Sara Offenberg: “All the World’s a Stage”: Imagined Jewish Rituals in Medieval Christian Art and Drama

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In many written and artistic Christian sources, we find an anti-Jewish portrayal of an alleged Jewish costume of desecrating the Host or blood libels. The stories and images are so common that we find for example the story of Simon of Trent being used as a joke in a Facebook post from April 3rd 2015 wishing “Happy Passover” (fig. 1). Following Miri Rubin’s methodology,[1] whom literary wrote the books, where she ties together blood libels and accusations of host desecration in texts, images and drama, in this paper I wish to further discuss the issue of “staging” or the public sphere of the accusations, with a focus on images and texts written in the vernacular language. First, the Castilian thirteenth century Cántigas de Santa Maria and the Jewish response to it, and after the fifteenth century English play: the Croxton Play of the Sacrament, and briefly analyze a contemporary demonstration of the play

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The reign of Alfonso X was characterized by cultural and political developments.[2] He was renowned as a learned king, and thus received the title: “El Sabio”, the wise.[3] Hundreds of poems are ascribed to him, mainly those dedicated to the Virgin Mary entitled the Cántigas de Santa María; Alfonso X compiled this book of stories and songs, accompanied by illuminations, over a period of three decades, completing it in the year 1284,[4] and we shall refer mainly to the performance aspect of the Cántigas.[5] Two history books bear his name as the author: Estoria de Espanna, on the history of Spain,[6] and General Estoria, a world history intended to reach his own era, but actually ending at the period of Jesus.[7]

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The non-Christian residents of Castile, i.e. the Muslims and the Jews, enjoyed religious freedom but were also legally discriminated against; the ban on Muslims and Jews ruling over Christians prohibited them from serving in governmental institutions. According to Yitzhak Baer, some Jews ranked as high key officers in the kingdom, but not in the army or in the high courts.[8] In keeping with the decision of the fourth Lateran council in 1215, although Jews were not obligated to wear an identifying badge,[9] they were made to wear special clothes separating them from the Christians. In Alfonso X’s extensive seven-part book of Law entitled: Las Siete Partidas, it states that the Jews had to wear special headgear in order to be distinguished from the Christians.[10]

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The Cántigas de Santa Maria appeared in some illuminated manuscripts in the last quarter of the thirteenth century (around 1283), and some of the manuscripts that were written and illuminated under the supervision of Alfonso X still remain.[11] We have four original manuscripts, two of them illustrated with over two thousand miniatures: Códice Rico, El Escorial, Biblioteca de San Lorenzo, Ms. T.I.1,[12] made in 1283 and entirely decorated and Biblioteca Nazionale at Florence, Banco Rari 20, which was also decorated, but whose illuminations were not all completed; Códice de Toledo, Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid 10069, which contains one hundred poems; and the fourth manuscript, J.B.2 (Escorial E), which contains over four hundred poems, including all of those that appear in the other three manuscripts as well as unique poems that appear only here. It was made in the years 1281–1282, with decorated initials, and on every tenth poem an illustration of a musician appears.[13] The Cántigas de Santa Maria is written in the vernacular Galician-Portuguese common in Castile,[14] and some of the poems in it were designed to be read and sung aloud, as they are accompanied by musical notes, thus the performative aspect is clear.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The book’s anti-Jewish illustrations and stories have been discussed in previous research. Louise Mirrer addressed the portrayal of the bodies of Jews in the book’s text and illuminations.[15] Albert Bagby characterized five main subjects regarding the Jews in this text: the Jew as the enemy of Christianity; the Jew as the devil’s disciple; the Jew as a symbol of avarice; the traitorous Jew; and the converted Jew.[16] Bagby studied Alfonso X’s attitude toward the Jews by comparing the songs that refer to Jews in the Cántigas de Santa Maria with other contemporary popular songs that also referred to the Jews that were circulating in Europe. According to Bagby, of thirty songs in Alfonso X’s book, only eight are familiar in other collections of stories. Thus, according to him, the rest of the songs must have been composed by Alfonso X. Bagby claims that even in the only three songs in which the Jew does not receive malicious characteristics, the only positive aspect of the Jew’s behavior consists of his pleas for Mary’s help. Vikki Hatton and Angus Mackay suggest that the attitude towards the Jews in the Cántigas de Santa Maria was ambivalent, as the anti-Jewish phrases balance the more neutral phrases regarding the Jews, especially in comparison to other anti-Jewish stories of the time.[17]

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Dwayne E. Carpenter offered five categories different from those proposed by Bagby regarding the Jews in the Cántigas de Santa Maria: Jewish culpability for the death of Jesus; Jewish disparagement of the Virgin, Jesus and Christianity; Jews as allies of the Devil; Jews as avaricious; and the rescue and salvation of Jews. Carpenter studied the amount of hostility against the Jews in the Cántigas de Santa Maria by researching the poems that mention the Jews. He relates not only to stories where the Jews are mentioned as main characters, but also to incidental references where, he claims, the true nature of the attitude towards the Jews is more clearly revealed.[18]

