185 CE - 1499 CE
185 CE: “MISHNAH”
Completion of the “Mishnah”! (170–200 CE).
The embryonic discussions of the Mishnah started about 400 years earlier in Bavel (Babylon) and Jerusalem.
Exposition of the law by the scribes (Soferim)—particularly Hillel and Shamai (and their respective followings, noted above), and its elaboration by the Tannaim (high level sages) of the first and second centuries, particularly Akiva (noted above).
Final compilation was by Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi— Rabbi Judah, The Prince.
c. 195 CE: DE–LINKING EASTER FROM PASSOVER
The Christian controversy concerning the date for celebrating Easter (whether on the same day as the Jewish Passover or on a Sunday); St. Irenaeus mediates.
c. 200 CE: YEHUDA HA–NASSI: Focus
Rabbi Judah the Prince, born 135 CE, dies in 219 CE in Eretz Israel.
Rav Yehuda ha–Nassi is referred to as “Rebbe” and “Rabbeinu ha–Kodesh.” He was the son of Rebbe Gamaliel II, and his life was intertwined, according to lore, with that of Roman ruler Marcus Aurelius.
202 CE: ROMAN EMPEROR SEVERUS
Severus forbids conversion to both Judaism and Christianity. He reigns 193-211 CE.
219 CE: THE ERA OF (RABBI) RAV
After a long period of study in Palestine, the Babylonian sage Rav returns to Babylon. In the tradition of the Babylonian sages, this date inaugurates a new era, the period of the Talmud: “When Rav came to Babylon, we became there like the Land of Israel” (Babylonian Talmud, Gittin, 1:1). According to them this date also marks the creation of the two great Babylonian yeshivot – the Nehardea Academy (later transferred to Pumbedita) headed by Shmuel, and that of Sura, founded by Rav himself.
220 CE: THE AMORAIM PERIOD
Start of 280–year Amoraim Period (220–500 CE)
The Amoraim—the rabbis of the Talmud—redact the Mishnah (of the Tannaim) noted above. Their debates, discourses and discussions are eventually codified in the Gemara.
The Amoraim followed the Tannaim (10 CE–220 CE) both sequential–time–wise, and rabbinical “standing–wise.”
224 CE: PARTHIA FALLS
Fall of the Parthian kingdom and accession of the Sassanians who will rule over all of Persia. After a brief period of uncertainty, the Jews establish cordial relations with the new regime.
259 CE: NEHARDEA JEWISH ACADEMY DESTROYED
Destruction of Nehardea during a Palmyrene invasion. The academy is transferred to Pumbedita (Both locations are in Persia/Babylon).
c. 270 CE: MONASTICISM
(St.) Antony’s retirement to the Egyptian desert marks the beginning of monasticism.
276 CE: MANI
The theologian Mani is crucified by the Sassanids in Mesopotamia for (platonically) preaching the incorporation of Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism into one religion—to be known as “Manichaeism.”
c. 300 CE: CONSTANTINE!
Emperor Constantine morphs into a “force multiplier” for Christianity, in general—but also for the Canon Gospels, in particular. And the Canon Gospels carried within their corpus their intense toxicity towards the array of Jewish icons laced through their pages.
(b. 272 CE; d. 337 CE).
300–900 CE: MAYAN CIVILIZATION APEX
Primarily Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
Important sites include Chichen Itza, Uzmal, Edzna and Cordoba.
Late 3rd century: ZOROASTRIAN IMPACT
The Babylonian Jewish community feels the oppression of the Zoroastrian church during its expansion.
303 CE: DIOCLETIAN DECREES
Persecution of Christianity under Roman Emperor Diocletian (reigns 284–305 CE).
Destruction of Christian churches and texts. (See Roman Rulers chart at 63 BCE in the book).
311 CE: EDICT OF TOLERATION
Issued in the last days of the rule of Emperor Galerius.
At that point there was a tetrarchy Galerius–Constantine–
Licinius. Roman luminary Maxentius also a party to the edict. The edict grants universal religious toleration and restitution (306–313 CE). However, Constantine will later backtrack (see 312 CE, just below) on the universal aspect of the toleration.
[As regards Galerius, the Edict of Toleration represented an about–face in his posture towards Christianity.]
312 CE: ROMAN EMPEROR CONSTANTINE DE FACTO CONVERTS!
Constantine at least informally converts to Christianity. He also folds paganism into a morphed Christianity. This new pagan–infused Christianity speedily spreads across the empire.
Meaning, therefore, that Rome converts to the religion whose de facto progenitor it had originally condemned to death and executed by crucifixion 300 years earlier.
Constantine I enacts restrictive legislation against the Jews
– conversion of Jews to Christianity is banned
– non–Christian congregations for religious purposes are curtailed
The morphing of the Roman Empire to Christendom, under the aegis of the Church Fathers, will radically negatively impact the Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire—for centuries to come.
The Christians controlling the empire will promulgate an intensely negative portrayal of the Jews, and will promulgate the “Passion” (saga)—constructed selectively from most intense vignettes of the Canon Gospels—revolving around the last several days of Jesus.
As the Passion Saga is easily transmitted both to the small educated elite of Christendom—as well as to its millions of masses—a toxic view of the Jew is disseminated ongoing through Europe, for seventeen centuries through the Nazi era in mid–1900s.
This demonization of the Jews will set them up to be the scapegoat of choice for any demagogue making an appearance on the European stage for seventeen centuries. As the Jews declined to disappear as a distinct entity, they remained time and again, as a prime–and–easily–identified target.
313 CE: BYZANTINE RULE OF JERUSALEM commences
323–year Byzantine rule 313–636 CE, followed by 463–year Arab rule 636–1099 CE.
324 CE: CONSTANTINE’S EMPERORSHIP EXTENDS EASTWARD
Constantine’s victory over Licinius gives him possession of the eastern provinces of the empire. For the first time Palestine comes under the rule of a Christian monarch.
325 CE onwards: CONSTRUCTION OF CHURCHES IN PALESTINE
Construction of churches in Palestine: Constantine and his mother Helena order churches to be built in the most important Christian sites: Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives (inaugurated in 326), and Allon–Moreh near Hebron.
330 CE: CONSTANTINOPLE
Re–founding of Constantinople on the site of an already existing city, Byzantium, settled in the early days of the Greek colonial expansion around 671–662 BCE. The new walled capital of the Roman Empire is built–up by Constantine I and named after him.
Constantinople is astride the Bosporus and the Marmara Sea. The western side of Constantinople (the walled part) on the Bosporus is Europe, and the eastern side, Asia. The city is astride the route from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. The sequential sea route north to south is: Black Sea > Bosporus Strait > Sea of Marmara > Dardanelles Strait > Aegean Sea in the Mediterranean.
Constantinople was renamed “Istanbul” in 1930 by Ataturk.
335 CE: PALESTINE HAPPENINGS
Inauguration of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on the site identified by Christian tradition as Jesus’ burial place; the probable renewal of the interdict on Jews to reside in Jerusalem which has been in force since Hadrian’s days; about the same time, an attempt was made by a converted Jew known as Joseph the Apostate to build churches in the Galilee; his failure demonstrates that the Galilee is still a predominantly Jewish region where, unlike Judea and the center of Palestine, Christianity has not yet taken root.
– A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People
347 CE: JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
“The paramount tasks of the emerging Christianity were to overthrow the theological dominance of Judaism, to establish itself as a separate and self–sustaining religion, and to situate Christians as the new and authentic chosen people. The Christian Fathers believed that they were fighting a war with the Jews in which only the victor would reap the reward of eternal life; Judaism was a standing insult and threat to Christianity's image of itself. Jerome once wrote to Augustine that if converted Jews were allowed to practice even one fragment of their former religion, “they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews… The ceremonies of the Jews are pernicious and deadly; and whoever observes them, whether Jew or Gentile, has fallen into the pit of the devil. For Christ is the end of the Torah…” John Chrysostom was blunt about it, “Don't you realize, if the Jewish rites are holy and venerable, our way of life must be false… The Jews… pay honor to the avenging demons, the foes of out life.”
Through anti–Jewish theological myths and defamations, the Church Fathers pictured the Jews no longer as the chosen people, no longer heroes of holiness and moral living; they were instead the earthly representatives of the powers of evil.”
–Robert Michael, Holy Hatred, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 21
It is not clear how a religion gets away with venerating with “sainthood” – over seventeen centuries ongoing – demagogues in clerical robes who promulgate hatred and demonization as core tenets.
Presumably, different morality rules apply to the Church.
351–352 CE: JEWISH REVOLT IV
a.k.a. War Against Gallus
A Jewish uprising in the Galilee under the command of a certain Patricius; provoked by local conflicts with the representatives of the Roman regime (of Emperor Constantius Gallus) rather than by a desire to overthrow the foreign yoke, the revolt broke out at Sepphoris and spread to other towns (Acre, Tiberias, Bet She’arim, and Lydda); it was crushed by an experienced commander Ursicinus, dispatched especially for this purpose. Ursinicus meets with Jewish sages, and he is mentioned, not unfavorably, in the Jerusalem Talmud.
– A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People
354 CE: (SAINT) AUGUSTINE
Augustine of Hippo. Pillar of Catholic Church. Frames the concept of “original sin.”
Canonized by Christian popular acclaim. In the Greek Orthodox Church he is called the Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed.
358 CE: HILLEL II
Creates a mathematical calendar for calculating the lunar months.
Hillel ha–Nassi, Hillel the Prince.
Nassi can be translated as President/Prince/Leader. An amalgam of the three English terms probably best communicates its intent.
Hillel II was preceded as Nassi by Judah II, and was succeeded as Nassi by Gamliel V.
Hillel held the position of Head of the Sanhedrin between 320–385 CE.
The Sanhedrin was the supreme rabbinical assembly, which had different morphings and levels–of–authority
over the ages. When Judea/Israel was autonomous, the Sanhedrin would tend to have (far greater) judicial and political power. When Judea/Israel was under foreign domination, it had consequently generally dramatically less judicial and political power, if any. For instance, under Rome in 33 CE, when Jesus was executed by Pontius Pilate, it had no substantive judicial power whatsoever. Its halachic power (power of adjudicating Jewish religious doctrine and related) over the centuries depended on many factors, including primarily its prestige at the moment.
In 33 CE, again, as an example, at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Sanhedrin’s authority and influence was at a nadir, as one of the key players in the related Jewish religious hierarchy, Caiaphas the High Priest, was a co–opted appointee of Rome, instead of by the Jewish scholarly/religious elite. The Sanhedrin was consequently delegitimized in Jewish eyes, undermining its prestige and remaining authority.
361–363 CE: ROMAN EMPEROR JULIAN
–allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem (361–363 CE)
–and gives permission (not exercised by the Jews) to rebuild the Temple.
Emperor Julian the Apostate: In his enterprise of anti–Christian restoration, the philosopher–emperor proposes to make Jerusalem a Jewish city and to rebuild the Temple; in a letter to the Jews he asks them to pray to their God for his success in the war against the Persians, “So that I should restore the holy city of Jerusalem with my own money”; but Julian is killed during his Persian campaign and the reconstruction of Jerusalem is brought to a halt, probably also because of an earthquake which the Christians see as a manifestation of God’s wrath at the apostate emperor.
375 CE: APOGEE OF RAV ASHI
Rav Ashi [b. 352; d. 427], head of the Sura Academy (till 424), is one of the principal redactors of the Babylonian Talmud.
380 CE: OFFICIAL RELIGION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE
Shortly before his “division of the Roman Empire,” Emperor Theodosius codifies the legacy of Constantine, and makes Christianity the official religion of the empire February 27, 380 CE.
Rosemary Ruether describes the Christian Roman Emperors as follows:
“In the laws of the Christian emperors enforcing a status of reprobation on the Jewish community, one notes a language of clerical vituperation. The synagogue is referred to in one early law of the Theodosian Code by a Latin slang word meaning “brothel,” a word which never before had been used for a place of religious worship in Roman law.*A The Jews are referred to constantly in the laws as a group hated by God, to be regarded by Christian society as contemptible and even demonic. The laws bristle with negative and theologically loaded epithets. Judaism is called a feralis secta and a Synagoga Satanae. Their meetings are sacrilegi coetus.*B The very name of Jew is “foul and degrading.” To marry a Jew is adultery and to be under their authority is “an insult to our faith.” It becomes common to speak of Judaism in the language of pollution, contagion, and disease. The Third Novella, which promulgated the Theodosian Code, calls it a “desperate illness” that is beyond curing. Judaism is called “dangerous,” “abominable,” “evil teachings,” “madness,” while Jews themselves are described by such terms as “sly,” “shameful,” “foul,” “insolent,” “detestible,” “blind,” and “perverse.”*C Jews are said to be the “enemies of the Heavenly Majesty and the Roman Laws,” and to break the laws against judaizing is equivalent to a crime of lèse majesté. In short, the Christian emperors do not legislate as secular rulers…. Rather, the emperors speak here as exponents of the Christian theological view of the Jews, acting in their own right as priest–kings of the Christian theocratic empire.”
*A CTh. 16, 8, 1 (13/8/339).
*B Seaver, Persecution of the Jews, p. 54
*C See the summary of Theodosian laws printed in Marcus, Jew in the Medieval World, pp. 4–6.
– Rosemary Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, Oregon: WS Publishers, © 1995, Chapter 3, pp. 194–195.
Rosemary Radford Ruether (b. 1936) is an American feminist scholar and theologian.
380 CE: THE EASTERN CHURCH FATHERS PILE–ON
Vitriolic slander and demonizations of the (minority) Jews ratchet–up significantly via Christian luminaries and would be luminaries, across the Roman Empire, as Christianity is now “official.”
The book, Holy Hatred, p. 20, by Robert Michael, notes–
“Christian writings were part of a theological war to the death, and beyond. Although several Church Fathers knew individual Jews, they portrayed Jews as satanic adversaries. They imagined that Jews insulted Christ and the Blessed Virgin each day in their synagogue prayers. For these crimes, Christian theologians argued, Jews must suffer continual punishment on earth and eternal damnation in the afterlife, unless they sought salvation through the one true faith, Christianity. They proclaimed that the Jews are, have always been, and will always be, paragons of evil.
Christian theologians depicted the Jews as hateful to make Judaism repulsive to the Christian faithful or pagans. The stubborn persistence of Judaism and Jews constantly questioned Christian claims of earthly and spiritual triumph.”
382 CE: VULGATE
–Latin translation of the Bible (directly from the Hebrew) commissioned by Pope Damasus I.
Completed early in the 400s largely due to the efforts of Church Father Jerome.
