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.

Want to stay informed about the topic?
Subscribe below.

4 + 3 =

Did Pope Pius XII Save the Jews of Rome? Using Tactical Lies

A recent article on Zenit, written by Gary Krupp from Pave the Way Foundation, describes how Pope Pius XII’s supposed strategy of…

Causes of the Holocaust

What were the causes of the Holocaust? This is a complex question in the history of the Holocaust, but not an intractable one. It turns out there are several reasons why the…

Pius XII to Roosevelt: Please Spare Us

The Telegraph in the UK and other newspapers recently reported about a letter written by Pope Pius XII to President Roosevelt. In this letter, dated August 30,…

To Recognize Or Not to Recognize Israel: That is the Question

When it comes to the issue of Vatican non-recognition for the State of Israel, apologists for the actions—or lack thereof—of Pope Pius…

The Essence of a Translation: Was John Cornwell’s “Hitler’s Pope” malicious, and wrong?

With the arrival of Communism in the Soviet Union, with its atheistic outlook, the Church became convinced it…

Seeing Pope Pius XII in a Different Light: From Saint to Villain?

During WWII and in subsequent years, all the way to his death in 1958, Pope Pius XII was praised for his compassion and work to save…

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…

The Foundation of Antisemitism: We Want to Kill Too

Efraim Zuroff is the Director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I met him last March in his Jerusalem office and we discussed…

The Holocaust

The Holocaust can be a perplexing event. After all, what could have possibly motivated and driven so many people to commit such atrocious acts, and in such numbers, as those committed…

Aiming at the Heart of the Arab/Israeli Conflict

The basis of the antagonism in the Arab/Israeli conflict is ultimately the Arabs’ seeming inability to accept even a minuscule Jewish state among a…