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Pamela Patton suggests studying the image of the Jew in Alfonso X’s book not as a measure of the King’s hostility towards the Jews, but rather in order to learn about the anti-Jewish attitude of Christian Castilian society.[19] This notion is apparent in the poems, whether it is the King’s position or not. Therefore, the illustrations are less representative of Alfonso X’s attitude toward the Jews, and more reflective of the social atmosphere around him, so although the manuscripts were produced in his court, they represent ideas prevalent in society at the time. The illuminations in Alfonso’s book not only illustrate the text, but also interpret it; in some instances, the artists added information to the poem, so even if the Jew did not participate as a main character in a story, the artist portrayed him in most scenes and emphasized his grotesque nature.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Patton points to an example of this phenomenon in the illuminations of Cántiga 3, which tell the story of Theophilus. Although the Jew in the song is mentioned in only a single verse, the illustrations nonetheless portray the Jew in two scenes out of six. The text states that Theophilus acted on the advice of a Jew: “per conssello dun judeu,”[20] and the scenes portray the Jew as associated with and resembling the Devil in his grotesque appearance.[21] Hatton and Mackay, on the other hand, claim that in comparison to the story Milagros de Nustra Señora, written by Gonzalo de Berceo (c. 1198–after 1252), the Jew’s presence is minor, and he is mentioned as merely a consultant.[22] However, the negligible mention of the Jew implies the anti-Jewish nature of the text in the Cántigas de Santa Maria, for the audience needed no further information to understand the close relationship and supposed alliance between the Jew and the Devil. It seems that there was a public demand for such depictions, since most of the stories in the book were already familiar in Western Europe, and only a few of them were original.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 I would like to focus on Cántiga 34 of the Cántigas de Santa Maria (fig. 2), where we read the story of a Jew desecrating an icon of the Virgin Mary. The story takes place on the streets of Constantinople, the location of an unusual, beautiful wooden panel painting of Mary and Child. One night a Jew steals the icon and hides it under his mantle. He brings the icon to his house, throws it into the lavatory and contaminates it. Mary allows the Devil to kill the Jew as punishment for his crime, and nothing remains of the Jew. Meanwhile, a good Christian finds and rescues the icon from the impure place and carefully cleans it. Afterwards, he places the icon in a worthy location in his home, offering it a tribute as a means of securing his salvation, and the icon emits a pleasant scent.[23]

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Like most of the illustrated poems in the Cántigas de Santa Maria, the story is portrayed in six scenes, and the Jew occupies three of them. In the first scene on the left, the Jew appears in grotesque profile,[24] walking by the city’s buildings, dressed in a red garment and a pointed hat as he raises the icon in his right hand. In the next scene, we notice that the garment reaches his knees and thus shows his pointed red shoes, part of the distinguishing mark required in the Siete Partidas 7.24.11.[25] In this scene, we notice the Jew throwing the icon into the lavatory, while a devil stands next to the door behind him. In the third scene, we observe two demons carrying the Jew’s body. All three characters are portrayed in profile, showing their grotesque noses and pointed chins. The next three scenes portray the good Christian’s acts. In all but one of the scenes, the viewer can clearly see the icon of the Virgin and child, so viewing the Jew’s theft and contamination of the icon must have had a shocking impact on Christian audiences.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 The similarities between Alfonso X and some of the characters in Rabbi Isaac Ibn Sahula’s Meshal Haqadmoni written in 1281 Castile,[26] have already been pointed out by Yitzhak Baer and Raphael Loewe.[27] Thus, let us now turn to a discussion of Meshal Haqadmoni and connect it to the Cántigas. The book is divided into five main chapters (On Wisdom, On Penitence, On Sound Counsel, On Humility, On Reverence), each opening with the vices of a given character and ending with the author’s praise of the virtues of the respective trait. Every chapter opens with a polemic dialog between the cynic and the author, with both of them referring to scientific knowledge of nature, medicine, and philosophy, all disguised in fables.[28] The stories all begin with the perspective of the cynic, whose goal is to undermine the author’s faith through fables which seem to prove that virtues are not beneficial, but rather, harmful. All of the chapters contain fables, mainly about animals. Some of these begin in the middle of a given story, when one of the characters (usually an animal) starts to tell the fable. Only following a long discussion does the plot return to the original tale, which is outside the main frame of the story. This literary motif is characteristic of the structure of the maqama and books such as Kalila wa-Dimna.[29] Both the humans and the animals in the fables can be characterized as Jewish on account of their words and customs; furthermore, they use biblical verses, the Talmud, and the Midrash to deliver moral messages, even when they are not identified as Jewish, but as members of other religions.[30]

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 None of the original manuscripts of Meshal ha-Qadmoni remain, nor any that were produced during the author’s lifetime or in his homeland; however, we do have five fully illuminated manuscripts from Germany and Italy, all from the fifteenth century: Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Opp. 154, produced in 1450, Germany;[31] Munich, Bavarian State Library, MS Heb. 10, produced in 1458, Germany;[32] Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Can. 59, produced in 1470-1480, Italy;[33] Rothschild Miscellany, Jerusalem, Israel Museum, Ms. 180/51, produced in 1470-1480, Italy, fols. 298 v-371 r;[34] Milano, Ambrosian Library, MS X 112 sup, produced in 1483, Italy. The book was first printed in Brescia by Gershom Soncino ca. 1491 and wood cuts replaced the manuscripts’ illuminations.[35]

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 I would like to focus on one of Meshal Haqadmoni’s fables, from the first chapter: “The Lion upon whom attend Companions”.[36] In the story we find a connection to the Jewish-Christian polemic, so we shall examine the fable’s text from this perspective. The fable tells the story of a kingdom ruled by a lion, who has two companions and advisors: the hart and the fox, who are facing a serious problem in the kingdom. At the beginning, we learn that the animals are complaining that the lion eats them, so they decide to unite and rebel against the king.[37] The author’s approach is to emphasize the notion that there should be no rebalance against the kingdom.[38]

