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Medieval Academy of America Jewish Ritual Murder: William of Norwich, Thomas of Monmouth, and the Early Dissemination of the Myth Author(s): John M. McCulloh Source: Speculum, Vol. 72, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 698-740 Published by: Medieval Academy of America Stable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2010 09:36 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]  Medieval Academy of America is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Speculum.

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    Medieval Academy of America

    Jewish Ritual Murder: William of Norwich, Thomas of Monmouth, and the EarlyDissemination of the MythAuthor(s): John M. McCullohSource: Speculum, Vol. 72, No. 3 (Jul., 1997), pp. 698-740Published by: Medieval Academy of AmericaStable URL: 15/10/2010 09:36

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you

    may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

    Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at .

    Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.

    JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

    Medieval Academy of America is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access toSpeculum.
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    Jewish Ritual Murder:William of Norwich, Thomas of

    Monmouth, and the EarlyDissemination of the Myth

    By John M. McCulloh

    One of the most enduring contributions of the Middle Ages to the history ofWestern intolerance is the myth that Jews practice the ritual murder of Christianchildren. From the twelfth century to the twentieth and from eastern Europe toNorth America Christians have accused Jews of conducting sanguinary rituals.These have included charges of sacrificing Christian children and collecting theirblood for ritual purposes, as well as the commonly associated accusation ofdesecrating the body of Christ in the form of the host sanctified in the mass.Not surprisingly the recent flowering of scholarly interest in the history of anti-Semitism and Christian-Jewish relations has yielded numerous studies of thesecharges in both medieval and modern times.1

    Within the last decade alone, two strikingly original contributions have exam-

    ined the earliest examples of the ritual-murder accusation. In 1984 Gavin I. Lang-muir published a critical investigation of Thomas of Monmouth's life of St.'Wil-liam of Norwich, which documents the first clear example of a ritual murdercharge.2 Most earlier scholars had studied Thomas's narrative to determine what

    Many people deserve thanks for their contributions to this work, although only one bears anyresponsibility for errors. I presented an abbreviated version of this paper to the Medieval Society ofthe University of Kansas in October 1995, and my colleagues in history at Kansas State Universityread and critiqued a nearly final draft. Both groups pushed me to refine my ideas. Christoph Cluseand George R. Keiser also read the paper and offered valuable comments as did several anonymousreviewers. I am especially indebted to Willis Johnson, who is preparing a critical edition of Thomas

    of Monmouth's Life of St. William. He freely shared the results of his investigations, and his assistancewith the modern literature in Hebrew on this topic has been indispensable.

    1 Classic studies of this phenomenon include Hermann L. Strack, The Jew and Human Sacrifice,trans. Henry Blanchamp (New York, 1909); Cecil Roth, The Ritual Murder Libel and the Jew: TheReport by Cardinal Lorenzo Ganganelli (Pope Clement XIV) (London, 1934); Will-Erich Peukert,"Ritualmord," in Hanns Bachtold-Staubli, ed., Handworterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens, 7:727-39; Joshua Trachenberg, The Devil and the Jews (New York, 1966). Two recent collections of essaysattest to continuing interest in the topic: Alan Dundes, ed., The Blood Libel Legend: A Casebook inAnti-Semitic Folklore (Madison, Wis., 1991); and Rainer Erb, ed., Die Legende vom Ritualmord: ZurGeschichte der Blutbeschuldigung gegen Juden, Dokumente, Texte, Materialen 6 (Berlin, 1993). Eachcollection includes an essay by the editor that reviews scholarship: Dundes, "The Ritual Murder orBlood Libel Legend: A Study of Anti-Semitic Victimization through Projective Inversion," pp. 336-76

    (repr. from Temenos 25 [1989], 7-32); and Erb, "Zur Erforschung der europaischen Ritualmordbe-schuldigungen," pp. 9-16. Twentieth-century examples of ritual murder accusations, cited by Dundes,p. 345, include one in Kiev in 1911, which provided the basis for Bernard Malamud's novel The Fixer,and one in Massena, N.Y, in 1928.

    2 "Thomas of Monmouth: Dectector of Ritual Murder," Speculum 59 (1984), 820-46.

    698 Speculum 72 (1997)

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    "really happened" at Norwich in 1144, but Langmuir directs attention to a his-torical issue of much greater significance: Who first accused the Jews of killingyoung William in a bloody rite? He concludes that Thomas of Monmouth per-

    sonallyinvented the

    malignant mythof ritual murder and introduced it to the

    world with the publication of his life of St. William around 11.50. In later worksLangmuir presents this as a turning point in Christian attitudes toward Jews. Heargues that the creation of the ritual murder fantasy marks a transition from "anti-Judaism" to "anti-Semitism," from hostility to Jews founded upon actual char-acteristics of the people and their religion to attacks based upon irrational andcompletely unfounded beliefs about Jews and Judaism. He finds the cause of thischange in rising doubts among Christians about the truth of their own religion,doubts that led them to project antireligious behavior onto the Jews, and he iden-tifies Thomas of Monmouth as the inventor of the first of these fantasies.3

    Theories of this scope invite response, and other scholars have already raised

    questions or proposed adjustments in Langmuir's broad scheme.4 Nevertheless,his assessment of the events in Norwich has been very well received, and for nearlya decade it provided the basis for something approaching a scholarly consensuson when and where the ritual murder accusation entered the Western tradition.In 1993, however, Israel J. Yuval provoked bitter controversy with an article thatchallenged nearly every element of the prevailing view.5 Yuval contends that theritual murder myth arose in the aftermath of the Christian attacks on Jewishcommunities in the Rhineland in 1096. Faced with forced conversion or death atthe hands of forces assembled for the First Crusade, many Jews chose to avoidsurrender, killing their children and wives and then committing suicide. Yuval

    argues that this response arose out of a belief among Ashkenazic Jews that theirmartyrdom would hasten the coming of messianic judgment, when the Jews wouldtriumph over their enemies. But the Christians who witnessed or heard of theseacts perceived a more immediate threat. If Jews were willing to sacrifice their ownoffspring, would they not do the same with Christian children?

    Yuval's conviction that the ritual murder accusation originated on the Continentin the psychological atmosphere engendered by the First Crusade also leads himto deny that Thomas of Monmouth provides the earliest witness to the charge.

    3 Langmuir's exposition of the larger context of Thomas's work appears in two recent books. Towarda Definition of Antisemitism (Berkeley, Calif., 1990) is a collection of the author's essays. Most of

    them, including "Thomas of Monmouth," pp. 209-36 (notes, pp. 384-87), have appeared earlier, butseveral are new. One of these is "Doubt in Christendom," pp. 100-133 (notes, pp. 365-68). History,Religion, and Antisemitism (Berkeley, Calif., 1990) offers a theoretical analysis of the problems in-volved in defining and discussing the topics of the title. Particularly relevant here is chap. 14, "FromAnti-Judaism to Antisemitism," pp. 275-305, esp. pp. 298-99.

    4 See Anna Sapir Abulafia, Christians and Jews in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (London, 1995),on the extent to which Christian fantasies about Jews were irrational in origin. David Nirenberg,Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (Princeton, N.J., 1996), adoptsa different perspective on the role of violence in Christian-Jewish relations.

    5 "Vengeance and Damnation, Blood and Defamation: From Jewish Martyrdom to Blood LibelAccusations" (in Hebrew), Zion 58 (1993), 33-90; English summary, pp. vi-viii. The following volumeof Zion, a double number, 59:2-3 (1994), presents seven articles, all in Hebrew, disputing or sup-porting various aspects of Yuval's thesis (pp. 129-350; English summaries, pp. x-xvii) along with

    Yuval's rejoinders (pp. 351-414; English summary, pp. xvii-xx).

    Jewish Ritual Murder 699

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    Accepting Langmuir's conclusion that Thomas could not have conceived of theritual murder accusation before 1148 or 1149, Yuval argues that the charge firstappeared in Germany at the time of the Second Crusade. Early in 1147, as forcesgathered at Wiirzburg for the march to the East, some of their number proclaimedas a martyr a man they alleged had been killed by the Jews. Since this incidentoccurred before Thomas penned his life of St. William, Yuval sees it as evidencethat Thomas employed a conception of ritual murder imported from continentalEurope.

    The eleventh and twelfth centuries marked a period of broad and profoundchange in medieval Latin Christendom. Economy, society, politics, thought, reli-gion-nearly every aspect of western European culture was transformed.6 This

    same age witnessed far-reaching developments in the relations between Christiansand Jews. Christian hostility toward the religious minority increased. Economicopportunities for Jews became more restricted; their legal status declined; and theycame to be regarded as enemies of Christ and the Christian religion.7 The ap-pearance of the ritual murder accusation represents an important stage in theincreasingly negative attitudes of the majority toward the minority. This mythhelped to justify Christian hostility by assuring the Christians that Jewish enmitytoward Christ had not been satisfied with his execution; it continued, directed athis followers.

