1096 dC: matanza de judíos en Mainz por el noble alemán Emico y su hueste de cruzados


Marcus Introduction] In the year 1095 the Catholic Church, aroused by the Muslim encroachments in Palestine, proclaimed a crusade against the Saracens to recover Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulcher. The following year, in the spring of 1096, bands of zealous crusaders led by Monks and soldiers set out for the Holy Land. Many of the crusaders were pious; but there can be no question that many also were runaway serfs, ambitious business men, adventurers, and criminals. As they passed through Germany on their way to Jerusalem this motley crew killed thousands of “infidel” Jews in the larger cities such as Speyer, Worms, Mayence [Mainz], and Cologne.

In May, 1096 a band of crusaders led by Emico, a German noble, forced its way into the city of Mayence and finally into the archiepiscopal palace where the Jews had taken refuge. The slaughter and suicide of the Jews in this palace with all the attendant horror and hysteria are graphically described in the following two selections taken from a Hebrew historical account by Solomon bar Samson – of whom we know very little – who wrote about 1140.

It was on the third of Siwan…. at noon [Tuesday, May 73], that Emico the wicked, the enemy of the Jews, came with his whole army against the city gate, and the citizens opened it up for him. Emico a German noble, led a band of plundering German and French crusaders. l Then the enemies of the Lord said to each other: ‘look! They have opened up the gate for us. Now let us avenge the blood of ‘the hanged one’ [Jesus].”

The children of the holy covenant who were there, martyrs who feared the Most High, although they saw the great multitude, an army numerous as the sand on the shore of the sea, still clung to their Creator. Then young and old donned their armor and girded on their weapons and at their head was Rabbi Kalonymus ben Meshullam, the chief of the community. Yet because of the many troubles and the fasts which they had observed they had no strength to stand up against the enemy. [They had fasted to avert the impending evils] Then came gangs and bands, sweeping through like a flood until Mayence was filled from end to end.

The foe Emico proclaimed in the hearing of the community that the enemy be driven from the city and be put to flight. Panic was great in the town. Each Jew in the inner court of the bishop girded on his weapons, and all moved towards the palace gate to fight the crusaders and the citizens. They fought each other up to the very gate, but the sins of the Jews brought it about that the enemy over. came them and took the gate.

The hand of the Lord was heavy against His people. All the Gentiles were gathered together against the Jews in the courtyard t blot out their name, and the strength of our people weakened when they saw the wicked Edomites overpowering them. [The Edomites were the traditional foes of the Jews; here, Christians are meant.] The bishop’s men, who had promised to help them, were the very first to flee, thus delivering the Jews into the hands of the enemy. They were indeed a poor support; even the bishop himself fled from his church for it was thought to kill him also because he had spoken good things of the Jews…. [Archbishop Ruthard had been paid to remain and defend the Jews. He was later accused of having received some of the plunder taken from them.]

When the children of the covenant saw that the heavenly decree of death had been issued and that the enemy had conquered them and had entered the courtyard, then all of them-old men and young, virgins and children, servants and maids-cried ,out together to their Father in heaven and, weeping for themselves and for their lives, accepted as just the sentence of God. One to another they said: “Let us be strong and let us bear the yoke of the holy religion, for only in this world can the enemy kill us-and the easiest of the four deaths is by the sword. But we, our souls in paradise, shall continue to live eternally, in the great shining reflection [of the divine glory].” [In Jewish law the four death penalties were: stoning, burning, beheading, strangulation.]

With a whole heart and with a willing soul they when spoke: “After all it is not right to criticize the acts of God-blessed be He and blessed be His name-who has given to us His Torah and a command to put ourselves to death, to kill ourselves for the unity of His holy name. Happy are we if we do His w. ill. Happy is anyone who is killed or slaughtered, who dies for the unity of His name so that he is ready to enter the World to Come, to dwell in the heavenly camp with the righteous-with Rabbi Akiba and his companions, the pillars of the universe, who were killed for His names sake. [The Romans martyred Akiba during the Bar Kokba revolt, about 135 CE] Not only this; but he exchanges the world of darkness for the world of light, the world of trouble for the world of joy, and the world that passes away for the world that lasts for all eternity. Then all of them, to a man, cried out with a loud voice: “Now we must delay no longer for the enemy are already upon us. Let us hasten and offer ourselves as a sacrifice to the Lord. Let him who has a knife examine it that it not be nicked, and let him come and slaughter us for the sanctification of the Only One, the Everlasting and then let him cut his own throat or plunge the knife into his own body.” [A nick in the slaughterer’s knife would make it ritually unfit.]