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 After the animals leave the kingdom, the lion has no more animals to eat, so the fox, in a cunning gesture of flattery, offers him his own flesh, but and immediately informs him that his flesh is not as tasty as that of the hart (his rival courtier). Thus, the fox ostensibly offers his own flesh to be eaten by the lion, yet at the same time makes it clear that it is not good enough for the king. The scene appears in the same way in all the manuscripts: the fox and hart are standing in front of the lion. Despite the fox’s words, the lion refuses to harm the hart, since doing so would be a violation of the alliance between them. The fox speaks badly of the hart and claims that the hart has no noble genealogy, unlike the fox. This claim leads the lion to call upon all his ministers and investigate the hart’s pedigree. The fox represents the anti-Jewish stance in King Alfonso X’s court, when, according to Loewe, he demands to inspect the hart’s limpieza de sangre (purity of blood), while the hart represents the Jewish courtiers.[39]

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 I would like to examine another historical aspect of the story that mainly concerns the Jewish-Christian polemic as it is reflected in the hart’s sermon delivered before the lion. The hart begins to clarify the vices of the wicked soul that speaks against the Talmud and insults it: “On scholarship [Talmud][40] she loads insults obscene/ Her hart full of contempt; precepts she spurns/ And from their highway into byways turns/ To roam, her outrages past numbering/ All the commandments from her back to fling/ The holy law of God dishonoring.” It seems that here we find criticism against the Jews who have drifted from the Holy Scriptures, prefer foreign literature, and even convert to Christianity. The hart declares that the penalty of the wicked is that they will not have a part in the afterlife, and goes on to explain: “I catalogue here those who, by their sin/ Have forfeited all claim to share therein/ Ones who, unorthodox, affirm a lie/ All unbelievers; those who would deny/ The law, the resurrection of the dead/ Or the Messiah’s coming; all these, led/ Into apostasy, with those who lead/ Astray the public; those, too, that secede/ From laws which the community maintained/ Insurgents; those who trespass in disdain/ Defiant: all informers; those whose lies/ Spread slander, or by surgery disguise/ Their covenantal seal.”[41] We hear in these words an echo of the blessing of the apostates (Birkat Haminim), part of the Amidah prayer.[42]

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 The hart elaborates on the punishment of the wicked, noting that in addition to being deprived of an afterlife, they are doomed to “excrement that seethes.” This phrase is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 57a: “He then went and raised Balaam by incantations. He asked him: Who is in repute in the other world? He replied: Israel. … He said: What is your punishment? They replied: With boiling hot excrement, since a Master has said: Whoever mocks at the words of the Sages is punished with boiling hot excrement.” Furthermore, in the hart’s words we may find an utterance regarding the public polemics, such as the Paris Talmud Trial in 1240 between Rabbi Yehiel of Paris and the converted Nicolas Donin.[43] The Paris Talmud Trial of 1240 was the first of three public disputes initiated by converted Jews, where the Talmud was the main focus of discussion. The aftermath of the 1240 trail was the burning of the Talmud in 1242. In 1263 Barcelona R. Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides) defended the Talmud against the converted Pablo Christiani, who also disputed with R. Abraham in the second Paris trial in 1271/1273.[44]

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 According to the Hebrew account of the 1240 Talmud trial, the punishment of the wicked to be doomed to “excrement that seethes” is also mentioned. Nicolas Donin claimed that the Jews wrote in the Talmud that Jesus was condemned to boiling hot excrement, and on the basis of the Talmud, Balaam’s punishment is ascribed to Jesus.[45] In the Jewish tradition, Balaam is sometimes replaced with Bela ben Beor, the first king of Edom. Therefore, Balaam is identified both with Esau and Jesus. Hence, when the Talmud mentions the punishment of Balaam and the criminals of Israel as being punished “with boiling hot excrement,” it refers to Jesus.[46]

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Therefore, we can see in this statement in Meshal Haqadmoni a reference to the Paris Talmud Trial and to the punishment of Balaam/Jesus. Even if this notion was not actually raised in the Talmud Trial itself and is recorded only in the later written text, there is important value to its inclusion in the Hebrew account. While it may have been written some decades after 1240,[47] nonetheless it had been written (and probably widespread) by 1280s, when Ibn Sahula wrote Meshal Haqadmoni. Hence, whether or not these exact words were mentioned in the actual Talmud Trial is of less importance to our discussion than the fact that they appear in the account written before Ibn Sahula wrote his book.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Returning to the illumination of Cántiga 34, the fact that the icon of Virgin and Child is desecrated by being thrown into the lavatory seems to indicate a Jewish intention to punish Jesus and Mary with “excrement that seethes.” This kind of abuse could show the punishment that the Virgin and Child deserve in the eyes of the Jews, when at the end of the story the Jew is condemned to hell. The story in Cántiga 34 is not the only one in the Cántigas de Santa Maria to display Jewish mockery of Christian symbols. The Christian notion in this book is that the Jews are allegedly already trying to implement the Talmud’s ideas about the punishment of the wicked.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 In Cántiga 12 we are told that the Jews of Toledo were caught by the Archbishop and his congregation as they were spitting at and cursing a wax image of Jesus and later placing him on an improvised cross.[48] The idea of Jews mocking a wax crucifix appears also in Alfonso X’s book of law, Las Siete Partidas, 7.24.2,[49] where the King wrote that he had heard that in some places the Jews abduct Christian children on Good Friday and place them on a cross, but if they do not find such children, they create a wax image and crucify it. Alfonso X mentions that if these incidents turned out to be true in his kingdom, the Jews who carried them out would be executed. He also orders the Jews to stay behind close doors on Good Friday (In 408 Theodosius II forbade the Jews from burning a figure like Haman on Purim, as it was understood to be mockery on the Crucifixion). Elliot Horowitz discusses at length cases in which Jews were accused of mocking the cross, and testimonies of such actions appear in Jewish texts.[50]