The Vulgate became the official Bible (translation) of the Roman Catholic Church.
c. 383 CE: (SAINT) JEROME LEAVES FOR PALESTINE
He leaves Rome for Palestine and begins translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). From 385 to 420 CE he lives in Bethlehem and takes an active part in religious controversies and in the development of monasticism in Palestine, mainly in the Judean desert.
c. 400 CE (Saint) Jerome (374–419 CE), Catholic Saint (the patron of Catholic theological learning) and Doctor of the Church, joins the newly emboldened Jew-baiters, demonizing via public diatribe:
“Judaic serpents of whom Judas was the model”
Jerome commissioned the “horned Moses” statue, as well (exhibit later).
387 CE: ADVERSUS JUDAEOS SERMONS
–by (SAINT) JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
“Against the Judaizers”: Eight homilies by Chrysostom, The homilies are quite virulently anti–Semitic.
The Eastern Orthodox Church honors him as a saint and counts him among the Three Holy Hierarchs. The Roman Catholic Church regards him as a saint and as a “Doctor of the Church” (see exhibit for sample excerpts).
According to James Carroll in Constantine's Sword, p. 191:
“Chrysostom, (c. 349–407), the bishop of Antioch, still revered as the patron saint of preachers, was the master of the sermon genre known as Adversus Judaeos. Such words inevitably led to actions: assaults on synagogues, the exclusion of Jews from public office, expulsions.”
After his death, the bishop of Antioch was named by the Church as Chrysostom, derived from the Greek, which means “golden–mouthed.”
It should be clearly understood that (only) at this point in time, with the Jews, exiled, dispersed and disenfranchised, and symbolically, already “down on the mat,” “down for the count,” isolated in pockets across the Roman Empire, that the “Church Fathers” become most virulent. Only at the point that the Jews are totally defenseless.
It is (only) at this point that these “Church Fathers,” emboldened by their own new–found protection within the totalitarian state alliance of the newly consolidated Church–State morphing of the Roman Empire, now ramp-up the vitriol.
It is at this point, that they now open wide the faucet and the engines full–throttle of unfiltered raw and virulent anti–Semitism. Meaning, the Early Church Fathers theologically embrace virulent race–baiting proportional to their power to get away with it risk–free.
Post–Holocaust, with outright anti–Semitism no longer “politically correct,” a massive Church effort to whitewash the records of many of the Church Fathers is ongoing. Vituperative sermons of various Doctors of the Church seem to be magically disappearing from the online record....
388 CE: (SAINT) AMBROSE
Bishop of Milan, defends synagogue burning.
392 CE: THEODOSIUS I
Division of the Roman Empire by Theodosius I…
Theodosius, Emperor of Rome, bequeaths –
• the eastern half of the Roman Empire to his son, Arcadius, with its capital in Constantinople, and
• the western half of the empire to his son Honorius, with its capital in Milan, and later Ravenna.
393 CE: THE ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES SUPPRESSED
Roman Emperor Theodosius I ends the Olympic Games, as part of his campaign to impose Christianity as the state religion. The Olympics were viewed by the Church as neo–pagan.
The consensus is that the quadrennial Olympics had commenced c. 786 BCE in Olympia, Greece, and apparently lasted in this phase for almost 1200 years. Olympia, Greece was not a classic town or city, but rather a religious sanctuary site dedicated to the Greek gods, Zeus in particular.
The normative guideline over the 1200 year tenure of the games was that only free men who spoke Greek were allowed to compete. All competitors were male. Competition was generally nude subsequent to c. 720 BCE.
[Another view on the endpoint of the Ancient Olympics is that an earthquake – either in 393 CE or in the sixth century – destroyed Olympia and effectively terminated the Ancient Olympics.]
399 CE: ROMAN INJUNCTION v. APOSTOLI
April 11: A Roman law (under Theodosius) prohibiting sending emissaries (apostoli) to collect donations on behalf of the nassi: [the (Jewish) Sanhedrin President back in Judea] “That the Jews should know that we have delivered them from this iniquitous tribute” (C. Th.XV, 8, 14).
End of 4th century: TOSEFTA CLOSED
The final editing of the Tosefta (compilation commenced c. 200 CE by Rabbis Chiya and Oshaiah) probably in Palestine. This is a collection of commentaries containing material excluded from the Mishnah, mostly unedited “raw material.”
400 CE: “EXCALIBUR”
Legendary sword—of legendary King Arthur (Celtic) in legendary Camelot—in Fifth–Sixth century CE
400 CE: SACKING of ROME by ALARIC,
King of the Visigoths
Some historians mark the beginning of the Middle Ages, a.k.a. The Dark Ages, with this 400 CE point. Others demarcate the commencement of the Middle Ages with the deposing of Romulus Augustus as Emperor of Rome (76 years later) in 476 CE, which marked the end of the Western Roman Empire, the “fall of Ancient Rome.”
412 CE: CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA*
“To provide the Church with a clear identity for itself, Christian theologians transvaluated Judaism. The Church Fathers turned Jewish values and practices on their heads by misrepresenting them as their opposites. Cyril of Alexandria wrote, “Note that the shadow of the law is reversed and the ancient things of the law are made ineffective.”
“Christian theologians attacked the essential values and practices of Jewishness—the Jews Covenant with the One God, their Chosenness, circumcision, ethical laws, God–wrestling, Messiah, dietary obligations, Sabbath, holy days, patriarchs, and Holy Scriptures. The Church Fathers did this by reinterpreting, modifying, and adapting them to fit the requirements of the Christian self–image and theology. In effect, the Latin and Greek Fathers said to the Jews, “We'll take your God, your Scriptures, your Messiah, and some of your Law; as for you, you are disinherited, cast into a limbo.”
–Robert Michael, Holy Hatred. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 21.
415 CE: ALEXANDRIA FESTERS
Temporary expulsion of Jews from Alexandria by Patriarch Cyril.
415 CE: HYPATIA MURDERED
March: Roman–ruled Egypt: Scientist “Hypatia of Alexandria” murdered by Coptic Christian mob, possibly Nitrian monks, affiliated with (St.) Cyril of Alexandria (a.k.a. “The Pope of Alexandria, a.k.a. “The Pillar of Faith”).
Hypatia was considered the first notable woman in mathematics. A world–class polymath, she also taught and wrote on philosophy and astronomy.
Socrates of Scholasticus describes her in his Ecclesiastical History.
“There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self–possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not infrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her, the more.”
Born around 360 CE into an academic family, she leaves a corpus of commentaries as well as her own academic works of note, including “The Astronomical Canon.” Events surrounding her murder have achieved notoriety, and have apparently been a focus of historians for centuries (see exhibit “The murder of Hypatia”: 3 chronicles).
c. 425 CE: ROMAN INJUNCTION v. NASSI
Roman abolition of the Office of the Patriarch (nassi) in Palestine, and suppression of formal scholarly/rabbinic ordination.
c. 425 CE: JERUSALEM TALMUD CLOSED
The “closing” of the Jerusalem Talmud (in Tiberias), primarily as a consequence of the suppression of the Patriarchate (425 CE) just–noted above, by Theodossius II.
[The text of Talmud Yerushalmi is mostly a discussion of the orders (sections) of zer’im, mo’ed, nashim, and nezikin of the Mishnah.]
c. 425 CE: MIDRASH BERESHITH RABBAH
Composition of the Midrash Genesis Rabbah which interprets verses from Genesis in aggadic style.
434 CE: ATTILA
–leads the Hunnic Empire:
Attila lived 406–453 CE, and was also known as Attila the Hun or the Scourge of God. Attila led the Huns from 434 until his death 19 years later. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from Germany to the Baltic Sea. During his rule, he was one of the most feared of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires' enemies, but he never actually attacked either Rome or Constantinople. His propaganda was that the Sword of Attila had come to his hand by miraculous means.
In much of Western Europe, he is remembered as the epitome of cruelty and rapacity. In contrast, some Northern European histories and Chronicles lionize him as a great and noble king. He plays a major role in three Norse sagas.
435–438 CE: ROMAN INJUNCTION v. SYNAGOGUES
The Theodosian Code prohibits, among other things, the construction of new synagogues.
442 CE: JEWISH QUARTER IN CONSTANTINOPLE
Jews concentrate in the copper–workers’ quarter of Constantinople, situated near the church of Hagia Sophia.
c. 450 CE: LEVITICUS RABBAH
Composition of Leviticus Rabbah in the Galilee – a homiletic Midrash devoted mainly to the themes of reward and punishment, God’s love for the poor, and the praise of peace.
455 CE: ROME IS SACKED
–by Geiseric, King of the Vandals
c. 475 CE: MORE MIDRASH
Composition of Midrash Pesikta derav Kahana in the Galilee – homilies for all the festivals, taken from various books of the Pentateuch or Prophets.
476 CE: FALL of the ROMAN EMPIRE
The year generally accepted as the end of the (western) Roman Empire, although it actually fell after multiple attacks over several decades.
476 CE: THE DARK AGES a.k.a. THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES COMMENCES
–demarcated (somewhat arbitrary) ending: 1000 CE
485 CE: ALARIC II
Beginning of the reign (485–515 CE) of Visigoth King Alaric II who reigned, as well, over Spain and Portugal.
See our created–link www.IberianVisigoth.com for –
Persecution of the Jews Under Visigoth Rule of the Iberian Peninsula 400s CE – 711 CE.
499 CE: ARYABHATA, 23, finishes writing ARYABHATIYA
–probably in central or southern India
Aryabhata (476 CE–550 CE) is the first in the line of great mathematician–astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and astronomy. Aryabhata is the father of the Hindu–Arabic (decimal) number system, which has, of course, become universal today.
His most famous work, aside from the Aryabhatiya just–noted, is the Arya–Siddhanta.
500 CE: RAVINA DIES
Death of Ravina, head of the Sura Academy, considered to be the last of the Amoraim (the Babylonian sages of that generation).
510 CE: (SAINT) RUSPE and “ETERNAL FIRE” FOR the JEWS
(Saint) Fulgentius of Ruspe (c. 467–533 CE), Bishop of Ruspe, North Africa, (later canonized as a Catholic (saint) in his “Writings”:
“Hold most firmly and no doubt that not all the pagans, but also all the Jews, heretics and schismatics, who depart from the present life outside the Catholic Church, are about to go into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
527 CE: JUSTINIAN
Justinian from the Eastern Roman Empire attempts to wrest control of major portions of the western empire, including the reconquest of Rome.
Justinian commissions a uniform rewriting of Roman law, 529 CE, supervised by Tribonian 529–534 CE – and to be known through the ages as “the Justinian Code” Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law).
The title Corpus Juris Civilis sounds magisterial, but unfortunately it incorporates, as well, severe restrictions and discriminations against the Jews (“Servitus Judaeorum”). Thus, about two hundred years after the Roman Empire began morphing to Christianity, anti–Judaism now gets enshrined into Roman law itself.
These now–codified [Church-inspired] Roman Empire discriminations, [“they (the Jews) shall enjoy no honors”] would severely impact Jews throughout Europe for many hundreds of years. Among other abominations, using Hebrew at all was forbidden and reciting the core–prayer the Shema (“Hear O, Israel, the Lord is our god, the Lord is One…”) was totally banned in particular. Among its more Machiavellian features: A Jew who converted to Christianity was entitled to inherit his or her father's estate, to the exclusion of the still–Jewish siblings.
540 CE: JUSTINIAN'S PLAGUE
The Bubonic Plague rampages throughout Justinian's empire and surrounding Europe. In many areas 50 percent of the population dies (estimates range up to 100 million dead). Jews were often blamed and harassed or killed as a consequence. This was a dire saga in Jewish history.
Justinian suppresses all non–Christians, including the Jews. The Jews of Borium (in Italy), who had politically challenged his military policies, are forcibly converted.
550 CE: TALMUD BAVLI FINAL–EDIT
–and reaches its present form by 700 CE
Babylonian Talmud reaches its present form.
Rabbinics Ravina and Rav Ashi play key roles in its final organization. As noted, the Talmud is a record of rabbinic discussions and debates pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history. The Talmud has two major components: the Mishnah, which is the first written compendium of Judaism's Oral Law; and the (much more extensive) Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Tanach (Torah–Neveim–Ketuvim i.e. the entire Jewish canon).
The Gemara, in turn, is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much–quoted in other rabbinic literature. The whole Talmud is traditionally also referred to as the shas (a Hebrew quasi–abbreviation of, the “six orders” of the Mishnah). Talmud Bavli is the same as Talmud Babli which, as noted above, is the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud – as it reached its core form in 700 CE – represented an approximately 1000–year effort.
As redaction and commentary have been added–on subsequently, as of the year 2,000 the Talmud and ongoing commentary represent a 2300–year continuous endeavor.
The focused two millennia endeavor has not been unhinged by pogrom, plague, persecution, exile or communal displacement.
Daf Yomi is a daily regimen undertaken to study the entire 5,422–page Talmud Bavli, one daf (one sheet, i.e. two actual pages) per day. On that daily basis, it can be completed in seven years and five months.
The pages are complex and long.
140,000+ people worldwide (as of 2008) participate in a synchronized endeavor of daily study of the same exact Talmud page worldwide. The next official culmination of the (7–year and 5–month) study cycle is scheduled on August 2, 2012. Note that the cycle–commencement and structure were conceived and set by the organizers of the current (international) program, and not in antiquity.
550 CE: SAVORAIM
–the Jewish sages of Persia (550–700 CE).
–who fine–tuned the Talmud Bavli (the Babylonian Talmud).
550 CE: JEWISH REVOLTS IN JUDEA
Under Byzantine rule (550 CE – 700 CE):
–two Jewish revolts
–three Samaritan revolts
570 CE: MOHAMMED
The historic “Hegira” of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. Mohammed, prophet of Islam, one of the most influential religious and political/military leaders of all time.
The rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula, constrains the growth of competing movements, particularly Christianity.
589 CE: GEONIM
Beginning of the period of the Geonim, heads of the academies in Babylon.
590 CE: PAPACY OF GREGORY THE GREAT
Pope St. Gregory I…better known historically as Gregory the Great, was pope from September 590 until his death.
He is also known as Gregory the Dialogist in Eastern Orthodoxy because of his Dialogues. He was the first of the popes to come from a monastic background. Gregory is a Doctor of the Church and one of the six Latin Fathers. He is considered a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Gregory is the patron saint of musicians, singers, students, and teachers.
[This is the same Gregory who codified the pejorative version of Mary Magdalene (i.e. the vilification that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute)].
Jewish traditions, in the very rare cases where they encounter the issue, do not “buy–into” the pejorative version of the Magdalene saga. If anything, they are intrigued by the female disciple Mary Magdalene.
As noted above, Gregory’s actions mystify. He comes perilously close to undermining Christendom itself with his undermining of pivotal Mary Magdalene, the asserted “sole witness” (of the “resurrection” of Jesus).]
