Blaming the Jews for the Black Death Plague 

During the Middle Ages Christians believed Jews were associated with the devil and were out to eliminate Christianity. Christians believed Jews were guilty of all the ills of the world, regardless of how preposterous and irrational the claims.

When the plague hit Europe in 1348 it killed 20-25 million people, about a third of Europe’s population. For a Christian population who had already accused Jews of poisoning wells, it was natural to assume they also brought the Black Death plague.

Gabriel Wilensky

Where Jews guilty for the Black Death?

The Black Death plague was a cataclysmic event in medieval Europe. It swept from the south and by the time it reached England it had consumed the lives of millions of people. Unable to comprehend what was causing the pestilence, the largely illiterate Christian population assumed it was the wrath of God. This population, which was already steeped in deep anti-Jewish rhetoric they heard from their priests, easily concluded that the Jews were to blame for the Black Death. After all, they already accused Jews of poisoning wells, of ritual murder, of desecrating the host, of spiritual blindness, of killing Jesus Christ, of attempting to defile the Christian mind, of being agents of the Devil and other groundless accusations that made the ordinary medieval Christian reflexively blame Jews for any problem, irrespective of how unfounded and preposterous it may be. The fact that Jews died in the Black Death as well as Christians did not deter ordinary Christians from thinking that Jews were to be blamed for it, despite the fact that Pope Clement VI pointed out this obvious fact.

“During the Middle Ages Christians believed Jews were associated with the devil and were out to eliminate Christianity. Christians believed Jews were guilty of all the ills of the world, regardless of how preposterous and irrational the claims.”

 As a result of this accusation, Christians everywhere in Europe went on a murderous rampage against Jews, burning them alive wherever they found them. In August 1349, the Jewish communities of Mainz and Cologne were exterminated. In February of that same year, the citizens of Strasbourg murdered 2,000 Jews. By 1351, 60 major and 150 smaller Jewish communities had been destroyed.

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