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On Easter Sunday 1475 the dead body of a two year old boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house in Trent Italy Town magistrates arrested all eighteen Jewish men and one Jewish woman living in Trent on the charge of ritual murder―the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites Under judicial torture and imprisonment the men confessed and were condemned to death; their womenfolk who had been kept under house arrest with their children denounced the men under torture and eventually converted to Christianity A papal hearing in Rome about possible judicial misconduct in Trent made the trial widely known and led to a wave of anti Jewish propaganda and other accusations of ritual murder against the JewsIn this engrossing book R Po chia Hsia reconstructs the events of this tragic persecution drawing principally on the Yeshiva Manuscript a detailed trial record made by authorities in Trent to justify their execution of the Jews and to bolster the case for the canonization of Little Martyr Simon Hsia depicts the Jewish victims whose testimonies contain fragmentary stories of their tragic lives as well as forced confessions of kidnap torture and murder the prosecuting magistrates the hostile witnesses and the few Christian neighbors who tried in vain to help the Jews Setting the trial and its documents in the historical context of medieval blood libel Hsia vividly portrays how fact and fiction can be blurred how judicial torture can be couched in icy orderliness and impersonality and how religious rites can be interpreted as ceremonies of barbarism Interrogation by torture is NOT an invention of the CIA All the elements of the CIA funded research into brutal interrogation by psychiatrist Ewen Cameron extreme prolonged isolation and sensory deprivation depersonalization recurring torture threats of death were well if not scientifically understood in 15th Century Italy Instead of electric prods and water boarding the authorities in the Papal and Hapsburg states used the strappado The victim's hands were tied behind his lower back and he was hoisted into the air until his feet dangled If the pain didn't produce immediate confession the victim might be hoisted higher dropped suddenly and jerked sharply aloft again Obviously his shoulders were dislocated To vary the pain hot boiled eggs would be put in his armpits Then when any bit of submission was yielded the victim would be isolated again for a few days before a resumption of torture Such practices were in a sense already illegal condemned by canon law but they were wide spread and favored by the Holy Office of the Inuisition Few indeed were the victims of such torture who weren't broken and who didn't learn the scripted confession expected of them Giordano Bruno withstood several years of torture in the dungeons of Rome before he was burned alive with his jaw nailed shut to prevent him from declaring innocence in the Campo dei Fiori His statue is visible from my apartment window in RomeIn the Tirolean city of Trent in 1475 the three Jewish heads of families and their several male dependents accused of the ritual murder of a Christian child withstood the strappado to varying degrees denying guilt anywhere from one session to dozens of sessions In the end however they all agreed to confess and then essentially had to be instructed under torture as to what precisely they would need to confess before they would be granted the relief of death The show trial in Trent was far from the only such horrible charade of justice in the history of European anti Semitism and the three family Jewish community of Trent was not the largest to be exterminated under the leadership of the Franciscans and other Preaching Observants but the Prince Bishop of Trent Johanes Hinderbach had strong motives for publicizing and justifying his persecution of the ritual murder charges The outcome was the foundation and dissemination of a cult of miracles performed by the child martyr Simon of Trent a cult which persisted and served its vicious anti Semitic purpose until 1965 when it was abolished by the Vatican Actually the Pope in 1475 the Sixtus whose Vatican chapel we all admire as a triumph of humanism was than a little suspicious both of the Jewish guilt and of the subseuent miracle tales but he didn't have time or care enough to intervene effectively though the bishop he commissioned to investigate Baptista dei Giudici concluded that the trial was a malevolent sham and the miracles bogusSimon Unferdorben was a two and a half year old boy child of a German speaking peasant in Trent a semi autonomous city state under Hapsburg rule The boy fell in a ditch and drowned His body was found after several days in the ditch that drained into the bath of Samuel the Jew There is a good possibility that it was deliberately dumped there by persons with grudges against the Jews; two such suspects were widely identified at the timeNothing about the confessions extracted by torture from the Jews of Trent is plausible Their confessions were not at all consistent until they had been fully instructed by the torturers The wounds first observed on the child's body were not consistent with the accounts of the ritual slaying to which the Jews were compelled to confess Not everyone even in Trent believed the accusation; surrounding communities especially in the Veneto were highly critical of the judicial procedures Nonetheless the entire male Jewish population of Trent including mere commercial visitors who happened to be there at the wrong time were executed by burning or decapitation The latter was considered merciful The women were forced to accept Christian baptism; they and their children uickly disappeared from the recordsPo chia Hsia professor of European history at New York University tells this whole story with a good deal circumspection than I have and of course with a good deal supporting evidence but there is no doubt that he considers the charges of Jewish ritual murder universally false and vicious as do all reasonable people ever since This small book is a tight narration an evening's reading If you have any reservations about the Christian and specifically Catholic burden of responsibility for crimes of hatred against the Jewish people you owe your own conscience the task of reading Trent 1475

