Category Archive 'Medieval History'

22 Mar 2017

Context 958 Lived in the 13th Century

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Facial reconstruction of Context 958 burial.

Gizmodo reports on the reconstruction of the face of a man who lived 700 years ago by Cambridge scientists.

[H]ere’s what we know about Context 958.

He was just slightly over 40 years old when he died. His skeleton showed signs of considerable wear-and-tear, so he likely lead a tough and hard working life. His tooth enamel stopped growing during two occasions in his youth, suggesting he likely lived through bouts of famine or sickness when he was young. The archaeologists found traces of blunt force trauma inflicted to the back of his head, which healed over before he died. The researchers aren’t sure what he did for a living, but they think he was a working-class person who specialized in some kind of trade.

Context 958 ate a diverse diet rich in meat or fish, according to an analysis of weathering patterns on his teeth. His profession may have provided him with more access to such foods than the average person at the time. His presence at the charitable hospital suggests he fell on hard times, with no one to take care of him.

“Context 958 was probably an inmate of the Hospital of St John, a charitable institution which provided food and a place to live for a dozen or so indigent townspeople—some of whom were probably ill, some of whom were aged or poor and couldn’t live alone,” noted John Robb, a professor from Cambridge University’s Division of Archaeology, in a statement.

Strangely, he was buried face down, which is rare but not unheard of in medieval burials.

Full story.

10 Feb 2007

Forthcoming Book by Jewish Historian Reported to Accept Blood Libel as True

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Repeating the blood libel, the accusation that Jews used human blood in religious rituals and performed human sacrifice, was a crime in Poland and Lithuania in the Middle Ages; while, in most of Europe, it was merely an opportunistic means of debt restructuring. After the rioting was over, Jewish moneylenders were dead or had vanished from the land, and no one, particularly the king, owed anybody anything.

Enlightened Christians, including Popes as early as Innocent IV (1195-1254) and Pope Gregory X (1271-1276) have consistently rejected the accusation as inconsistent with well known teachings of Judaism.

This week, however, several reports appeared indicating that a forthcoming book by Arial Toaff, professor of Jewish History at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and author of a number of previous well-received and respected titles on Jewish Life in Medieval Italy, gives credence to the legend.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Toaff’s latest book, soon to be published in Italy, is titled: Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders.

According to a review by Sergio Luzzatto, appearing in Corriere della Serra:

from 1100 to about 1500…several crucifixions of Christian children really happened, bringing about retaliations against entire Jewish communities – punitive massacres of men, women, children. Neither in Trent in 1475 nor in other areas of Europe in the late Middle Ages were Jews always innocent victims…

A minority of fundamentalist Ashkenazis…carried out human sacrifices.”

The Telegraph has a less informative report.

Washington Post.

The journalistic accounts reaching English readers make Toaff’s thesis sound extremely implausible and his reasoning unpersuasive. One is curious as to what the book actually says.


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