–who adopts a “moderate” policy towards the Jews. He condemns forced conversions, but approved of conversions attached by material inducements; he first formulates the principle which was reiterated from the twelfth century onwards in all papal bulls ‘benign’ to the Jews that “and one should not accord the Jews in their synagogues any liberty beyond what is fixed by law, thus they should not suffer, within what they were accorded, any infringement of their rights.”
Rosemary Ruether writes:
“Gregory the Great, reigning as Roman pontiff at the end of the sixth century, represents a perfect model of the anti–Judaic theory, as this had been embodied in Christian Roman law and carried on by the Church through Roman law. In contrast to the view of medieval Christians and even medieval popes, Gregory the Great is often cited as a “friend” of the Jews, but this is a misunderstanding of the context in which he himself worked. It is true that Gregory opposed forced baptism and synagogue burning, but he did so as an executor of Roman law which protected Jewish religious institutions and forbade violence.*” (Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, p. 199).
* Solomon Katz, “Pope Gregory The Great and the Jews,” JQR
600 CE: The KHAZARS
Establish a Jewish kingdom in the seventh century.
The Khazars, a semi–nomadic Turkic people from Central Asia founded an independent Khaganate in the Northern Caucasus along the Caspian Sea (southeastern part of Europe) where over time Judaism became the state religion. At their height they and their tributaries controlled most of what is today Southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the Caucasus (including Dagestan, Georgia) and the Crimea.
610 CE: The EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE EASES
–into the rule of the Greeks
–and morphs into the (Middle Age) Byzantine Empire a.k.a. Romania or Basileia Romaion.
The Byzantines continue to call themselves Romans, however. This Byzantine–Greek–Roman Empire falls, in turn, to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 CE, approximately 850 years later.
Consequently, start to finish, if one counts from the beginning of the Roman Republic in 510 BCE (centered in Rome) to the very end (in 1453 CE) of the morphed eastern “Roman Empire” – the Byzantine–Greek–Roman Empire (centered in Constantinople), we are talking about a “run” of well over 2,000 years.
At its territorial peak, under Trajan in 116 CE, (43 years after Masada) Rome controlled c. 2,300,000 square miles of land surface. As a frame–of–reference, modern–day Italy is 116,000 square miles.
610–625 CE: JEWISH REVOLT V
Revolt against Byzantine Emperor Heraclius (reign 610–641 CE). The Jewish revolt originated in Tiberius (Judea).
The Jewish revolt came to the aid of the Persian Sassanid invaders of the Byzantine Empire, Judea in particular. Jerusalem fell to the combined Persian–Jewish forces after a 20–day siege. The Persians gave the Jews authority to control the city, and they effectively controlled it for five years. However, at that point, Jerusalem swung back into Christian control c. 626 CE. Betrayals and massacres ensued, resulting in a huge Jewish exodus to Egypt.
632 CE: FORCED CONVERSIONS
Forced conversions of Byzantine Jews ordered by Emperor Heraclius after the Jews of Judea had allied with the Persian invaders, particularly in Jerusalem c. 614 CE.
– after Eli Birnbaum
634–642 CE: ISLAMIC EXPANSION
Palestine, Syria and Egypt—where the majority of Jews live—come under Arab domination.
636 CE: ARAB RULE OVER JUDEA commences
463 year Arab rule: 636–1099 CE.
661–680 CE: MU’AWIYA
The Caliph Mu’awiya, the first Umayyad caliph, transforms the Arab world into a secular state in which religion takes second place. For the first time leadership is in the hands of a person who was not one of the Prophet’s associates. Mu’awiya settles Jews, whom he considers to be faithful allies of the Arabs, in Tripoli and Syria; a period of prosperity for the Jews and Christians in Palestine under a regime which is very tolerant.
691 CE: DOME of the ROCK
Completed (by Caliph Abd al–Malik ibn Marwan), Old City, Jerusalem…will emerge as the third holiest site in Islam…
–atop the ruins of the Jewish Holy Temple (the very holiest site in Judaism).
End of 6th century: UPHEAVAL IN TURKEY
Expulsion of Jews from Antioch (Turkey): anti–Jewish riots in Syria and Anatolia; (Turkey) the center authorities of the empire are too weak to protect the Jews nor can they force them to adopt Christianity.
– after Eli Birnbaum
700 CE: GUNPOWDER
The Chinese invent gunpowder by combining saltpeter, sulphur and carbon.
It is initially used primarily for fireworks.
711 CE: WESTWARD MUSLIM CONQUEST / IBERIA
–beginning of the 7–year Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula
711 CE: GOLDEN AGE of Jews of Spain commences
711 CE is the earliest “start date” used by historians for the “Golden Age of the Jews of Spain.” Others place the “start date” at 912 CE (the rule of Abd–ar–Rahman III).
Depending on the historian, this (“Golden Age”) period ends either in 1031 CE (when the Caliphate of Cordoba ended) or 1066 CE (the year of the Grenada massacre) or 1099 CE (when the Almoravides invade) or the mid–1100s CE (when the Almohades invade)
So, at a minimum, 100 years;
at a maximum, almost 450 years.
Now, there is much disagreement as to just how “golden” this “Golden Age” was.
Was it objectively “golden”? or just relatively golden – as compared to Christian Europe?
Probably, the latter.
But, “relatively golden” may have been a quantum–leap significantly better “neighborhood” for a Jew to live in – and bring up his family. That would be my estimation. Furthermore, one needs to assume that the level of “golden–ness” oscillated over the span.
However, one should not underestimate the political capital expended by sundry Muslim rulers extending various levels of protection, tolerance, respect and harmony to the Jews.
Of course, historically there have been extraordinary cultural and economic—and often scientific and political—benefits to shielding “those Jews.” But the Muslim rulers as a general rule clearly acted responsibly and often quite nobly.
Life for a Jew in contiguous Christian Europe spanning the widest demarcation of this period was more often than not a hellish existence. The breadth and depth of Christian toxicity towards the Jews is numbing.
Maimonides, oft–cited as the exemplar of a Jew in this (Spanish) Golden Age, was only born in 1135 CE, so his own zenith does not truly catch even the fourth and last possible historical cut–off date (mid–1100s CE) noted above for the era. We include him in Golden Age of Jewish Philosophy (1200s–1400s), but not in the Golden Age of the Jews of Spain. See 1200 CE below.
732 CE: BATTLE OF TOURS
Poitiers, France: Frankish warlord Charles Martel (“the Hammer”) turns back the Muslims under the command of Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi.
Note: The appellation “the Hammer” echoes (Jewish liberator) Judas Maccabeus, Judah the Hammer,
900 years prior.
c. 750 CE: GAONIM PERIOD
The earliest Talmud commentaries (750–1000 CE).
The associated yeshivas of Sura and Pumbeditha (both in modern–day Iraq) achieve Diaspora–wide prominence in this period. (Diaspora meaning “exile,” referring to the Jews spread around the globe, post Babylonian–exile
c. 586 BCE, and Roman–exile c. 70 CE)
Rav Amram Gaon of Sura compiles his Siddur (prayer book) in 846 CE; Rav Saadia Gaon, his own in 940 CE.
760 CE: The KARAITES
The Karaites reject the Oral Law, and split off from now mainstream Rabbinic Judaism.
Major Karaite personages include Anan ben David, Benjamin of Nahawandi (830 CE), Daniel al–Kumsi (900 CE).
After mainstream Rabbinic Saadia Gaon of Egypt (noted above) ascends to the head of Sura Academy in Babylonia in 928 CE, and writes his masterwork “Beliefs and Opinions” (Emunoth ve–Deoth), which traces and elucidates the philosophical basis for Rabbinic Judaism, Karaism fades from the stage.
793 CE: LINDISFARNE
Vikings (from Scandinavia) raid the British island monastery of Lindisfarne.
This marks the start of the Viking Age, particularly in the British Isles.
The Vikings also conquer and settle parts of France. Several generations later, in 1066 CE, the Norman (France–based) descendants of these Vikings, now speaking French and identifying themselves as French, effect the watershed Norman Conquest (of England) and become the ruling aristocracy of England. Thus the Vikings project across Europe and down through world history, albeit in morphed form.*
800 CE: CHARLEMAGNE CROWNED
The son of King Pepin the Short and grandson of Charles Martel is crowned Imperator Augustus (Holy Roman Emperor) by Pope Leo on Christmas Day.
He reigns 46 years. Lore has it that he had 5 wives, 20 children and 5 mistresses.
Sometimes referred to as the Father of Europe, Charlemagne conquers Italy and is regarded by many as the founding father of both France and Germany.
Charlemagne Christianizes Europe, including the Saxons, at the point of the sword.
Charlemagne maintains a protective posture and very close ties with the Pope. Each will re–enforce the other.
His rule is associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of the arts and education in the West.
806 CE: CHARLEMAGNE divides his kingdom among his three sons
873 or 874 CE: PERSECUTION UNDER BASIL I
Persecution of the Jews and forced baptisms by order of Byzantine Emperor Basil I (reign 867 – 886 CE). Basil I founds the Byzantine “Macedonian Dynasty.”
c. 928 CE: SAADIA GAON
Heads the legendary Sura Academy in Babylonia. Authors many important Jewish works, primarily in Arabic. [Noted in the 760 CE section on the Karaites above]
As of 2006 the oldest complete manuscript of the Haggadah is in a prayer book compiled by Saadia Gaon. [We alluded to his siddur in the 750 CE section on the Gaonim above.]
c. 930 CE: THE “ALEPPO CODEX”
The Aleppo (Syria) Codex is a manuscript set of the Tanach. It was at one time the oldest complete manuscript of the Tanach*; however approximately one–third of it, including nearly all of the Torah, has been missing since 1947.
It is considered by many to be the most authoritative document in the masorah (“the Jewish transmission”), the tradition by which the Hebrew Scriptures, law and tradition have been preserved and passed–on from generation to generation.
After its creation in the tenth century, the codex was given to the Jewish community of Jerusalem during the mid–eleventh century. However, it was among the works held ransom by the Crusaders during the First Crusade.
After being rescued by the elders of Ashkelon (Judea), it was transported to Egypt along with Jewish refugees. It later resurfaced in the Rabbanite synagogue in Cairo, where it was referenced by Maimonides; Maimonides' descendants brought it to Aleppo, Syria, at the end of the fourteenth century.
The Codex remained in Syria for five hundred years, until Muslim anti–Jewish riots desecrated the synagogue where it resided. The Codex disappeared, and re–emerged in 1958, when it was smuggled into Israel by Syrian Jew Murad Faham, and presented to the president of the state, Itzhak Ben–Zvi.
On arrival, it was found that parts of the codex had been lost. The Aleppo Codex was entrusted to the Ben–Zvi Institute and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. As noted, the beginning (nearly all of the Torah) and end of the manuscript are missing, as well as are some pages in between.
932–c. 944 CE: LECAPENUS
Persecutions by Emperor Romanus I Lecapenus (reign 920–944 CE). Jewish community leaders are executed and Hebrew manuscripts are burned.
1000 CE: “DARK AGES” endpoint
–End of the so–called Dark Ages 476–1000 CE)
An approximate mid–point of the Middle Ages
(476 CE* – 1492 CE***)
Not particularly dark intellectually, as far as sophisticated Jewish philosophical output was concerned. In the midst of abject poverty, persecutions, pogroms, blood libels, Black Deaths, and expulsions, the Jews are writing—for their contemporaries—and for posterity.
Somehow, many of these texts have been protected to this day. Interestingly, the themes and writings are overwhelmingly quite sophisticated and nuanced, picking up where Aristotle left off. Seamlessly.
Nahmanides, Abba Mari ben Moses, Simon ben Zemah Duran, Joseph Albo, Isaac Arama, and Joseph Jaabez intellectually arm–wrestle with Maimonides on a range of metaphysical issues. They generally come down on the side of a much smaller “core” of so–called “principles of faith.”
Maimonides had articulated 13 core principles of (Jewish) faith.
1) To know the existence of the Creator
2) The unity of God
3) The denial of physicality in connection with God
4) God's Antiquity
5) The “worthiness” of God
7) The prophetic aspect of Moses
8) The divinity of the Torah
9) The completeness of the Torah
10) Divine omniscience
11) Reward & Punishment
12) The era of the Messiah
13) Resurrection of the Dead
* Fall of the Roman Empire
*** Columbus discovers the New World
However, just three core beliefs manifest with this above–noted group of philosophers (Nahmanides et al.)
1) Belief in God
2) Belief in Revelation
(that God revealed himself at Sinai)
3) Belief in Providence (God's protection)
Hasdai Crescas, David ben Samuel Estella, David ben Yom Tov ibn Bilia, Jedaidah Penini, and Isaac Abravanel, among other notables then join the particular intellectual fray with full–scale expositions.
c. 1000 CE: RABBEINU GERSHOM
a.k.a. Rabbeinu Gershom Me'Or Hagolah (“our teacher Gershom the Light of the Exile”).
His unilateral edicts are pretty unique in Jewish tradition, but by the force of his stature, his will has prevailed over the centuries.
Takkanot of Rabbeinu Gershom [The Legal Adjustments (into Orthodox Jewish Law) of Gershom ben Judah]:
1) A prohibition on polygamy
2) A prohibition on summarily divorcing a woman against her will [but Divorce per se, after discussion and/or mediation remains thoroughly permissible, as prior]
3) A prohibition on reading the private mail (emails would be included – wink) of others
His bans are considered binding on (Ashkenazic, in particular) Jewry to this day.
1008 CE: The “LENINGRAD CODEX”
The Leningrad Codex (or Codex Leningradensis) is perhaps the oldest complete manuscript of the complete Tanach.
The Aleppo Codex (c. 930 CE), was the first notable such manuscript and is several decades older, but as noted, key parts of it have been missing since 1947, making the Leningrad Codex the oldest complete codex that has survived intact to this day. Essentially all of Jewry has integrated them both over the last millennia.
In modern times, the Leningrad Codex is most important as the Hebrew text reproduced in Biblia Hebraica (1937) and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1977).
The Leningrad Codex, in extraordinarily pristine condition after a millennium, also provides an example of medieval Jewish art. Sixteen of the pages contain decorative geometric patterns that illuminate passages from the text. The Signature Page shows a star with the names of the scribes on the edges and a blessing written in the middle (see exhibit).
The order of the books in the Leningrad Codex follows the Tiberian textual tradition, which also matches the later tradition of Sephardic biblical manuscripts. This order for the books differs markedly from that of most printed the Tanach for the books of Ketuvim.
The Leningrad Codex (a manuscript as opposed to a scroll) is so named because it has been housed at the Russian National Library in Saint Petersburg since 1863. After the Russian Revolution scholars renamed it the “Leningrad Codex.”