book Trent 1475 Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial

Trent 1475 Stories of a Ritual Murder TrialOn Easter Sunday 1475 the dead body of a two year old boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house in Trent Italy Town magistrates arrested all eighteen Jewish men and one Jewish woman living in Trent on the charge of ritual murder―the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites Under judicial torture and imprisonment the men confessed and were condemned to death; their womenfolk who had been kept under house arrest with their children denounced the men under torture and eventually converted to Christianity A papal hearing in Rome about possible judicial misconduct in Trent made the trial widely known and led to a wave of anti Jewish propaganda and other accusations of ritual murder against the JewsIn this engrossing book R Po chia Hsia reconstructs the events of this tragic persecution drawing principally on the Yeshiva Manuscript a detailed trial record made by authorities in Trent to justify their execution of the Jews and to bolster the case for the canonization of Little Martyr Simon Hsia depicts the Jewish victims whose testimonies contain fragmentary stories of their tragic lives as well as forced confessions of kidnap torture and murder the prosecuting magistrates the hostile witnesses and the few Christian neighbors who tried in vain to help the Jews Setting the trial and its documents in the historical context of medieval blood libel Hsia vividly portrays how fact and fiction can be blurred how judicial torture can be couched in icy orderliness and impersonality and how religious rites can be interpreted as ceremonies of barbarism A peep into how trials were conducted way back when

R Po chia Hsia Ü Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial text

Trent 1475 Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial kindle · eBook Ê eyltransferservices ã [Reading] ➶ Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial By R Po chia Hsia – Eyltransferservices.co.uk On Easter Sunday 1475 the dead body of a two year old boy named Simon was found in the ceOn Easter Sunday 1475 the dead body of a two year old boy named Simon was found in the cellar of a Jewish family's house in Trent Italy Town magistrates arrested all eighteen Jewish men and one Jewish woman living in Trent on the charge of ritual murder―the killing of a Christian child in order to use his blood in Jewish religious rites Under judicial torture and imprisonment the men confessed and were condemned to death; their womenfolk who had been kept under house arrest with their children denounced the men under torture and eventually converted to Christianity A papal hearing in Rome about possible judicial misconduct in Trent made the trial widely known and led to a wave of anti Jewish propaganda and other accusations of ritual murder against the JewsIn this engrossing book R Po chia Hsia reconstructs the events of this tragic persecution drawing principally on the Yeshiva Manuscript a detailed trial record made by authorities in Trent to justify their execution of the Jews and to bolster the case for the canonization of Little Martyr Simon Hsia depicts the Jewish victims whose testimonies contain fragmentary stories of their tragic lives as well as forced confessions of kidnap torture and murder the prosecuting magistrates the hostile witnesses and the few Christian neighbors who tried in vain to help the Jews Setting the trial and its documents in the historical context of medieval blood libel Hsia vividly portrays how fact and fiction can be blurred how judicial torture can be couched in icy orderliness and impersonality and how religious rites can be interpreted as ceremonies of barbarism In Trent 1475 Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial R Po Chia Hsia absolutely nails his twin points a antisemitism is evil and b judicial torture is both evil and not a very effective way of collecting reliable information Beyond that Po Chia Hsia doesn't seem to be very interested in what happened to two year old Simon Unferdorben or how it came to be that his body was found in the water cellar of Samuel the Jewish money lender of Trent in 1475That's too bad because there is a good murder mystery in there along with what could be some real illumination of the time and the cultureThe factual story is confused and Po Chia Shia's narrative doesn't do much to unravel the confusion It seems that two and a half year old Simon Unferdorben went missing on Thursday afternoon of Easter week March 24 1475 His father Andreas Unferdorben and family friends searched all over Trent the neighboring villages and the canals that led from the Adige River into Trent After Good Friday services on Friday March 25 1475 Andreas asked Prince Bishop Johannes Hinderbach for assistance At the reuest of the Prince Bishop Trent's chief magistrate the podesta Giovanni del Salis had his men spread the news to all uarters of the city On Saturday March 26 1475 Andreas went to the podesta and told him that Simon had not been discovered Andreas asked the podesta to search the Jewish houses a small community of three Jewish agnatic lineages constituting about thirty to forty individuals in three houses existed in Trent because Andreas had heard rumors about Jews kidnapping