Inspecting the pious body: Christological morphology and the ritual-crucifixion allegation

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1 Scopus citations


The first ritual-murder accusations appeared at a time in which a theology that was increasingly invested in Christ's human body was articulated. Forms of mimetic devotion emerged across Latin Christendom, but were considered highly controversial. The Life and Miracles of St William of Norwich, this essay argues, is an attempt to think about some of the problems that arise from this theology. By interpreting Jewish actions, both real and alleged, the author, Thomas of Monmouth, deployed a Christian bodily logic in order to make a claim about William's sanctity based on his physical ‘likeness’ to Christ in suffering. While in the end this rhetorical and theological scheme was not widely accepted by the author's contemporaries, the Christological grammar of bodily hermeneutics that the Vita articulates resonated in the language of subsequent allegations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Jews
  • St William of Norwich
  • body
  • hagiography
  • imitatio Christi
  • ritual murder
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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