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Reassessing Jewish Life in Medieval Europe

$29.99 (G)

  • Date Published: September 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521145435

$ 29.99 (G)
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About the Authors
  • This book reevaluates the prevailing notion that Jews in medieval Christian Europe lived under an appalling regime of ecclesiastical limitation, governmental exploitation and expropriation, and unceasing popular violence. Robert Chazan argues that, while Jewish life in medieval Western Christendom was indeed beset with grave difficulties, it was nevertheless an environment rich in opportunities; the Jews of medieval Europe overcame obstacles, grew in number, explored innovative economic options, and fashioned enduring new forms of Jewish living. His research also provides a reconsideration of the legacy of medieval Jewish life, which is often depicted as equally destructive and projected as the underpinning of the twentieth-century catastrophes of antisemitism and the Holocaust. Dr. Chazan’s research proves that, although Jewish life in the medieval West laid the foundation for much Jewish suffering in the post-medieval world, it also stimulated considerable Jewish ingenuity, which lies at the root of impressive Jewish successes in the modern West.

    • Provides an important re-evaluation of current thought on the role of Jews in medieval Christian Europe
    • Important reconsideration of how the medieval experiences of Jews in Europe shaped later events critical to Jewish history, providing a new perspective
    • Provides a nuanced discussion of the interaction between two cultures, considering the perspectives of both
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “A thought-provoking assessment of Jewish life in the Middle Ages that eschews persecutions and expulsions to concentrate on the remarkable growth in the number of Jews living under Christian rule between 1000 and 1500.” – Anna Sapir Abulafia, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

    “Was there any place for Jews in medieval Europe after western Christianity reconceptualized itself as Christendom, thereby excluding all non-Christian ‘others’? Were they just ‘outsiders,’ the product of Christian ‘Judeophobia’? In Reassessing Jewish Life in Medieval Europe, Robert Chazan provides a fascinating overview of Jewish life in medieval Western Christendom. He argues that although Jewish communities had to face grave difficulties, they were nevertheless successful in adapting themselves in an environment rich in opportunities, growing in number and wealth, and fashioning new forms of life and culture. A stimulating book, extremely useful for reconsidering the Jewish legacy in the post-medieval world.” – Dominique Iogna-Prat, CNRS, University of Paris 1- Panthéon Sorbonne

    “This study provides an intriguing interpretation of Jewish history in the Middle Ages and across the divide between the medieval and the modern. Writing with great authority and building on his own invaluable studies and a magisterial knowledge of others’ scholarship, Robert Chazan argues that the negative experience of Jewish life in medieval Christian Europe was alloyed with much more that was positive, though traditionally undervalued by scholars. Together, they informed a broad set of practices and beliefs that were instrumental in the Jews’ survival and prosperity long into the present. No student of medieval Jewish history or of the medieval legacy of Jewish life can ignore this wide-ranging and vigorous study.” – William Chester Jordan, Princeton University

    "Chazan's patient presentation and understated writing gently encourages the kind of historical rethinking that his work intends, even on the part of those who may not think they need it.  In this sense, it offers a valuable read for academic specialists with any interest in Jewish history and a promising resource for university teaching at all levels.  Its appeal for a non-specialist audience will be aided by its exceptionally clear, if occasionally slightly repetitive, structure and its concise, accessible prose.  The potential for this broader readership stands among this book's greatest strengths, since as the author himself argues, Jewish history is one area in which non-academic interest has significant potential to affect ongoing work in the field." --Pamela Patton, The Medieval Review

    "...a fast moving survey that draws upon material published in several of his earlier books." -Jewish Book World

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521145435
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: group narratives: tenacity and accuracy
    Introduction: the emergence of medieval European Jewry
    Part I. Historical Schemes:
    1. The Jewish middle age: the Jewish view
    2. The Jewish middle age: the Christian view
    3. The European middle ages
    4. The European Jewish middle ages
    Part II. Historical Themes:
    5. Demographic movement and change
    6. Economic activity
    7. Status
    8. Relocations within the Christian populace
    9. Identity
    Epilogue.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Medieval Europe
    • History of the Middle Ages (focus on medieval Jewish life)
    • Jewish History I: The Ancient and Medieval Experience
    • Jewish-Christian relations in the Middle Ages
    • Persecution, Tolerance, and Violence in Medieval Europe
    • Persecution, Tolerance, and Violence: Minorities in Medieval Europe
    • Reading Seminar: The Dark Ages
    • The Blood Libel
    • World History to 1500
  • Author

    Robert Chazan, New York University
    Robert Chazan is S. H. and Helen R. Scheuer Professor of Jewish History in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. His most recent books are God, Humanity, and History: The Hebrew First Crusade Narratives (2000), Fashioning Jewish Identity in Medieval Western Christendom (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and The Jews of Medieval Western Christendom (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

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