Anti-Semitism in the West from Constantine to the Expulsion of Jews from Spain

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Anti-Semitism in the West from Constantine to the expulsion of Jews from Spain



I. Constantine and Christianity as the state religion

A. Legislation concerning Jews

B. The Justinian Code

C. Anti-Semitic Church Fathers

II. The Crusades

A. The march to Jerusalem

B. Fourth Lateran Council

C. Host desecration and blood libel

D. Pogroms

III. The expulsion of Jews from Spain

A. The Inquisition

B. The Conversos

C. Expulsion


Anti-Semitism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against, and persecution of, the Jews as an ethnic group. Historically, this has been practiced for many different reasons, by the ancient Egyptians before the Exodus, under the Babylonian
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Hippolytus writes:

Now then, incline thine ear to me and hear my words, and give heed, thou Jew. Many a time does thou boast thyself, in that thou didst condemn Jesus of Nazareth to death, and didst give him vinegar and gall to drink; and thou dost vaunt thyself because of this. Come, therefore, and let us consider together whether perchance thou dost boast unrighteously, O, Israel, and whether thou small portion of vinegar and gall has not brought down this fearful threatening upon thee and whether this is not the cause of thy present condition involved in these myriad of troubles.5

As the Church came into power in the fourth century, it turned on the synagogues with even greater intensity. Jewish civil and religious status was deteriorating, thanks to the influence the bishops had in the political arena. Laws were passed making it a capital offense for any Jew to make a convert, they were excluded from various professions, denied all civil honors, and their autonomy of worship was being threatened. In every way, they were being discriminated against. Christians felt that this growing evidence now supported their belief in divine punishment.
Hilary of Potieres spoke of the Jews as "a people who had always persisted in iniquity and out of its abundance of evil glorified in wickedness."6 Ambrose defended a fellow bishop

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