31 July 1255 Hugh of Lincoln’s disappearance leads to Blood Libel #otdimjh

31 July 1255 Disappearance of Hugh of Lincoln

Hugh_of_Lincoln_body

Hugh was an eight year old boy from the Dernstall area of the city (now known as The Strait). He disappeared on 31 July 1255. His body was found in a well on 27/29 August. Despite the lack of any evidence, the owner of the well, a Jew named Jopin (or Copin) was held for the child’s murder. Jopin was promised clemency if he confessed that the child had been crucified in a ritual murder by a number of prominent Jews who had gathered in Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The promise was reneged on. Jopin was tied to a horse’s tail and dragged up to Canwick Hill where he was executed. A further 92 Jews were rounded up and taken to London. 18 were executed for refusing to plead and all but 2 of the others were sentenced to death until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had    purchased the right to tax the Jews from his brother Henry III, made terms for them.

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One near contemporary account of the events was by the monk and chronicler Matthew Paris (c1200-1259). In his “English History” he wrote a particularly blood-thirsty and anti-Jewish version which insisted that virtually all the Jews in England had colluded in Hugh’s murder and attributed miraculous events to Hugh’s body.

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The body was taken to Lincoln Cathedral and buried in the South Choir Aisle. The story of the boy’s death stirred the anti-semitism that was already virulent in England. The boy was regarded as a Christian martyr. He was called Little Saint Hugh and a shrine was built over his tomb. After years of increasing persecution and hardship, the entire Jewish population of England was expelled from the country in 1290 and their property confiscated by the Crown. Jews did not return to England until 1655.

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Anti-semitic Ballads about the story of Little Saint Hugh spread throughout Britain and France.

In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer referred to Little Saint Hugh in The Prioresses Tales of the Canterbury Tales. The tale is of a blood libel, the ritual murder of a young boy by the Jews.

sir-william-dugdale-tomb-of-little-saint-hugh-of-lincoln-from-anglia-judaica-by-de-blessiers-tovey-published-in

684        O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also
                  Oh young Hugh of Lincoln, slain also
685        With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
                  By cursed Jews, as it is well known,
686        For it is but a litel while ago,
                  For it is but a little while ago,
687        Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
                  Pray also for us, we sinful folk unstable,
688        That of his mercy God so merciable
                  That of his mercy God so merciful
689        On us his grete mercy multiplie,
                  Multiply his great mercy on us,
690        For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen
                  For reverence of his mother Mary. Amen

The shrine of Little Sir Hugh in the South Choir Aisle of Lincoln Cathedral did not survive the Reformation intact. In 1790, during repaving of the aisle, the tomb was open. It contained the skeleton of a boy 3 feet 3 inches tall.

The 19th century American folk song collector Francis J. Child collected 18 variants of the    Little Saint Hugh ballad from Europe and the USA. These variants include “The Jew’s     Daughter”, “The Jew’s Garden” and “The Fatal Flower Garden”, “Little Son Hugh”, “Little Sir Hugh”, “Little Saloo”, “Little Harry Hughes” and “Little Harry Houston”. Each variant honed to the interests of a local region. They were anti-semitic, anti-gypsy or just plain stories of   sadistic child murder. So widespread was the song that one of the earliest recordings of it was by Nelstone’s Hawaiians in the 1920s.

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As “Little Harry Hughes”, the song appears in another key work of English literature, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (published in 1922), sung to the novel’s central character, the Jew Leopold Bloom.  “Ulysses” was set in 1904, a significant year for Jews in Ireland as it was the year of the Limerick Pogrom, when the city’s entire Jewish population was driven out by trade boycotts, harassment and beatings.

In the early twentieth century, the legend of Little Saint Hugh remained a draw for Lincoln.  Around 1910, a false well was sunk in the Jew’s Court as a tourist attraction.

Since the Second World War, the Christian community has allowed the legend of “Little Saint Hugh” to fade into obscurity.  Modern recordings of the song such as those by Steeleye Span and Ian Campbell Folk Group are purged of any anti-semitic reference and concentrate on the psychotic murder.

In 1959, a plaque was placed at the site of Little Hugh’s former shrine at Lincoln Cathedral. It read:

“By the remains of the shrine of “Little St. Hugh”.

Trumped up stories of “ritual murders” of Christian boys by Jewish communities were common throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and even much later. These fictions cost many innocent Jews their lives. Lincoln had its own legend and the alleged victim was buried in the Cathedral in the year 1255.

Such stories do not redound to the credit of Christendom, and so we pray:
Lord, forgive what we have been,
amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be.”

In 2001, the Jewish playwright, director and actor Stephen Berkoff wrote “Ritual in Blood”, a play steeped in anger about the events in Lincoln in 1255.

In 2008, a new plaque at the site of Little St Hugh’s shrine was being drafted and designed jointly by the Christian and Jewish communities of Lincoln.

Prayer: Lord, forgive what we have been,
amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be.”

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=16356805

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Saint_Hugh_of_Lincoln

http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/residents/archives/events-gallery-and-document-of-the-month/on-line-exhibitions/legacy-of-lincolnshire-songs/03-little-saint-hugh/79578.article

Documents Displayed

James Joyce: Ulysses (1922 Text Edition) (Oxford Press) pp643-644

The “Little Harry Hughes” variant of the Little Saint Hugh appears in James Joyce’s masterwork with full score.

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“Recueil de Ballades Anglo Normande et Ecossoises Relatives au Meurtre de cet Enfant Commis par les Juifs en MCCLV”.