    The first example of this particular escalation of Christian antagonism towardJews is the case of St. William of Norwich. But the significance of this episode isnow in dispute. Langmuir sees mid-twelfth-century Norwich as the font of thisfantasy, and he identifies Thomas of Monmouth as its creator. Yuval explains theritual murder myth as an outgrowth of events that occurred a half century beforeWilliam's murder, and he sees Thomas as having elaborated the local incident onthe basis of ideas derived from the Continent. These contrasting interpretationsprovide both context and incentive for a reexamination of the sources that attestto awareness of William of Norwich as a reputed victim of ritual murder. First, Ishall review the evidence for the date of Thomas of Monmouth's life of William,evidence that shows that Thomas composed this hagiography later than is gen-erally assumed. Next, I shall examine other English sources that reveal knowledge

    of William's death. These works are for the most part already well known, buttheir contents suggest that their references to the murder do not derive fromThomas's life. Then I shall consider Continental evidence, some of which hasescaped the attention of earlier investigators. These sources confirm the existence

    6 Out of the vast literature on these developments, two synthetic works can serve as examples: R. W.Southern's classic exposition, The Making of the Middle Ages (Harmondsworth, 1970; first published,1953), and Robert Bartlett's chronologically broader analysis, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Col-onization and Cultural Change, 950-1350 (Princeton, N.J., 1993).

    7 Several recent studies place these developments in larger contexts. R. I. Moore, The Formation ofa Persecuting Society: Power and Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250 (Oxford, 1987), sees the

    treatment of Jews as part of a growing intolerance of marginal groups. Kenneth R. Stow, AlienatedMinority: The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe (Cambridge, Mass., 1992), places this period within theMiddle Ages as a whole, examining the world of the Jews as well as their relations with the Christians.Jeremy Cohen, "The Jews as the Killers of Christ in the Latin Tradition, from Augustine to the Friars,"Traditio 39 (1983), 1-27, outlines the evolution of a key component in the view of Jews as enemies.


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    of information about William that cannot be traced to Thomas's work. They alsodemonstrate the likelihood that word of William's supposed martyrdom hadspread to southern Germany before Thomas wrote his hagiography and probably

    even before the incident at Wiirzburg. Finally, I shall reexamine the evidence forthe first accusations of ritual murder in Norwich.


    The case generally regarded as the first in the centuries-long series of ritualmurder charges occurred in England, in the city of Norwich, where the mutilatedbody of twelve-year-old William was discovered in Thorpe Wood on the day be-fore Easter in 1144.8 No witnesses came forward to offer evidence about the crime.However, at a diocesan synod held within weeks of the discovery, the boy's uncle,Godwin Sturt, a priest, publicly accused the Jews of murdering his nephew. Shortlythereafter, the child's body, which had been temporarily buried in the wood, wastransferred to the monks' cemetery next to the cathedral, and miracles were re-ported at the tomb.

    Information about these events and the developing cult of St. William in thedecade following his death is far more extensive than for most putative victims ofritual murder because William of Norwich found a hagiographer in the person ofThomas of Monmouth. Although Thomas was almost certainly not living in Nor-wich at the time of William's murder and the events that immediately followed,he did enter the cathedral priory sometime before 1150.9 As a monk of Norwich,he became interested in William's case, and during Lent of 1150 he experienceda series of

    visionaryvisitations in which he was

    orderedto tell


    Turbe to translate the young martyr's body into the chapter house. ThereafterThomas came to be regarded as William's "sacrist," responsible for the upkeep ofthe tomb and other relics and for collecting stories of the saint's supernaturalpowers. When the time came to produce a written account of William's life andmiracles, Thomas undertook the task, using stories provided by observers of theevents surrounding William's death and information he had obtained directly since

    8 The starting point for any study of this case is The Life and Miracles of St William of Norwich byThomas of Monmouth, Now First Edited from the Unique Manuscript, with an Introduction, Trans-lation and Notes by Augustus Jessopp and Montague Rhodes James (Cambridge, Eng., 1896), hereafter

    cited as Life. The only book-length investigation of the incident, M. D. Anderson, A Saint at Stake:The Strange Death of William of Norwich, 1144 (London, 1964), addresses a popular audience. Themost influential recent study is Langmuir, "Thomas of Monmouth." The same author reviews bothmedieval and modern scholarship in "Historiographic Crucifixion," in Gilbert Dahan, ed., Les juifs enregard de l'histoire: Melanges en honneur de Bernhard Blumenkranz (Paris, 1985), pp. 109-27. Newerpublications on the topic include a brief review by Zefira Entin Rokeah, "The State, the Church, andthe Jews in Medieval England," in Shmuel Almog, ed., Antisemitism through the Ages, trans. NathanH. Reisner (Oxford, 1988), pp. 104-6, and a substantial contribution by Friedrich Lotter, "Innocensvirgo et martyr: Thomas von Monmouth und die Verbreitung der Ritualmordlegende im Hochmittel-alter," in Erb, Die Legende vom Ritualmord (see above, n. 1), pp. 25-72. Two recent studies examineWilliam's cult with emphasis on his miracles: Ronald C. Finucane, Miracles and Pilgrims: PopularBeliefs in Medieval England (Totowa, N.J., 1977); and Benedicta Ward, Miracles and the MedievalMind: Theory, Record and Event, 1000-1215 (Philadelphia, 1982), esp. pp. 68-76.

    9 Life, p. x.


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    his arrival in Norwich. Heactively investigated


    of the case, and inhis retrospective account he describes the results of his personal visit to the sceneof the crime and cites evidence from witnesses who apparently had not spoken upin 1144.

    The fruit of Thomas's efforts was The Life and Passion of St. William the Martyrof Norwich.10 Thomas divided his work into seven books, the last five of whichhe devoted entirely to accounts of the multiple translations of William's body andstories of the miracles that occurred at his tombs and elsewhere. In the first twolibri, however, Thomas presents a detailed account of William's murder along withextensive evidence in support of his claims that the Jews were guilty of the child'sdeath and that the homicide qualified as a martyrdom and thus justified recog-

    nizing William as a saint.The first book consists almost entirely of a narrative of the boy's life, his death,and the events of the month that followed. According to Thomas, William was ayouth from a village outside Norwich who was apprenticed to a skinner in thecity. In that position he attracted the attention of local Jews who brought him furgarments for repair and eventually selected him as the victim for a sacrifice thatthey would perform at the time of Passover.

    On the Monday after Palm Sunday, a man claiming to be the cook of the arch-deacon of Norwich approached William, asking the boy to come to work for him.William's father being dead, the child insisted on obtaining his mother's permis-sion, and the two sought her out at her home. The mother, Elviva, suspected thatsomething was amiss-or so she claimed after the murder-and argued that herson should not go with the man or that, at the very least, they should wait untilafter Easter. Finally, however, the stranger won her over with a cash payment andreturned with William to Norwich on Tuesday. As they passed through the city,they also stopped at the home of William's aunt, his mother's sister Leviva, wifeof Godwin Sturt, where the "cook" announced that Elviva had entrusted her childto him. Leviva, also suspicious of the arrangement, sent her young daughter tofollow the pair, and the girl saw them enter the house of Eleazar, the leadingmember of Norwich's Jewish community. Inside the house William was welltreated until the following morning, the day of the Passover, when the Jews seized

    him and gaggedhim

    with a teasel. They tieda

    knotted cord aroundhis

    head andneck, and shaving his head, they stabbed it with thorns. Then they fastened himto a post and beam as if to a cross "in mockery of the Lord's passion."11 Finally,they dispatched the boy, inflicting a wound in his side that penetrated to his heart,and to stanch the flow of blood they poured boiling water over the corpse. Theday was the Wednesday after Palm Sunday, 22 March 1144.

    On Thursday, according to Thomas's day-by-day account, the Jews took coun-sel about how to dispose of the body. They decided to transport it to ThorpeWood on the opposite side of the town in order to divert suspicion from them-selves. At dawn on Good Friday, Eleazar and a companion set out on horsebackwith the body in a sack, and as they entered the wood they encountered /Elward

    10 This title appears in the manuscript at the beginning of the general prologue, Life, p. 1.11 Life 1.5, p. 21.


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    Ded, a wealthy and respected citizen who was on his way to church accompaniedby a servant. /Elward touched the bag and recognized that it contained a humanbody, whereupon the Jews took off at a gallop. IElward proceeded about his

    business without raising the alarm, but he did reveal his experience to a confessorfive years later as he lay on his deathbed, and Thomas of Monmouth heard thestory from the priest.

