Marcus Roberts


Bookmark this page |  E-mail this page to a friend

Pages < 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   > 

The Lincoln 'Blood Libel'

In 1255, a nine-year old Christian boy, called Hugh, was found dead, whether by accident or foul means, and anti-Semitic feeling led to the local Jews being falsely accused of the crime in the weeks after. The alleged martyrdom of Little Hugh occurred just after Henry Lexington had become bishop in 1254 -- there is, as an aside, good evidence that Lexington brother, Robert had a side-line in money lending.

There has never been any evidence that such 'Blood Libels' have been anything other than baseless allegations and fantasies. As the 18th century historian, D'Blossiers Tovey, who wrote the first serious history of Anglo-Jews, Anglia Judaica in 1738, put it: 'You may also note that the Jews always seem to commit such dastardly crimes when the reigning King is in need of money!' Indeed the allegations always mysteriously occurred when the king was short of money or advantage was to be otherwise made by persecuting the Jews.

In the case of Lincoln the motive seems to have been to financial, as the setting up of another cult in 1255, along side that of Hugh of Avalon, who had been canonized in 1220, at the time that Lexington was to embark on building of the Angel Choir (ground work for the project was on-going in 1255 and the main build was in 1256-1280), would have been very advantageous. Also, Bishop Grosseteste had failed to be canonized at his death, due to his opposition to Rome, which deprived Lincoln and Lexington of what might have been regarded as their rightful new saint and stream of new income.

It was alleged by contemporaries that the boy was found 'spat upon and scourged, had his nose and upper lip cut off, and some of his upper teeth broken out; and was at length crucified, and pierced in the side with a spear, by one Joppin and certain other Jews in that city, out of hatred for Christ, on Friday the 27th August 1255.' In reality the boy was probably the victim of an accident or an attacker and when the copse was exhumed in the modern era the front teeth were found to be intact, which provides physical contradiction of some of the claims.
There are differing traditional 'accounts' of what allegedly occurred. These concur that the boy was enticed into the house of Joppin the Jew on 31 July, where he was ill-treated in mockery of Christ's sufferings and killed by crucifixion. The body was also said to have been disemboweled, so that the Jews could also use it for prognostication. It was then concealed in a well, the earth having supposedly refused to receive it. The mother is said to have found the dead boy.

Afterwards, Bishop John Lexington (1254-58), waited five weeks to make any allegations and then only when instigated by his brother John, who had arrived from the north with the King, who then became involved. His brother John then secured a confession from Jopin after torture and the false promise of a pardon. Soon, the canons of the Cathedral appeared to convey the body to the church, where the boy was treated as a martyr and declared, a local saint, though without the sanction of Rome.

The King had the Jews of Lincoln arrested and delivered to him in London in October. By November, 92 Jews were imprisoned in the Tower. Eighteen were quickly executed, having foolishly it turns our having requested trial by jury and been executed by the King for their temerity. The rest were eventually released due to the intervention of the Friars. King Henry III of course benefited from confiscating the assets of the executed Jews, who happened to be among the richest of their community, and ransoming the rest, though of course the King could have claimed piety in his actions. In 1255, he had by co-incidence, exhausted the immediate usefulness of his Jewish community, and had mortgaged them off to his brother Richard of Cornwall, as security for a loan of 5,000 Marks, thus he was short of his usual income from his Jews, and the Blood Libel was a useful means of procuring more money from other-wise closed Jewish pockets. There is little doubt that as far as Henry was concerned both piety and financial enrichment conveniently meshed in these events.

Post a Comment
Submit to this trail