[Author's note: July 7, 2009, when I was in Leningrad, I went to the museum at 11 A.M. on a Tuesday morning (meaning, well after opening time on a regular non–Holiday weekday) and tried to view the codex. I was stopped cold. First I was told that I needed a letter from a university; then I “discussed the situation”; then I was told I might be able to pay for a special guided tour; then the Front Desk was unable to make any contact whatsoever with the department in the same main building which I was in, which oversees the codex—or its “private tours,” in any event. Everyone, including the Front Desk Manager and the apparently important Security Desk Manager—all “shrugged their shoulders.” The Leningrad Codex may just as well have been on the moon. It was inaccessible.]
1023 CE: PAPER MONEY
–printed in China.
1040 CE: RASHI
Over his 65–year lifespan, Rashi writes legendary and enduring Aramaic commentary
– on the Torah (Jewish Bible/Five Books of Moses)
– on most of Neveim (Prophets)
– on Ketuvim (Biblical Writings),
– as well as on most of the oft–studied tractates of the Talmud.
A giant in Judaism.
1041 CE: MOVABLE TYPE (CLAY)
The Chinese invent the printing press.
1045 CE: ALFASI
Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob Alfasi (a.k.a. Isaac Hakohen Alfasi) moves to Fes, Morocco from an outlying region.
His works include The Rif and Sefer ha–Halachot (Book of Jewish Laws).
Alfasi was the teacher of Rav Yehuda Halevi, who in turn was the author of The Kuzari.
1048 CE: OMAR KHAYYAM
Distinguished poet and mathematician, born in Persia (modern day Iran).
He authors the legendary poetic work The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, among others.
1054 CE: “The GREAT SCHISM”
The major blocks of the Eastern Orthodox Church split–off from Roman Catholic hegemony.
Their center of gravity will be Constantinople. In 2008 there are now about 250 million constituents affiliated with a total of 14–15 separate autocephalous hierarchical churches, which recognize each other as “canonical” Orthodox Christian churches.
1066 CE: HASTINGS
Battle of Hastings: Norman conquest of England.
William the Conqueror (Norman) defeats King Harold II (Saxon).
The actual battle and breakthrough were less majestic than one would surmise, but, in any event, Harold was killed, and William will set the course for Britain's destiny.
Thus, in 1066 the Normans launch their assault (700 ships, 20,000 men) on England—from the beaches of French Normandy.
In 1944, eight hundred and seventy–eight years later, the historic invasion “Overlord” is launched in the opposite direction: the Allies (including the British) launch their assault (5,000 ships; 175,000 invasion troops) onto (the Third Reich via) the beaches of French Normandy—from England.
1066 CE: GRENADA MASSACRE
Muslim Berber mob storms the royal palace in Grenada (now in Spain), crucify the Jewish vizier (of the Berber king Badis) Joseph ibn Naghrela and massacres 4,000 Jews, most of the Jewish population of the city.
The massacre is not unique in the history of the Jews in the Muslim world, but horrendous as they were, these deadly events were more of an acute and isolated aberration than the rule, over the several thousand–year span.
In the Grenada bloodbath itself, it is not clear what percentage of the fury was politically–driven to eliminate the (Jewish) political allies of (Jewish) ibn Naghrela, rumored in Berber circles, from whence the uprising came, to be controlling the Berber king and rumored to be intending him quite serious harm.
1068 CE: OXFORD
Oxford College is built in 1068, though it is not formally founded until 1282, in England.
Perhaps they were day–dreaming of the future Harry Potter in the 214 year interlude between building and founding.
1070 CE: ibn GABIROL'S (c. 1050 CE) METAPHYSICS
–published in Arabic
–plus once in Latin (1070 CE)—Fons Vitae—with no attribution to ibn Gabirol;
–plus once in Hebrew (c. 1250–1275 CE) with no attribution to ibn Gabirol.
Fons Vitae (1070 CE), a Latin neo–Platonic metaphysical work which portrays creation as a cosmic struggle between form and matter.
“…was widely circulated among Catholic scholars who did not know the true religious or actual identity of its author”
–James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, p. 302.
The Latin work Fons Vitae (thought for centuries to be the work of a Christian cleric) Avicebron, was discovered in 1846 CE (776 years after its original publication) to be a translation from an earlier Arabic text.
The original Arabic work, in turn, was written by the Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol.
There was a Hebrew version of Fons Vitae, as well, translated from the original Arabic into Hebrew by Shem–Tov Palquera (Falaquera) (c.1225–1290 CE). A Spanish Jewish philosopher and poet, well–versed in Greek and Arabic, whose (1225 CE) birth post–dated the 1070 CE posthumous publication of the Latin Fons Vitae version. (It is not clear whether the Palquera Hebrew version unearthed was fully intact, and whether it included the introductory pages, and whether they showed any attribution to ibn Gabirol or any disclaimer of original authorship by Palquera.)
Solomon ibn Gabirol was a poet and philosopher and ethicist, who wrote his metaphysics in Arabic and his poetry in Hebrew. He was born in Malaga, Spain around 1021 CE, and died in Valencia, Spain around 1058 (in his late 30s). His time, place and body–of–works would place him in the Andalucian school of Jewish personages. Ibn Gabirol's philosophical works are neo–Platonic, and he is considered as having been a “bridge” between Hellenic philosophy and the Eastern world.
Solomon ibn Gabirol has been enshrined hitherto in the Jewish pantheon primarily for his Hebrew poetry. His best known poem is Keter Malchut – Royal Crown (see exhibits for 1070 CE).
1095 CE: CRUSADES commence
–with widespread killings of Jews as a backdrop.
Nine Crusades would be launched (between 1095–1272 CE) into the Middle East, with Jerusalem, and Christian control thereof, as the penultimate target.
The Ninth Crusade, the last major medieval Crusade, ended with the fall to the (Arab) Mamluks of Tripoli [now Libra] (1289) and Acre [Holy Land] (1291). Those Christians unable to leave the cities were massacred and the last traces of local Christian rule in the Levant disappeared.
1095–6 CE: FIRST CRUSADE “detour”
The First Crusade sets out to “liberate” Jerusalem. But a 10,000–man German Crusader army, instead of heading southeast towards Jerusalem, marches first north into the Rhine Valley, into well–known Jewish communities such as Cologne. The Jews were to be held individually culpable for the Crucifixion of Jesus by Rome 1062 years earlier.
With the Crusaders often giving the Jewish communities a choice between conversion and death, according to the historical record many Jewish communities committed mass–suicide in horrific scenes.
Today, many contemporary Christian books and many online encyclopedias relating events of the Middle Ages, often have a small segment included relating/asserting how the local bishop attempted to protect the Jews from the low–level Christian mobs or from the fancy Christian mob—the Crusaders.
In all these segments, the bishop is inevitably overcome by the mob or yields to the mob or is outflanked by the mob. The Catholic bishop, however, does not seem to ever actually “stand–down” the Catholic mob. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Be that as it may, where was all this hatred sown initially? It was sown in Church-related and texts—in the very cathedral of this very same bishop—whether or not during his precise tenure.
Having provided the “kindling wood, the gasoline and the matches” for a bonfire mob scene of hatred, the Church is then postured in contemporary Catholic texts as having shown up at the conflagration in the person of the bishop, to nobly protest. In addition, many of these vignettes seem to have made an appearance in Catholic texts after the Holocaust, after which, damning the Jews and other assorted genocidal tendencies, all tended to no longer play–well in “polite society” of the West. So, best, apparently, to tamper with the texts.
The Vatican may be a little slow in contemporary times when it comes to updating various Catholic texts to neuter hatred towards the Jews as per the humanistic thrust of Nostre Aetate, but its numeraries seem to have alacrity at “updating” its texts and online references post–Holocaust, to “distance” the Vatican from the inevitable “mob,” whether Crusader Christian or Nazi.
Both the bishops and the cathedrals, in parallel to the Church itself, will have two “faces,” two diametrically different agendas and projections.
The bishops will be postured as devoted servants of Jesus, advancing humanism. But the bishops are simultaneously also the subtle “enablers” of hatred—towards the Jewish nation, the fount of Jesus, as well as towards other “politically incorrect” groups.
1096–1099 CE: FIRST CRUSADE
Launched by Pope Urban II in 1095 and encompassing greater Christian Europe, to retake ‘Christian lands,’ including ultimately Jerusalem, from the Muslim conquest.
Severe massacres of (civilian) Jews during the First Crusade.
Rosemary Ruether writes:
“The pogroms of the Crusades were met with stoic heroism by the Jewish communities of the Rhineland. Refusing the baptism offered at sword’s point by the Crusaders, they regularly submitted to death or committed mass suicide rather than be baptized. A martyr ethic was forged in European Jewry. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity was regarded as polytheism and its view of Jesus’ divinity as idolatry. To resist baptism was comparable to the witness of the ancient martyrs of Israel, who resisted to the death the assaults of paganism at the time of the Maccabees. Jews died uttering the Shema’ as witnesses to the unity of God’s Holy Name.*A This resistance of the Jews to baptism was inexplicable to Christians.” (Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, p. 207).
*A For medieval Jewish martyr theology, see especially Jacob Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance (New York: Schocken, 1969; reprint), pp. 82–92.
1096 CE: JEWISH MARTYRDOM at MAINZ (GERMANY) CATHEDRAL
From Constantine's Sword –
“The crusaders were unleashed, storming through the city, looking for “the circumcised.” Jews who had eluded crusaders, or bribed them during the early phase of the Rhineland incursion, had been succeeded, especially in Speyer and Worms, by Jews who were murdered in cold blood. By the time of Mainz, crusader ferocity was at its peak, fueled by a cross–inspired righteousness, for, as the [medieval] chronicler recounts it, they declared of their Jewish prey, ‘You are the children of those who killed our object of veneration, hanging him [Jesus] on a tree [Cross]; and he [Jesus] himself had said: There will yet come a day when my children will come and avenge my blood. We [the Crusaders] are his children and it is… therefore obligatory for us to avenge him since you [the Jews] are the ones who rebel and disbelieve him.’”
“The theology of anti–Jewish hatred could not be more clearly stated. Its meaning could not have been more firmly grasped than it was then by the Jews of Mainz. More than one thousand men, women, and children huddled in the courtyard of the archbishop's palace. They knew very well what had happened elsewhere in the preceding weeks, how bribes and flight had failed, finally, to protect even children. In Mainz, Jews had time to reflect on what was coming, and they knew that the only possible escape was through apostasy. Some few took that way out, but to most conversion to Christianity was more unthinkable than ever.”
“There is an ancient arcaded courtyard beside the cathedral that dates to within a century of 1096, and it is certainly at or near the place where the Jews awaited the crusader. Not long ago, on balmy summer morning, I sat on a stone bench in that courtyard, with the Gothic arches of the church on one side, the pointed leaded windows of the present chapter house on another. The ornate chapter house formerly served as the archbishop's palace, on or near the site of Ruthard's. A large granite crucifix dominated yet another side of the yard. A stone fountain, a vestige of a well, stood in the center of a grassy rectangle, altogether the size, say, of a basketball court. A pair of relatively young trees cast a filigree of shadows towards the fountain. The trees reminded me that everything I was looking at had been reconstructed from the rubble of World War II. A scattering of rose bushes was in bloom that morning, and the red shimmered against the gray stone, a contrast that emphasized the dark weight of a multilayered past.”
“Solomon bar Simson wrote [in 1096 CE]:
The hand of the Lord rested heavily on His people, and all the Gentiles assembled against the Jews in the courtyard to exterminate them…When the people of the Sacred Covenant saw that the Heavenly decree had been issued and that the enemy had defeated them and were entering the courtyard, they all cried out together – old and young, maidens and children, menservants and maids – to their Father in Heaven…“There is no questioning the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He and blessed be His Name, Who has given us His Torah and has commanded us to allow ourselves to be killed and slain in witness to the Oneness of His Holy Name…”
“Then in a great voice they all cried out as one: “We need tarry no longer, for the enemy is already upon us. Let us hasten and offer ourselves a s sacrifice before God. Anyone possessing a knife should examine it to see that it is not defective, and let him then proceed to slaughter us in sanctification of the Unique and Eternal One, then slaying himself – either cutting his throat or thrusting the knife into his stomach.”
“In April 1942, Nazis swarmed into the Warsaw Ghetto, hauling Jews to Umschlag Platz, where the boxcars waited. The yellow building behind the high fence at 60 Sienna Street was a children's hospital. One of its doctors was Adina Blandy Szwajger. She survived to tell what happened as the Germans began “taking the sick from the wards to the cattle trucks…I took morphine upstairs…and just as, during those two years of real work in the hospital, I had bent down over the little beds, so now I poured this last medicine down those tiny mouths…and downstairs there was screaming.”
“Or, as Solomon bar Simson wrote of those in the archbishop's courtyard (in 1096 CE):
The women girded their loins with strength and slew their own sons and daughters, and then themselves. Many men also mustered their strength and slaughtered their wives and children and infants. The most gentle and tender of women slaughtered the child of her delight. They all arose, man and woman alike, and slew one another…Let the ears hearing this and its like be seared, for who has heard or seen the likes of it? In quire and seek: was there ever such a mass sacrificial offering since the time of Adam? Did it ever occur that there were one thousand and one hundred offerings on one single day – all of them comparable to the sacrifice of Isaac, the son of Abraham?...For since the day on which the Second Temple was destroyed, their like had not arisen, nor shall there be their like again… Happy are they and happy is their lot, for all of them are destined for eternal life in the World–to–Come – and may my place be amongst them!”
–James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, New York: Houghton Mifflin © 2001, pp. 261–263
1096 CE: 300 JEWS OF TRIER COMMIT MASS–SUICIDE
Surrounded by a Crusader–inspired mob demanding, under pain of death, that they convert to Christianity, one group of 300 Jews of Trier, Germany, in an echo of Masada, elect five of their number to slay all the rest, rather than convert or be slain by the hounding mob. “Jewish mass suicide reenters history”
–James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, p. 251.
1097 CE: HENRY IV
Note that there were several European rulers named Henry IV, including kings of France and England, as well.
We are focusing here on Henry IV (1050–1106 CE), King of Germany (from 1056 CE) and Holy Roman Emperor (from 1084 CE).
Henry IV allows Jews who were forcibly converted in the previous year to return to their (Jewish) faith.
1099 CE: FIRST CRUSADE captures JERUSALEM
According to Christian accounts, all of Jerusalem's Muslims and Jews are slaughtered. The “Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem” begins.
Godfrey of Bouillon emerges as the ultimate authority in Jerusalem (Advocatus Sancti Sepulchri, or “Protector of the Holy Sepulchre”). When Godfrey dies in 1100 CE, he is succeeded by his brother, Baldwin (of Edessa), who takes the title King of Jerusalem.
