Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (ASMAR), Vol. 36
“On Everyone’s Lips”: Humanists, Jews, and the Tale of Simon of Trent
Edited and introduced by Stephen Bowd
Latin texts edited and translated by J. Donald Cullington
The death of a small child called Simon in the town of Trent in 1475 was blamed on the local Jewish community who were accused of abducting, torturing, and strangling him as a way of obtaining Christian blood to use in their rituals. The prince-bishop of Trent orchestrated a campaign against the Jews: poets and humanists wrote about the case on the basis of first-hand knowledge or acquaintance with the trial records and provided detailed accounts of the supposed Jewish conspiracy and murder. The ‘blood libel’ against the Jews was familiar to most Europeans but the tales from Trent made available in English here for the first time were unprecedented in their detail, savagery of denunciation, and scope of circulation thanks to the new medium of print. As a result the story of Simon’s ‘martyrdom’ and miracles, as well as the prosecution and execution of the Jews, resonated in the European consciousness for centuries.