1240 ARCHBISHOP GAUTIER (France)
Tried to defend the Talmud during a debate, but was overruled by the Church tribunal.
1240 YEAR 5000 IN CREATION
Believed to be the age of the Messiah. For this reason, many Jews did not prepare a proper defense against the Crusaders and were helpless against their onslaught.
1240 - 1306 ABBA MARI BEN MOSES YARHI ( Provence France)
Talmudist and philosopher. Abba Mari (aka Don Astruc) is known as one of the leaders of the anti Maimonides group, which feared the effect of Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed and and specifically Aristotelian rationalism. He requested from Solomon Ben Aderet (The Rashba) to ban the study of philosophy and science until at least the age of 25. Abba Mari published his correspondence with Aderet in his work Minchat Kenaot, "Jealous (zealous) offering". Aderet's positive response set off a major schism in Spanish and Southern French Jewry (see 1305).
1240 - 1292 ABRAHAM ABULAFIA (Spain- Comino,Malta)
Kabbalist and pseudo Messiah. As a young man he traveled, searching for the legendary Sambati'on River. He wrote numerous books some of them ( Sefer ha-Geulah, Sefer Chayei ha-Nefesh(,) were on Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed . Others, including Or ha-Sekhel( ("Light of the Intellect"), and Chayei ha-Olam ha-Ba( ("Life of the World to Come") concern meditation as a tool to achieve prophetic understanding. He founded what became known as "Prophetic Kabbalah" which was rejected by all mainstream kabbalists. Abulafia analyzed the Hebrew alphabet and the letters in God's name, calling it Chochmat ha zeruf (Science of letter analyzation). He was strongly opposed by Solomon Aderet who believed he was posing as a messianic pretender.
1240 - 1305 MOSES BEN SHEM TOV LEON (Lyon, France)
Publisher and possibly the author of the Zohar, which he attributed to the second century Tanna, Shimon bar Yochai. Written in Aramaic, it flowed with complex symbolism and mythology. It became the major component of the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), expounding four steps of biblical interpretation: literal, aggadic, philosophical and Raza de Mehmanuta - secret mystery of faith.
1240 June 25, NICHOLAS DONIN (France)
A renegade Jew under the patronage of Louis IX. He convinced Pope Gregory IX to confiscate the Talmud on the grounds that it was anti-Christian. A debate ensued with Rabbi Yehiel of Paris and three other Rabbis speaking in defense of the Talmud. Rabbi Yehiel wasn't allowed to counterattack or take the offensive in his argument.
1241 LONDON (England)
Approximately 2000 Jews lived in London. Many of the wealthier Jews had synagogues in their homes to get around the difficulty of obtaining a permit to build a synagogue.
1241 May 24, FRANKFURT(-ON-MAIN) (Germany)
A Jewish boy preparing for baptism was persuaded by his parents to repent. As a result, local Christians attacked the Jews who fought back and a number of townspeople were killed. As the attack intensified and seeing no other option, the Jews set fire to their houses. The fire spread to the rest of the community, destroying nearly half the city. One hundred and eighty Jews died, and twenty-four agreed to be baptized. Conrad IV, the emperor's son, granted amnesty to the Christian residents.
1242 June 6, BURNING OF THE TALMUD (Paris, France)
All copies of the Talmud had been confiscated by decree of Pope Gregory IX and King Louis. Declaring that the reason for the stubbornness of the Jews was their study of the Talmud, the Pope called for an investigation of the Talmud that resulted in its condemnation and burning. Twenty-four cartloads of Hebrew manuscripts (ten-twelve thousand volumes) were publicly burned in the Palace de Greve).
1243 BERLITZ (Berlin, Germany)
First accusation of desecration of the Host. The sanctity of the Host (the wafer and wine distributed as part of the ceremony of the Eucharist during Mass) is based on the doctrine of transubstantiation. In this doctrine (officially recognized in 1215), the wafer and wine is viewed by the Church as a substitute for Christ's body and blood. Therefore, an attack on the Host was considered a direct attack on the body of Jesus. This was the first of many times that the Jews were accused of "killing" Christ or torturing him by sticking pins into or burning the Host. In this case, the response to this accusation wiped out the entire Jewish population of Berlitz. Incidents of Host desecration accusations were as recent as 1836 (Romania).
1243 August 6, KITZINGEN, BAVERIA (Germany)
Ritual murder accusation. Fifteen Jews were tortured to death. Their corpses lay in the street for a fortnight before they were allowed to be buried.
1243 December 14, LONDON (England)
King Henry III turned a confiscated synagogue into the chapel of St. Mary. Many other synagogues were also confiscated and turned into churches, including one which became St. Thomas' Hospital.
1244 DIRECTIVE TO MEDICAL STUDENTS (Sicily)
A medical student “must swear never to consult with a Jew or with illiterate women”. The implication being that you were allowed to consult with an educated woman but not with a Jew.
1244 BIRTH OF ISAAC BEN SOLOMON SAHULA (Castile)
b.1244 ISAAC BEN SOLOMON SAHULA (Castile)
Poet, scholar and physician. He is the author of Meshal ha-Kadmoni (Proverb of the Ancients), a large collections of stories and fables taken from mostly Jewish resources. He wrote this as an alternative to those who were reading translations of books such as the voyages of Sinbad. It was originally printed in 1491 and richly illustrated with miniatures and woodcuts.