1100s CE: TOSEFOT, FRANCE
–Authoritative commentary on the Babylonian Talmud by a school of French rabbis.
This commentary is generally presented in all gemaras (Talmud editions).
They are linked on several levels to the works of the commentator Rashi, which also appear in all complete Talmuds.
Late 1100s CE: ROBIN HOOD SAGA unfolds
In popular culture, (perhaps mythical, perhaps based on fact) Robin Hood is driven to outlawry during the misrule of King John of England, the “bad guy” brother of Richard the Lion–Hearted (who was “out of town” leading the Third Crusade).
Robin Hood and his Merry Men hung out in Sherwood Forest. They often tangle with the Sheriff of Nottingham when Robin Hood is not busy giving away his “winnings” to the poor, or flirting with Maid Marian.
And just where is Friar Tuck when you need him?
1110 CE: ibn DAUD
Abraham ibn Daud, Spanish–Jewish astronomer, historian, and philosopher (1110–1180 CE).
His works include the philosophical work “Emunah Ramah” (The Sublime Faith), a religious tradition chronicle “Sefer ha–Kabbalah” (Book of Tradition), plus others.
Ibn Daud deals extensively with the theological theme of hashgacha pratit (divine intercession in daily life).
1120 CE: SICUT JUDAEIS issued by POPE CALIXTUS II
An expansive papal bull delineating protections and rights of the Jews.
Sicut Judaeis literally means “and thus to the Jews,” but it is generally referred to as “the Constitution of the Jews.”
Reactive to the persecutions, houndings and slaughters of the First Crusade, Pope Calixtus II moves forcefully. His papal bull forbids Christians, among other things, from coercing Jews to convert, to harm them, to take their property, to interfere with their cemeteries – on pain of excommunication (this last point regarding excommunication being key).
This papal bull was reaffirmed intermittently by assorted popes in the period 1191 CE to 1447 CE.
There is a “catch” here, however; many times, if not always, preambles or post–texts to the papal bulls existed, which alerted Christian followers, nevertheless, to “deficiencies” of the Jews, whether as pertaining to their Christian–alleged role in the crucifixion of Jesus, their Christian–alleged “assigned role” by God to suffer, or whatever. Thus, on the one hand, the Jews are formally “protected,” but on the other hand, the lower clergy and masses are fed toxic fuel for the fire.
This pattern, of leaving the “top of the pyramid” (the popes and cardinals et al.) with “clean hands,” while the lower clergy and masses are given ample toxic fuel, is a pattern repeated ongoing to this very day even in much–celebrated Nostre Aetate in the late twentieth century.
It is not the refined and erudite Vatican functionaries who are rampaging with battle axes against unarmed Jewish housewives and Jewish school children; rather, it is the very basest component of the Catholic masses that are preying on the weak and the isolated and unarmed. This base–component layer receives all the “green light” it needs from the “mixed message.” Basically, no light at all. Rather, business as usual.
Basically, everyone “hears” what he or she wants to hear. The Jews “hear” protection, of sorts. The basest component of the Christian masses, on the other side, hears a rationale to persecute the Jews. Many Catholic apologists centuries later post–Holocaust “scrub” history, and discern only the pristine segment.
By the time of Calixtus II, however, the degradation of the Jews fomented by the Church Fathers in the 100 CE – 500 CE period, had been coursing through Europe for over 600 years. In the case of the “good popes,” as in the case of many exceptional individual Catholics over the centuries to come, the diabolical institutional posture of the Church Founders of the 100–500 CE period, previously spread through the far reaches of Christendom, would most often overwhelm individual good will, papal or otherwise. A spreading cancer of hatred and denigration against the Jews had been embedded in the corpus of Europe by the Church Fathers. Once implanted, intermittent benign cosmetic surgery or minor surgery or “mixed message” surgery would prove ineffective at stopping the cancer's virulent spread.
The worst was yet to come for the Jews of Europe.
And beyond Europe, the prognosis was bad, as well. Ultimately, this “cancer,” originally implanted across the Roman Empire, would spread far beyond its original boundaries, following in lockstep with global Catholic missionary activity.
In turn, post–1948, the Arab and Muslim masses across the Middle East and parts of Asia, would feed–off this poison, in turn spread by their own politico–religious leaders and demagogues. “Hate sells.” Virulent hatred sells even better.
In the case of the extraordinary and valiant Calixtus II however, the papal bull was enormously effective. The blood orgies against the Jews of the First Crusade, were quite radically blunted, albeit far from eliminated in the Second Crusade.
The Calixtus bull warned of excommunication as a consequence for transgressors of the papal bull’s prohibitions. This is language understood even by “the masses.” This is language “with teeth.” It is meaningful—and to a great extent, it worked.
Is the current pope listening?
The Jews at that East Side Manhattan synagogue visited by the pope in 2008 do not need papal protection. The Jews of Latin America and rural Russia surrounded, 40–50 years after Nostre Aetate, by still–virulent anti–Semitism, might not mind some proactive papal action – Unambiguous – and “with teeth.”
1123 CE: POPE CALIXTUS II: FIRST LATERAN COUNCIL / CELIBACY DECREE
–decrees that clerical marriages are invalid. And forbids clergy to have concubines.
Many believe that the Vatican policy of clerical celibacy has contributed to ongoing Catholic clerical sexual abuses over the centuries subsequent. The Vatican challenges this argument.
It should be noted that sexually abused young Catholic males [and the count over the millennia is not small], often filled with amorphous rage looking for a target, and simultaneously indoctrinated with focused hatred by the same Church, are not necessarily without consequence to society – and to isolated Jews in particular…..over the centuries subsequent to Calixtus.
c. 1135 CE: MAIMONIDES
Birth of Moses Maimonides, a.k.a. “Maimuni”; a.k.a. The “Rambam” (acronym for “Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon”).
A towering figure in Judaism.
Authors: The Commentary on the Mishnah (Perush HaMishnayot); The Book of Commandments (Sefer Hamitzvot); Code of Jewish Law (Mishne Torah a.k.a. Sefer Yad HaChazakah); The Guide to the Perplexed (Moreh Nevuchim); Letter to Yemen (Iggeret Teiman).
Maimonides (and Aristotle) are later rigorously critiqued in classic Or HaShem by Hasdai Crescas of Barcelona in the late 1300s, who in turn directly influences Spinoza in the 1600s.
Miamonides dies at age sixty–nine in 1204 CE. [I, among others, respectfully believe that the works of Maimonides are an unattributed key source of Aquinas’s renowned Summa Theologica (written 1265-1274 CE). See entry later – Aquinas].
1146 CE: MURDER VICTIM: “DAUGHTER of ISAAC”
Caption on Mainz, Germany tombstone, Old Jewish Cemetery, Alt Israelitische Friedhof, extant today, on hillside overlooking the Rhine River, as visited and viewed by chronicler James Carroll:
“Daughter of Isaac drowned and murdered. Martyred in sanctification of the oneness of God in the year 906 (1146 CE) on the Friday, the fifth of Iyar (19 April). May she rest in Eden, the Garden.”
Note the nuance of the subtly defiant inscription in full public view:
“In sanctification of the oneness of God”—as opposed to the trinity of her killers.
“That the daughter of Isaac was murdered in (April) 1146 CE indicates that she was a martyred victim of the Second Crusade, which was launched by a call of Pope Eugene III in March (the month prior) of that year. That the young woman died in April, within the month, suggests with what efficiency crusader terror returned to Mainz (after the First Crusade).”
–Shlomo Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders, New Jersey: KTAV Publishing House © 1996, p. 126.
To the Jews, the Crusader cross was a symbol of evil and death. Church theology juxtaposed Catholicism against their metaphysical anti–Christ. To the Jews, as murderous Christian activity accelerated against them in the Middle Ages, the Church had itself morphed into the metaphysical anti–Christ, disguised and dressed in holy vestments, an occupation entity holding fancy cathedrals in its evil grasp.
From the Jewish perspective, a diabolical Church preached peace and love to the world, but simultaneously fostered and incited hatred and murder to its core constituents. Ongoing for centuries.
To the terrorized and brutalized Jews of the Middle Ages, the amorphous legacy of a loving Rabbi Jesus, whoever Jesus might actually have been, had clearly been hijacked by the manipulative Church. In turn, this increasingly empowered Church had morphed as increasingly murderous and merciless against the isolated and unarmed Jews. Notwithstanding the fact that Jesus had himself preached within Judaism or perhaps, because of that. For whatever combination of tactical, psychological, political or theological–justification motives, the Church had set out to undermine and brutalize the already–scattered and isolated Jews.
Christianity would “package” the New Testament as part of a 2–part set with the Jewish Bible, adding gravitas and credibility to the New Testament. But would then simultaneously severely undermine the Jews as a whole in the very same New Testament.
Christianity via its iconic centerpiece Jesus, would co–opt “love thy neighbor” from the Hillel School of the Pharisees (normative Judaism).
While the mother of Jesus was positioned as the Virgin Mary, the balance of world Jewry, stretching forth many dozens of generations, outside his devotees, is assiduously demonized and dehumanized – as in–league with the
Devil – by the Christian “Doctors of the Church,” front and center.
The murder–drowning victim “the daughter of Isaac” was far from alone. The Rhine River alone would run red with Jewish blood intermittently over the centuries to come.
The Crusaders were a very brave lot – especially when it came to murdering defenseless Jewish children – and their parents…
1146–1147 CE: SECOND CRUSADE ABBOT SAGAS
Abbot Peter of Cluny (“Peter the Venerable”, a.k.a. Peter of Montboissier), abott of the Benedictine abbey of Cluny, France, advises Louis VII to confiscate Jewish property to help finance the Crusade.
[Fast–Forward: At his weekly general audience in Saint Peter’s Square on October 14, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI used Peter as an ‘example of compassion and understanding,’ citing Peter’s “diplomacy and governance.”]
Abbot (and later saint) Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153 CE) [French] apparently goes to the Rhine Valley [Germany] to call for a stop to anti–Jewish massacres inspired and/or conducted by the German monk Rudolphe a.k.a. Raoul in Cologne, Mainz, Worms and Speyer.
Bernard of Clairvaux was a primary builder of the reforming Cistercian monastic order.
It is not clear why murderous German Crusaders would listen to a gentle French abott. It is also not clear why the formidable Christian Archbishops of Cologne and Mainz seem to be thoroughly impotent, had they wished to expend political capital, to confront a cowardly murderous rabble within the Christian religious enterprise. Presumably the bloody corpses of the murdered Jewish men, women and children were long swept down the Rhine by the time gentle and decent Abott Bernard of Clairvaux made his trek from France to Germany.
1147 CE: THE ALMOHADS
Conquest of Spain by the Almohads, a North–African Berber dynasty, who force both Jews and Christians, to adopt Islam at least outwardly.
1152 CE: ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE divorces
–KING LOUIS VII of France
–and takes back her lands, which now represented a good portion of greater France, back with her to England.
On her return to England, a few weeks later she proposes to—and subsequently marries—the eleven years younger Henry, Duke of Normandy, who becomes King of England (King Henry II) two years later in 1154
In due course, two of their sons, King Richard the Lionheart and King John, also become kings of England, respectively.
There is more to the story, of course.
Mid–way through King Henry II's reign, Eleanor had plotted with her son “Henry the Young King” (no need to digress further into this) to overthrow Henry II. The plot was foiled and Eleanor was imprisoned in 1173. Upon Henry's death, in 1189, the new king, her son Richard, freed his mom.
1170 CE: THOMAS BECKET
Archbishop of Canterbury, assassinated in Canterbury Cathedral, England, by knights allied with King Henry II.
Formerly a very close political ally of Henry II, Becket, upon becoming Archbishop in 1162 CE, asserts his independence and rectitude, shifts gears, and moves to dramatically advance Church rights and independence.
Canonized by Pope Alexander in 1173, four years after his assassination.
One year later, at the “guidance” of the pope, Henry II effects his famous “barefoot in the snow” penance at Becket's tomb in Canterbury. Shakespeare will later deal with this Canterbury.
1171 CE: BURNINGS–AT–STAKE
May 26: First blood–libel case in France: Thirty–two Jews are burnt at the stake in Blois after the disappearance of a Christian child.
Rabbenu Tam (c. 1100 – 1171 CE), apparently in possibly the final year of his life, institutes a fast on the date of that event. He apparently also coordinated attempts by the Jewish communities in Paris and in Champagne to convince King Louis VII and the Duke of Champagne to halt the spread of anti–Jewish allegations.
1182 CE: BARBAROSA
Frederick I Barbarossa (b. 1122; d.1190 CE) stresses the duty of the emperor, prescribed by justice and reason, to defend the rights of his subjects, including non–Christians.
Barbarosa was elected King of Germany 1152 CE. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor 1155 CE by Pope Adrian IV. Barbarosa was further crowned King of Burgundy in 1178 CE.
1185 CE: GENGHIS KHAN, 20, assumes the Mongol throne
(See 1227 CE entry)
1187 CE: SALADIN!
–conquers Jerusalem from the Crusaders; allows Jewish settlement.
1190 CE: ENGLAND: MARTYRDOM at YORK CASTLE (third crusade)
Mar 16: Alarmed by Crusader massacres of local Jews in surrounding towns, the Jews of York gain entry to Clifford Tower.
The tower is subsequently besieged by Crusaders demanding that the Jews convert to Christianity or die. The spiritual leader of the Jews, Rav Yom Tov of Joigny, directed his flock to kill themselves rather than convert. The political leader of the Jews, Josce, thereupon stepped forth and slew his wife and his two children. Then by pre–agreement Yom Tov slew Josce, and on it went until all but a few lay dead or dying.
The handful who did not commit suicide surrendered to the Crusaders at daybreak under promise, apparently, that enough blood had been spilled. Whereupon they were massacred. And the wooden Clifford Tower burnt down.
Then the Crusaders marched on towards Jerusalem.
1192 CE: SAMURAI
The Samurai warriors emerge as the ruling class in Japan.
This is the beginning of the Shogunate. There were ultimately (Bakufu) in Japan:
Kamakura 1192–1333 CE
Muromachi 1336–1573 CE
Tokugawa (Edo) 1603–1868 CE
The Shogunate, (in parallel to the reigns of the Roman Empire) although romanticized, was a feudal military dictatorship.
1198–1231 CE: DELINEATING ‘JEWISH RIGHTS’
Eighteen conventions between the respective kings of France (Augustus, Louis XVIII, Louis IX) and his barons define and clarify their respective ‘rights’ over “their Jews.”