    Thomas states that the Jews hid the corpse in the wood, but the following nightrays of light shone down from heaven to mark the spot where it lay. On Saturdaymorning several people who had seen the celestial sign found their way to thebody. Following the discovery, the corpse lay exposed until the day after Easter,when it was buried on the spot. Then, apparently within days of this interment,the priest Godwin heard of the murder and opened the grave in order to determinewhether the victim was his nephew William. Having identified the corpse, he re-buried it. Shortly thereafter, in the diocesan synod, he accused the Jews of the

    murder, and the bishop summoned them to answer the charge. The Jews refusedto submit to the ecclesiastical authority and sought the support and protection ofthe sheriff, the king's representative, who harbored them in the royal castle untilthe crisis had passed. Godwin's charge did not succeed in establishing the guilt ofthe Jews in his nephew's murder, but it did lead, on 24 April, to the translationof young William's body from the temporary grave in Thorpe Wood to a promi-nent tomb in the monks' cemetery located next to the cathedral-the first officialstep in the gradual development of William's cult.

    In his second book Thomas switches from narrative to argument. He denouncesdetractors who refuse to recognize William's sainthood and attempts to refute theirobjections. He also contends that William was not only a saint, but a martyr, thatthe Jews were responsible for his death, and that they killed him as a part of aPassover ritual intended to mock the passion of Christ. The evidence for Jewishguilt that Thomas presents here is of several sorts. He adduces the testimony oftwo eyewitnesses, the child who followed William and the traitorous "cook" toEleazar's dwelling and also a Christian maidservant in Eleazar's house. Thiswoman-well after the event-claimed to have glimpsed William fastened to abeam as she passed boiling water to his persecutors through a partly open door.Thomas also refers to several comments by unidentified Jews that appear to beadmissions of guilt, and he cites numerous examples of bribes and attemptedbribes that, he insists, innocent people would never have offered. Most damning,

    however, is Thomas's report of the testimony of one Theobald, formerly a Jew ofCambridge, who on hearing of the miracles God worked through William hadconverted to Christianity and become a monk. According to Thomas, Theobaldrevealed that Jews believed they could never return to their ancient homelandunless they yearly sacrificed a Christian "in contempt of Christ."12 To implementthis requirement, their rabbis and leaders met annually at Narbonne to determineby lot the country for that year's sacrifice, and within the country they used asimilar procedure to select a city. In 1144 the lot had fallen on Norwich, and allthe Jewish communities in the kingdom had consented to the act.

    12 Life 2.11, pp. 93-94.


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    Since the publication of The Life and Miracles of St. William a century ago,Thomas of Monmouth has been accepted as the first author of any detailed ac-count of a case involving the charge of ritual murder. Moreover, within the pastdecade Thomas has come to be seen as a pivotal figure in the history of Christian-Jewish relations. In his seminal article published in 1984, Gavin I. Langmuir la-beled Thomas the "detector of ritual murder," identifying him not merely as therecorder, but indeed as the inventor, of the story that William of Norwich wascrucified by the Jews.13 With his article several times reprinted and supplementedby additional studies, Langmuir's thesis has gained wide acceptance.14

    Langmuir's argument is lucidly presented. He begins by excluding the possibilitythat Thomas's tale might have been inspired by stories transmitted by ancient

    authors. He establishes with virtual certainty that the relevant texts were unknownto Thomas and, thus, that Thomas's fable is a medieval invention.15 He then con-siders the genesis of the story. Examining the seven books of Thomas's opus, heargues that they represent the result of a multistage process of composition. Inparticular, he suggests that Thomas wrote book 1, the vita per se, in 1149 or early1150. Thomas admits that the memory of William had almost died out amongthe people of Norwich by the late 1140s, and Langmuir sees evidence of a con-certed effort at this time on the part of certain individuals to revive popular interestin St. William. One of these was Wicheman, a monk whom the bishop had dep-utized to hear confessions. He received the account of a recent miracle by whicha pious maiden was freed through William's intercession from the unwelcome

    attentions of an incubus. In or about 1149 he also heard the deathbed confession.of /Elward Ded, who finally told the story of his encounter with the Jews on theirway to dispose of William's body. Langmuir places Thomas's first book in thiscontext, arguing that he wrote it as part of the campaign to promote William'scult and to justify the need for a translation from the cemetery to a more protectedand honorable location. This suggestion is not implausible. In his narrative of theremoval of William's body from the cemetery to the chapter house on 12 April1150, Thomas recounts his visions of the preceding Lent in which Bishop HerbertLosinga (1091-1119) and St. William himself demanded a translation, andThomas declares that he personally persuaded Prior Elias, the head of the cathe-dral

    chapter,who in turn convinced

    BishopWilliam Turbe to undertake the task.16

    Adopting 1150, his date for book 1, as the terminus ad quem for the charge

    13 Langmuir, Thomas f Monmouth."14 "Thomas f Monmouth" has been reprinted n Dundes, The Blood Libel Legend see above, n.

    1), pp. 3-40, as well as in Langmuir's wn Toward a Definition of Antisemitism. or this and hisother recent work, see above, n. 3. Langmuir's onclusions n "Thomas f Monmouth" hold an im-portant place in the arguments f Yuval, "Vengeance nd Damnation" see above, n. 5), pp. 79-80,and Lotter, "Innocens irgo et martyr" see above, n. 8), pp. 25-72, esp. pp. 38, 48, and 72. Forfurther xamples of Langmuir's nfluence, ee Moore, Persecuting ociety see above, n. 7), pp. 119-21; Stow, Alienated Minority seeabove, n. 7), p. 237; and Adriaan H. Bredero, Anti-Jewish entimentin Medieval

    Society,"n idem, Christendom nd Christianity n the Middle Ages, trans. Reinder

    Bruinsma Grand Rapids, Mich., 1994), p. 294.15Langmuir, Thomas f Monmouth," p. 822-27; see also Langmuir, Historiographic rucifix-

    ion" (see above, n. 8), p. 110.16 Life 2.1, pp. 116-21.


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    that William died by crucifixion, Langmuir then reviews all the statements thatThomas attributes to various actors in the narrative. He does not contend thatThomas reports the ipsissima verba of the speeches "quoted" in the life, but hedoes


    writingat a time when

    manyof the

    principalswere still alive,

    Thomas would not have risked attributing the completely unprecedented accu-sation of crucifixion to someone who had not actually made it.17 And, in fact,Thomas does not cite any explicit reference to crucifixion by any of the charactersin his drama. Even the convert Theobald-who declared that his former coreli-gionists practiced annual human sacrifice as an insult to Christianity-did notsuggest that they crucified their victims. Rather, the first reference to the mannerof William's death appears in Thomas's narrative of the event, into which he insertsa description of what appears to be a personal visit to the scene of the crime.18 Hespeaks of finding marks in the house which indicated that the child was affixed,not to a freestanding cross, but to a cruciform structure of posts and a beam.

    Thomas attributes this explanation of the supposed evidence to common report(ut fama traditur), but Langmuir argues that in fact Thomas, already convincedthat William had been crucified, interpreted what he found in the house in thelight of that conviction.19

    Langmuir does concede that anyone could have fabricated the crucifixionstory.20 Once the Jews were accused in the murder of an innocent child found deadduring Easter week, associations between the child and Christ might easily springto the mind of any Christian, but Langmuir believes that Thomas-who empha-sizes other parallels between William and Christ-would be more likely thananyone else to make the connection. He summarizes: "So far as we are ever likelyto, know, Thomas created the accusation. Since he had not acquired all the ele-

    ments of his story until 1149, and had apparently written book 1 by 1150, wemay feel reasonably sure that the fantasy that Jews ritually murdered Christiansby crucifixion was created and contributed to western culture by Thomas of Mon-mouth about 1150."21 Then, once recorded, Thomas's fantasy spread widely andrapidly, first within England and then to France and beyond. Its circulation wasmarked by two sorts of traces: widely distributed information about William him-self and, far more threatening, a growing number of murdered children identifiedas victims of ritual crimes.

    But is it indeed reasonable to brand Thomas of Monmouth as the inventor ofthe crucifixion libel? To answer this fundamental question, we must consider anumber of different issues: When did Thomas write? What evidence exists thatpeople outside of Norwich possessed any knowledge of William and the mannerof his death? And did that information come from Thomas's text, either directlyor indirectly?

