England · Massacres/Mass Murder · Racially Motivated · Religion

1190 Jewish Massacre

March 16, 1190
York, England
Approximately 150 Jews, the entire Jewish population of York, are murdered or commit suicide

The 12th Century in Western Europe was particularly unkind to the Jews, partially due to the Crusades. Additionally, local men of wealth who owed the Jewish money-lenders large sums of money tried to stir tension with the mob of rioters who had gathered to expel the Jews from the area; their thoughts were that if the Jews they owed money to were to be run out or killed, their debts would be erased.

The Jews of York, fearing some sort of violence, barricaded themselves in Clifford’s Tower. However, the mob only became more violent, and demanded the Jews either renounce their faith and be baptized by force or die at the hands of their attackers. Some Jews decided to take their own lives rather than fall into the hands of the mob, and killed their wives and children before setting fire to the keep and perishing in the flames. Others who did not necessarily wish to commit suicide died from the flames or were murdered by the mob.

The next day, after the massacre had finished and those responsible arrested, the only punishment handed down was a fine. No one was convicted or executed for the murders.

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