bristol, already referred to, whose teeth John ordered pulled out, one each day, till he should make over to the royal treasury ten thousand marks. The description that Matthew Paris gives is highly interesting, but it was not till four centuries had elapsed, that another historian, Thomas Fuller, commenting upon this piece of mediaeval dentistry, had the hardihood to say, this Jew, "yielding sooner, had saved his teeth, or, stubborn longer, had spared his money; now having both his purse and his jaw empty by the bargain. Condemn we here man’s cruelty, and admire Heaven’s justice; for all these sums extorted from the Jews by temporal kings axe but paying their arrearages to God for a debt they can never satisfy; namely, the crucifying of Christ." Old prejudices die hard.

Henry III.’s exactions became so intolerable that in 1255 the Jews begged to be allowed to leave the realm. This request, to rely again upon Matthew Paris, the king refused, and then, like "another Titus or Vespasian," farmed them out to his rich brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, that, "as he himself had excoriated them, so Richard might eviscerate them."931931    Ut quos excoriaverat, comes eviscerat. Luard’s ed., V. 487 sq.

The English Crusaders, starting on the Third Crusade, freely pillaged the Jews, indignant, as the chroniclers relate, that they should have abundance and to spare while they, who were hurrying on the long journey to Jerusalem, had not enough for their barest wants.932932    M. Paris, II. 358 sq. It was at this time, on the evening of the coronation of Richard I., that the horrible massacre occurred in which neither sex nor age was spared. At York, five hundred were shut up in the castle, and the men, in despair, after putting to death their own wives and daughters, were many of them burned to death.933933    See M. Paris and especially William of Newburgh, Hamilton’s ed., II. 2428, and de Hoveden. Matthew and de Hoveden are careful to say that the mortgage papers the Jews held were burnt with them. See Graetz’s description, VI. 219 sqq.

English communities were roused to a lamentable pitch of excitement by the alleged crucifixion of Christian boys. Among the more notorious cases were William of Norwich 1144, Harold of Gloucester 1168, Robert of Edmonsbury 1181, and Hugh of Lincoln 1255. Although these children were popularly known as saints, none of them have been canonized by the Church. The alleged enormities perpetrated upon Hugh of Lincoln, as given by Matthew Paris, are too shocking to be enumerated at length. The same chronicler interjects the statement that the deed was "said often to have occurred." In the excitement over little Hugh, eighteen Jews were gibbeted.934934    M. Paris, Luard’s ed., III. 543, IV. 30, 377, V. 516. As usual, the guilty parties were the richest Jews in the place. The chroniclers are not agreed in regard to the exact motives actuating the Jews in these murders. The marvel is that the atrocious charge was believed, and that no protest against the belief has come down to us from those days.

Some English Jews, under pressure of fear, submitted to baptism, and some also of their free will. The first case of the latter kind, so far as I know, is given by Anselm.935935    Jacobs, p. 8. Hermann, a monk of Cologne, gives an account of his conversion from Judaism, Migne, 170, 806 sqq. A most singular attempt by the devil to blot out the baptism of a German Jewish girl is given by Caesar of Heisterbach, Dial., II. 26. She was to be drawn three times through the hole in the outhouse, the effects of baptism being left behind. The convert became a monk. An isolated case occurred here and there of a Christian turning Jew. A deacon was hanged for this offence.936936    M. Paris, III. 71.

The last act in the history of the Jews in mediaeval England was their banishment by Edward I. in 1290. From that time until the Caroline age, England was free from Jewish inhabitants. Cromwell added to his fame by giving them protection in London.

The treatment the Jews received in Spain is justly regarded as the most merciless the race received in the Middle Ages. Edward I. protected against plunder the sixteen thousand Jews whom he banished from England. But Ferdinand of Spain, when he issued the fell decree for his Jewish subjects to leave Spain, apparently looked on without a sign of pity. Spain, through its Church councils, had been the leader in restrictive legislation. The introduction of the Inquisition made the life of this people more and more severe, although primarily its pitiless regulations had no application to them. Persecutions filled the land with ungenuine proselytes, the conversos, and these became subject to the inquisitorial court.

The final blow given by Ferdinand and Isabella fell in 1492, the year of the discovery of the New World, in a part of which was to be put into practice religious toleration as it was never before practised on the earth. The edict expelled all unbaptized Jews from Spain. Religious motives were behind it, and religious agents executed it. The immediate occasion was the panic aroused by the alleged crucifixion of the child of La Guardia—el santo niño de la Guardia—one of the most notorious cases of alleged child murder by the Jews.937937    See Lea’s elaborate account in Rel. Hist. of Spain, 437-468; also Graetz, VIII. 466-472. The child’s body could not be found, but the Inquisitors easily accounted for this by the report that it had been carried to heaven on the third day after the murder. Lope de Vega and other Spanish writers have made the case famous in Spanish literature. Ferdinand, according to Llorente, moved by the appeals of a Jewish embassy and Spanish grandees, was about to modify his sentence, when Torquemada, hastening into the presence of the king and his consort, presented the crucifix, exclaiming, "Judas Iscariot sold Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Your majesties are about to sell him for three thousand ducats. Here he is, take him and sell him."