1200 CE: MID–POINT: GOLDEN AGE OF JEWISH PHILOSOPHY
+/– 300 years (so, 900–1492 CE)
Zenith of Sephardic Jewry in Spain and surrounding countries. Abarvanel, Maimonides [Rambam], Nachmanides [Ramban], Gersonides [RaLbaG], Abraham Ibn Ezra, Ibn Daud Rabad I (a.k.a. Ravad I), Ibn Gabirol, Karo et al.
1200s CE: MARCO POLO
Travels to Emperor Kublai Khan's Chinese Court;
signs–up for Chinese government service; returns home and produces “Travels of Marco Polo”; visits Jerusalem in 1275 CE.
c. 1200 CE: Franciscans
Franciscan Catholic Order of Friars is founded in Italy
[by (Saint) Francis of Assisi].
Ordo Fratrum Minorum in Latin.
1204 CE: END OF THE FOURTH CRUSADE
–led by Western knights and by Venice.
The Jewish quarter in Constantinople is burned down by the Crusaders.
1209–1211 CE: 300 (TOSAFISTS) RABBIS SETTLE IN PALESTINE
“The aliyah of the three hundred rabbis” – the name given in Jewish historiography to the migration to Palestine by many tosafists.
Tosafot rabbinics ultimately spanned Europe, but the cradle of the tosafot rabbinics was France, then Germany–Spain–Italy.
1215 CE: MAGNA CARTA SIGNED
King John of England muscled by barons. Some power shifts from the king to the nobles.
The Magna Carta required King John of England to proclaim certain rights (pertaining to freemen), respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law.
Most Western history books treat the Magna Carta as an epochal document.
It is far from clear that in the short run (before the English Civil War of 1641–1651), the rights of anyone except those of the nobles increased.
a.k.a. Magna Carta Libertatum (the Great Charter of Freedom).
It was amended several times, and it is the 1297 CE version which remains on the statute books of England
1215 CE: FOURTH LATERAN (CATHOLIC) COUNCIL
(Convoked by Pope Innocent III with a papal bull
April 19, 1213 CE)
November 1215: Rome:
Present: 71 patriarchs and metropolitan bishops
900 abbots and priors
The council approved the decrees submitted to it by Pope Innocent III.
Included in the seventy–one decrees were commands that all Jews
–wear distinguishing labels on their garments.
–be confined to ghettos.
The politically dominant Vatican was in position to enforce its decrees.
Prior council: Third Council of the Lateran
Next council: First Council of Lyon
Rosemary Ruether writes:
“The final expression of the Church’s effort to segregate the Jew from any social contact with Christian society was the ghetto and the wearing of Jewish dress, conical hat, and “Jew badge” (usually a yellow circle, symbolic of the Jew as betrayer of Christ for “gold,” an image which fused religious with economic anti–Semitism). These regulations were passed at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), although the Church only succeeded in enforcing them universally after the Council of Basel (1434).*A These marks had the effect of making Jewish ignominy visible and singling the Jew out for physical attack as never before, destroying further the ability of the Jew to travel the open roads as a merchant. Other canonical rules, such as those that insisted that the synagogue must be a low and miserable building, that Jews must not enter churches or come into the streets on holy days, especially during Passiontide, or work on Sunday, were intended to enforce the visible superiority of Christianity.*B But it also reinforced the popular idea that Jews secretly desired to mock and profane Christian symbols, even though the popes officially tended to discount the myths of ritual murder and host profanation. Finally, the Talmud itself was declared illegal. Successive inquisitions condemned it, despite the defense put up against Christian accusations by Talmudic scholars.*C The Talmud and Jewish works were burned publicly in France in the mid–thirteenth century, bringing to an end an important center of Talmudic scholarship. Like Justinian, the Church seems to have believed that without the rabbinic exegesis, the Jews would quickly come to acknowledge that the Christological exegesis of the Church was the correct one.” (Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, pp. 209–210).
*A Poliakov, History of Anti–Semitism, p. 65. Also Grayzel, Church and the Jews, pp. 59–71.
*B Poliakov, History of Anti–Semitism, pp. 33–36.
*C Ibid., pp. 29–34.
1227 CE: GENGHIS KHAN dies
CHINA: born Temüjin (1162 CE), the empire he carved–out is at its maximum at his death (1227 CE).
But his son …gedei Khan (the “Great Khan”) stretches it still further (southward and westward)—and by 1279 CE the Mongols would control all China. The Mongol Empire is at this point physically the largest contiguous empire the world has ever known—stretching well into Europe, Russia, the Middle East and the Near East, as well.
1230 CE: (SAINT) LOUIS
Decree of Louis IX (reigns 1227–1270 CE) defining the subordination of the Jews to the king and to their lords
“as if they were their serfs.”
1230–1233 CE: MAIMONIDES PUBLISHES
The controversy over Maimonides’ works rocks the Spanish and French communities; the rabbis of southern France pronounce an excommunication on anyone who reads the Guide of the Perplexed or seeks after “Greek wisdom”: a counter–excommunication is proclaimed by the Maimonidean camps of “Provence” (southern France).
(A Historical Atlas of the Jewish People)
[Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed is currently considered possibly the preeminent “establishment Jewish philosophical work.”]
1231 CE: EXCOMMUNICAMUS
–issued by Pope Gregory IX.
Excommunicamus empowers Dominican and Franciscan religious–purity courts. The nefarious Holy Inquisition Courts have their genesis.
Rosemary Ruether writes:
“The canonical legislation of the Church in the thirteenth century effected a systematic social degradation of the Jew. The Church struggled to reimpose all the old canonical and imperial anti–Judaic legislation back to Constantine. But it went beyond this in forbidding even Christian servants or nurses to the Jews under pain of excommunication.*A The Church’s basic position was that the Jew should occupy no place of eminence or power in Christian society which would ever put him in a position of authority over a Christian, however modest. The basic principle for this, as we have indicated, was that of the Servitus Judaeorum, as the reprobate status of the Jew in history.” (Ruether, Faith and Fratricide, p. 209).
*A Grayzel, The Church and the Jews, p. 25, and documents 14, 15, 29, 69, and 104; also conciliar decrees: documents 3, 16, 25, and 33.
1242 CE: PARIS TALMUD BURNING
James Carroll writes the following in his book Constantine's Sword, pp. 308–310:
“Only two blocks from Notre–Dame, on the right bank of the Seine, there stands a lovely plaza, spread like an apron before the dignified, mansard–roofed Hôtel de Ville. Not long ago, I spent a quiet afternoon sitting at a small table in one of the sidewalk cafés that line one edge of the square. Visible to my right were the soaring towers of the cathedral, their gargoyles alert. Just beyond was the needle spire of the exquisite Sainte–Chapelle, built as a reliquary for the crown of thorns, which made me think of the Seamless Robe – Helena's legacy was a alive in Paris as in Trier. Anchoring the distance, across the square, was the congested bazaar of the weekend market. Despite this lively scene, my concentration was taken over by the layered history of the place. Near here was the mustering point for the Jews of Paris rounded up on July 16, 1942. Thirteen thousand were taken away that day, four thousand of them children. There was no protest. More than half of the eighty–five thousand Jews deported from France to Nazi extermination camps came from Paris – the streets around me. Their confiscated artworks, bank accounts, and apartments are still being adjudicated.
What is the line between that day and the day in 1242 when up to twenty–four cartloads of books, something like twelve thousand volumes, were dumped onto the pavement of this same plaza? Those books were all the known copies of the Talmud to be found in Paris and its environs, brought here by the soldiers of King Lous IX, also known as (Saint) Louis. His men had invaded and ransacked Jewish homes and synagogue to get at the books.
“The faculty of the University of Paris, heirs of Peter Abelard and teachers of Thomas Aquinas, had held its trial in the form of a debate, with conscripted Jewish sages speaking for the Talmud and Dominicans speaking against. The faculty rendered its verdict: The Talmud was a work of heresy. The Talmud was the reason Jews were refusing to convert. Destroy the Talmud, and the truth of “fulfillment” arguments from the Old Testament, rationally offered, would be clear to them at last. The king's men took their stations around the mountain of books, to keep back the Jews as the torchbearer approached. The two–sword theory of (Saint) Bernard was here given its first mature expression, as the kind carried out the physical sanction decreed by the spiritual court. The bonfire was lit. The Talmud burned. It would take one and a half days to consume all volumes…”
“Here is an indictment of the Talmud solemnly given by Gregory's successor, Innocent IV (1243–1254):
Ungrateful to the Lord Jesus Christ, who, His forbearance overflowing patiently awaits their conversion, they manifest no shame for their guilt, nor do they reverence the dignity of the Christian faith. Omitting or condemning the Mosaic Law and the Prophets, they follow certain tradition of their elders. In Hebrew they call them “Thalamuth,” and an immense book it is, exceeding the text of the Bible in size, and in it are blasphemies against God and His Christ, and against the blessed Virgin, fables that are manifestly beyond all explanation, erroneous abuses, and unheard–of stupidities – yet this is what they teach and feed their children, and render them totally alien to the Law and the Prophets, bearing patent testimony to the only–begotten Son of God, who was to come in flesh, they be converted to the faith, and return humbly to their Redeemer.”
“The public burning in the great square of Paris was a first indication that a living, growing Judaism would not be allowed to survive in a Europe ever more under the sway of the sword–perverted cross. And what was written on those destroyed pages? Here are lines “picked from the Talmud at random,” as distinguished rabbi Emil Bernhard Cohn put it, '…to lift a corner of the veil':
Love of humanity is more than charity. The value of charity lies only in love, which lives in it. Love surpasses charity in three respects: Charity touches only a man's money; love touches the man himself. Charity is only for the poor; love is for both poor and rich. Charity is only for the living; love is for both living and dead. Love without reproof of errors is no love. He who judges his neighbor leniently will himself be judged leniently by God. Let man always be intelligent and affable in his God–fearing. Let him answer softly, curb his wrath and let him live in peach with his brethren and his kin and with every man, yes, even with the pagan on the street, in order that he be beloved in heaven and on earth, and be acceptable to all men. The kindly man is the truly God–fearing man.”
1247 CE: RETURN OF TALMUDS
August: Pope Innocent IV orders confiscated Talmud copies to be returned to the Jews.
1250 CE: KOREAN PRINTING PRESS
Korean Choe Yun–ui invents an iron movable type printing press; Gutenberg does the same 200 years later in Germany. Gutenberg commences printing the Bible and achieves immortality (in the West that is). Iron movable type defines the (printing) revolution.
1250 CE: MOSES DE LEÓN
–a.k.a, Moshe ben Shem Tov, born in León, Spain
Rav Moshe De León penned – or redacted – the extant version of the legendary Zohar, the preeminent iconic work of Kabbalah. De León ascribes the themes of his 1700 page opus to traditions from the spiritual giant Rav Shimon bar Yochai of the second century (thereby anchoring the work in highly formidable spiritual legitimacy).
Scholem, the twentieth century kabbalistic historian, believes the work is more de León, and less bar Yochai, meaning, less grounded in quintessential historical legitimacy. Like many kabbalistic works, the reality may very well lie somewhere in–the–middle: part original,
Note that kabbalistic writings, like much of Jewish philosophy, are more often than not a creative continuum of thought/spirituality and creative hypothesis. Drawing from the past and from the going–wisdom to–date, but with the contemporary author's neo–kabbalistic signature on it. Any philosophical or kabbalistic work not tethered to the past, simply does not fly in Jewish tradition. The issue is balance; walking a fine line. Too much anchoring and the new work lacks dynamism; too little tethering, and the work is not taken seriously. De León might have wished to emphasize the tethering if he were afraid of attack from the “right wing” of Judaism.
By contemporary times, however, de León himself, in–any–event, has achieved quite formidable parallel iconic standing.
Note that while the Zohar is penned in Aramaic, de León's other known work, Sefer ha–Rimon (The Book of the Lemon) is penned in Hebrew. Meaning, if the Zohar is much more de León than bar Yochai, he (de León) certainly went to very formidable lengths to conceal the fact. Meaning, by writing it in his second or third or fourth language, not in his primary milieu, Hebrew, to incorporate Rav Shimon bar Yaochai, De León who was an author in his own right, is investing quite heavily to anchor his works.
In his lifetime De León lived in the Spanish cities of Guadalajara, Valladolid, Avila and Arevalo, among others.
1263 CE: “THE DISPUTATION OF BARCELONA” / RAMBAN
Spain: In front of King James I of Aragon
–between the monk Pablo Christiani (a convert from Judaism), and Rabbi Nachmanides (the Ramban).
At the end of the disputation, the king awarded Nachmanides a monetary prize and declared, according to lore, that never before had he heard “an unjust cause so nobly defended.”
Nevertheless, the Dominicans claimed victory and Nachmanides was exiled and his report of the proceedings was condemned and burned.
Other historic disputations (disputationes) include:
1240 CE: Disputation of Paris
(during the reign of Louis IX of France (St. Louis)
1375 CE: Disputation of 1375 in Burgos and Avila
(both in Spain)
1413 CE: Disputation of Tortosa, Spain
staged by the Avignon Pope Benedict XIII
These disputations—under the aegis of powerful Christian personages—tend not to have “happy endings” for Jewish interests.
It is a “lose–lose” proposition for the Jews. If the Jewish advocate prevails in the debate, there are persecutions; if the Jewish advocate does not prevail in the debate, there are persecutions.
Now, back to Nachmanides…
Nachmanides (1194 CE – c.1270 CE), “The Ramban” moves to Jerusalem, where he founds the now–historic Ramban Synagogue. His most famous work is Commentary on the Torah.
1267 CE: The RAMBAN reestablishes JEWISH COMMUNAL LIFE in JERUSALEM
Jerusalem: Nahmanides, exiled from Aragon, Spain, for criticizing Christianity.
He makes aliyah to the land of Israel, where he establishes a synagogue, extant to this day, in the Old City, known, of course, as the Ramban Synagogue.
The Ramban's tenure in Jerusalem reestablishes rich cultural Jewish communal life in the Old City, which had been interrupted by the Crusades. The establishment of the Ramban Synagogue thus marks the beginning of almost 700 years of uninterrupted Jewish communal settlement in the Old City of Jerusalem, up until its temporary seizure by Jordan in the 1948 war.
1270 CE: THE TUR
–a.k.a. Arb'ah Turim
–by Rav Jacob ben Asher (1270–1343 CE) a.k.a. Baal ha–Turim.
Halakhic code, rabbinic classic Arba'ah Turim (The Four Rows).
The 4–part structure and its division into chapters (simanim) was later adopted in the Shulchan Aruch
(the enduring Code of Jewish Law
The four Turim (rows) are as follows:
|Orach Chayim –||laws of prayer and synagogue, Sabbath and Holidays|
|Yoreh De'ah –||Schechita (ritual slaughtering)
and inter–related kashrut
|Even Ha'ezer –||laws of marriage, divorce|
|Choshen Mishpat –||laws of finance, financial legal responsibility, damages,
and legal procedure
c. 1271 CE: AQUINAS
Thomas Aquinas completes Summa Theologica.
