Communities Of Violence: Persecution Of Minorities In The Middle Ages By David Nirenberg

1809 words - 7 pages

An Associate Professor of History, David Nirenberg, is also a Director of the Center of Cultures at Rice University. Several articles about Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in relation to violence are accredited to David Nirenberg. One of his most famous works is Communities of Violence: Persecution of minorities in the middle Ages, which analyzes religious persecution in the middle Ages in the perspective of two specific geographical areas in Western Europe, Southern France and the kingdom of Aragon. In order to provide further insight into the subject, Nirenberg off In 312 pages, Nirenberg’s provides the reader with a couple maps of Aragon, Southern France, Northern Iberia and surroundings. Princeton Press book comprises an introductory preface, an historical background followed by six chapters and an epilogue concerning the Black Death. Communities of Violence is thus divided into two main sections: Part One which deals with Cataclysmic violence in France and Aragon and a second part that encompasses systematic violence in terms of power, religion, and sex. These two distinctively separate parts are different in that they deal with different issues regarding the role of violence in medieval minorities. Although they can be read separately, Part One and Two are meant to have a cumulative effect. Overall, the purpose and theme of the book is to explore the function and significance of violence within medieval societies. Hence, Nirenberg demonstrates minorities were significant in the construction of the medieval world. With Aragon and Southern France in the spotlight, David Nirenberg suggests that for minorities in medieval Europe, the fourteenth century was one of the most violent, if not the most violent of centuries of minorities.Nirenberg’s approach to violence in medieval minorities challenges such views as those of Robert Moore, which hold that the most dangerous attitudes toward minorities, or Jews, do not draw their power from individuals and groups within society, but from collective beliefs formed in the middle Ages and emitted in the modern world. Placing specific emphasis on chronological development over the Middle Ages, Nirenberg suggests that until the end of the fourteenth century Muslims and Jews were considered to be corrupting for Christians who came into contact with them. Around the same time, as Nirenberg suggests, boundaries between ethnic groups began to widen, resulting in a shift of attitudes stressing characteristics and appearance to stressing of biological and racial descent. In effect, after the massive forced conversions of Sephardic Jews in 1391, Christians who competed with the conversos for social and economic status began to feel that despite converting to Christianity, the conversos supposedly retained their “corrupt” Jewish spirit.In his arguments concerning intolerance of minorities, Nirenberg begins by taking the Second World War and its atrocities as an example of how the present shapes...

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