During the First Crusade’s onset, lay enthusiasm went unregulated. Popular preachers spread Urban II’s call to crusade across Europe, and after Peter the Hermit left the Rhineland, religious tension flared and culminated in the 1096 A.D. Jewish massacres. This paper examines Christian crusader motivation during the 1096 massacres. Through textual analysis of contemporary Latin and Hebrew chronicles and medieval eschatological legends, I argue that the conversion of the Jewish communities to Christianity was the primary motivation of the Christian crusaders and neighboring burghers. I suggest that figures such as Count Emicho of Flonheim were likely inspired by the eschatological legend of the Last Roman Emperor and sought to destroy the Jewish communities to bring the second coming of Christ and the End Times. The Jewish communities’ destruction was through conversion or the sword, however, I argue through primary source examples that conversion was preferable, and crusaders and burghers went to great lengths to see conversion through. This study is part of a growing body of research on conversion during the 1096 massacres, specifically conversion linked to Christian millenarianism. This study aims to add to the greater literature and offer another voice to the ongoing conversation.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Pynes, Sam, "Explaining the 1096 Massacres in the Context of the First Crusade" (2019). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 607.