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Regional History, Jewish Memory: The Purim of Narbonne

Nina Caputo
Jewish History
Vol. 22, No. 1/2, The Elka Klein Memorial Volume (2008), pp. 97-114
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40345543
Page Count: 18
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Regional History, Jewish Memory: The Purim of Narbonne
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Abstract

Records of traumatic events in the Jewish past provide the historian a rare glimpse at how community leaders interpreted and understood the historical conditions of diasporic Jews as well as their own immediate communities. In 1236 a violent altercation between a Jewish traveler and a local Christian precipitated a mass uprising against the city's Jewish community. Rapid intervention by the local viscount, Don Aymeric, restored peace to the Jewish quarter, averting loss of life or valuable property. Modern interpretations of this text have varied significantly since its discovery in the late nineteenth century. Scholars have struggled to reconcile it with their expectations of the shape and meaning of the Jewish past. Because the thirteenth-century author of this brief narrative suggested a typological link between the events in Narbonne and the story of Purim, the dominant modern interpretation has viewed this account as evidence of a very early Second Purim commemoration. However there is little evidence to support this claim. This article reads the narrative of the "Purim of Narbonne" against other medieval Jewish narratives about the history and legacy of Jewish Narbonne.

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