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Communities of Violence Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages

ISBN-10: 069105889X
ISBN-13: 9780691058894
Edition: 1998
Authors: David Nirenberg
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Description: In the wake of modern genocide, we tend to think of violence against minorities as a sign of intolerance, or, even worse, a prelude to extermination. Violence in the Middle Ages, however, functioned differently, according to David Nirenberg. In this  More...

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Book details

List price: $37.50
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 2/15/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 312
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.232
Language: English

In the wake of modern genocide, we tend to think of violence against minorities as a sign of intolerance, or, even worse, a prelude to extermination. Violence in the Middle Ages, however, functioned differently, according to David Nirenberg. In this provocative book, he focuses on specific attacks against minorities in fourteenth-century France and the Crown of Aragon (Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia). He argues that these attacks--ranging from massacres to verbal assaults against Jews, Muslims, lepers, and prostitutes--were often perpetrated not by irrational masses laboring under inherited ideologies and prejudices, but by groups that manipulated and reshaped the available discourses on minorities. Nirenberg shows that their use of violence expressed complex beliefs about topics as diverse as divine history, kinship, sex, money, and disease, and that their actions were frequently contested by competing groups within their own society. Nirenberg's readings of archival and literary sources demonstrates how violence set the terms and limits of coexistence for medieval minorities. The particular and contingent nature of this coexistence is underscored by the book's juxtapositions--some systematic (for example, that of the Crown of Aragon with France, Jew with Muslim, medieval with modern), and some suggestive (such as African ritual rebellion with Catalan riots). Throughout, the book questions the applicability of dichotomies like tolerance versus intolerance to the Middle Ages, and suggests the limitations of those analyses that look for the origins of modern European persecutory violence in the medieval past.

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction
The Historical Background
France, Source of the Troubles: Shepherds' Crusade and Lepers' Plot (1320, 1321)
Crusade and Massacre in Aragon (1320)
Lepers, Jews, Muslims, and Poison in the Crown (1321)
Sex and Violence between Majority and Minority
Minorities Confront Each Other: Violence between Muslims and Jews
The Two Faces of Sacred Violence
Epilogue: The Black Death and Beyond
Bibliography of Works Cited
Index

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