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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

The Montefiore Lecture 2012 Event

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

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Event details

Part of the Parkes Institute annual series of events

"William of Norwich and the Medieval Imagination" given by Professor Miri Rubin

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 and 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.

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 at Princeton, her next book was Corpus Christ: the Eucharist in late Medieval Culture followed by Gentile Tales; the Narrative Assault on Late Medieval Jews. This book marked a sustained turn towards exploring attitudes to Jews and Judaism within Christian culture which produced her next big book, Mother of God: a History of the Virgin Mary. The above lecture is based on 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.

Speaker information

Professor Miri Rubin ,Queen Mary, University of London,Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History

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