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By Jonathan Elukin

This booklet demanding situations the normal perception of the center a long time as a time of persecution for Jews. Jonathan Elukin lines the event of Jews in Europe from past due antiquity during the Renaissance and Reformation, revealing how the pluralism of medieval society allowed Jews to think a part of their neighborhood groups regardless of recurrent expressions of hatred opposed to them. Elukin indicates that Jews and Christians coexisted roughly peacefully for a lot of the center a while, and that the violence directed at Jews was once principally remoted and didn't undermine their participation within the day-by-day rhythms of ecu society. the extreme photograph that emerges is considered one of Jews dwelling with ease between their Christian pals, operating with Christians, and sometimes cultivating lasting friendships at the same time Christian tradition usually demonized Jews. As Elukin makes transparent, the expulsions of Jews from England, France, Spain, and somewhere else weren't the inevitable fruits of persecution, yet arose from the spiritual and political expediencies of specific rulers. He demonstrates that the heritage of profitable Jewish-Christian interplay within the center a long time actually laid the social foundations that gave upward push to the Jewish groups of recent Europe. Elukin compels us to reconsider our assumptions approximately this interesting interval in background, delivering us a brand new lens by which to understand the wealthy complexities of the Jewish adventure in medieval Christendom.

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Minorca, Gaul, Italy, and Spain all offered challenges and opportunities. Do we describe this experience as one of exceptional tolerance? How did the Jews themselves feel about their lives? Did they feel besieged by constant threats of danger as if they were living under the ever present shadow of Christian intimidation? Or were their responses and self-awareness dependent on the vagaries of changing situations? The common denominator perhaps is a certain resilience and fluidity in how Jews confronted an idiosyncratic Christian antagonism.

An individual’s status, that is, his freedom or lack of it, may have counted for more in binding people together than common religious loyalties. We may be romanticizing the Christian past by imag34 T H E E A R LY M I D D L E A G E S ining a society of Christians in opposition to small groups of Jews who remained on the outside of a common religious life. The loyalties and benefits of free status may have often trumped the disadvantages associated with Judaism. Whatever social advantages Jews derived from slave-holding, Gregory was preoccupied with the scandal of Jews owning Christian slaves.

The Lombards, a non-Roman ethnic group, had moved into territory previously controlled by the Ostrogoths, the first non-Roman people that ruled Italy after the passing of imperial authority to Constantinople. Rome and some of the surrounding territory was ruled more or less by the pope, and in the south (along with Ravenna) the Byzantines had managed to hold onto territory recaptured under Justinian’s devastating campaign to reconquer Italy in the sixth century. Again, this fragmented political geography underlines how specific local conditions would be of paramount importance in setting the tone of Jewish-Christian interaction.

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