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Medieval Urban Noir

Medieval Urban Noir

The Jewish House, the Christian Mob, and the City in Postconquest England

Chapter:
(p.64) Chapter 2 Medieval Urban Noir
Source:
The Accommodated Jew
Author(s):
Kathy Lavezzo
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501703157.003.0003

This chapter examines how the advent of the city and a money economy in postconquest England prompted a heightened focus on houses and related spaces associated with contemporary Jews. It begins with a brief overview of Richard of Devizes's account of the urban context for the ritual-murder tale he relates in his Cronicon before discussing Thomas of Monmouth's The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich as a city text. In particular, it analyzes Thomas's ritual murder libel as a fraught monastic response to the profound urban changes that occurred in Norwich over the course of the twelfth century. The chapter also considers the threat posed to Norwich monks by the Christian mob as well as the shift in Thomas's antisemitism. The chapter concludes by considering William of Newburgh's wholesale condemnation of the city qua city in his History of English Affairs.

Keywords:   city, money economy, houses, contemporary Jews, ritual-murder tale, Richard of Devizes, Thomas of Monmouth, Christian mob, William of Newburgh

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