The Jews of Christian Europe were the first victims of the Crusaders' zeal, and the survivors produced accounts of the massacres they had witnessed. The Jews and the Crusaders contains a full English translation of these chronicles, which cover the First and Second crusades, years in which a wave of slaughter and suicide swept the Jews of France and Germany, and demonstrated the Jews' stubborn refusal to abandon their faith. Shlomo Eidelberg has translated four important primary documents from the original Hebrew, providing a perspective on the Crusades that has until now remained relatively obscure to the English-speaking world, thus serving both historians of early Christian Europe and Judaic scholars. The unique emotional power of each chronicle may be felt in the translation. The "Chronicle of Solomon bar Samson" is a moving narrative concerning the Rhineland massacres. The second chronicle, that of Eliezer bar Nathan, interprets some of the same events in elegiac style and liturgical language while the third chronicle, "The Mainz Anonymous" though fragmented, is highly analytical in nature. The fourth chronicle, Sefer Zekhirah, is a personal description of the second Crusade, full of poignant detail. Together, the chronicles present a moving human record of these events, of value not only to professional historians but to all who seek to broaden their understanding of the Jewish experience. These documents will be of further value in that they exemplify eleventh and twelfth century literary style, combining factual accounts and descriptions of events with encomia and liturgical elements. In these four chronicles, this genre is enriched with language and style derived from a mixture of biblical, Talmudic, and midrashic literature. Professor Eidelberg, in his introduction, provides a succinct review of the economic, political, religious, and emotional milieu of the period, thus placing the chronicles in a helpful perspective. The text is further enhanced by extensive annotation and an index.
Translated by Shlomo Eidelberg
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