1244 March 9, PAPAL BULL IMPIA GENS.
Pope Innocent IV in a letter to the King Louis IX of France ordered the Talmud to be burned. "Our dear Son, the Chancellor of Paris, and the Doctors, before the clergy and people, publicly burned by fire the aforesaid books (The Talmud) with all their appendices.” Two months later( May 9) he also issued papal bull Impia judeorum perfidia (The Disrespectful, Deceitful Jews). In it he called the Jews a "perfidious" race reaffirming the restrictions on Jews implemented by Pope Gregory IX. The Talmud was banned and Jews were prohibited from hiring Catholics to for manual labor including employing Christian nurses or servants because their faith might become confused.
1244 June 1, AUSTRIAN DUKE FREDERICK II (The Quarrelsome)
The last Babenburg duke. He issued a charter to the Jews granting them freedom from interference in their synagogues and cemeteries, and protection from the kidnapping of their children. Many later charters were based on it, including those in Poland, Hungary, Bohemia and Moravia. It assured freedom of movement within the ducal territories, and the obligation to pay the same tolls as their Christian neighbors.
1244 July 15, KHWARIZMI TURKS
Conquer Jerusalem. Originating in Persia, they raised the city leaving less than 2,000 people alive. It would remain a small town for the next 300 years
1246 CHURCH CONFERENCE OF BEZIERS (France)
Prohibited Jewish physicians from practicing on Christian patients. Ironically not long afterwards the brother of King Louis IX, Alphonse count of Poitiers (1220-1271), requested that a certain Abraham famed as an eye doctor, treat him. Abraham at first refused stating that even the kings brother had to follow the rules of the church. He was persuaded otherwise.
1247 PROCLOMATION OF PROTECTION (Kingdom Of Aragon)
King James I (1208-1276) offered the Jews protection and privileges in many areas of his country, mostly in those re-conquered. This led to a flowering of culture and participation within his realm. One of those who held high office was Judah ben Lavi de la Caballeria, who from 1257 to 1276, was in charge of the administration of the property of the king and judicial matters. A little over 210 years later one of his decedents Alfonso de la Caballeria , a ”new Christian”, served as vice-chancellor of Aragon and a strong supporter of Columbus.
1247 - 1318 RASHID AL-DIN FADHALLAH ( Persia)
Physician, statesman, and historian. Most known for his Jami al-Tawarikh ("Compendium of Chronicles") which began as a history of the Mongols, but expanded to a history of the world. Sometime during his life he converted to Islam. He was accused by rivals twice of trying to poison the Khan. The first time he succeed in proving it a lie. The second time he admitted a mistake in admonishing a purgative to the old king, which resulted in a deterioration of his condition. He was mutilated, beheaded, and all of his property confiscated.
1247 - C. 1306 TODROS BEN JUDAH HA-LEVI ABULAFIA ( Toledo)
Hebrew poet diplomat and financier . He served both Alfonso X (1221-1284) and his son Sancho IV of Castile (1258-1295). He was arrested by Alfonso (see 1281) but eventually regained his position under his son Sancho. He was a prolific writer of poetry with over 1000 poems in his Gan HaMeshalim veHaHidot (“The Garden of Parables and Riddles”).
1247 July 3, POPE INNOCENT IV
After the body of a two year old girl found in Velress (Vaucluse), France, was used as an excuse for plundering the surrounding area (March 27), Pope Innocent IV (who was semi-retired by Emperor Frederick II) issued the Papal Bull Lacrimabilem Judaeorum against blood libels and sent it throughout Germany and France.
1248 ALFONSO OF CASTILE (Spain)
Showed his appreciation for Jewish soldiers' part in the conquering of Seville. Although he was just the crown prince, he granted them land for a "village of the Jews". The Jewish quarter was enlarged and three mosques were given to them for use as synagogues. A large number of Jews served him in the treasury (Meir de Maleq), in astronomy (Judah ben Moses Cohen), and medicine (Abraham and Samuel Levi). A famous Astronomical Table (Alphonsine Tables) was named for him by Isaac ibn Sid, the cantor in Toledo. In spite of this, Alfonso also compiled the "seven sets", a legal work reviewing all the anti-Jewish canons against the Jews. A hundred years later this was used as the basis for anti-Jewish legislation.
1248 - 1325 PORTUGAL
In spite of the problems that hampered the awakening in Spain, the Jews in Portugal under Alfonso III and Diniz enjoyed a fair amount of freedom. They were not required to wear a badge or pay forced taxes to the Church. They also held high offices (i.e. Chief Rabbi Judah who also served as the Treasurer). At the end of this period the Church began to resent the position of the Jews and started to complain and pressure subsequent rulers.
1248 May 15, ODO OF CHATEAUBROUX (France)
"Investigated" the Talmud and had it condemned. This was the second time the Talmud was condemned, despite the appeals of the Jewish community of France.
1249 ALFONSE OF POITIERS (France)
The brother of Louis IX, he ordered the expulsion of the Jews from Poitou, France. Though his decree remained mostly on paper, it does mark the first local expulsion of Jews. Both brothers did their best to force money from their Jewish subjects.
1249 - 1315 RABBI MENAHEM BEN SOLOMON MEIRI (France)
A noted Provencial Talmudist. His most famous work was entitled Bais Habehria, a commentary on three of the sections of the Talmud; Moed, Nashim and Nezikin as well as a few other tractates. An original thinker, he used the Jerusalem Talmud to clarify parts of the Babylonian Talmud, as well as using all available commentaries. He also wrote a commentary on Proverbs and Psalms, and a work on the laws of writing a Sefer Torah called Kiryat Sefer.