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Love, Work and DeathJewish Life in Medieval Umbria$
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Ariel Toaff

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774198

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774198.001.0001

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Witchcraft, Black Magic, and Ritual Murder

Witchcraft, Black Magic, and Ritual Murder

(p.118) 6 Witchcraft, Black Magic, and Ritual Murder
Love, Work and Death

Ariel Toaff

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the accusations against the Jews of the Umbria. It was particularly in the last part of the fifteenth century, in the years following the founding of the Perugia Monte di Pietà in 1462, that accusations against Jews of witchcraft, ritual assassination, and black magic became a positive obsession in Umbria, as in the rest of the Italian peninsula. Hunting Jewish witches was a self-evidently tautologous exercise — simply being Jewish laid one open to accusations of witchcraft — but this did not mean that their uselessness was always quite so clear to those performing or promoting them. The charges of iconoclasm and of the ‘scraping off’ of sacred images were also sometimes brought against the Jews of the Umbrian communities. However, the most serious charge made against Jews was that of ritual murder.

Keywords:   Umbrian Jews, witchcraft, ritual assassination, ritual murder, black magic, Umbria, Jewish witches, iconoclasm, Umbrian Jewish communities

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