Aquinas, born in 1225 CE in Naples, Italy, dies in 1274 CE at age 49 of illness while en route to the Second Council of Lyons. He is canonized 1323 CE. Writing metaphysics and philosophy in the Aristotelian tradition within a Christian framework, along with some anti–Jewish sub–themes, he is a towering figure in Church philosophical–religious tradition.
Maimonides’ works are most definitely disseminated through Europe preceding Aquinas by 70 years.
The striking parallels between the two corpuses are significant.
“Aquinas would imitate Maimonides’ methods and retrace his lines of inquiry [without any attribution to Maimonides], knowing full well he was a Jew.” (i.e. without attribution to Maimonides)
– James Carroll in Constantine's Sword (p. 302)
1281 CE: ROYAL CASTILIAN EXTORTIONIST
January: Alfonso X of Castile, a region of Spain (reign 1252–1284 CE) orders the wholesale arrest of Jews and demands an enormous ransom for their release.
1285 CE: ABULAFIA publishes LIGHT of the INTELLECT
Jewish philosopher Abraham ibn Abulafia was born in Zaragoza, Spain, in 1240 CE and is considered the founder of the school of “Prophetic Kabbalah.”
His works include:
• Sefer ha–Ge'ulah (1273), a commentary on The Guide for the Perplexed
• Sefer ayyei ha–Nefesh, a commentary on The Guide for the Perplexed
• Sefer ha–Yashar (“Book of the Upright/Righteous”) (1279)
• Sefer Sitrei Torah (1280), a commentary on The Guide for the Perplexed
• Ayyei ha–Olam ha–Ba (“Life of the World to Come”) (1280)
• Or ha–Sekhel (“Light of the Intellect”)
• Get ha–Shemot
• Mafte'a ha–Re`ayon
• Gan Na'ul, a commentary on Sefer Yetzirah
• Otzar Eden Ganuz, another commentary on Sefer Yetzirah
• Sefer ha–eshek
• Sefer ha–Ot (“Book of the Sign”) (1285 x 1288)
• Imrei Shefer (“Words of Beauty”) (1291)
1288 CE: RALBAG
Rav Levi ben Gershon (1288 CE – 1344 CE), better known as Gersonides
–rabbi, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer/astrologer, and Talmudist.
Born at Bagnols in Languedoc, France. His philosophical classic is “Sefer Milhamot Ha–Shem” (The Wars of the Lord).
In the twentieth century, the astronomical community names a crater on the moon after him – “the Levi Crater.”
1290 CE: JEWS EXPELLED FROM ENGLAND
…by Edward I
The “legal” vehicle was the “Statute of Jewry.”
1291 CE: SACREANS (MUSLIMS) CAPTURE ACCRE
–last Christian stronghold in Palestine; end of Crusades after 200 years.
1294 CE: KUBLAI KHAN DIES
–after 35–year reign establishing Ming dynasty.
1295 CE: ENGLAND’S MODEL PARLIAMENT—EDWARD I
…summons bishops, knights, and burgesses from all parishes for first representative parliament.
1296 CE: A GENOESE PRISONER
Marco Polo, writes about his travels to the Orient.
1300 CE: START: JEWISH PERSECUTION AND MASSACRES: SPAIN
Span of this round of Spanish persecutions:
Massacres: 1366 and 1391 CE
Forced conversions: 1391 > 1492 CE
(see 1492 CE Jews, Church & Civilization Volume III)
1302 CE: FINAL END OF THE CRUSADES
The iconic (Christian Crusaders) Knights Templar retreated to a small island (Ruad) off the coast of Syria for several years. However, they were ultimately routed by the (Muslim) Mamluks in a preemptive Mamluk attack September 26, 1302 CE.
1302 CE: “UNAM SANCTAM”
“Unam Sanctam,” papal bull of Pope Boniface VIII (papacy 1294–1303 CE), asserts papal supremacy over every human being. Historians consider this one of the most extreme official statements of papal spiritual and temporal supremacy ever made.
Leaving no stone unturned, the papal bull ends –
“Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Today, Boniface is probably best remembered for his feuds with (the poet–writer) Dante, who placed him in a circle of Hell in his Divine Comedia.
1302 CE: Estates–General
a.k.a States–General a.k.a. French Parliament
King Philip IV of France convenes first Estates–General – as a consequence of his (Philip the Fair’s) dispute with the (somewhat overbearing) Pope Boniface VII (just noted above).
All three “estates” are present for the first time –
“First Estate” – the Clergy
“Second Estate” – the Nobility
“Third Estate” – commoners*
* Initially these “commoners” were only from bonnes villes – privileged towns, and in any event, had miniscule power at the Estates–General.
1306 CE: ENGLISH EXPULSION
England expels 100,000 Jews who remained after the Edward expulsion order of 1290
1306 CE: MAJOR JEWISH EXPULSION FROM FRANCE
–by Louis XIV [Philip the Fair] (reign 1285–1314)
The Jews are expelled from France, and Philip inserts himself in the place of the expelled Jewish moneylenders, with the Christian debtors required to direct all monies previously owed to the Jews, to the Crown.
The Jews were apparently “missed” as the agents of the King and of new non–Jewish creditors had a habit of flaying–alive any recalcitrant creditors.
The Jews are readmitted—officially for a 12–year period—by Louis X (reign 1314–1316) in 1315 (for a 122,500 livres “group package price”).
However, the Jews are officially re–expelled –79 years later –this time by Charles VI (reign 1380–1422) – via the moderately enforced ordinance Religieux de St. Denis of September 17, 1394. All the debtors (Christian) were released from their debts.
1307 CE: Betrayal OF THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
Pope Clement, under pressure from Philip, King of France, has the Knights Templar arrested, tortured and condemned.
Two centuries into its ascendancy as an increasingly popular Christian military order, the Templars—which also had a strong banking arm—were set–up and framed by their debtor, King Philip. Then many were tortured and/or burnt to death.
With their distinctive white mantles each with a red cross, often an advance force in key battles of the Crusades, the Templars had captured the fancy of many across Christendom.
The pope and the king, each had their own tactical interests—consolidation of political power and financial forgiveness, respectively—in betraying, framing, undermining, destroying and murdering the Knights Templar. Few betrayals in history could—or would—match this one.
c. 1310 CE: PERFECTION OF THE MECHANICAL CLOCK
1314 CE: SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE
Battle of Bannockburn (in Wars of Scottish Independence 1296–1357 CE) assures independence of Scotland. 30,000 Scotsmen under Robert the Bruce (reign 1306–1329 CE) a.k.a. King Robert I rout 100,000 English led by King Edward II (reign 1307–1327 CE) a.k.a. Edward of Carnarvon.
Robert was the “George Washington of Scotland.” He is referred to as “the Hero King” by many Scottish writers.
1314 CE: DANTE writes The Divine Comedy
The work is widely considered the epic poem of Italian literature.
The 14,000 line poem is written in the first person, and tells of Dante’s journey through the three realms of the dead.
The 14,000 lines are divided into three sections (canticas, or cantiche in Italian)
A possible summary structural breakdown of Dante’s works might be as follows:
|works in Latin:||De vulgari eloquentia|
** condemned and burned after Dante’s death by the Papal Legate Bertrasndo del Poggetto
|works in Italian:||La Vita Nuova|
|Inferno / Purgatorio / Paradiso|
Dante Alighieri (1265–1321) was a Florentine (Italy) poet of the Middle Ages. In Italian he is known as “il Sommo Poeta” – the Supreme Poet.
From Dante’s Divine Comedy–
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”
– Dante’s Inferno, canto 3, lines 35–42
1325 CE: TENOCHTITLAN
Mexico City has its beginning in the city of Tenochtitlan founded by Aztecs at Lake Texcoco.
1326 CE: FIRST MENTION OF GUNPOWDER
(in Venice) for warfare
1328 CE: LOUIS IV OF FRANCE
–invades Italy and declares Pope John XXII deposed for heresy
1333 CE: TUTANKHAMUN, 8, becomes King of Egypt
Egyptian “New Kingdom” period. He rules for 10 years.
Tutankhamun dies at age eighteen, apparently from infection from a broken leg, possibly from a chariot mishap.
1337 CE: BEGINNING OF “HUNDRED YEARS’ WAR”
–between England and France—Edward III assumes title of King of France; French king Philip VI contests England’s claims to Normandy.
1340 CE: RABBI IMMANUEL BEN JACOB BONFILS
Jewish Encyclopedia –
“Physician, mathematician, and astronomer; lived at Orange, France, and later at Tarascon, in the fourteenth century. He was the contemporary of the astronomer Levi ben Gerson of Bagnols. At one time Bonfils taught astronomy and mathematics at Orange. He was the author of the following works: (1) a treatise on the relation between the diameter and the circumference, followed by rules for extracting the square root, and with an explanation of a passage of the “Book of Creation,” dealing with arithmetic (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS. No. 1290, 5); (2) arithmetical propositions respecting division, and extraction of the square root, and notes on astronomy (ib. No. 1081, 1, 2); (3) “Derek Hilluk” (Way of Division), notes on the decimal numbers (ib. No. 1054, 6); (4) “Bi’ur me–Luhot,” treatise on the middle course of the planets (ib. No. 1054, 6); (5) table for the calculation of the declination of the sun; (6) “Luat Mattanah Tobah” (Table of Good Gift), on the determination of the planet Venus from 1300 to 1357; (7) “Bi’ur Asiyat ha–Istrolab,” on the construction of the astrolabe (ib. Nos. 1050, 6; 1054, 2); (8) note on the cycles (Neubauer, “Cat. Bodl. Hebr. MSS.” No. 1483, 4); (9) “Kanfe Nesharim” (Wings of Eagles), or “Shesh Kenafayim” (Six Wings), a treatise on conjunctions, appositions, eclipses, etc. (this work enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages, being translated into Latin in 1406, commented upon by Chrysocca, and the Hebrew text published by Nahmu Bibowitz, Jitomir, 1872); (10) “Ma’amar ‘Erek ha–Hilluf” (Treatise on the Value of Inequalities), dealing with the inequalities of the course of the sun and the moon, and the necessity of taking into consideration these inequalities in calculating conjunctions, appositions, eclipses, etc. (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, MS. No. 1054, 13); (11) astrological treatise on the seven constellations (ib. No. 1048, 4); (12) a commentary on a passage of Ibn Ezra’s commentary on Ex. xxx. 2, relative to the Tetragrammaton (ib. No. 825, 8; MSS. Munich, Nos. 343, 386); (13) “Bi’ur ‘al M’ozene Hanok,” commentary on the balances of Enoch and Hermes, mentioned in Abraham ibn Ezra’s “Sefer ha–Moladot” (ib. No. 903, 1); (14) note on the nine comets, attributed to Ptolemy, but be lieved to belong to Bonfils; (15) “Toledot Alexander,” the legend of Alexander, translated from the “Historia de Prœliis” of Leon.”
Jewish Encyclopedia online, http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=1295&letter=B&search=rabbi%20immanuel%20ben%20jacob%20bonfils
1341 CE: ENGLAND PARLIAMENT DIVIDED
–into Upper House (Lords) and Lower House (Commons)
1343 CE: CASIMIR
Jews specifically invited to Poland (to join the existing Jewish populace) by Casimir the Great.
Casimir III of Poland (1310–1370 CE) was the last king of Poland from the Piast Dynasty (1333–1370 CE).
On October 9, 1334 he had confirmed the privileges granted to Jewish Poles back in 1264 by Boleslaw V the Chaste. Under penalty of death, Casimir prohibited the kidnapping of Jewish children for the purpose of enforced Christian baptism. He inflicted severe punishment for the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
Casimir was the son of King Wladyslaw I the Elbow–high and his wife Hedwig of Kalisz (for those who track these matters). As he had no sons, Casimir was succeeded by his nephew, King Louis I of Hungary.
1345 CE: NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame Cathedral completed in Paris after 182 years of construction.
“Our Lady” in French, its construction had spanned the Gothic period. Construction had commenced back in1163 CE by Bishop of Paris de Sully. The cathedral is widely considered the finest example of French Gothic architecture.
In the 1900s, a major renovation restored the cathedral to its original state prior to desecrations and serious damage during the French Revolution in the 1790s. In the early 1900s Victor Hugo crafts his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame around the cathedral.
1346 CE: BATTLE OF CRECY
(Cressy in English, south of Calais, France)
–establishes England as military power; English longbowmen change the face of warfare.
One of the most important battles of the Hundred Years War, the primary antagonistic alliances of which being England–Holy Roman Empire v. France–Bohemia.
1347 CE: BLACK PLAGUE
–devastates Europe 1346 CE – 1353 CE.
Bubonic plague pandemic originated in Central Asia and swept across Asia, Europe and Africa.
The plague possibly reduced the population of the just–noted land mass from 450 million to 360 million, with local density–of–population and hygiene deficiencies directly impacting infection.
Some Jewish historians assert that built–in hygiene codes and mores in Judaism lowered the infection rates—but that these lower infection rates then aggravated suspicion that the Jews were complicitous. Many thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of Jews were killed in the associated plague–related pogroms against them across Europe.
That same year, the Black Plague hits Jerusalem.
1349 CE: The JEWS of TRIER accused of well poisoning
Entire Jewish population of Trier, Germany slaughtered.
The Cathedral of Trier, the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Trier, is the oldest (340s CE) cathedral in Germany.
Trier is located on the Moselle River, in what was then the ancient northern capital of the Holy Roman Empire. For a span, Trier was known as the seat of several sequential, powerful Catholic bishops. The town then ultimately passed through French hands (1794), and then into Prussian hands (1815). The particular Prussian area later became part of Germany (1871).
1349 CE: OCKHAM
Death of William of Ockham, English philosopher, who sowed seeds of independence of church and state.
1351 CE: BOCCACCIO begins writing The DECAMERON
–The Decameron being a collection of 100 novellas centered around the theme of love, across a spectrum of its variations.
Note that Boccaccio, an Italian storyteller, had just survived the Black Death of 1348.
1353 CE: STATUE OF PRAEMUNRIE
(English) Parliament’s Statue of Praemunrie forbids appeals to the Pope.
1359 CE: RIKSDAG
First Swedish Riksdag (parliament); all classes represented
1360 CE: FRENCH FRANC
First francs coined in France
1360 CE: JEW EXPELLED FROM BRESLAU
Breslau (Wroclaw), Silesia, Kingdom of Bohemia (now in southwest Poland, the fourth largest city in Poland).