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The King’s reference to this issue in his law book and in the Cántigas de Santa Maria indicates the prevalence of such stories. The fact that these incidents appear both in a popular illuminated book of poetry and in a book of law reinforces the notion that it is not merely a legend or rumor, and suggests that they are true. Although Alfonso X wrote that he had heard rumors of such accusations, and did not report actual incidents in his kingdom, the fact that he enacted a law to be used in case such events occurred strongly suggests that the story represents a situation that could conceivably be faced.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Now let us turn to an altarpiece image from Catalonia, c. 1400 (fig. 3), where we find an illustration to the well-known Paris Tale of 1290, where a Christian woman stole the host and gave it to the Jewish pawn-man, who is seen here stabbing the host and after throwing it into a boiling cauldron the image of Christ appears.[51] The image here portrays simultaneous phases of the story and notice how the Jewish boy resembles Jesus, as opposed to his dark skin father. At the end, the mother and son convert and the father is executed. A similar story is found in a fifteenth century liturgical drama; the Croxton Play of the Sacrament was written in the East Midland dialect of Middle English not long after 1461, the year in which the event that is the central topic of the play is supposed to have taken place. The Play of the Sacrament is set in Aragon and tells the story of a miracle in which a rich Jewish merchant named Jonathas and his companions purchase the consecrated Host from a Christian merchant called Aristorius, and subject it to a series of tests in order to determine the truth of the Christian claim that Christ is present in it, then the Jews convert.[52]

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 The local priest dines with Aristorius, suggestively on red wine and light bread, then retires to bed, leaving the church key with Aristorius, who promptly enters, steals the Host, and hands it over to Jonathas and his men. Jonathas and his colleagues rehearse the articles of Christian belief—Christ at the Last Supper, the establishment of the Church, the virgin birth, the kingship and resurrection of Jesus, the apostolic mission. Then they stab the Host as it lies on a table and inflict the five wounds of Christ—reenacting the torture of Jesus. As Jonathas gives the fifth wound, in the center, the Host begins to bleed. Jonathas calls for help. He tries to throw the Host into a cauldron of boiling oil; it will not leave his hand, so they nail it to a board (thus mocking the cross). When they pull Jonathas away, his hand is torn off and left hanging with the crucified Host. Then enters a quack doctor, Magister Phisicus with his company and offers their services to the Jews, who beat them away.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 The Jews then pluck out the nails, and throw both hand and Host, now coalesced, into the boiling oil. Jonathas, asked for his advice, Jonathas kneels before him, as do the others, and they address Jesus in the language of poetic penance. He accepts their conversion, and restores Jonathas’s hand to his arm. Afterwards Jonathas and his men go to the Bishop and proclaim the miracle and the Bishop goes to their house and sees the image of Christ change back into bread, the Host. The merchant Aristorius confesses his unlawful bargain to the Priest. All go to church with the Bishop, who lays the Host on the altar. He then baptizes the Jews, and all sing the Te Deum.[53]

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 According to David Bevington the play was probably performed during the Feast of Corpus Christi and that the last scene takes place in church, thus the audience could have felt like experiencing an actual liturgical ceremony instead of a merely a play. He even mentions a demonstration of the Mass at the medieval conference in Kalamazoo, where “the many members of religious orders who were there all stood or knelt at the appropriate times as the Mass was sung, so that one could never be sure whether one was beholding a Mass or a theatrical event.”[54] He compares the modern experience to that of the medieval audience.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Now let us move beyond the medieval period to the 21st century. As part of the production of the Blood Project, the play was staged in Oxford on Jenuary 10th 2004: http://www.thebloodproject.net/performance/. Here we start with an opening of a puppet show, where the Jew wears a yellow star and the players performing the role of the Jew all wear black with yellow gloves (figs. 4-5). This stereotypical color to portray the Jews reveals more on the modern audience rather than the medieval past. According to the director in the program: “Our aim in staging the Croxton Play of the Sacrament is not to endorse its objectionable and fantastical images of Jews, but to expose them. In order to expose the Jewish caricature we have followed its exaggeration in the Croxton Play. We have adopted a self-consciously theatrical style in acting and costumes, which also play on medieval Christian symbolism: yellow, the colour of perfidy, was frequently used in portrayals of Jews.” The play was reviewed by Angie Johnson in The Oxford Times: “It’s a curious piece. In this apparently anti-Semitic play the secular Christian characters are, in my opinion, much more wicked, and when this was written the Jews had long been expelled from England. This leads to some dubious characterisations — at one point the Jews thank Mohammed!”.[55]

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Both in Alfonso X’s book and in the play, the actual story happens in a city or a country far from the origin of the place where the story/play was written. This could hint at a larger understanding of the so called “Jewish conspiracy” to harm the body of Jesus and to desecrate the host in a reenacting a ritual similar to the crucifixion and the church Mass. We need to point at an important difference between the two, and that is that while in Castile the Jews were very much present in Alfonso X’s court, the Jews of England were expelled in 1290 and there was no single Jew living in England during the time the play was written. Hence, in the English play the imagined rituals of the Jews are received as facts known from outer sources and the “hermeneutical Jew”, to use Jeremey Cohen’s term,[56] is intended to better reinforce the stance of the “Real Presence of Christ in the Mass” at the time and place where it was written. A similar understanding of the play is articulated in Anthony Bale’s comments on it, in his summery of the play’s modern production. In both cases, the performance is intended towards a Christian audience with a clear agenda and it may teach us nothing about actual Jewish rituals, but we do realize how they were perceived.