    17 Langmuir, Thomas f Monmouth," p. 840-42.18 Life 1.5, pp. 21-22.19Langmuir, Thomas f Monmouth," . 841.20 Langmuir, Thomas f Monmouth," p. 836, 842.21

    Langmuir, Thomas f Monmouth," . 842.


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    A reexamination of the evidence must begin with the date of Thomas of Mon-mouth's Life of St. William. The original editors apparently assumed that Thomascomposed the work in its extant form, with seven books and a general prologue,as a single piece. The author obligingly dates the final miracle of his last book toJanuary 1172, and he addresses his general prologue to Bishop William Turbe,who died on 16 January 1174. On that basis M. R. James placed the writing ofthe work within a period of approximately two years.22 For the purpose of estab-lishing the time within which Thomas put his hagiography into final form, thisargument is probably conclusive, but it fails to take into account other internalevidence that reveals a more extended process of composition.

    Besides Jessopp and James, only Langmuir has examined in detail the questionof dating, and he argues that Thomas composed the work in three stages.23 Hecontends that book 1, the narrative life of St. William, represents an independentcomposition that Thomas wrote in 1149 or early 1150, and he sees the next fivebooks as the product of a later effort, dating to 1154-55. The second book con-tains frequent references to people who doubted William's sanctity, and Langmuirconstrues these as an indication that Thomas felt he had to respond to criticismleveled against the previously published life before narrating the translations andmiracles of the early 1150s in books 3-6. By contrast, book 7 and the general

    prologue belong, according to Langmuir's timetable, to a still later stage in whichThomas rounded out and concluded his work between 1172 and 1174.A complete analysis of the chronology of Thomas's composition would exceed

    the limits of this study, but the date of book 1 and its relationship to book 2demand consideration because they play a crucial role in any attempt to assessthe early dissemination of information about William of Norwich. Langmuir'sview that books 2-6 were composed as a group is certainly correct, as is his datingof that process to the years 1154-55. The second book contains several referencesto the time of King Stephen couched in terms that Thomas would only have em-ployed after the king's death on 25 October 1154.24 Then, in his prologue to book7, the author reveals that he had completed book 6 before the end of 1155.25 In

    this introduction to his final book, Thomas notes that, while he was writing hisearlier codicelli, St. William ceased for a time to perform miracles. During this lullThomas concluded his account of the miracles he knew of, believing that his taskwas finished. Then, when the wondrous events resumed, he had to add one morebook to his collection. This renewal of William's thaumaturgic powers occurredsometime in the year 1155. Since book 2 could not have been written before lateOctober 1154 and book 6 was finished before the end of 1155, the chronologicallimits for five of Thomas's seven libri are quite narrow.

    22 Life, p. liii.23

    Langmuir, "Thomas of Monmouth," pp. 838-40.24 Life 2.10, p. 91, "Ea tempestate qua Regis Stephani florebat regnum, immo iusticia languentedegenerabat .. ."; 2.11, p. 95, "Regnante etenim Rege Stephano ... iudei ... nobis audacter insultaresolebant."

    25 Life 7, prol., pp. 262-63.


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    Thomas surely composed book 1 as a part of this process and not earlier. Al-though the first book lacks the clear temporal references that place book 2 afterthe death of King Stephen, ample evidence associates it with libri 2-6. One clearindication that Thomas did not


    separatelife of St. William to

    encouragea translation is his silence in the first codicellus about William's earliest miracles.For all his enthusiasm for his hero's sanctity, Thomas was able to present only fivemiracle stories from the years between 1144 and 1150: a rose on William's gravethat blossomed out of season; two visions of the young martyr in glory; a woman'srelief from a painful and extended labor; and a virgin delivered from an incubus.The number is not large, but if Thomas had composed book 1 in 1149 or early1150 to justify increased veneration for William and to promote a translationfrom the cemetery to the chapter house, he would certainly have incorporatedsuch clear evidence of divine favor into that work. But instead, he ended book 1with William's first translation and burial in the cemetery, and he reserved the

    miracles that occurred between the first translation and the second for book 2.26Moreover, clear textual ties between the first book and those that follow indicate

    that libri 1-6 formed a single unit of Thomas's composition. One link betweenthe first and second books appears in the arguments adduced in both places toestablish the guilt of the Jews. In book 1 Thomas describes Godwin Sturt's ap-pearance before the diocesan synod at which he charged the Jews with murder. Insupport of his accusation, he presented three points: the rituals the Jews wereknown to conduct in the season when William died; the forms of torture inflictedon the victim and the resulting wounds; and additional circumstantial evidence.27Then in the eighth chapter of book 2, Thomas presents a similar passage, but inthis case he speaks for himself. Addressing those who had expressed doubt aboutthe Jews' responsibility for William's death, Thomas reiterates the same threepoints,28 and these theses summarize much of the argument of the second book.If the first book had already appeared and met with severe criticism, it appearssurprising that Thomas-after five years' time for reflection-should choose torely so heavily on these same points. Rather, the parallels between the ideas pre-sented in these two passages suggest that the first and second books are the productof a single, continuous process of composition.

    The eighth chapter of book 2 also contains another, more explicit expressionof its connection with book 1. Here Thomas addresses those who know thatWilliam was cruelly murdered but still doubt that his death was a martyrdom. Hementions three



    they mighthave come to their knowl-

    edge of the boy's death: they have seen with their own eyes that he was murdered,or they hear of it from others, or they read of it in the present work (uel oculisuiderunt, uel ab aliis audiunt, uel scriptis presentibus legunt).29 The narrative ofWilliam's death appears in book 1, but in book 2 the author refers in the presenttense to those who are reading that account here and now.

    26 Life 2.3-7, pp. 66-85. Lotter, "Innocens irgo et martyr" see above, n. 8), p. 30, suggests hatthese miracles ould have formed part of an original one-book vita.

    27Life 1.16, p. 44.28 Life 2.8, p. 88.

    29 Life 2.8, p. 85.

    Jewish Ritual Murder 707

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    Finally,several references in the first book indicate that Thomas


    unit with knowledge of events that occurred after William's tomb was opened andhis body translated to the chapter house. In telling the story of the original burialin Thorpe Wood, Thomas says that this interment was divinely ordained so thatthe saint might be moved to a more honorable tomb in the cemetery. He adds thatGod also revealed William's virtues by working miracles at the site of his firstresting place.30 After this general statement in book 1, Thomas's next reference tomiracles at that location appears in book 4, where he tells how Botilda, the wifeof the monks' cook, followed instructions that William gave her in a vision andfound a healing spring there.31 Like most of Thomas's miracle narratives, the storyof Botilda's discovery lacks a precise date. Nevertheless, the author adheres closely

    to the chronological order of events, and he begins each of the original libri mira-culorum with a milestone in the history of St. William's cult. Book 3 opens withevents surrounding the translation of William's body from the cemetery into thechapter house, which Thomas places on 2 April 1150,32 and book 4 starts withthe death of Prior Elias on 22 October of an unspecified year.33 Elias could nothave perished before 1150, however, for Thomas interprets his demise as divinepunishment for his reluctance to approve the placement of special marks ofhonor-a carpet and candles-at William's tomb in the chapter house, and Bo-tilda did not find the spring until after the prior's death.34

    A second chronological incongruity in book 1 occurs in one of the passagesLangmuir interprets as evidence for Thomas's personal sleuthing into the mannerof William's death.35 In the midst of his account of the child's passion, Thomasinterrupts his narrative to describe a later investigation of the crime scene and aninspection of the victim's wounds: "And we, after enquiring into the matter verydiligently, did both find the house, and discovered (deprehendimus) some mostcertain marks in it of what had been done there. For report goes that there wasthere instead of a cross a post set up between two other posts, and a beam stretchedacross the midmost post and attached to the other on either side. And as weafterwards discovered (deprehendimus), from the marks of the wounds and of thebands, the right hand and foot had been tightly bound and fastened with cords,but the left hand and foot were pierced with two nails: so in fact the deed wasdone

    by design that,in

    case at any time he should be found, when the fasteningsof the nails were discovered it might not be supposed that he had been killed byJews rather than by Christians."36 Thomas describes here two discoveries, and inboth cases his use of a first-person verb at least implies that he personally tookpart in the observations he recounts. He offers no clue as to when the house wasexplored, but presumably he could have visited it anytime after his arrival in

    30Life 1.12, p. 37.

    31 Life 4.10, pp. 179-80. Thomas recounts other miracles at the same place in 7.13, pp. 272-73,and 7.18, pp. 279-89.

    32 Life 3.1, pp. 116-25.33

    Life 4.1, pp. 165-66.34 Indeed, the discovery of the spring, described in Life 4.10, probably occurred after Christmas of1150, for Thomas refers to the coming of that season in 4.8, p. 173.

