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Crusade Historians and the Massacres of 1096

Benjamin Z. Kedar
Jewish History
Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall, 1998), pp. 11-31
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20101340
Page Count: 21
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Abstract

The prevailing tendency of historians to disregard studies written before the mid-nineteenth century entails an unawareness of early insights and of the filiation of some present-day presentations and explanations. This is exemplified by a survey of historians' approaches, from the seventeenth century down to the present, to the crusader massacres of Jews in the spring and early summer of 1096. The survey demonstrates how a historian's passion or prejudice may color or hamper his/her attempt at understanding the events in question; how an unawareness of works by earlier historians may lead him/her to miss a crucial text; how a recent interpretation may amount to a secularized restatement of an originally sanctimonial one. The survey highlights also the dramatic increase in the quantity and variety of available sources; a number of evenhanded attempts at explanation; and a single stroke of genius -- Paul Alphandery's detection of a Christian apocalyptic motif in a Hebrew account. /// [Abstract in Hebrew].

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