At the Council of Clermont in November 1095 Pope Urban II called the west to war. His speech was acerbic and vitriolic, religiously charged and filled with the alleged horrors suffered by Christians living in the east. It evoked in his audience a zeal and spirit that would be seen by later generations as the crusading ideal. However, it also exposed inherent political fragility, and deep seated racial biases, amongst elements of his audience, and upon those who took up the cross in the name of Christ. From April to July in 1096 the Ashkenazic Jews of Speyer, Worms and Mainz were targeted by elements of these Christian forces, facing either...

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