    35 Langmuir, "Thomas of Monmouth," p. 841.36 Life 1.5, pp. 21-22.


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    Norwich in the later 1140s. The possibilities for inspecting the traces of woundsand bonds were much more limited. William's body lay entombed in the monks'cemetery from April 1144 until April 1150, when the sarcophagus was openedfor the second translation.

    Thus,if Thomas's


    literallymeans that

    he personally saw marks on William's corpse, then he could not have penned thispassage before the translation of spring 1150.37

    These references in book 1 to events that occurred during or after the translationof April 1150 accord with the other evidence that Thomas included in his originalunit of composition not only the narrative of William's life in book 1 but also thelater events of books 2-6. As a result, his work could not have contributed to thedistribution of information about St. William until sometime in 1155, at the ear-liest.

    On the other hand, Thomas himself provides evidence for the early spread ofknowledge of St. William when he identifies the origins of petitioners who came

    to the boy's tomb seeking miracles. He refers frequently to the crowds who camefrom far and wide to obtain the aid of the holy child,38 and these people couldnot have learned of William from Thomas's account. Nevertheless, specific in-stances of visitors from distant locations are rare,39 and most of the beneficiariesof William's thaumaturgy did not travel far.40 Thomas's most telling evidence forknowledge of William outside of East Anglia appears in his account of the cureof a girl in Worcestershire, who had a vision of William as a beautiful but bloodyyouth bearing a cross. The value of this story is enhanced because, instead oftelling it in his own words, Thomas quotes a letter composed by a monk of Per-shore. But the context suggests that he received this communication around 1170,well after completing the main body of his text.41



    The textual tradition of Thomas's opus suggests that even after it appeared, itdid little to enhance the fame of its hero. The Life and Passion of St. William

    37 Conversely, if the "we" here refers not to Thomas personally but to an unspecified group such as

    the brothers who prepared the body, then one must also question whether Thomas personally inspectedthe house where William was said to have died.38 Examples of such statements appear at Life 3.17, p. 150; 3.31, pp. 161-62; 4.1, p. 165; 4.11, p.

    181; 6.1, p. 220; 6.9, p. 231.39 Among the miracles that can reasonably be dated to 1155 or before, the more distant recipients

    came from Canterbury (Life 3.29, p. 160), the province of York (5.8, pp. 195-96), and the region ofHastings (7.1, p. 263). The petitioner who came the greatest distance was Philip of Bella Arbore, aLorrainer, but he did not make a special trip to visit St. William. He had made a penitential pilgrimageto Rome and to shrines from Jerusalem to Ireland before arriving in Norwich, 6.9, pp. 232, 234-35.

    40 Finucane, Miracles and Pilgrims (see above, n. 8), pp. 161-62.41 The letter appears in Life 7.19, pp. 283-89. On the date, see James, Life, p. lxxvi, who also notes

    an East Anglian connection. He indicates that William, abbot of Pershore, was a former monk of Eyein Suffolk, but William was dead by 1143: David Knowles, C. N. L. Brooke, and Vera C. M. London,

    Heads of Religious Houses: England and Wales, 940-1216 (Cambridge, Eng., 1972), p. 59.


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    survives in a single manuscript dating from the last quarter of the twelfth century.42The copy is not an autograph or author's original, but it may well have beencopied within a decade of the completion of the original. The provenance of themanuscript is unknown. However, it is most likely East Anglian, and what littleis known of its history suggests that it may never have left that region. Around1700 it was willed to the Suffolk parish of Brent Eleigh by Edward Colman,formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge,43 and the Cambridge University Librarypurchased the codex from the parish in 1891.44

    Evidence for the possible existence of any other manuscripts is also very limited.One copy of the text was certainly available in the fourteenth century to John ofTynemouth, who included a much-abbreviated version of Thomas's life in his ownSanctilogium Angliae, but John traveled widely to assemble the materials for hisambitious historical and hagiographical collections. Thus his use of William's vitadoes not imply that any manuscript had migrated far from Norwich. John's Sanc-tilogium was rearranged in the fifteenth century from calendarial to alphabeticalorder and became associated with the name of John Capgrave; it was printed inthe early sixteenth century by Wynkyn de Worde under the title Nova legendaAnglie.4s This made the central features of Thomas's story available to a muchbroader audience, but until the publication of the complete text by Jessopp andJames in 1896, "Capgrave's" ife of St. William remained the only widely knownsource of information about the circumstances surrounding William's death.46

    A few other scholars were aware of Thomas'scomposition,

    but the earliestreference is in the work of the sixteenth-century antiquary John Leland (1506?-1552). Likewise, John Bale (1495-1563) showed independent knowledge of thetext. Yet these notices offer no evidence of notable dissemination, for Leland in-dicates that he used a manuscript in the Norwich cathedral priory, and Bale was

    42 Cambridge, University Library, Additional MS 3037. M. R. James describes the codex, Life,, and dates the section containing the life of William to the late twelfth century. Willis Johnson,who has generously shared the unpublished results of his investigations, favors a date in the 1170s or1180s and argues for an East Anglian origin.

    43 This is most likely the Edward Colman who matriculated at Cambridge in 1651: John Venn and

    J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Hold-ers of Office at the University of Cambridge from the Earliest Times to 1900, 1/1 (Cambridge, Eng.,1922), p. 369.

    44 Willis Johnson informs me that the records of the University Library indicate this manuscript waspurchased in 1891 rather than 1889 as noted by M. R. James, Life, p. 1.

    45 Carl Horstmann, ed., Nova legenda Anglie: As Collected by John of Tynemouth, John Capgrave,and Others, and First Printed by Wynkyn de Worde a.d. m d xui, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1901). Horstmanndemonstrated that this collection, traditionally attributed to Capgrave, is essentially a reworking ofJohn of Tynemouth's Sanctilogium, which is preserved in London, British Library, MS Cotton TiberiusEl (l:xi), and he examined the evidence for John of Tynemouth's career (1:xxxiii-lxvii). Horstmannconceded credit to Capgrave for rearranging the collection, but Peter J. Lucas, "John Capgrave andthe Nova legenda Anglie: A Survey," The Library, 5th ser., 25 (1970), 1-10, considers even thatassessment too generous.

    46 It was reprinted in the Bollandists' Acta sanctorum, Mar. 3:590-91; 3rd ed., pp. 587-88. AnEnglish version appeared in the same year that de Worde published the Nova legenda. It is nowavailable in a critical edition: The Kalendre of the Newe Legende of Englande, Ed. from Pynson'sPrinted Edition, 1516 by Manfred G6rlach, Middle English Texts 27 (Heidelberg, 1994), pp. 174-75.


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    a native East Anglian. Even in its area of origin, however, the text enjoyed quitelimited circulation, for Francis Blomefield, the famed Norfolk antiquary of theeighteenth century, knew Thomas's work only at several removes.47

    English martyrologies likewise provide no clear evidence for broader knowledgeof Thomas's composition.48 The earliest text with a reference to William appearsto be the sixteenth-century Martiloge in Englysshe.49 The author of this compi-lation, Richard Whytford, clearly based his entry on John of Tynemouth's abbre-viation rather than on Thomas of Monmouth's original, for he inserted his noticefor William on 15 April, a date otherwise attested only in the Sanctilogium andthe Nova legenda Anglie.

    Another potential source of hagiographical evidence for the transmission ofThomas's text would be stories of other cases involving the charge of ritual murder,but here again the results are disappointing. Information survives regarding thedeaths of four other youths in twelfth-century England. Three of them-Harold

    at Gloucester in 1168, Robert at Bury St. Edmunds in 1181, and an anonymousboy at Winchester in 1192-are known only on the basis of chronicle accounts,but at least some of the authors must have heard of St. William.50 The letter fromthe monk of Pershore attests to knowledge of William's cult near Gloucester byabout the time of Harold's death in that city,51 and the monks of Bury could hardlyhave been ignorant of Norwich claims for William's sanctity. The most detailedof these accounts is that pertaining to the child killed at Winchester. Richard ofDevizes narrates the events in a caustic fashion, directing his criticism primarilyat the citizens of Winchester,52 and his tale reveals some notable similarities to

    47 Jamessurveys

    the evidence fromearly-modern

    scholars(Life, pp. lviii-lx), but he focuses almostexclusively on Leland and Bale, who actually saw Thomas's text. Blomefield's discussion of William's

    case, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, 3 (London, 1806), pp.26-28 (originally published 1741), is based on chronicles-especially the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle andBartholomew Cotton-the Nova legenda, and John Pits's De illustribus Angliae scriptoribus (1619).Pits drew his information from Bale, and Blomefield displays no independent knowledge of Thomas'swork. Similarly derivative is the reference to Thomas's history in Alban Butler's great hagiographicalreference work, first published anonymously under the title The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, andOther Principal Saints (London, 1756-59), where William appears on 24 March. All of Butler's in-formation about William comes from Blomefield.

