English City of York to Commemorate Jewish Victims of Bloody 12th-Century Massacre
The city of York in England will next week commemorate 150 Jews who were murdered in an infamous massacre almost 900 years ago.
The lantern-lit commemoration will take place on March 16 at Clifford’s Tower — site of the mass killing on March 16, 1190.
Attendees will be able to listen to music and readings, as well as light lanterns and lay pebbles in honor of those who lost their lives.
“We hope to see both residents and visitors join us at the Clifford’s Tower memorial to show their support for York’s Jewish population,” local councilor Darryl Smalley said in a statement announcing the event.
The massacre in York was the culmination of a series of deadly anti-Jewish riots that rocked England at the height of the religious fervor of the Crusades.
The chronicler William of Newburgh described the York rioters as acting “without any scruple of Christian conscientiousness” in wiping out the Jewish community.
The mob’s first act was to attempt to burn the house of Benedict of York, a wealthy Jewish moneylender who was owed substantial debts by local noblemen. These nobles saw the riots as an opportunity to wipe out their debts to Benedict and other Jews in the city.
The Jewish community took refuge at Clifford’s Tower in the royal castle in York, as they were officially protected by King Richard I as his feudal vassals. This did not prevent the rioters from smashing their way into the castle, causing the majority of the Jews to commit suicide.