Christian children and that someone Zanesus der Schweizer the Swiss told him to search the Jewish houses p 3 Podesta del Salis went to the home of the leader of the community on Saturday March 26 1475 and found nothing There is no description of what kind of search was madeAt supper time the next day when a servant went to fetch water from the water cellar in Samuel's home the servant discovered the body of Simon in the water The Trentini Jews recognized this as a disaster because they had been hearing the story of the missing boy for a couple of days p 26 One of the Jewish householders had gone so far as to order his servants to close the windows of his cellar so that no Christian could throw a dead child into the cellarp 27 The body had not been in the cellar when the Jewish women had taken their ritual bath in Samuel's water cellar the previous Thursday evening p 26Even though it was a disaster in the making the Jews nonetheless reported the discovery to the podesta p 27 Po Chia Shia explains that they had no choice because they were dependent on the goodwill of the authorities p 27 After making the report the Jews removed the body from the water examined it and determined that the injuries were consistent with drowning and being carried along in a ditch p 28 On Monday the official inuest however indicated that the boy had not drowned and that he had been dead and in the water for two days p 30 The podesta took testimony from three individuals a Jewish convert whose father had escaped a mass execution on a ritual murder charge who reluctantly said that his father had used to place a cup of blood on the table at Passover and curse Christians by sprinkling it on the table p 31; Blonde Gretchen who told a story about how her three year old son had gone missing on Good Friday and had been discovered trapped in a woodshed at Samuel's house p 32; and another woman who claimed that she had heard Simon's sobbing voice on Good Friday from Samuel's housep 32 33Based on this the podesta decided that the Jews were suspects and began to interrogate The interrogation involved liberal use of torture specifically the strappado in violation of customary norms It appears that the podesta knew the direction he wanted to go and like a witch hunt one suspect would turn over another which was helped along by a certain internecine friction between the Jewish homes Jewish and Church groups outside of Trent attempted to intervene In the end virtually all of the males and most of the women were executed by burning or if they converted hangingPo Chia Hsia interest is almost singularly with the experience of the Jews caught up in this horrific Kafkaesue nightmare There is no backstory on the victim The father's appearance is limited to almost what you have read in this review Thus although the sub0title is stories of a ritual murder trial the stories of the victims are strangely unmentionedPo Chia Hsia offers no explanation for how Simon's body made its way into Samuel's water cellar Po Chia Hsia acts almost like a criminal defense attorney with a certainly guilty client trying to float a number of alternative theories hoping that one will raise a reasonable doubt Thus he floats the sinister Schweizer on numerous occasions p 3 The Schweizer is sinister because he had a contract dispute with Samuel he told Simon's father he should have the Jewish homes search and he may have harbored ill will against Samuel Perhaps this is true but the body was found in Samuel's home Is the reader to believe that the Schweizer killed Simon and planted the body? It certainly could have happened that way but where is the evidence apart from stitching together speculation based on the a priori assumption that none of the the Jews were guilty?At times Po Chia Hsia seems to deny that there even was a murder References to murder get scare uotes Presumably it is possible that Simon drowned but then again how did that body get in that cellar? And what about the witness who heard Simon's sobbing voice in Samuel's house? And why didn't Samuel take the precaution of the other Jew and close his cellar windows? And what about Blonde Gretchen's strange story about her son?Is it the case that there were no pedophiles or serial killers in the 15th Century?Another point that Po Chia Hsia misses is any description of the town How far away did Simon live from Samuel's? How close were these houses? My sense is that people who lived in an urban environment were constantly under each other's surveillance There really were no secrets in that kind of intimacy Samuel did have Christian friends so it is not the case that there was an unremitting hostility to him Why then was only his house searched on Saturday and not the others? Was it because Simon had been heard in that house as at least one witness testified to? How ironic was it then that Simon's body should just happen to be found in the cellar of Samuel's house?On the flip side why was the body found there? Wouldn't an enterprising murderer have found a way to dispose of it by obtaining a cart perhaps and carrying it outside the walls of the town? Or would that have seemed to weird a behavior for people who never left the town? I don't know but these were uestions that occurred to me and I did not get any help from the author unless I was willing to assume that the buried a priori that the appearance of Simon's body in Samuel's cellar was a complete coincidence or the result of malicious evidence planting Of course either of those possibilities may have happened and yet there was the testimony about hearing Simon's voice in Samuel's house and Blonde Gretchen's disturbing story about her son being held captive at Samuel's years before which ought to raise disturbing implications in our modern culture which is not innocent of stories of serial killers and pedophilesI was fascinated by the