    48 Richard Stanton, A Menology of England and Wales (London, 1892), supplemented his articleson saints with lists of calendars and martyrologies in which they appeared. These lists were based oninformation compiled by the renowned student of English liturgy, Edmund Bishop. Nevertheless, the

    references in the article on St. William (p. 134) reveal nothing earlier than Whytford's work (seefollowing note). My own examination of published martyrologies has yielded no further examples.

    49The Martiloge in Englysshe after the use of the chirche of Salisbury and as it is redde in Syon withaddicyons. Printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1526, ed. F Procter and E. S. Dewick, Henry Bradshaw

    Society 3 (London, 1893), pp. 57-58.50 On these English cases generally, see Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England, 3rd ed.

    (Oxford, 1964), p. 13; Langmuir, "Historiographic Crucifixion" (see above, n. 8), pp. 113-14; andRok6ah (see above, n. 8), pp. 106-11. Jocelin of Brakelond mentions Robert in his Chronicle, ed. andtrans. H. E. Butler (New York, 1949), p. 16, stating that he has written more about the case elsewhere,and Bale refers to a life of Robert, Index Britanniae scriptorum, ed. Reginald Lane Poole and MaryBateson (Oxford, 1902), p. 276, but it does not survive.

    51 See above, n. 41.52 The Chronicle of Richard of Devizes of the Time of King Richard the First, ed. and trans. John

    T. Appleby (London, 1963), pp. 64-69. The ambiguity and cynicism of this passage have yielded


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    Thomas's. He attributes the murder to an international "conspiracy" n which thevictim was selected in France and sent to England. He also indicates that the twoprimary witnesses were unable to testify because one was a child and the other awoman employed in the house where the murder occurred, and he declares thatthe charge was finally dismissed as a result of bribery. Yet even these elementswould not require knowledge of Thomas's story. The lack of competent witnessesis virtually universal in ritual murder cases. The Christian housemaid and theconspiracy appear as elements of other stories.53 The imputation of bribery offersa reasonable explanation for why the accused remained unpunished. Thus, whilethese authors may have heard of the death and miracles of St. William, neitherRichard of Devizes nor any of the others show specific knowledge of Thomas of

    Monmouth's account of those events.54Besides William of Norwich only one putative victim of ritual murder in twelfth-century England became the subject of an extant hagiographical treatment. Thiswas Adam, who has been thought to have died at Bristol around 1183. The storyof Adam's martyrdom is the work of an anonymous author who may possiblyhave had Thomas's text at hand. Nevertheless, the evidence for the compositionof the work suggests that it dates from the thirteenth century,55 and if its authorknew Thomas's vita, he made little specific use of it.

    Turning from hagiographical to more traditional historical sources, the earliestreference to William in an English work appears in the Peterborough version ofthe Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the annal for 1137. This entry, composed in or

    shortly after 1155, reviews much of the reign of King Stephen, including the eventsin Norwich:56 "In his [Stephen's] time, the Jews of Norwich bought a Christian

    widely varying interpretations of Richard's attitude toward Jews and the degree of his skepticism aboutthe Winchester murder case. For a review and assessment of the literature, see Gerd Mentgen, "Richardof Devizes und die Juden: Ein Beitrag zur Interpretation seiner 'Gesta Richardi,' " Kairos 30-31 (1988-89), 95-104.

    53 Lotter, "Innocens virgo et martyr" (see above, n. 8), p. 70, lists the maid among the commonelements of these stories, and he refers, p. 59, to international arrangements in the ritual murderaccusation at Valr6as in 1247.

    54 Nancy F Partner, Serious Entertainments: The Writing of History in Twelfth-Century England(Chicago, 1977), pp. 175-79, reviews Richard's narrative, pointing to some additional, but much less

    specific, factual parallels with Thomas's life. On this basis she contends that Richard was satirizingThomas's book, which she believes was "sufficiently well known for quick allusions to register im-mediately." Richard may possibly have read Thomas's work, but its limited distribution assures thatRichard's audience would not have recognized a parody.

    55 Michael Adler, Jews of Medieval England (London, 1939), pp. 185-86, called attention to anaccount of this episode, which is presently the object of study by at least two scholars. Christoph Clusehas prepared an edition, "Fabula ineptissima: Die Ritualmordlegende um Adam von Bristol nach derHandschrift London, British Library, Harley 957," Aschkenas 5 (1995), 293-330; on the date, see pp.301-3. Robert C. Stacey presented a paper entitled "From Ritual Crucifixion to Host Desecration:The Excruciating Drama of Adam of Redcliff" at the spring 1995 meeting of the Medieval Academyof America, and he has generously shared with me some of the unpublished results of his research.

    56 Dorothy Whitelock, D. C. Douglas, and S. I. Tucker, transs., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a Re-vised Translation (New Brunswick, N.J., 1961), p. 200. Regarding the date of composition, Whitelock

    notes, p. xvi, "Finally, in or after 1155, the section dealing with events from 1132 to the early part of1155 was added by another scribe who can only rarely assign them to their proper year." R. H. C.Davis, King Stephen, 3rd ed. (London, 1990), p. 147, states that this portion of the chronicle waswritten "in, or soon after, 1154." Antonia Gransden, Historical Writing in England c. 550 to c. 1307(Ithaca, N.Y., 1974), pp. 92, 274, notes only that the chronicle ends in 1154.


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    child before Easter and tortured him with all the torture that our Lord was tor-tured with; and on Good Friday hanged him on a cross on account of our Lord,and then buried him. They expected that it would be concealed, but our Lord

    made it plain that he was a holy martyr, and the monks took him and buried himwith ceremony in the monastery, and through our Lord he works wonderful andvaried miracles, and he is called St. William." The date of this annal's compositionmakes it approximately contemporary with Thomas's life, but its confused de-scriptions of political events suggest that the chronicler was writing on the basisof memory rather than contemporary records, and the same may be true of hisaccount of St. William. Surely if he had been able to consult Thomas's hagiogra-phy, he would have more closely approximated the year of the boy's death.

    The factual similarities between the chronicle's narrative and Thomas's are strik-ing, but there are also some differences. In the first place, the statement that theJews purchased William differs somewhat from Thomas's indication that their

    representative bribed the boy's mother to let him leave, but the distinction is mi-nor.57 More important, the chronicle places William's death on Good Friday, whileThomas very explicitly puts it on the preceding Wednesday. Likewise, the annalstates that the Jews buried William's body. Thomas, however, declares that theyleft it in the wood on Good Friday, hanging from a tree by a flaxen cord, that itwas found the next day, lying "at the root of an oak,"58 and that it remainedunburied until the following Monday. Finally, the chronicler's statement that themonks buried William in the monastery is sufficiently imprecise to cover all ofWilliam's resting places from his grave in the monks' cemetery to his final tombin the church. Clearly, the Peterborough annalist knew some of the fundamentalfacts about William's death and miracles. Nevertheless, the differences betweenhis account and Thomas's-especially on the year and the day of the murder-suggest that he did not obtain his information from Thomas's life.

    Much more abbreviated notices of William's death appear in a number of otherEnglish chronicles, but by no means in all.59 Most of the authors who mentionWilliam reproduce, with only minor variations, a standard notice under the year1144: Puer Willelmus crucifixus est a Judaeis apud Norwicum.60 The only signifi-

    57 Purchase of the victim is a common element in the stories of ritual murder: Lotter, "Innocens virgoet martyr" (see above, n. 8), p. 70.

    58 Life 1.7, 1.10, pp. 28, 33.

    59 In looking for references to William's death I have concentrated on two categories of texts: thoseGransden, Historical Writing, pp. 526-27, and Edgar Graves, A Bibliography of English History to1485 (Oxford, 1975), p. 390, identify as dating wholly or in part from the period between the deathsof St. William and King Richard I (1144-99); and those from the East Anglian region. Works thatomit all mention of William include the chronicles of Gervase of Canterbury, Henry of Huntingdon,Hugh Candidus, John of Hexham, Ralph of Diceto, Ralph Niger, Roger of Howden, and William of

    Newburgh as well as the annals of Abingdon, Evesham, and Battle Abbey. See also Langmuir, "His-toriographic Crucifixion" (see above, n. 8), p. 115.