An extract from a French publication of 1834 at the Lincoln Library. undated [watermark 1814].

A French manuscript of the Anglo-Norman variant of the Little Saint Hugh ballad.

  1. Linc 910 HOM p117

“Lincoln Official Guide 1921”

  1. Linc 942 GRE

Forgotten Lincoln (1898) p24

History of the Little Saint Legend including a  Buckinghamshire variant of the Little Saint Hugh ballad.

HUGH OF LINCOLN:

By: Joseph Jacobs

Alleged victim of ritual murder by the Jews of Lincoln in 1255. He appears to have been the illegitimate son of a woman named “Beatrice,” and was born in 1247. He disappeared July 31, 1255, and his body was discovered on Aug. 29 following in a well belonging to the house of a Jew named “Jopin” or “Joscefin.” On promise of having his life spared, Jopin was induced by John of Lexington, a priest who was present at the time of the discovery, to confess that the child had been crucified by a number of the most prominent Jews of England, who had gone to Lincoln on the pretext of a wedding. The remains of the lad were taken to the cathedral and were buried there in great pomp. Henry III., on arriving at Lincoln about a month afterward, revoked the pardon of Jopin, and caused him to be dragged around the city tied to the tail of a wild horse, and then hanged. The remaining Jews of Lincoln, including some who were there as visitors—probably to attend the marriage of Bellaset, daughter of Berechiah de Nicole—were carried, to the number of ninety-two, to London, where eighteen of them were executed for refusing to plead. Berechiah was released, and the remainder lingered in prison until Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was in possession of the Jewry at the time, made terms for them.

Tomb of St. Hugh in Lincoln Cathedral.(From Tovey, “Anglia Judaica,” 1738.)

The accusation, as usual, rested upon no particle of evidence; all that was known was that the lad had been found dead; and even if it was a murder,it could not have been connected with any ritual observance on the part of any Jew. But the prepossessions of the time, and the “confession” forced from Jopin caused the case to be prejudged, and enabled Henry III. to confiscate the property of the executed Jews, and to obtain, probably, a ransom for those afterward released from captivity. The case made a great impression on the popular mind, and forms the theme of various French, Scottish, and English ballads, still existing; Chaucer refers to it at the beginning of his “Prioress’ Tale.” A shrine was erected over Hugh’s tomb in Lincoln Cathedral; it was known as the shrine of “Little St. Hugh” to distinguish it from the shrine of Great St. Hugh of Lincoln, the twelfth-century bishop whose death was mourned equally by Jew and Christian. See Blood Accusation.

Bibliography:

  • Matthew Paris, Historia Major, ed.Luard, v. 516-518, 522, 543;
  • Annales Monastici, ed. Luard, i. 340, ii. 346;
  • Jacobs, in Transactions Jew. Hist. Soc. Eng. i. 89-135 (with an extensive bibliography on pp. 133-135);
  • idem, Jewish Ideals, pp. 192-224;
  • Francisque Michel, Hugues de Lincoln, Paris, 1834;
  • Hume, St. Hugh of Lincoln, London, 1849.

http://www.britannica.com/biography/Little-Saint-Hugh-of-Lincoln

Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, (born 1245, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, Eng.—died Aug. 27, 1255, Lincoln; feast day August 27 [suppressed]), legendary English child martyr who was supposedly murdered by members of the local Jewish community for ritual purposes. There was little basis in fact for the story, but the cult that grew up around Hugh was a typical expression of the anti-Semitism that flourished in Europe after the year 1000.

The victim of an anonymous murder, Hugh, a 9-year-old boy, was found dead in a well. His friends came forth with the accusation that a Jew named Koppin had imprisoned the child for more than a month, torturing and finally crucifying him. According to rumour, the body had been thrown into the well because the earth had refused to receive it. More than 90 Jews were subsequently arrested and charged with practicing ritual murder. Koppin, who allegedly confessed, was executed along with 18 others.

Miracles began to be attributed to Hugh as soon as the body was discovered. The story, although lacking any evidence, grew both in detail and in popularity over the years and, like others of its kind, reinforced the nearly universal sentiment of anti-Semitism and provided additional fuel for anti-Jewish acts. The legend of Hugh’s martyrdom was a popular subject in medieval literature, notably in Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale. His name does not appear in the standard Butler’s Lives of the Saints (1998).

684        O yonge Hugh of Lyncoln, slayn also
                  Oh young Hugh of Lincoln, slain also
685        With cursed Jewes, as it is notable,
                  By cursed Jews, as it is well known,
686        For it is but a litel while ago,
                  For it is but a little while ago,
687        Preye eek for us, we synful folk unstable,
                  Pray also for us, we sinful folk unstable,
688        That of his mercy God so merciable
                  That of his mercy God so merciful
689        On us his grete mercy multiplie,
                  Multiply his great mercy on us,
690        For reverence of his mooder Marie. Amen
                  For reverence of his mother Mary. Amen

Shrine of Little St.Hugh

Little St.Hugh was a Christian boy reputedly crucified by Jews in Lincoln in 1255; the ensuing retribution resulted in the deaths of many of Lincoln’s Jews. During the Cathedral restoration of 1790 a stone coffin was found containing the skeleton of a boy 3 ft 3 inches tall, seemingly confirming the tradition. The tomb was originally more substantial but destroyed during the iconoclasm of the Commonwealth, though a copy of William Dugdale’s drawing of 1641 can be seen nearby.

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About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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