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In the Shadow of Moyse’s Hall

In the Shadow of Moyse’s Hall

Jews, the City, and Commerce in the Croxton Play of the Sacrament

(p.135) Chapter 4 In the Shadow of Moyse’s Hall
The Accommodated Jew
Kathy Lavezzo
Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the host-desecration libel staged by the Croxton Play of the Sacrament, with particular emphasis on how Croxton intertwines host desecration with commerce. It considers how the play's economic dimensions would have been all the more resonant when performed in the Great Market of Bury St. Edmunds, due not only to the feel, smell, sound, and sight of market life, but also to the looming presence of Moyse's Hall. The grandest secular building in Bury, Moyse's Hall was associated with Jews but not via ritual-murder, host-desecration, or other antisemitic libels. Instead, folklore claimed that the building contained “hidden treasure” controlled by Jews from afar. By teasing out the interplay of commerce in both the play and the town of Bury, the chapter suggests that Croxton doesn't so much affirm the miraculous Christic properties of the host as use the Eucharist to ponder the slippages, oppressions, and possibilities of life under capital.

Keywords:   host-desecration libel, host, Croxton Play of the Sacrament, host desecration, commerce, Bury St. Edmunds, Moyse's Hall, Jews, Eucharist

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