As soon as the enemy came into the courtyard they found some of the very pious there with our brilliant master, Isaac ben Moses. He stretched out his neck, and his head they cut off first. The others, wrapped by their fringed praying­shawls, sat by themselves in the courtyard, eager to do the will of their Creator. They did not care to flee into the chamber to save themselves for this temporal life, but out of love they received upon themselves the sentence of God. The enemy showered stones and arrows upon them, but they did not care to flee, and [Esther 9:5] “with the stroke of the sword, and with slaughter, and destruction” the foe killed all of those whom they found there. When those in the chambers saw the deed of these righteous ones, how the enemy had already come upon them, they then cried out, all of them: “There is nothing better than for us to offer our lives as a sacrifice.” [The outnumbered Jews had no chance to win: Emico is reported to have had about 12,000 men.]

The women there girded their loins with strength and slew their sons and their daughters and then themselves. Many men, too, plucked up courage and killed their wives, their sons, their infants. The tender and delicate mother slaughtered the babe she had played with, all of them, men and women arose and slaughtered one another. The maidens and the young brides and grooms looked out of the Windows and in a loud voice cried: “Look and see, O our God, what w e do for the sanctification of Thy great name in order not to exchange you for a hanged and crucified one….”

Thus were the precious children of Zion, the Jews of Mayence, tried with ten trials like Abraham, our father, and like Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah [who were thrown into a fiery furnace, Daniel 3:21]. They tied their sons as Abraham tied Isaac his son, and they received upon themselves with a willing soul the yoke of the fear of God, the King of the Kings of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, rather than deny and exchange the religion of our King [Isaiah l4: 19] “an abhorred offshoot [Jesus]….’ [Christians al Jews of those days often spoke contemptuously of each others religion.] They stretched out their necks to the slaughter and they, delivered their pure souls to their Father in heaven. Righteous and pious women bared their throats to each other, offering to be sacrificed for the unity of the Name. A father turning to his son or brother, a brother to his sister, a woman to her son or daughter neighbor to a neighbor or a friend, a groom to a bride, a fiancé to fiancee, would kill and would be killed, and blood touched blood, The blood of the men mingled with their wives’, the blood of the fathers with their children’s, the blood of the brothers with the sisters, the blood of the teachers with their disciples’, the blood z the grooms with their brides’, the blood of the leaders with the cantors’, the blood of the judges with their scribes’, and the blood of infants and sucklings with their mothers’. For the unity of d honored and awe­inspiring Name were they killed and slaughtered.

The ears of him who hears these things will tingle, for who h ever heard anything like this? Inquire now and look about, was there ever such an abundant sacrifice as this since the days of the primeval Adam? Were there ever eleven hundred offerings on one day, each one of them like the sacrifice of Isaac, the son of Abraham?

For the sake of Isaac who was ready to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah, the world shook, as it is said [Isaiah 33:7]: “Behold their valiant ones cry without; [the angels of peace weep bitterly]” and [Jeremiah 4.28] “the heavens grow dark.” Yet see what these martyrs did! Why did the heavens not grow dark and the stars not withdraw their brightness? Why did not the moon and the sun grow dark in their heavens when on one day, on the third of Siwan, on a Tuesday eleven hundred souls were killed and slaughtered, among them g many infants and sucklings who had not transgressed nor sinned, g many poor, innocent souls?

Wilt Thou, despite this, still restrain Thyself, O Lord? For thy sake it was that these numberless souls were killed. Avenge quickly the blood of Thy servants which was spilt in our days and in our sight. Amen.
II. Rachel and Her Children
Now I shall recount and tell of the most unusual deeds that were done on that day [May 27, 1096] by these righteous ones…. Who has ever seen anything like this? Who has ever heard of a deed like that which was performed by this righteous and pious woman, the young Rachel, the daughter of Rabbi Isaac ben Asher, the wife of rabbi Judah? For she said to her friends: “I have four children. Do not spare even them, lest the Christians come, take them alive, and bring them up in their false religion. Through them, too, sanctify the name of the Holy God.”
So one of her companions came and picked up a knife to slaughter her son. But when the mother of the children saw the knife, she let out a loud and bitter lament and she beat her face and breast, crying: Where are Thy mercies, O God?” In the bitterness of her soul she said to her friend: “Do not slay Isaac in the presence of his brother Aaron lest Aaron see his brother’s death and run away.” The woman then took the lad Isaac, who w as small and very pretty, and she slaughtered him while the mother spread out her sleeves to receive the blood, catching it in her garment instead of a basin. When the child Aaron saw that his brother Isaac was slain, he screamed again and again: “Mother, mother, do not butcher me,” and ran and hid under a chest.

She had two daughters also who still lived at home, Bella and Matrona, beautiful young girls, the children of her husband Rabbi Judah. The girls took the knife and sharpened it themselves that it should not be nicked. Then the woman bared their necks and sacrificed them to the Lord God of Hosts who has commanded us not to change His pure religion but to be perfect with Him, as it is written [Deuteronomy 18:13]: “Perfect shall you be with the Lord your God.”