Over the centuries the city has been part of Poland, Bohemia, Prussia or Germany.
1366 CE: ENGLISH PARLIAMENT REBUFFS POPE
Parliament refuses to pay feudal tribute to Pope.
1366 CE: NO “INTERMARRIAGE”
Statute of Kilkenny forbids marriage between Irish and English.
1377 CE: AVIGNON > ROME
Leaving Avignon, Pope Gregory XI moves papal court to Rome; ending the “Babylonian Captivity”
1378 CE: THE GREAT SCHISM
The Great Schism divides the Catholic Church for 39 years when two opposing popes are elected—Pope Urban V in Rome and Pope Clement VII in Avignon.
1387 CE: CHAUCER begins writing CANTERBURY TALES
–a collection of stories told by a collection of pilgrims on a pilgrimage from Southwalk (England) to visit the shrine of (Saint) Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.
1405 CE: The MING VOYAGES COMMENCE
(Chinese) Ming Dynasty naval expeditions launch under the aegis of Emperor Zhu Di, and under the over–all command of Fleet Admiral Zheng, the voyages spanning 1405 CE – 1433 CE.
Fleet Admiral Zheng’s seven expeditions (he personally was not on all of them) traverse a good portion of the globe, but the exact extent is not known for sure. The first armada in 1405 carried 28,000 men, and was composed of 300+ vessels, including 62 super–sized Treasure Ships. Fleet Admiral Zheng’s multi–decked Treasure Ships could carry up to 500 troops each when configured for military use.
The Ming Dynasty spans 1369 CE – 1644 CE, following the collapse of the Mongol–led Yuan Dynasty.
Founder of the Ming is Emperor Hongwu, known for super–scale construction projects, including renovation of the Grand Canal, renovation–expansion of the Great Wall of China, and the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Ming is ruled by the Hans, the largest Chinese ethnic group, and eventually succumbs to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng.
See 1421 CE for more focus on Zheng in the 1421–1423 period.
1415 CE: BATTLE OF AGINCOURT
Henry V leads English archers in victory over larger French cavalry.
Northern France: Hundred Year’s War.
Outnumbered ten to one by the French, Henry V of England, age 28, and his longbow–armed troops, prevail over the army of Charles VI.
As we say in the strategy trade, a few longbows go a long way.
A bit later in 1599, Shakespeare will immortalize the battle in his play Henry V (of course).
1420 CE: PRINCE HENRY the NAVIGATOR
May 21: Portugal: Prince Henry gains appointment (from his father King John I) as head of the very wealthy Order of Christ, the Portuguese successor to the Knights Templar.
The prior year, 1419, Henry had been appointed governor of the province of Algarve.
From these two power bases, Prince Henry would direct notable Portuguese study and advances in the inter–related fields of cartography, navigation and exploration, in particular. Prince Henry (born 1394, the third son in–line) evolves into the prime catalyst for Portuguese sea navigation up through his death (in 1460). He leaves a major historic legacy as steward of Portugal’s historic explorations.
The following Portuguese captains/explorers, among others, set out under his aegis: Zarco, Perestrelo, Teixeira, Velho, Eanes, Tristão, Goncalves, Dias (Diaz), Cadamosto and da Gama.
In parallel, Prince Henry played a key role in consolidating and advancing Portuguese advanced study in all the major disciplines of the time. Eventually, in 1431, he consolidated all the various centers of study in his formidable orbit—both of the hard sciences and the soft—into the Estudo Geral, which eventually evolved into the University of Lisbon.
1421 CE: ZHENG!
Fleet Admiral Zheng He, Ming Dynasty, China:
According to the very carefully—and convincingly—presented “1421” thesis of researcher, ex–Royal Navy submariner and history writer Gavin Menzies (Harper Collins publishers, © 2002) one of Fleet Admiral Zheng’s fleets [under the command of Captain Zhou Wen] reached the Americas in 1421 (beating Columbus by 71 years) and traversed the entire American East Coast (not just one Caribbean Island, as per Columbus); and one fleet [under the command of Captain Zhou Man] traversed the entire California Coast (1421–2) as part of its historic circumnavigating of the entire globe (1421–3), beating Ferdinand Magellan’s almost–circumnavigation by about 100 years). Magellan was a Portuguese maritime explorer in the service of the Spanish crown.
Zheng’s multi–decked Treasure Ships had nine masts, and were roughly ten times the size of European vessels of 60–80 years later. The largest Treasure Ships were 600 feet long—or twice the length of a football field—or 6/10 the length of the 20th century’s longest cruise ship, the super liner queen Mary. To put matters in–perspective, the entire 3–ship fleet of Columbus could have fit on the deck of just one of the 62 Treasure Ships in Zheng’s fleet, which pre–dated Columbus’s sojourn by half a century.
The collective voyages of Zheng are sometimes collectively referred to as “The Voyages of Eunuch Sanbao to the Western Ocean” or “The Voyages of Zheng He to the Western Ocean.”
Zheng himself, perhaps the greatest explorer of all time, lived 1371–1433 CE.
1429 CE: JOAN OF ARC RALLIES THE TROOPS
Fifteenth century, France
Heroine to Roman Catholic France at age 17 (1429 CE), after she rallies French troops to lift the British siege of Orleans.
Two years later in the Hundred Years War, at age 19, she is captured in Rouen, France and burnt at the stake by her British captors. She thus enters immortality.
Her burning at the stake will not advance British fortunes, to put it mildly. Joan of Arc is later canonized, in 1920.
1438 CE: INCA DYNASTY
Andes, Mountains, Peru, 1438 CE – 1553 CE. Its preeminent founder is Pachacutec (“earth shaker”).
Sun–worship–centered society, complete with advanced astronomically–oriented temple city on Machu Picchu mountaintop. Human sacrifice at solstice time.
The Incas were conquered by Pizarro (primarily in the 1532–1542 period, but, finally by 1572), who they misread as a potentially advancing God, after the Incas had already been weakened by smallpox (by the same advancing Portuguese) and internecine succession wars.
1448 CE: DRACULA
The original, the “inspiration” for the later (1897) literary figure.
Vlad Dracula of Transylvania (present–day Romania) reigns 1448, 1452–62, and 1476, apparently exceedingly cruel even by medieval standards. He is also known as Vlad the Impaler. (You don’t want to know.)
1449 CE: The MEDICI
Fifteenth century zenith, Italy.
Standard–bearer Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449 CE – 1492 CE) leader of Florence during the Golden Age of the Renaissance (midway through the Medici family 400 year TimeLine).
The Medici family was a fabulously wealthy and formidably powerful Florentine political family group from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. The Medici produced three popes (Leo X, Clement VII, and Leo XI) and several rulers of Europe, including Catherine de Medici (1519–1605) Queen of France, and Marie de Medici (1573–1642) Queen and Regent of France. The family heavily financed the Arts, and played an important and historic role in the beginning of the Italian Renaissance. It intermittently ferociously tangled with the Vatican, as well (when it wasn’t controlling it, of course).
1452 CE: LEONARDO DA VINCI BORN
Italy, 1452 CE – 1519 CE. One of history’s most extraordinary artists
1453 CE: SACK OF CONSTANTINOPLE
–by the Turks; Christian refugees are welcomed into Florence bring their libraries, including ancient copies of the Greek Septuagint, with them; this encourages the revival of “New Learning” throughout western Europe and will make possible Erasmus’s ground breaking work on the Greek New Testament (the basis of the Textus Receptus).
1453 CE: End of Hundred Years War between England and France
1455 CE: Gutenberg Bible PRINTED
–by Johann Gutenberg
Mainz, Germany: The printing—employing a movable type printing press—of an edition of the Vulgate (the early fifth century Latin version of the Torah and the New Testament) by the goldsmith Gutenberg, is heralded as the start of the Gutenberg Revolution (in the West).
The first known movable type was actually invented (as noted in other entries in this work) in China by Bi Sheng out of ceramic circa 1041–1048 CE. Metal movable type was first invented in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty (c. 1230 CE). Gutenberg’s movable type was created from an alloy of lead, tin and alimony —the same components still used today in this genre production.
1455 CE: WAR OF ROSES
–begins in England
1473 CE: COPERNICUS BORN
1475 CE: BLOOD LIBEL: SIMON OF TRENT
Simon of Trent, at two, disappears, and his father alleges that he had been kidnapped and murdered by the local Jewish community. Fifteen local Jews were sentenced to death and burned. Simon was regarded as a saint, and was canonized by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. His status as a saint was removed in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, though his murder is still promoted as a fact by a handful of extremists.
1481 CE: THE Spanish Inquisition
Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, the rulers of Spain, declare the Spanish Inquisition.
All the Jews in their territory were compelled to convert to Christianity or flee the country. While some converted, many others left for Morocco and North Africa. Confessions were “extracted. Estimates are that between four and eight thousand secret Jews (Marranos)—or perceived secret Jews—were burnt alive.
Torquemada was the notorious Chief Inquisitor of the Church. His name justifiably becomes synonymous with evil incarnate. [Note that the crimes of the Inquisition (and they were many), affected Moors and Muslims, as well].
1481 CE: BAYEZID II
“Bayezid II (nick–named Hüdavendigâr – from Persian: Khodāvandgār – “the God–like One”) (3 December 1447/1448 – May 26, 1512) (Ottoman Turkish: Bāyezīd–i sānī, Turkish: II.Bayezid or II.Beyazıt) was the oldest son and successor of Mehmed II, ruling as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1481 to 1512. During his reign, Bayezid II consolidated the Ottoman Empire and thwarted a Safavid rebellion soon before abdicating his throne to his son, Selim I.
Bayezid II also sent out the Ottoman navy under the command of Kemal Reis to Spain in 1492 in order to save the Arabs and Sephardic Jews who were expelled by the Spanish Inquisition. He sent out proclamations throughout the empire that the refugees were to be welcomed. He granted the refugees the permission to settle in the Ottoman Empire and become Ottoman citizens. He ridiculed the conduct of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile in expelling a class of people so useful to their subjects. “You venture to call Ferdinand a wise ruler,” he said to his courtiers — “he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine!”
Spanish refugees, but to give them a friendly and welcome reception. He threatened with death all those who treated the Jews harshly or refused them admission into the empire. Moses Capsali, who probably helped to arouse the Bajazet addressed a firman to all the governors of his European provinces, ordering them not only to refrain from repelling the sultan’s friendship for the Jews, was most energetic in his assistance to the exiles. He made a tour of the communities, and was instrumental in imposing a tax upon the rich, to ransom the Jewish victims of the persecutions then prevalent.
The Arabs and Jews of Spain contributed much to the rising power of the Ottoman Empire by introducing new ideas, methods and craftsmanship. The first Gutenberg press in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) was established by the Sephardic Jews in 1493 (as early as 1483 there had been a Jewish printing establishment in Istanbul).
It is reported that under Bajazet’s reign, Jews enjoyed a period of and cultural flourishing, with the presence of such scholars as Mordecai Comtino; Solomon ben Elijah Sharbit ha–Zahab; Shabbethai ben Malkiel Cohen, and Menahem Tamar.”
Wikipedia Online, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayezid_II#cite_note–2 (accessed July 21, 2009)
Egger, Vernon O. (2008). A History of the Muslim World Since 1260: The Making of a Global Community. Prentice Hall. p. 82.
1484 CE: KING ARTHUR LEGENDS
Caxton prints Morte D’Arthur, the poetic collection of legends about King Arthur compiled by Sir Thomas Malory.
1485 CE: COMMENCEMENT: TUDOR DYNASTY
Henry VII crowned first king of 117–year Tudor dynasty.
1486 CE: SONCINO
Legendary Italian siddur (Prayer Book) printed by Soncino.
But siddurs certainly existed in handwritten versions for perhaps 1,500 years prior.
1488 CE: GUIDE TO JEWISH LAW
Rabbi Yosef Karo spends 20 years compiling the Beit Yosef, an enormous guide to Jewish law. He then writes a more concise guide, the Shulkhan Arukh, that becomes the standard law guide for the next 400 years. Born in Spain, Yosef Karo lives and dies in Safed.
1488 CE: OBADIAH BEN ABRAHAM
–Commentator on the Mishnah, arrives in Jerusalem and marks a new epoch for the Jewish community.
1489 CE: PLUS & MINUS
Symbols + [plus] and – [minus] come into use
1490 CE: BLOOD LIBEL: Christopher of Toledo
Christopher of Toledo, also known as Christopher of La Guardia or “the Holy Child of La Guardia,” was a four–year–old Christian boy supposedly murdered by two Jews and three Conversos (converts to Christianity).
In total, eight men were executed. It is now believed that this case was constructed by the Spanish Inquisition to facilitate the expulsion of Jews from Spain. He was canonized by Pope Pius VII in 1805. Christopher has since been removed from the canon, though once again, a handful of individuals still claim the validity of this case.
1492 CE: GRANADA: HISTORICAL PIVOT POINT
Spanish forces conquer city of Granada, expelling Islamic Moors from Iberian peninsula.
1492 CE: COLUMBUS “DISCOVERS” AMERICA
Christopher Columbus, with three ships and 78 men set sail on September 6 after first attempt aborted; arrives in the Bahamas, thinking he has reached the East Indies.
He introduces Europeans to the pineapple, parrots, Indians, peppers, allspice, maize, and sweet potatoes.
1492 CE: GLOBE
Nuremberg geographer Behaim constructs first terrestrial globe.
1492 CE: INFAMOUS EXPULSION: ALHAMBRA
Jews driven from Spain; the infamous “Alhambra Decree”
Regents Ferdinand and Isabelle are the perpetrators. Some Jews accept the Cross, while well over 100,000 (possibly up to 200,000) leave.
This is 11 years into Spanish Inquisition (see above) which was primarily focused on Marranos—Jews who secretly practiced their faith while posturing as Christians.
1492 is the same year as the voyage of Columbus, hence the suspicion that not only part of his crew and/or his translators, but Columbus, as well, may have been Jewish, especially since he apparently used Hebrew serifs (fancy letter heads) in his penmanship. (Maybe .0001 percent of even the Jewish population knows Hebrew serifs, but possibly a Jewish relative or friend of Columbus was a scribe.)
In any event, the Spanish (then Portuguese) expulsions changed the contours of Jewish demography, flinging the elite Iberian Peninsula Jewish community, across the far–reaches of the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Northern Europe, India, and the New World.
For those families who settle in Arab lands in the 1500s, the establishment of the State Israel 450 years later in 1948 will be another mega–earthquake rocking the status quo yet once again for them.
Underground or overground, the former Iberian Peninsula Jews will tenaciously hold onto their distinctive and rich Sephardic traditions.
Jews, Church & Civilization
in Volume IV