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The University of Southampton

Montefiore Lecture Event

13 March 2012
Lecture Theatre B Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please telephone The Parkes Institute on 023 8059 2261 or email .

Event details

Part of the Parkes Institute Lecture series

"William of Norwich and the Medieval Imagination"

Just before Easter 1144 a twelve-year-old boy's body was found in a wood just outside Norwich. William's family spread rumours that the Jews had killed him, but the local sheriff dismissed this claim as nonsense. Six years later a monk of Norwich began a campaign of writing and persuasion aimed at proving the Jews' guilt, and the boy's merit as a martyr. These efforts made Norwich famous for a while for William's healing miracles an gave Europe a deadly narrative which was to be retold and enacted over centuries to come. This Lecture considers this first known telling of the narrative of child murder by Jews, and situates it within its fitting context: the religious imagination of twelfth-century England.

Speaker information

Professor Miri Rubin,Queen Mary University of London,Miri Rubin has been Professor of Medieval History at Queen Mary University of London, since 2000, following eleven years of teaching Medieval History at Oxford University. She grew up in Israel and studied for her BA and MA in Medieval History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Miri studied for her PhD at the University of Cambridge, with her research published as a book Charity and Community in Medieval Cambridge by Cambridge University Press in 1987. Following posts as Research Fellow at Cambridge and Visiting Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, her next book was published in 1991, Corpus Christ: the Eucharist in late Medieval Culture. In the course of research for the latter book Miri came across the material which was developed into Gentile Tales; the Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews, which appeared in 1999. This book marked a sustained turn towards exploring attitudes to Jews and Judaism within Christian culture. That interest informed her next big book, which was published by Penguin in 2009: Mother of God: a History of the Virgin Mary, one of the persistent themes of which is the effect of Marian piety - which exploded in Europe after 1000 - on attitudes to Jews. The above lecture is based on her current research, which will produce both a translation of the central text as a Penguin Classic, and a study of the birth of the accusation of child murder against Jews.

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