When Pope Urban II gave a rousing speech at the Council of Clermont in 1095 that urged western Christians to aid their Byzantine brothers in the East and to retake the Holy Land, it is safe to say that the Jewish communities at Speyer, Worms, and Mainz were unconcerned. These communities in the Rhineland were not terribly close to Clermont, France, but news of the planned Pilgrimage probably did not take long to reach the Jew's ears. They undoubtedly knew of the plan for the pilgrimage, but were probably indifferent. Why would it concern them? First of all, they were Jews, not Christians, and did not answer to the Pope. Although, for them also Jerusalem was a holy city, they would not have felt roused by Urban II's call. Nor would the Jews likely have felt threatened by the pending crusade. Why would they? Pope Urban II had said nothing about Jews in his speech, (1) so why would crusaders attack Jews? It probably never crossed the Jews' minds. Even if some Jews had the amazing foresight to realize that a large band of unrestrained, armed Christians was bad news, they would not have been concerned with their own well being. They were not even on the way to the Holy Land; the army would not even pass near them. On top of all that, the communities at Speyer, Worms, and Mainz were on good terms with their Christian neighbors and knew that they had nothing to fear from them. Those Jews could not know how wrong they were. Their knowledge of Council at Clermont could not alert them that within a year the beginnings of a Pilgrimage would march off course, attack their cities, and turn their neighbors against them. Even warnings from their brethren in France did not alert them to the seriousness of their impending fate. (2) In deed, these communities could not know to respond not with indifference and unconcern, but vigilance. So by responding such, they now had to react in many varying ways to the crusaders' cruel attacks.... [continues]
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