28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 [1] Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture, Cambridge University Press 1991; idem, Gentile Tales, New Haven and London 1999.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 [2] The World of Alfonso the Learned and James the Conqueror: Intellect and Force in the Middle Ages, Robert I. Burns, ed., Princeton 1985; Joseph F. O’Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain, Ithaca 1975, pp. 538-581.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 [3] Robert I. Burns, ‘Stupor Mundi: Alfonso X of Castile, the Learned’, in Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and his Thirteenth-Century Renaissance, Robert I. Burns, ed., Pennsylvania 1990, pp. 1-13. According to Burns, it is doubtful that he actually wrote the entire corpus ascribed to him.

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 [4] Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa María, Walter Mettmann, ed., 3 vols, Madrid 1986-1989; Songs of Holy Mary of Alfonso X, The Wise: Translation of theCantigas de Santa Maria’, trans. Kathleen Kulp-Hill with an introduction by Connie L. Scarborough, Tempta 2000. See also Pamela Patton, Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain, Pennsylvania 2012, esp. chap. 5.

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 [5] John E. Keller, “Drama, Ritual, and Incipient Opera in Alfonso’s Cantigas,” in Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and His Thirteenth-Century Renaissance, ed. Robert I. Burns, Pennsylvania 1990, pp. 72-89.

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 [6] Diego Catalán, La Estoria de España de Alfonso X. Creación y evolución, 5 vols. Madrid 1992.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 [7] Alfonso X el Sabio, General Estoria, Pedro Sánchez-Prieto Borja, ed., Madrid 2001.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 [8] Yitzhak Baer, A History of the Jews, vol. I, pp. 111-130; Thomas F. Glick, ‘Introduction’, in Convivencia: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Medieval Spain, Vivian B. Mann, Thomas F. Glick and Jerrilynn D. Dodds eds., New York 1992, pp. 1-9; Dwayne E. Carpenter, Alfonso X and the Jews: An Edition of and Commentary on Siete Partidas 7.24 ‘De los Judíos’, Berkeley 1986, sign. 7.24.11, pp. 30, 36, 67-69, 99-101; O’Callaghan, The Learned King, pp. 102, 108-113.

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 [9] Simon Grayzel, The Church and the Jews in the XIIth. Century, 2 vols., New York 1966, vol. I, pp. 61, 307-311; Guido Kisch, ‘The Yellow Badge in History’, Historia Judaica 19 (1957), pp. 89-146; R. Straus, ‘The “Jewish Hat” as an Aspect of Social History’, Jewish Social Studies 4 (1942), pp. 59-72.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 [10] D.E. Carpenter, Alfonso X and the Jews, pp. 99-101.

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 [11] Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Maria, ed. Walter Mettmann, Madrid 1986-1989, 3 vols; Songs of Holy Mary of Alfonso X, The Wise: Translation of the `Cantiga de Santa Maria`, trans. Kathleen Kulp-Hill, Tempta 2000.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 [12] See the facsimile edition: Alfonso X El Sabio, Las Cantigas de Santa María: Códice Rico, Ms. T-I-1 Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Prólogo Inés Fernández Ordóňez, 2 vols. Madrid 2011.

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 [13] Walter Mettmann discusses the differences between the manuscripts: Cantigas de Santa Maria, vol. 1, pp. 25-40; J. E. Keller and A. G. Cash, Daily Life Depicted in the “Cantigas de Santa Maria”, Kentucky 1998, pp. 1-2; Connie L. Scarborough, “Introduction”, in: Songs of Holy Mary, pp. xix-xxxvi.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 [14] Aviva Doron, “On the Affinity between the Hebrew Creation in Toledo and its Literature Environment: The Prolog of Alfonso el Sabio’s Cántigas de Santa Maria and the Personal Poems of Todros Ha-Levi Abulafia,” Biqoret U-parshanut 32 (1998), pp. 81-94, esp. 82-83 (Hebrew).

42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 [15] Louise Mirrer, “The Jew’s Body in Medieval Iberian Literary Portraits and Miniatures: Examples from the Cantigas de Santa Maria and the Cantar de mio Cid”, Shofar 12/3 (1994), pp. 26-27.

43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 [16] Albert I. Bagby, “The Jews in the Cántigas of Alfonso X, El Sabio,” Speculum 46/4 (1971), pp. 673-674.

44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 [17] Vikki Hatton and Angus Mackay, “Anti-Semitism in the Cantigas de Santa Maria,” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 60/3 (1986), pp. 189-190; 191-192.

45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 [18] Dweyne E. Carpenter, “The Portrayal of the Jew in Alfonso the Learned’s Cantigas de Santa Maria,” in: In Iberia and Beyond: Hispanic Jews between Cultures, ed. Bernard Dov Cooperman, London and Newark 1998, pp. 16-18; 31-34.

46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 [19] Pamela Patton, Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain, Pennsylvania 2012; idem, “Constructing the Inimical Jew in the Cantigas de Santa Maria: Theophilus’s Magician in Text and Image,” in: Beyond the Yellow Badge: Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Medieval and Early Modern Visual Culture, ed. Mitchell B. Merback, Leiden and Boston 2008, pp. 234-235.

47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 [20] Cántiga 3, l. 19, Mettmann, Cantigas de Santa Maria, vol. I, p. 62.