    60 The basic notice appears in the South English continuation of the annals of Rouen, ed. FelixLiebermann, Ungedruckte anglo-normannische Geschichtsquellen (Strasbourg, 1879; repr. Ridge-wood, N.J., 1966), p. 48; Annales sancti Edmundi, ibid., p. 133; Ralph of Coggeshall, Chronicon

    Anglicanum, ed. Joseph Stevenson, Rolls Series 66 (London, 1875), p. 12; Waverly Annals, ed. H. R.Luard, Annales monastici, Rolls Series 36 (London, 1865), 1:230; Worcester Annals, ibid., 4:379; and

    "John Brompton," Chronicon, ed. Roger Twysden, Historiae Anglicanae scriptores X (London, 1652),


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    cant expansion on this core appears in the late-thirteenth-century chronicle ofJohn of Oxnead, a monk at the Norfolk abbey of St. Benet of Hulme, who addeda date for William's death: ix kalendas Martii (21 February).61 Despite the numberof such references, their brevity and verbal similarity suggest that concrete, his-torical information about William's death spread slowly and primarily as a resultof chroniclers' copying from their predecessors, and not through independent useof Thomas of Monmouth's vita.

    An examination of the works of Matthew Paris, the most noted English histo-rian of the thirteenth century, strengthens this impression. His two most importantcompositions, the Chronica majora and Historia Anglorum, contain no referenceat all to St. William. This was certainly not because Matthew lacked interest in

    the subject. In his Greater Chronicle he presents accounts of attacks on Jews inNorwich, Stamford, Bury St. Edmunds, and York in 1190; the crimes of Jewsin Norwich in 1234 and again in 1239 or 1240; their murder of a boy in Londonin 1244; a case of blasphemy and murder at Berkhampstead in 1150; and, mostfamous of all, the ritual murder of little St. Hugh at Lincoln in 1255.62 ThatMatthew should provide a detailed account of the death of St. Hugh and say nota word about the martyrdom of St. William suggests that he was completely un-informed about the earlier case. The sole reference to William in any of Matthew'sopera appears in one of his later and shorter chronicles, the Flores historiarum.63Even there his notice is only an incomplete version of the most common annalistictext: Eo anno

    [i.e., 1144] quidam puera

    Judaeis apudNorwicum


    The text omits the name of the child, and not all of the manuscripts even refer tothe Jews. Only one copy of the work mentions William by name, and it adds theindication that he died on the ninth kalends of March. This manuscript, writtenaround the beginning of the fourteenth century at St. Benet of Hulme, also con-

    col. 1043. Two other works reproduce the basic text but omit William's name: Thomas Wykes, Chron-icle, ed. Luard, Annales monastici, 4:25; and the Bermondsey Annals, ibid., 3:437. The late-thirteenth-century Norwich chronicler Bartholomew Cotton, who drew upon earlier annals from the cathedral

    priory, provides nothing beyond the standard notice s.a. 1144, even substituting martyrizatus forcrucifixus, but s.a. 1150 he inserts a unique reference to William's translation from the cemetery tothe chapter house: Bartholomaei de Cotton monachi Norwicensis Historia Anglicana, ed. H. R. Luard,Rolls Series 16 (London, 1859), pp. 67, 68. On Cotton's local source, see Luard, pp. xxi-xxv; andGransden, Historical Writing, p. 444. On the chronicle accounts of William's death, see also Langmuir,"Historiographic Crucifixion" (see above, n. 8), pp. 115-16.

    61 Ed. Henry Ellis, Rolls Series 13 (London, 1859), p. 48. John also added that the Jews were severelypunished. Nicholas Trivet, Annales sex regum Angliae, ed. Thomas Hog, English Historical Society(London, 1865; repr. Vaduz, 1964), p. 18, rejected the standard reference to William's death. Heelaborated on the blasphemy and cruelty of the Jews, but he omitted the name of their victim.

    62 Chronica majora, ed. H. R. Luard, Rolls Series 57 (London, 1872-83), 2:358-59; 3:305-6,543;4:30-31, 377-78; 5:114-15, 516-19, 546, 552. On the events of 1190, see R. B. Dobson, The Jewsof Medieval York and the Massacre of March 1190, Borthwick Papers 45 (York, 1974), pp. 25-28.

    On the incidents in Norwich, see V. D. Lipman, The Jews of Medieval Norwich (London, 1961), pp.57-64; and Zefira Entin Rokeah, "The Jewish Church-Robbers and Host Desecrators of Norwich (ca.1285)," Revue des etudes juives 141 (1982), 331-62, here pp. 339-46. On the case of St. Hugh, seeGavin I. Langmuir, "The Knight's Tale of Young Hugh of Lincoln," Speculum 47 (1972), 459-82.

    63 Ed. H. R. Luard, Rolls Series 95 (London, 1890), 2:65.


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    tains a number of other additions to Matthew's text that relate to Norfolk andthe diocese of Norwich.64

    One point of disagreement among the various sources is the date of William'sdeath. Thomas states that William was murdered on the

    Wednesdayafter Palm

    Sunday, 22 March 1144, while the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle declares that he suf-fered martyrdom on Good Friday, which fell on 24 March in that year. Of theshorter annalistic accounts, only two even mention a date, and both of these workscome from the Benedictine house of St. Benet of Hulme, not far from Norwich.These two texts place the child's death on the ninth kalends of March, or 21February. Taken at its face value, the February date seems to have no connectionwith William's case, for it does not correspond to any of the dated events inThomas's account. However, in the Roman reckoning the St. Benet date of IX Kl.Martii differs by exactly one month from IX Kl. Aprilis (24 March), the date ofGood Friday in 1144. This discrepancy is not surprising. The Roman system of

    dating, in which the days in the second half of each month are numbered inrelation to the first day (kalends) of the next month, was confusing even to me-dieval writers who employed it regularly. As a result, errors of this sort aboundin materials relating to saints.

    In liturgical sources William's name appears only rarely,65 but it does occur ina few service books closely associated with Norwich. Notices of William's feastturn up in five calendars from Norwich cathedral. The earliest of these is asso-ciated with a customary of the cathedral church and probably dates from the early1280s;66 another is attributable to the late thirteenth century;67 two more comefrom around 1300;68 and the last-an addition to the famous Ormesby Psalter-

    64 British Library, MS Royal 14.C.6; Luard discusses these additions in the introduction to his edi-tion, 1:xxii-xxiv.

    65 He is not included in any of the calendars in Francis Wormald, English Benedictine Kalendars

    after A.D. 1100, 2 vols., Henry Bradshaw Society 77 and 83 (London, 1939,1946), nor was he insertedlater into any of the texts in Wormald's English Kalendars before A.D. 1100, Henry Bradshaw Society72 (London, 1934).

    66 Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 465, ed. J. B. L. Tolhurst, The Customary of the Cathe-dral Priory Church of Norwich, Henry Bradshaw Society 82 (London, 1948). The calendar appearson pp. 1-12, and Tolhurst discusses its date on pp. vii-viii. M. R. James, A Descriptive Catalogue ofthe Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College Cambridge, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Eng., 1911-

    12), 2:396-97, and N. R. Ker, "Medieval Manuscripts from Norwich Cathedral Priory," in idem,Books, Collectors and Libraries: Studies in the Medieval Heritage, ed. Andrew G. Watson (London,1985), p. 258, favor dates at the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century, andneither offers a separate date for the calendar.

    67 The calendar accompanies a psalter in Lambeth Palace, MS 368; see M. R. James, A DescriptiveCatalogue of the Manuscripts in the Library of Lambeth Palace: The Medieval Manuscripts (Cam-bridge, Eng., 1932), pp. 498-501. I wish to thank Willis Johnson who brought this calendar to myattention.

    68 Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MSS 470 and 347. James, Catalogue, 2:405-6, dates thecalendar in codex 470 as "xiv early?"; but Ker, "Medieval Manuscripts," p. 263, favors a span fromthe end of the twelfth through the thirteenth century for the entire manuscript without specifying adate for the calendar. James, Catalogue, 2:181-82, places codex 347 in the early fourteenth century,and Ker, "Medieval Manuscripts," p. 265, assigns the entire manuscript to the fourteenth century

    without distinguishing the calendar. On the contents of these calendars, see the following note.