When this righteous woman had made an end of sacrificing her three children to their Creator, she then raised her voice and called out to her son Aaron: “Aaron, where are you? You also I will not spare nor will I have any mercy.” Then she dragged him out by his foot from under the chest where he had hidden himself, and she sacrificed him before God, the high and exalted. She put her children next to her body, two on each side, covering them with her two sleeves, and there they lay struggling in the agony of death. When the enemy seized the room they found her sitting and wailing over them “Show us the money that is under your sleeves,” they said to her. But when it was the slaughtered children they saw, they Struck her and killed her, upon her children, and her spirit flew away and her soul found peace at last. To her applied the Biblical verse [Hosea 10:14]: “The mother was dashed in pieces with her children.” . . .

When the father saw the death of his four beautiful, lovely children, he cried aloud, weeping and wailing, and threw him upon the sword in his hand so that his bowels came out, and wallowed in blood on the road together with the dying who were convulsed, rolling in their life’s blood. The enemy killed all that who were left in the room and then stripped them naked; [Lamentations 1: 11] “See, O Lord, and behold, how abject I am become.” Then the crusaders began to give thanks in the name of “the hanged one” because they had done what they wanted with all those in the room of the bishop so that not a soul escaped. [The crusaders now held a thanksgiving service in the archbishop’s palace where the massacre took place.]

Elbogen, pp. 102ff.; Roth, pp. 180 188; Sachar, pp. 186­192.

Graetz, 111, pp. 297­310; Graetz­Rhine, III, pp. 166­229; Margolis and Marx, pp. 356 373

Abbott, G. F., Israel in Europe, pp. 83­104.

The Chronicles of Rabbi Joseph ben Joshua ben Meir, the Sephardi, tr. by Bialloblotzky, contains materials on the Crusades which this sixteenth century Jewish historian drew from older and contemporary sources: I, pp. 29ff.

Lowenthal, M., The Jews of Germany, pp. 36ff.

Milman, H. H., The History of the Jews, 11, Book xxiv.

Zunz, L., The Sufferings of the Jews during the Middle Ages. This short work chronicles the major (and many of the minor) persecutions of the Jews throughout the Middle Ages in many lands. This survey was written to explain and to justify the bitterness that characterizes many medieval Jewish liturgical writings.

JE, “Crusades, The”; “Mayence.”


Halper, B., Post­Biblical Hebrew Literature, “The Crusaders Massacre the Jews at Meurs,” II, pp. 235­239. This is a description of a massacre during the first Crusade, 1096, by the same Joseph ben Joshua.

Ludwig Lewisohn in The Island Within, pp. 327­339, reproduces a Jewish i chronicle of the first crusade. Although his translation is made from a i rather bold reconstruction of a German translation of the original Hebrew chronicle, it is still close enough to the original to give a good picture of some aspects of the crusade as it affected the Jews.
SOURCE: Jacob Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World: A Sourcebook, 315-1791, (New York: JPS, 1938), 115-120.

Later printings of this text (e.g. by Atheneum, 1969, 1972, 1978) do not indicate that the copyright was renewed)
This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall October 1997

Albert of Aix and Ekkehard of Aura: Emico and the Slaughter of the Rhineland Jews

FUENTE http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/source/1096jews.asp

Medieval Sourcebook:
Albert of Aix and Ekkehard of Aura:
Emico and the Slaughter of the Rhineland Jews

Albert of Aix

At the beginning of summer in the same year in which Peter, and Gottschalk, after collecting an army, had set out, there assembled in like fashion a large and innumerable host of Christians from diverse kingdoms and lands; namely, from the realms of France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine. . . . I know n whether by a judgment of the Lord, or by some error of mind;, they rose in a spirit of cruelty against the Jewish people scattered throughout these cities and slaughtered them without mercy, especially in the Kingdom of Lorraine, asserting it to be the beginning of their expedition and their duty against the enemies of the Christian faith. This slaughter of Jews was done first by citizens of Cologne. These suddenly fell upon a small band of Jews and severely wounded and killed many; they destroyed the houses and synagogues of the Jews and divided among themselves a very large, amount of money. When the Jews saw this cruelty, about two hundred in the silence of the night began flight by boat to Neuss. The pilgrims and crusaders discovered them, and after taking away all their possessions, inflicted on them similar slaughter, leaving not even one alive.

Not long after this, they started upon their journey, as they had vowed, and arrived in a great multitude at the city of Mainz. There Count Emico, a nobleman, a very mighty man in this region, was awaiting, with a large band of Teutons, the arrival of the pilgrims who were coming thither from diverse lands by the King’s highway.