48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 [21] Patton, “Constructing the Inimical Jew,” pp. 241-252. See also D. Jackson, “The Influence of the Theophilus Legend: An Overlooked Miniature in Alfonso X’s Cantigas de Santa Maria and its Wider Context”, in: Under the Influence: The Concept of Influence and the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts, eds. John Lowden and Alixe Bovey, Turnhout 2007, pp. 75-87.

49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 [22] Hatton and Mackay, “Anti-Semitism in the Cantigas,” pp. 189-192.

50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 [23] Bagby, “The Jews in the Cántigas”, p. 676; Keller and Cash, Daily Life Depicted, p. 15; Kulp-Hil, Songs of Holy Mary, p. 45; Mettmann, Cantigas de Santa Maria, vol. 1, pp. 143-144; Patton, Art of Estrangement, pp. 88-89, 160. We find a similar story in the book De Locis Sanctis, written around 683-686 by Adamnan (ca. 625-704) the abbot of Iona. Peter Schäfer, Mirror of His Beauty, Princeton and Oxford 2002, pp. 191-195. Similar stories are found also in twelfth and thirteenth century France and Germany and see: Ivan G. Marcus, “A Jewish-Christian Symbiosis: The Culture of Early Ashkenaz”, in: Cultures of the Jews: A New History, ed. David Biale, New York 2002, vol 2, pp. 147-214, esp. 176-182; Michael Camille, The Gothic Idol, Cambridge 1989, p. 186.

51 Leave a comment on paragraph 51 0 [24] On the Jewish nose and appearance in Christian art see Sara Lipton, Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography, New York 2014.

52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0 [25] On the distinguishing mark see: Carpenter, Alfonso X and the Jews, pp. 99-101.

53 Leave a comment on paragraph 53 0 [26] On the text and images of Meshal ha-Qadmoni see Yael Ayalon, ‘The Illustrations to Meshal ha-Qadmoni of Ishaq ibn Sholomo ibn Sahulah’, M.A. Thesis, Tel Aviv University, 2002 (Hebrew); Simona Gronemann, ‘Extant 15th Century Ashkenazi Illuminated Manuscripts of Meshal hakadmoni by Isaac ibn Sahula’, Ph.D. dissertation, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006 (Hebrew). Gronemann’s research offers an in depth comparison between the illuminations in all five manuscripts and the earliest printed copy of Meshal ha-Qadmoni, and all the illustrations are reproduced in the dissertation’s second volume; Ursula and Kurt Schubert, Jüdische Buchkunst, Graz 1983, pp. 108-109; Ayelet Oettinger-Salama, ‘“I Place with Texts the Illustrate, Should Point/ The Moral”: Exploring the Connection Between the Verbal art and the Visual Art in the Book Meshal Haqadmoni by Isaac ibn Sahula’, Dapim le-Mehkar be-Sifrut 13 (2001-2002), pp. 229-256 (Hebrew); Sara Offenberg, ‘Expressions of Meeting the Challenges of the Christian Milieu in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature’, Ph.D. Dissertation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 2008, chap. 5 (Hebrew); Refael-Vivante, Revital, Treasury of Fables: Isaac ibn Sahula’s Meshal Haqadmoni (Castile, 1281) – Text and Subtext, Ramat Gan 2017 (in Hebrew).

54 Leave a comment on paragraph 54 0 [27] Two of the characters in the fables are a lion and an eagle, both rulers of the animal kingdom. Scholars have agreed that the lion and the eagle are allegorical figures of King Alfonso X, therefore we find a direct connection between Meshal Haqadmoni and Alfonso’s book. Baer, A History of the Jews, I, pp. 199-200; Loewe, Meshal Haqadmoni, pp. xv-xvii, xci-xcii; idem, “Who Was the Fox in the Court of Alfonso X?”, Donaire 6 (April 1996), pp. 49-53, esp. 50. See also: Joseph F. O’Callaghan, Alfonso X and the Cantigas de Santa Maria: A poetic Biography, Leiden 1998, pp. 162-165; idem, The Learned King: The Reign of Alfonso X of Castile, Philadelphia 1993, pp. 215-229.

55 Leave a comment on paragraph 55 0 [28] In addition to being a doctor, Ibn Sahula was also a Kabbalist; on possible kabbalistic ideas in Meshal ha-Qadmoni see: Hartley Lachter, ‘Spreading Secrets: Kabbalah and Esotericism in Isaac ibn Sahula’s “Meshal ha-kadmoni”’, Jewish Quarterly Review 100, 1 (2010), pp. 111-138. For more on Ibn Sahula’s kabbalistic writings see: Baer, A History of the Jews, vol. I, p. 422 n. 12a, and see also the bibliography in the Hebrew translation published in Tel Aviv 1986, pp. 508-509, n. 61a; Arthur Green, ‘Rabbi Isaac ibn Sahola’s Commentary on the Song of Songs’, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 6, 3-4 (1987), pp. 393-491 (Hebrew); Idem, ‘The Song of Songs in Early Jewish Mysticism’, Orim 2, 2 (1987), pp. 57-58; Boaz Huss, Like the Radiance of the Sky: Chapters in the Reception History of the Zohar and the Construction of its Symbolic Value, Jerusalem 2008, pp. 46-47 (Hebrew); Gershom Scholem, ‘The First Citation from ha-Midrash ha-Ne‘elam’, Tarbiz 3 (1932), pp. 181–183 (Hebrew); S.M. Stern, ‘Rationalists and Kabbalists in Medieval Allegory’, Journal of Jewish Studies 6, 2 (1956), pp. 73-86.

