By author E.M. Rose: A fascinating micro-history of the Medieval practice of blood libel, told through the story of a mysterious 12th century murder.
In March 1144, the mutilated body of a young apprentice leatherworker was discovered in the woods outside Norwich in Northern England. Soon enough a rumor spread that the youth, named William, had been murdered by local Jews as part of a ritual mocking Christ’s passion, an act known as the “blood libel.” Rumor grew into local legend and then historical chronicle when, six years after William’s death, Thomas of Monmouth, a Benedictine monk at the Norwich cathedral priory, undertook to write the Life of William and advance the martyred namesake’s claim to sainthood. Despite Brother Thomas’ efforts, sainthood never took. The notion of the blood libel did, however, and swiftly gained currency far beyond Norwich….click to read more
“Our explanation for Jewish creativity is that Jews have learned from experience that the entire world can believe something that is demonstrably false, such as the blood libel. This fine book takes us back in time to what may have been the first false accusation that a Jew (or ‘the Jews’) killed a Christian to obtain his blood for ritual purposes. It explains, without justifying, how so many could be so wrong for so long.”
— Alan Dershowitz, author of Abraham: The World’s First (But Certainly Not Last) Jewish Lawyer
“E.M. Rose’s book on the murder of William of Norwich is a breathtaking work of revision that addresses one of the central questions in the history of Christian/Jewish relations in the Middle Ages, a topic of enormous relevance in the contemporary world and one around which there is considerable scholarly contestation. The book is a brilliant piece of historical investigation and a marvelous read as well.”
— Gabrielle Spiegel, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University