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The Jew in the Text: What Christian Charters Tell UsAbout Medieval Jewish Society

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This paper will explore the viability and limits of using non-Jewish charters for the reconstruction of medieval Jewish history. While the settlement charters have long been recognized as important sources for institutional history, their value to the understanding of the Jewish community has yet to be fully explored. Analysis of these documents has tradition-ally been limited to determining the level of royal protection of Jewish rights or the nature of Jewish-Christian relations. These charters were, in large part, products of Jewish requests. In locating the voice of the Jewish petitioner within these charters it becomes possible discern the priorities, needs and fears of the medieval Jewish community. Furthermore, these documents also suggest ways in which Jews used Christian secular authority as an instrument for the establishment of political structures internal to their communities.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Theology, Georgetown University Washington, DC 20057-1135 USA, Email:


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