Shock and Awe: Medieval Northern European Jews and the Language of Violence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In twelfth-century northern Europe, public declarative violence was often employed to establish and demonstrate authority, lordship and power. This article argues that Jews adopted the Christian language of violence but reshaped it to communicate their own views and culture. The first section focuses on depictions of public violence during the persecution of the First Crusade, and on changes in Jewish liturgical practices supported by violent narratives. It shows that during the twelfth century, these descriptions became blunter and more evocative, and were established as a major feature of Jewish culture. The second section analyses the place of declarative public violence in contemporary Christian culture, while comparing it to Jewish perceptions on this issue. It shows that Jews saw such violence as major means to prove loyalty to their identity, to communicate their values and to claim authority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-291
Number of pages27
JournalMedieval Encounters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.


  • Jewish culture
  • Jewish history
  • chivalry
  • language of violence
  • liturgy
  • lordship
  • narrative
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Shock and Awe: Medieval Northern European Jews and the Language of Violence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this