The number of Jews who emigrated from Spain, in the summer of 1492, is estimated at 170,000 to 400, 000.938938    Graetz, VIII. 349, puts it at 300,000. They went to Italy, Morocco, and the East, and, invited by king Manuel, 100,000 passed into Portugal. But here their tarrying was destined to be short. In 1495 an edict offered them the old alternative of baptism or death, and children under fourteen were taken forcibly from their parents, and the sacred Christian rite was administered to them. Ten years later two thousand of the alleged ungenuine converts were massacred in cold blood.

Such was the drama of sufferings through which the Jews were made to pass during the mediaeval period in Western Europe. As against this treatment, what efforts were made to win the Jews by appeals to the gospel? But the question might well be asked whether any appeals could be expected to win them when such a spirit of persecution prevailed. How could love and such hostility go together? The attempts to convince them were made chiefly through tracts and disputations. Anselm, while he did not direct his treatise on the atonement, cur deus homo, to the Jews, says, that his argument was sufficient to persuade both Jew and pagan. Grosseteste sought to show the fulfilment of the old law and to prove the divinity of Christ in his de cessatione legalium, written in 1231.939939    For the use made of it by Sir John Eliot and John Selden, see Stevenson, p. 104. Among other tracts on the Jewish question were those of Rupert of Deutz; Dial. inter Christum et Judaeum, Migne, 170, 559-610; Richard of St. Victor, de Emmanuele, Migne, 196, 601-666; Alanus ab Insulis, Contra Judaeos, Migne, 210, 400-422. The most famous of these tracts was written by Peter the Venerable. In Migne’s edition it fills more than one hundred and forty columns, and would make a modern book of more than three hundred pages of the ordinary size. Its heading, little adapted to win the favor of the people to whom it was addressed, ran "A Tract against the Inveterate Hardness of the Jews" (inveteratam duritiem). The author proceeded to show from the Hebrew Scriptures the divinity of Christ, at the same time declaring that "to the blind even the light is as night and the sun as the shades of darkness."

Some idea can be gotten of the nature of some of Peter’s arguments from one of the many Scripture texts adduced to prove that Christ is the Son of God, Isa. lxvi. 9: "Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith Jehovah. Shall I that caused to bring forth shut the womb? saith thy God." "What could be more clear, O Jews," adds the author, "in proving the generation of the Son of God? For if God begat, so far as He begat, He is necessarily Father, and the Son of God, so far as He is begotten, is necessarily Son." In taking up the proof that the Messiah has already come, Peter naïvely says that "if the Jew shall presume to think when the argument is finished that he lives, Peter holds the sword of Goliath, and, standing over the Jew’s prostrate form, will use the weapon for his destruction, and ’with its edge’ cleave his blasphemous head in twain."940940    Migne’s ed., 189, 553.

If the mild abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable, approached the Jews in such an arrogant tone, what was to be expected from other writers, like Peter of Blois who wrote upon the Perfidy of the Jews?

Public disputations were resorted to in Southwestern Europe. Not a few Jews, "learned men, physicians, authors, and poets," to use the language of Graetz,941941    viii. 83. adopted the Christian faith from conviction, and "became as eager in proselyting as though they had been born Dominicans." At the public disputations, representative rabbis and chosen Christian controversialists disputed. Jewish proselytes often represented the Christian side. The most famous of these disputations, the disputation of Tortosa, extended through a year and nine months, 1413–1414, and held sixty-eight sittings. Many baptisms are reported to have followed this trial of argumentative strength, and Benedict XIII. announced his conclusions in a bull forbidding forced baptism, as opposed to the canons of the church, but insisting on the Jews wearing the distinctive patch, and enacting that they should listen to three Christian sermons every year,—on Easter, in Advent, and in midsummer. Raymundus Lullus appealed for the establishment of chairs in Hebrew with an eye to the conversion of the Jews, as did also the Dominican Raymundus of Peñaforte. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the propaganda of the eloquent preacher Vincent Ferrer was crowned with success, and the lowest estimates place the number who received baptism under his influence at twenty thousand. The most distinguished of the Spanish converts was Rabbi Solomon Helevi, 1353–1435, who occupied the archiepiscopal chair of Burgos. The Christian scholar Nicolas of Cusa, if not born a Jew, was of Jewish descent.

In London there was an attempt to reach the Jews by a sort of university settlement, the domus conversorum, intended for the protection of Jewish proselytes. It was established in 1233, and an annual grant of seven hundred marks from the royal exchequer promised for its maintenance; but no reports have come down to us of its usefulness.

These efforts relieve, it is true, the dark picture, but relieve it only a little. The racial exclusiveness of the Jew, and the defiant pride which Christendom associates with him when he attains to prosperity, still render it difficult to make any impression upon him by the presentation of the arguments for Christianity. There have been converts. Neander was a Jew born. So were Paulus Cassel and Adolf Saphir. Delitzsch had a Jew for one of his parents. Döllinger is authority for the statement that thirty years ago there were two thousand Christians in Berlin of Jewish descent. There is fortunately no feeling to-day, at least in the church of the West, that it should come to the aid of Providence in executing vengeance for the crucifixion of Christ, a thought which ruled the Christian mind in the Middle Ages. In view of the experience of the medieval church, if for no other reason, the mode of treatment suggested to the modern church is by the spirit of brotherly confidence and Christian love.

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