56 Leave a comment on paragraph 56 0 [29] On the relations with this genre of literature and its connection to Meshal ha-Qadmoni see Y. Ayalon, ‘The illustrations to Meshal ha-Qadmoni’, pp. 8-32; Dan Pagis, Change and Tradition in the Secular Poetry: Spain and Italy, Jerusalem 1976, pp. 225-230 (Hebrew); J. Schirmann, The History of Hebrew Poetry, pp. 244-250, 347-350; R. Yeffet, ‘Meshal ha-Qadmoni’, pp. 2-6.

57 Leave a comment on paragraph 57 0 [30] J. Schirmann, The History of Hebrew Poetry, pp. 351-358.

58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 [31] See the entire manuscript online on the Oxford, Bodleian Library web site: www2.odl.ox.ac.uk/gsdl/cgi-bin/library?e=d-000-00—0orient02–00-0-0-0prompt-10—4—-dtt–0-1l–1-en-50—20-about-meshal–00001-001-1-1isoZz-8859Zz-1-0&a=d&cl=search&d=orient002-aav.1.1.

59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 [32] See the entire manuscript online on the Munich, Bavarian State Library web site: daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/~db/0003/bsb00034081/images/.

60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 [33] See the entire manuscript online on the Oxford, Bodleian Library web site: viewer.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/icv/thumbs.php?book=ms._canon._or._59&page=1.

61 Leave a comment on paragraph 61 0 [34] See the facsimile edition: The Rothschild Miscellany, Iris Fishof, ed., London 1989; Israel Ta-Shma, ‘The Literary Content of the Manuscript’, in Ibid, pp. 39-88, esp. pp. 80-82; Loisella Mortara-Ottolenghi, ‘The Illuminations and the Artists’, in Ibid, pp. 127-241, esp. pp. 220-241.

62 Leave a comment on paragraph 62 0 [35] See a scan of the printed book online on the Jerusalem National Library web site aleph.nli.org.il/nnl/dig/books/bk001021249.html. This is the first printed Hebrew book with a full cycle of illustrations, and it seems that Soncino ordered these illustrations specifically for this book. E. Beinenfeld, ‘Meshal Ha-Kadmoni by Isaac b. Solomon ibn Sahula [Brescia: Gershom Soncino, ca. 1491]: The Book and its Illustrations’, M.A. Thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1991, p. 79.

63 Leave a comment on paragraph 63 0 [36] Ayalon, “The illustrations to Meshal ha-Kadmoni”, pp. 128-142; Loewe, Meshal Haqadmoni, pp. 55-114; Offenberg, “Expressions of Meeting the Challenges,” pp. 166-174.

64 Leave a comment on paragraph 64 0 [37] Scholars have already pointed that this story reflects the actual historical event in which the nobles in Alfonso X’s court rebelled against him in 1271. Loewe, Meshal Haqadmoni, pp. lxxviii-lxxx; O’Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain, pp. 371-375; idem, The Learned King, pp. 215-229.

65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0 [38] On the notion that it is prohibit to rebel against the kingdom see: Shalom Albeck, “‘Dinno D’malchuso Dinno’ in the Jewish Communities of Medieval Spain,” in: The Abraham Weiss Jubilee Volume, ed. Samuel Belkin, New York 1964, pp. 109-125.

66 Leave a comment on paragraph 66 0 [39] Loewe, Meshal Haqadmoni, pp. ci-cvii; idem, “Who Was the Fox”, p. 52.

67 Leave a comment on paragraph 67 0 [40] Loewe translated the word Talmud as scholarship, however as we shall see later on, it is important to follow the accurate meaning of the word, which here refers to the rabbinic writings.

68 Leave a comment on paragraph 68 0 [41] Loewe, Meshal Haqadmoni, pp. 104-106, and see Loewe’s notes there.

69 Leave a comment on paragraph 69 0 [42] Ibid, pp. 106-107, n. 47. On Birkat Haminim see: Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians?: A History of the Birkat Haminim, New York 2012, pp. 66-101, esp. 83-101; 217-220.

70 Leave a comment on paragraph 70 0 [43] We have Hebrew accounts of the “Talmud Trial” and a Latin text. Judah D. Galinsky, “The Different Hebrew Versions of the ‘Talmud Trial’ of 1240 in Paris,” in: New Perspectives on Jewish-Christian Relations: In Honor of David Berger, eds. Elisheva Carlebach and Jacob J. Schacter, Leiden and Boston 2012, pp. 109-140, esp. 132-137. The Latin text was originally published by Isadore Loeb, “La controverse de 1240 sur le Talmud,” Revue des études juives 3 (1881), pp. 39–57. For an English translation of the Latin text see: Hyam Maccoby, Judaism on Trial: Jewish-Christian Disputations in the Middle Ages, Rutherford 1982, pp. 163–167.

