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-1Jews and the Crusades

The first crusade was started by Pope Urban II to free Jerusalem and the Holy

land from Islamic rule. The first crusade also marked the first organized persecution of

the Jews, although killing, robbing, or roughing up Jews was never a primary purpose of

the crusades.

Originally the war was against Muslims but certain leaders of Germany

recognized that the crusade was not only against Muslims, but also against the Jews who

were in their own land. Some preachers taught that Jews and Muslims were enemies of

Christ and must be fought or converted to Christianity. The crusaders slaughtered

thousands of Jews, but they believed it was justified because Pope Urban II’s speech

promised reward from God for killing non-Christians.

Crusaders beheaded the Jews and then threw their heads over besieged city walls.

Some starving crusaders ate the Jews and Muslims they had killed if they had no other

food to eat.

Some Jews were taken as prisoners of war and were deported to Apulia in

southern Italy; however, most Jews who were deported didn't make it to their destination

because they were thrown into the sea or beheaded on the way.

Luckily for some, the idea of the crusades wasn't universal and some Jews were

able to find sanctuary from the persecution.

In 1099, crusaders captured the city of Jerusalem, ending the first crusade, and

then massacred around 70,000 Jews and Muslims in the city.

Jews in France suffered especially during the second crusade. During the third

crusade, Philip Augustus treated Jews with exceptional cruelty, and Jews were also

attacked during the Shepherds' crusades.