water cellar about which we received virtually no information Po Chia Hsia almost treats it as a modern public utility where a body could slip in unnoticed But I suspect that is wrong I suspect that water had to be affirmatively directed from an adjacent canal into the cellar in which case someone would be blocking and unblocking the inlet and would notice the body of a two year old riding the wave into the house But I don't really know because Po Chia Hsia wasn't interested in investigating that issueSo was there a murder? All things considered it looks like there was something to be investigated based on what even moderns would consider to be evidence For what it's worth while Po Chia Hsia mentions the testimonial evidence only briefly he does give play to the supposed evidence of Simon's wounds bleeding in the presence of the Jews as the basis of the charge because supposedly the wounds of murdered victims bled in the presence of murderers One wonders if that bit wasn't an early form of psychological conditioning of people for interrogation that we might see in police procedurals January 13 2014 Note Also after reading the The Nibelungenlied The Lay of the Nibelungs Oxford World's Classics I discovered that in the 12th Century German epic the Nibelungenlied Kreimhilt unmasks the murderer of Sivrit when she notices that the wounds of her dead husband Sivrit are bleeding in his presence In other words a fascinating historical revelation is that Germans in the late 15th Century were still relying ancient folklore PS Watching Gods and Monsters today June 18 2016 I was surprised to discovery that there is a scene in Shakespeare's Richard III where Henry VI begins to bleed in the presence of Richard who was Henry's murdererTo me it seemed like there was good evidence of a murder What happened after that was undoubtedly a travesty of justice of the kind that we have seen in recent years in the so called cult pedophile rings where vast circles of individuals were swept up and imprisoned as part of conspiring in crimes that may have been invented when psychologists went to work on the imaginations of children See McMartin Preschool Scandal This kind of hysteria doesn't reuire anti Semitism albeit certainly anti Semitism can be a factor at the right time and the right place such as Europe in the 15th Century Reading the contagion of accusation as the interrogators directed their uestioning out in an expanding circle reminded me of nothing so much as Stalin's approach to investigating the conspiracies he thought were all around him as brilliantly depicted in Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands Europe Between Hitler and Stalin After reading Justus George Lawler's Were the Popes Against the Jews? Tracking the Myths Confronting the Ideologues I noticed a number of tropes in Po Chia Hsia's book that were problematic For example there was the gratuitous mind reading where Po Chia Hsia told us what historical figures thought' or remembered or felt These things may have been true but they aren't historical evidenceLikewise Po Chia Hsia plays an odd game with evidence that increases Christian depravity in ritual murder allegations Thus he lists a series of ritual murder charges that includes two that were started when Christians planted bodies on the Jews p 92 93 Po Chia Hsia includes Meran as an example of one such malicious planting among his list compiled from the trial records p 92 but this is the same story that Old Moses told when he was faced with torture p 43 So it would seem that information extracted from or with the prospect of torture is to be believed if the story fits the narrative but not if it doesn't?One also has to wonder what portion of the Jewish population was walking around with untreated psychiatric disorders Assuming that Po Chia Hsia's list of slaughtered Jewish communities is accurate which I neither dispute or concede I just don't know it would seem like there were a number of survivors who should have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder If that is the case then what kind untreated psychosis were people walking around with? I ask again is it the case that there were no pedophiles or serial killers in the 15th Century?Another interesting and underplayed aspect of the story is the official antipathy toward Jewish Ritual Murder prosecutions The papacy appointed an Apostolic Commissioner to investigate Trent which resulted in commission of inuiry into the trial While the commission upheld the travesty of a trial the Jewish community had already been liuidated it also resulted in a bull from Pope Sixtus IV confirming the prior 1247 Decretum of Innocent IV which prohibited Ritual murder trials Likewise given the fact that witch hunts of this kind have a nasty way of spreading and the Trentini community had given up names of putative Jewish contacts in other cities this particular hysteria was confined to Trent by the efforts of the Empire and Church both of which refused to permit further actions to be taken in their territoriesThis book is worthwhile in that it does give a view into some portion of medieval Jewish life and criminal justice I did learn some things I had not known For example prior to this book I had assumed that the story of Simon of Trent must have been entirely made up out of whole cloth I also didn't know about the official antipathy to ritual murder trials But those are things that I picked up despite not because of this book On the whole I found this book to be of a morality play with life lessons for today than a history of how people lived and thought in a different time and another place For those who can't get enough of life lessons for today morality plays this book may be worthwhile For those who are looking for nuanced or trustworthy history without the life lessons for today approach give it a miss