Narratives of Violence, Suffering, and Eschatology: Depictions of the Jews in the Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris
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The 13th-century universal chronicle Chronica Majora of the St. Alban’s Benedictine monk Matthew Paris is a vital historical source for the study of Christian conceptions of Jews. Between 1236 and 1259, Matthew carefully documented the affairs of Christendom including accusations of blood libel, Jewish collusion with the Tartars, and the financial ruination of Anglo-Jewry. Matthew’s dedication to the Augustinian mandate of tolerance as a guideline for Christian-Jewish relations is constantly tested by suspicions that Jewish violence undermines the moral stability of the English realm and Christendom. Yet his image of the Jews is protean enough to also capture the suffering of the Jewish community under the royal government of King Henry III. In this way, the multitudinous themes of the Chronica – Jewish hostility, apocalyptic anxiety, and unjust kingship – overlap and influence Matthew’s depiction of the Jews and Judaism.