Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial / Edition 1

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Overview

On Easter Sunday, 1475, the dead body of a two-year-old boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house in Trent, Italy. Town magistrates arrested all eighteen Jewish men and one Jewish woman living in Trent on the charge of ritual murder - the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites. Under judicial torture and imprisonment, the men confessed and were condemned to death; their women-folk, who had been kept under house arrest with their children, denounced the men under torture and eventually converted to Christianity. A papal hearing in Rome about possible judicial misconduct in Trent made the trial widely known and led to a wave of anti-Jewish propaganda and other accusations of ritual murder against the Jews. In this engrossing book, R. Pochia Hsia reconstructs the events of this tragic persecution, drawing principally on the Yeshiva Manuscript, a detailed trial record made by authorities in Trent to justify their execution of the Jews and to bolster the case for the canonization of "little Martyr Simon." Hsia depicts the Jewish victims (whose testimonies contain fragmentary stories of their tragic lives as well as forced confessions of kidnap, torture, and murder), the prosecuting magistrates, the hostile witnesses, and the few Christian neighbors who tried in vain to help the Jews. Setting the trial and its documents in the historical context of medieval blood libel, Hsia vividly portrays how fact and fiction can be blurred, how judicial torture can be couched in icy orderliness and impersonality, and how religious rites can be interpreted as ceremonies of barbarism.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Hsia, author of The Myth of Ritual Murder ( LJ 10/1/88), uses original sources to examine an infamous ritual murder case. In 1475 three Jewish families of Trent were charged with the murder of a Christian child. Judicial torture was used to force the accused to sign confessions fabricated by the prosecution. This victimization of the Jewish community did not go unchallenged. The account of the conflict between Trent's prince-bishop, who wanted the canonization of the alleged child martyr, and the papal commissioner sent to investigate irregularities in the judicial procedures highlights the fraudulent nature of the charges. Informed lay readers as well as scholars and specialists will welcome this addition to the literature on the history of anti-Semitism. For academic libraries and large public libraries with strong reader interest in this area.-- Robert Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300068726
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 926,243
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Abbreviations
Ch. 1 The Prince-Bishop 1
Ch. 2 The Jewish Community 14
Ch. 3 The Inquest 26
Ch. 4 The Torture Chamber 34
Ch. 5 "Blessed Simon Martyr" 51
Ch. 6 Theater of Death 61
Ch. 7 The Apostolic Commissioner 69
Ch. 8 An Ethnography of Blood 81
Ch. 9 The Convert 95
Ch. 10 The Women 105
Ch. 11 Judgment in Rome 117
Epilogue 132
Appendix: A Note on Sources 137
Notes 141
Index 169
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