The Jews of this city, knowing of the slaughter of their brethren, and that they themselves could not escape the hands of so many, fled in hope of safety to Bishop Rothard. They put an infinite treasure in his guard and trust, having much faith in his protection, because he was Bishop of the city. Then that excellent Bishop of the city cautiously set aside the incredible amcunt of money received from them. He placed the Jews in the very spacious hall of his own house, away from the sight of Count Emico and his followers, that they might remain safe and sound in a very secure and strong place.

But Emico and the rest of his band held a council and, after sunrise, attacked the Jews in the hall with arrows and lances. Breaking the bolts and doors, they killed the Jews, about seven hundred in number, who in vain resisted the force and attack of so many thousands. They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex. The Jews, seeing that their Christian enemies were attacking them and their children, and that they were sparing no age, likewise fell upon one another, brother, children, wives, and sisters, and thus they perished at each other’s hands. Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised.

From this cruel slaughter of the Jews a few escaped; and a few because of fear, rather than because of love of the Christian faith, were baptized. With very great spoils taken from these people, Count Emico, Clarebold, Thomas, and all that intolerable company of men and women then continued on their way to Jerusalem, directing their course towards the Kingdom of Hungary, where passage along the royal highway was usually not denied the pilgrims. But on arriving at Wieselburg, the fortress of the King, which the rivers Danube and Leytha protect with marshes, the bridge and gate of the fortress were found closed by command of the King of Hungary, for great fear had entered all the Hungarians because of the slaughter which had happened to their brethren. . . .

But while almost everything had turned out favorably for the Christians, and while they had penetrated the walls with great openings, by some chance or misfortune, I know not what, such great fear entered the whole army that they turned in flight, just as sheep are scattered and alarmed when wolves rush upon them. And seeking a refuge here and there, they forgot thei companions. . . .

Emico and some of his followers continued in their flight along the way by which they had come. Thomas, Clarebold, and several of their men escaped in flight toward Carinthia and Italy. So the hand of the Lord is believed to have been against the pilgrim who had sinned by excessive impurity and fornication, and who had slaughtered the exiled Jews through greed of money, rather than for the sake of God’s justice, although the Jews were opposed to Christ. The Lord is a just judge and orders no one unwillingly, or under compulsion, to come under the yoke of the Catholic faith.

There was another detestable crime in this assemblage of wayfaring people, who were foolish and insanely fickle. That the crime was hateful to the Lord and incredible to the faithful is not to be doubted. They asserted that a certain goose was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that a she goat was not less filled by the same Spirit. These they made their guides on this holy journey to Jerusalem; these they worshipped excessively; and most of the people following them, like beasts, believed with their whole minds that this was the true course. May the hearts of the faithful be free from the thought that the Lord Jesus wished the Sepulchre of His most sacred body to be visited by brutish and insensate animals, or that He wished these to become the guides of Christian souls, which by the price of His own blood He deigned to redeem from the filth of idols! . . .


August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 54-56

Ekkehard of Aura

Just at that time, there appeared a certain soldier, Emico, Count of the lands around the Rhine, a man long of very ill repute on account of his tyrannical mode of life. Called by divine revelation, like another Saul, as he maintained, to the practice of religion of this kind, he usurped to himself the command of almost twelve thousand cross bearers. As they were led through the cities of the Rhine and the Main and also the Danube, they either utterly destroyed the execrable race of the Jews wherever they found them (being even in this matter zealously devoted to the Christian religion) or forced them into the bosom of the Church. When their forces, already increased by a. great number of men and women, reached the boundary of Pannonia, they were prevented by well fortified garrisons from entering that kingdom, which is surrounded partly by swamps and partly by woods. For rumor had reached and forewarned the ears of King Coloman; a rumor that, to the minds of the Teutons, there was no difference between killing pagans and Hungarians. And so, for six weeks they besieged the fortress Wieselburg and suffered many hardships there; yet, during this very time, they were in the throes of a most foolish civil quarrel over which one of them should be King of Pannonia. Moreover, while engaged in the final assault, although the walls had already been broken through, and the citizens were fleeing, and the army of the besieged were setting fire to their own town, yet, through the wonderful providence of Almighty God, the army of pilgrims, though victorious, fled. And they left behind them all their equipment, for no one carried away any reward except his wretched life.

And thus the men of our race, zealous, doubtless, for God, though not according to the knowledge of God, began to persecute other Christians while yet upon the expedition which Christ had provided for freeing Christians. They were kept from fraternal bloodshed only by divine mercy; and the Hungarians, also were freed. This is the reason why some of the more guileless brethren, ignorant of the matter, and too hasty in their judgement were scandalized and concluded that the whole expedition was vain and foolish.


August. C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eyewitnesses and Participants, (Princeton: 1921), 53-54
This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall December 1997