New book by Tzafrir Barzilay: Poisoned Wells: Accusations, Persecution, and Minorities in Medieval Europe, 1321-1422

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2022

Between 1348 and 1350, Jews throughout Europe were accused of having caused the spread of the Black Death by poisoning the wells from which the entire population drank. But if the well-poisoning accusations against the Jews during these plague years are the most frequently cited of such cases, they were not unique. Barzilay explores the origins of these charges of well poisoning, asks how the fear took root and moved across Europe, which groups it targeted, why it held in certain areas and not others, and why it waned in the fifteenth century.

About Maya Soifer Irish

Dr. Maya Soifer Irish an Associate Professor of History at Rice University, whose research focuses on religious violence and toleration, and explores the legal, social, and economic situation of religious minorities in Iberian Christian societies. She is the author of many articles, including “Beyond convivencia: Critical Reflections on the Historiography of Interfaith Relations in Christian Spain.” Her first book, Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change, explores the changes in Jewish-Christian relations in the kingdom of Castile between the 11th and 14th centuries. She is currently working on a new book, The Politics of Persecution in Medieval Spain: Toward the Anti-Jewish Riots of 1391. Between 2018 and 2021 she served as President of the American Academy of Research Historians of Medieval Spain (AARHMS).