The impact of the Crusades on the Jewish-Christian debate

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Some historians have seen the Crusades as a watershed event in Jewish history, marking the beginning of the deterioration of Jewish life in Europe in the Middle Ages. Other historians are skeptical of this claim and see other factors at work in the change in Jewish status. An examination of Jewish anti-Christian polemical literature reveals that the Crusades had an impact on the debate in three contexts: 1) the lack of consensus omnium that Christianity is the only true religion; 2) the lack of world peace as perceived by constant Christian wars; and 3) the Jewish willingness to undergo martyrdom as proof of the truth of Judaism. Nevertheless, the Crusades do not play a major role in the Jewish-Christian debate. From this fact it is possible to conclude that contemporary Jews did not perceive the Crusades as a major factor in their lives, and that the Jewish-Christian debate transcends particular historical events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalJewish History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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