The Middle Ages

Expulsions and the Black Death, cont.

A chronicle of
the Black Death...

One of the most
notorious cases...

This Bible manuscript...

The interior of the
beautiful synagogue...

The 14th century is overshadowed by a great disaster: Europe is hit by the plague. Between 1348 and 1350 the epidemics kill millions of people - a third of the European population.

As the real causes are unknown, foreigners, travelers and the Jews, the only non-Christian minority in all affected countries, are accused of having spread the disease. Many believe that Jewish communities are taking revenge for decades of anti-Jewish hostility by poisoning the wells and water supplies.

While the disease is progressing from Spain and Italy north to England and Poland, about 300 Jewish communities are attacked, and thousands of Jews burned at the stakes or killed. In the German states almost all Jewish communities are expelled.

With the forced conversions and expulsion from Portugal and Spain at the end of the 15th century, the highly developed communities of the Iberian Peninsula are destroyed and Sephardic Jews forced into renewed exile. Sporadic expulsion of Jewish communities in Europe continue into the 19th century.

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