Not all Jewish experiences under Christian rule in medieval Europe were uniformly negative. The reality was that the experiences varied according to time and place. One of the better periods for Jews was that of the Carolingian Empire that covered most of what is now France in the early ninth century. For some Christians, however, the relative freedoms Jews enjoyed to interact with the wider society were unacceptable. This was the context for the anti-Jewish writings of Saint Agobard, who was originally from Spain and became the bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons).
Richard Landes, a medieval historian and fellow friend of the late Barry Rubin, recently sent me one of Agobard's letters requesting that I translate it. This letter, which has been dated to 827 CE, is cosigned with two other bishops: Bernard (the bishop of Vienne) and Eaof (who may have been the bishop of Chalons). The writers warn the Carolingian emperor Louis the Pious that the Jews are harming and threatening the faith of the Christian masses through their alleged 'insolence and inappropriate conduct' and freedom to engage in their blasphemy against Christianity. The authors emphasise that action needs to be taken to keep Christians away from the company of Jews and prevent friendly interactions with them. That is, the Jews need to be segregated from the wider Christian society.
To justify their point, the bishops invoke ecclesiastical and Biblical history. They argue that their prescriptions are in keeping with the examples of Church Fathers like Hillary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan, as well as prior decrees of church councils and synods in Gaul and elsewhere, which (among other things) prohibited Christians from partaking in the banquets/feasts of the Jews, prevented intermarriage between Jews and Christians, sought to remove Christian slaves from servitude to the Jews, and barred Jews from going out on the streets during the four most important days of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday). It should be noted that the claim to be adhering to the historical precedent of the greater Church and the regional church is a common way of trying to bolster the legitimacy of one's argument: compare with how Elipandus of Toledo (for instance) tried to claim that his doctrine of Adoptionism was supposedly espoused by prior Church Fathers the prior bishops of Toledo.
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