It is impossible to understand the question of the attitude to converts to Christianity without examining the attitude to Christians who converted to Judaism. This attitude is the mirror image of the attitude to converts from Judaism. In the same way that converts to Christianity were rejected and members of Jewish communities would try to distance themselves from them, so they would try to become close with and appreciate converts to Judaism.
This chapter compares the attitude to those leaving their faith in the Hellenistic world (the Period of the Mishna), with the attitude to those leaving their faith in the Period of the Gemara when the non-Jewish world in Europe was primarily pagan.
This chapter will describe the attitude to converts to Christianity during the First Crusade when conversion was forced on the Jews by the Crusaders and when the threat of death was very real should they not succumb to the demand. Some Jews managed to flee, others were converted forcibly while some died as martyrs and others put themselves and their children to death in order not to be forcibly converted. The attitude now became that of seeing all converts as having been forcibly converted though it was still not clear how one reconciles the desire that many had to accept the forced convert back into the faith with the normative ideal expressed by the action of the martyrs.
The Jew who remained a Jew was obliged to define his attitude towards the Jew who converted to Christianity, and indeed this had to be done in many spheres. The halakhah had laid down in principle the decision that a Jew who converted to Christianity was still, despite everything, a brother and a Jew, but this decision was eroded over time. The Rabbinic authorities were being asked Halakhic questions such as: is a convert regarded as a dead person or not? What happens in the case of the wife of a convert who remains Jewish? Can a convert bequeath or inherit possessions? Is the wine he produces “the wine of non-Jews” (that Jews were forbidden to drink)? What is the law applying to those who converted to Christianity and later returned to Judaism? Can they be trusted? Do they have to undergo immersion, like converts to Judaism?
This chapter looks at the struggle of the Jews in dealing with the Christian success in conquering the Land of Israel from the Muslims and establishing the Land of Israel , the land to which the Jews were theologically due to return, as a Christian kingdom. This Christian theological success created a crisis among the Jews that brought about the phenomenon of voluntary conversion to Christianity seen clearly, for example, in the autobiography of Yehuda Herman, a Jewish apostate, and at the same time a Jewish polemic reaction directed against Christians and against Jewish converts to Christianity.
In many ways, the opening years of Count Ludwig III of Arnstein's life seem to have been typical ones for a twelfth-century German count. The text translated in this chapter combines an account of Ludwig's life with a history of the Premonstratensian community at Arnstein. As it shows, Ludwig did not disappear from the world of the secular nobility after joining his religious foundation. On the contrary, his reputation amongst the local laity seems to have grown after he bound himself to the Premonstratensians. People flocked to his side, offering properties to Arnstein and asking Ludwig to help reform other monastic communities in the neighbourhood. This was because there was much spiritual capital to be gained by following a count who had dedicated himself to the religious life.
This chapter translates the vivid description of the life of the noble lord Wiprecht of Groitzsch. It then offers a very different perspective on Henry IV and Henry V's reigns than the typical pro-Salian or pro-Saxon narrative sources. For understanding the political, social, religious and economic developments in the region between Saxony and Bohemia during the early twelfth century, it is a rich, almost unparalleled source. Wiprecht of Groitzsch has earned a reputation in modern scholarship as the social climber par excellence of the late Salian period. The turning point in Wiprecht's career seems to have been Henry IV's first Italian campaign during the early 1080s; according to the Deeds, Wiprecht led the Czech contingent alongside Czech king Vratislav's young son, Borivoj. Thereafter, Wiprecht of Groitzsch would be an increasingly prominent player in Saxon and imperial politics until his death.
This introduction provides historical background and a discussion of the translated texts. The book aims to illuminate the diversity of the aristocratic experience by providing five texts, translated into English for the first time, that show how noblemen and women from across the German kingdom lived and died approximately during 1075-1200. Margrave Wiprecht of Groitzsch emerges from these pages as a ruthless and cunning lord, one whose fortunes fluctuated dramatically as he played the games of court politics and local lordship with varying degrees of success. The extraordinary career of Bishop Otto I of Bamberg depicts how medieval Christians sought to convert pagans and convince them of the errors of their ways. An unnamed magistra, born into a ministerial family, wrote poems that have made scholars put forward various theories, in some cases identifying a pope or an archbishop of Salzburg as a potential patron for the text. A vita of the canoness Mechthild of Diessen, who had briefly been abbess of Edelstetten, written by the Cistercian monk Engelhard of Langheim. Finally the deeds of Count Ludwig III and a history of the Premonstratensian community at Arnstein.
According to the translated text in this chapter, the unnamed magistra was born into a ministerial family belonging to the archbishops of Salzburg. She belonged to one of the most important Benedictine communities in the south-east of the German kingdom: the double monastery of monks and nuns at Admont in the march of Styria (today a part of Austria). During the twelfth century, the male community played an active role in reform circles, and many Admont monks were sent to other Benedictine houses across the south-east of the German kingdom to improve monastic practices in other communities. The chapter offers its readers a deeply personal account of the anonymous nun's life, written by another Admont nun who seems to have known her quite well.
Few if any German prelates of the twelfth century had as extraordinary a career as Bishop Otto I of Bamberg. His influence stretched from the shores of the Baltic to the papal see in Rome. As bishop of one of the most important dioceses in the German kingdom, he founded and endowed numerous monastic communities while also pursuing territorial strategies that strengthened significantly his bishopric's control of the region in and around Bamberg. The life of Bishop Otto of Bamberg by a monk of Prüfening survives in three manuscripts from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. All three of these codices include portions of the Magnum Legendarium Austriacum (MLA), an extensive collection of saints' lives compiled and copied at several Austrian monasteries around the year 1200.