71 Leave a comment on paragraph 71 0 [44] Susan L. Einbinder, Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France, Princeton and Oxford 2002, pp. 70-99; Samuel Grünbaum, Sefer Vikkuah R. Yehi’el, Thorn 1873 [Hebrew]; Paul Lawrence Rose, “When Was the Talmud Burned at Paris? A Critical Examination of the Christian and Jewish sources and a new dating: June 1241,” Journal of Jewish Studies 62 (2011), pp. 324-339; R. Yehiel of Paris’ Dispute, ed. Reuben Margaliot, Leviv 1910 [Hebrew]; Le brûlement du Talmud à Paris, 1242-1244, eds. Gilbert Dahan avec Élie Nicolas, postface de René-Samuel Sirat, Paris 1999; Robert Chazan, Barcelona and Beyond: The Disputation of 1263 and its Aftermath, Berkeley 1992; idem, “Christian Condemnation, Censorship, and Exploitation of the Talmud,” in: Printing the Talmud: From Bomberg to Schottenstein, eds. Sharon Liberman Mintz and Gabriel M. Goldstein, New York 2005, pp. 53-59; idem, “From Friar Paul to Friar Raymond: The Development of Innovative Missionizing Argumentation,” Harvard Theological Review 76 (1983), pp. 289-306; Jeremy Cohen, Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jews in Medieval Christianity, Berkeley 1999, pp. 319-342; idem, “The Second Paris Dispute and the Jewish Christian Polemic in the Thirteenth Century,” Tarbiz 68 (1999), pp. 557-579 [Hebrew]; Saadiah Eisenberg, “Reading Medieval Religious Disputation: The 1240 ‘Debate’ between Rabbi Yehiel of Paris and Friar Nicholas Donin,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2008; Harvey J. Hames, “Reason and Faith: Inter-Religious Polemic and Christian Identity in the Thirteenth Century,” in: Religious Apologetics – Philosophical Argumentation, eds. Yossef Schwartz and Volkhard Krech, Tübingen 2004, pp. 267-284; William Chester Jordan, “Marian Devotion and the Talmud Trial of 1240,” in: idem, Ideology and Royal Power in Medieval France: Kingship, Crusades and the Jews, Vermont 2001, XI pp. 61-76; David Malkiel, Reconstructing Ashkenaz: The Human Face of Franco-German Jewry, 1000-1250, Stanford 2009; Daniela Müller, “Die Pariser Verfahren gegen den Talmud von 1240 und 1248 im Kontext von Papsttum und französischem Königtum,” in: Interaction Between Judaism and Christianity in History, Religion, Art and Literature, eds. Marcel Poorthuis, Joshua Schwartz, and Joseph Turner, Leiden 2009, pp. 181-199; Ursula Ragacs, Die zweite Talmuddisputation von Paris 1269,  Frankfurt am Main 2001; Joseph Shatzmiller, La deuxième controverse de Paris, Paris 1994; Haym Soloveitchik, “Catastrophe and Halakhic Creativity: Ashkenaz-1096, 1242, 1306 and 1298,” Jewish History 12 (1998), pp. 71-85. On Birkat Haminim and the Talmud Trial see Langer, Cursing the Christians?, pp. 85-88.

72 Leave a comment on paragraph 72 0 [45] Dalman, Jesus Christ in the Talmud, pp. 10, 12, esp. 17-18; Eisenberg, “Reading Medieval Religious Disputation”, pp. 84-88; Galinsky, “The Different Hebrew Versions”, p. 122; Ivan G. Marcus, “A Jewish-Christian Symbiosis: The Culture of Early Ashkenaz,” in: Cultures of the Jews: A New History, ed. David Biale, 3 vols., New York 2002, vol. II, pp. 147-214, esp. 176-182; Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, pp. 82-94.

73 Leave a comment on paragraph 73 0 [46] Gerson Cohen, “Esau as Symbol in Early Medieval Thought,” in: Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ed. Alexander Altmann, Cambridge, Mass 1967, pp. 19-48.

74 Leave a comment on paragraph 74 0 [47] Eisenberg, “Reading Medieval Religious Disputation”, pp. 38-40; Hames, “Reason and Faith,” pp. 276-277, 281 n. 39.

75 Leave a comment on paragraph 75 0 [48] Carpenter, “The Portrayal of the Jew,” pp. 19-20; Kulp-Hil, Songs of Holy Mary, p. 19; Mettmann, Cantigas de Santa Maria, vol. 1, pp. 88-89; O’Callaghan, The Learned King, p. 111; Patton, Art of Estrangement, pp. 88-91.

76 Leave a comment on paragraph 76 0 [49] Carpenter, Alfonso X and the Jews, pp. 63-66.

77 Leave a comment on paragraph 77 0 [50] Abraham M. Haberman, Sefer Gezerot Ashkenaz ve-Zarfat, Jerusalem 1945, pp. 13-15; Elliot S. Horowitz, Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence, Princeton and Oxford 2006, pp. 149-185. See also: Robert Chazan, European Jewry and the First Crusade, Berkeley 1987, p. 18.

78 Leave a comment on paragraph 78 0 [51] Rubin, Corpus Christi, pp. 95-96.

79 Leave a comment on paragraph 79 0 [52] Anthony Bale, The Jew in the Medieval Book: English Antisemitisms 1350-1500, Cambridge 2010.

80 Leave a comment on paragraph 80 0 [53] David A. Lawton, “Sacrilege and Theatricality: The Croxton Play of the Sacrament,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 33 (2003), pp. 281-309, esp. 287-288.

81 Leave a comment on paragraph 81 0 [54] David Bevington, “Staging Liturgy in The Croxton Play of the Sacrament,” in: Staging Scripture: Biblical Drama 1350-1600, eds. Peter Happé and Win Hüsken, Leiden 2016, pp. 235-252, esp. 241.

82 Leave a comment on paragraph 82 0 [55]http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/leisure/theatre/theatre/reviews/10941353.Miracle_play_proves_a_curious_piece___Croxton_Play_of_the_Sacrament/?ref=rl

83 Leave a comment on paragraph 83 0 [56] Cohen, Living Letters of the Law.

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