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    was probably written in the 1320s.69 In all of these texts, the passion of St. Wil-liam, martyr of Norwich, is entered on 24 March. Somewhat earlier than the firstcalendar is the text of the customary itself. Dating from around 1260, this workcontains instructions for celebrating the feast of St. William the martyr, again on24 March.70

    Thomas of Monmouth noted with great precision that William died on theWednesday of Holy Week in 1144, but his contemporary, the Anglo-Saxon chron-icler at Peterborough, placed the boy's death on Good Friday. A century later, themonks of the cathedral priory celebrated the martyrdom on the date correspond-ing to that of Good Friday in 1144. If this were all the evidence available, onemight easily conclude that, although the church of Norwich had known the

    Wednesday date in the beginning, the attraction of associating William's deathwith that of his Lord had ultimately proven irresistible, and the feast had movedfrom the twenty-second to the twenty-fourth of March. However, at one point inhis account, Thomas himself-perhaps unwittingly-presents evidence for an al-ternative date for William's murder.

    In his tale of William's death and the events immediately surrounding it, Thomasreveals great concern for chronological precision. He states that the Jews' repre-sentative came to fetch the child on the Monday before Easter, that William wasmurdered on Wednesday, and that his body was hidden in the wood on GoodFriday, discovered on Saturday, and buried on the following Monday.71 Similarly,near the end of the first book, where he describes the exhumation of William'scorpse and its translation from the wood to the monks' cemetery, Thomas specifiesthat the transfer took place on 24 April, and he notes that the monks were amazedto find the body fresh and incorrupt thirty-two days after the boy's death.72 Butfollowing the Latin convention of counting the days at both ends of a period andplacing William's murder thirty-two days before 24 April fixes it on 24 March-the date of Good Friday in 1144.73

    69 Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 366. For a microfiche reproduction of the manuscript withan introduction by W. O. Hassall, see The Ormesby Psalter, Medieval Manuscripts in Microform, 1/3 (Oxford, 1978). The most extensive study of the manuscript appears in S. C. Cockerell and M. R.

    James, Two East Anglian Psaltersat the

    Bodleian Library, Roxburghe Club (Oxford, 1926). Cockerelledited the Ormesby calendar, noting variants from the three Cambridge texts, and the month of Marchappears, ibid., p. 6. For a recent description and bibliography, see Lucy Freeman Sandler, GothicManuscripts, 1285-1385, 2 vols., A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles 5 (Oxford,1986), 2:49-51. The Ormesby Psalter also contains a litany added about the same time as the calendarin which William appears among the martyrs. Also in Two East Anglian Psalters, pp. 41-42, M. R.James presents excerpts from the calendar (c. 1300) of the Bromholm Psalter, Oxford, Bodleian Library,MS Ashmole 1523. This text from outside Norwich apparently makes no mention of William.

    70 Customary (see n. 66), p. 73. The customary does not generally include the dates of the festivalsit describes, but a note in the text indicates that William's feast was on the day before the Annunciation,which was universally celebrated on 25 March. It appears on that date in all of the Norwich calendars(Cockerell) and in all of Wormald's post-1100 calendars.

    71 Life 1.4, 5, 10-11, 12.72

    Life 1.17, pp. 50, 51-52, "Cum et enim iam xxxta.ii. a die mortis eius pertransissent dies."73 In addition to this reference to a competing death date, Thomas speaks of several other examplesof veneration of William that existed independently of the "official" cult at his tomb. Most of theseinvolved relics: iron bands from his weaning miracle in the parish church at Haverlingland, Life 1.2,pp. 12-13; two teeth, a shoe, and "other relics" that Thomas had in his possession, 3.1, pp. 122-23;


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    This review of the English evidence external to Thomas's account suggests avariety of conclusions. On the one hand, the accounts of other boy martyrs raisethe possibility that general knowledge of the Norwich affair may have enjoyed

    some dissemination. However, sources that place a premium on more precise in-formation-a death date for liturgical texts or a year for annals-suggest a dif-ferent conclusion. Liturgical commemoration of William was probably restrictedto Norwich cathedral, and annalistic references to his death spread slowly. Mostof the chronicles that mention him present verbally similar accounts, showing thatthey acquired their information by borrowing from one another rather than byindependently exploiting a written or oral tradition. They are, however, nearlyunanimous in placing the murder in 1144, in blaming it on the Jews, and indescribing it as a crucifixion. All of these facts correspond to those Thomas pro-vides, but the accounts are too brief to establish conclusively that they are ulti-mately derived from the vita he composed. Only the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle pro-vides more details. Even here, however, the brevity of the narrative and thedifference in language make it difficult to establish the direct influence of Thomas'swork. Nevertheless, the nearly contemporary composition of these two accountsreduces the likelihood that the Peterborough chronicler borrowed from Thomas.Moreover, a few factual differences between the two narratives increase the prob-ability that they are independent of one another. The vernacular annalist's state-ment that the Jews buried William's body seems insignificant by itself, but it gainsimportance in combination with his pronouncement that the boy died on GoodFriday. Other, later sources from St. Benet of Hulme and Norwich itself supportthe date presented by the Peterborough annalist. Finally, whatever its relationshipto Thomas's vita, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which places William's death in1137, is clearly not the source of the Latin annals, where the event appears under1144.

    All of this suggests that information about William's death that was independentof Thomas's hagiography circulated at least within a limited geographical area.This tradition apparently paralleled Thomas's version in asserting that the boydied by crucifixion, but it differed from Thomas on the date. The discordancewithin Thomas's composition between the dates he used in the narrative of themurder itself and in the account of the translation to the cemetery suggests thathe, too, was aware of the Good Friday tradition and rejected it. But in the onecase where he spoke in terms of the number of days between two events, he failed

    to notice and eliminate the inconsistency.


    Continental evidence corroborates the conclusion that information about Wil-liam's murder spread independently of Thomas's text. The best-known Continen-

    4.8, pp. 173-74; 4.9, pp. 174-75; and he teasel mployed ythe Jews, 5.5, pp. 192-93. Thomasalso recounts vision n whichWilliam old a woman hewould ind a healing pring nder he reewhere his body was discovered, nd William escribed hat spot as his "hermitage," .10, pp. 179-80. The hermitage as probably dentical ith William's aveat the site of his first burial, .13, p.272.


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    tal reference to William's death occurs in the chronicle of Robert of Torigny, abbotof the Norman monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel, who was generally well in-formed about English affairs. In his annal for 1171 Robert reports that CountTheobald of Chartres burned a number of Jews from Blois on the charge of cru-cifying a Christian child in the Easter season.74 He then cites several other incidentsto demonstrate that the Jews regularly commit such outrages at Easter time whenthey have the opportunity, offering William as his first example: "They did thesame with St. William in England at Norwich in the time of King Stephen. He isburied in the cathedral, and many miracles occur at his tomb." The brevity of thisdescription effectively precludes drawing any conclusions about the source of Rob-ert's information. His references to the place of William's tomb and the miracles

    correspond to some of the contents of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, but Robertmakes very similar statements about St. Richard of Paris, his final example ofJewish brutality.

    Robert's chronicle represents one of the numerous continuations of the early-twelfth-century annalistic work by Sigebert of Gembloux,75 and two other contin-uators of Sigebert's work also found William's death worthy of note. Annalists atthe Cistercian monasteries of Mortemer and Ourscamp both inserted notices ofWilliam's death under the year 1146: (Mortemer) "A Iudeis in Anglia puer Wil-lelmus crucifigitur die parasceve urbe Norico";76 (Ourscamp) "Apud NorwicumAngliae civitatem Iudei crucifixerunt puerum quendam christianum, nomine Wil-lelmum, quem etiam foras civitatem ab eis sepultum, divina lux, ut ferunt, supereum emicans declaravit; sicque a fidelibus inventus, honorabiliter est in ecclesiapositus."77 The brief annal from Mortemer is similar to those in the English chron-icles, noting simply that the boy William was crucified by the Jews in Norwich,but it differs from the English texts in placing the event under the year 1146, andit specifies that William died on Good Friday (die parasceve). By contrast, theentry from Ourscamp omits all reference to the Easter season but inserts additionalnarrative elements: that the Jews buried William outside the city; that a divinelight revealed the location of his body; and that following his discovery by thefaithful he was buried with honor in the church. The Ourscamp chronicler's briefreference to the heavenly light demands notice because it contains the only verbal

    parallel to the text of Thomas's vita we have yet encountered.78 However, preciselythese words are linked with the phrase ut ferunt ("as they say"), which implies thepossibility of an oral source rather than a written one. Moreover, the minor verbalsimilarity between the Ourscamp text and Thomas's life is less impressive than

    74 Robert of Torigny, Chronicle, ed. Richard Howlett, Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, HenryII, and Richard I, Rolls Series 82 (London, 1884-89), 4:251-52; ed. D. L. C. Bethmann, MGH SS6:520. Robert Chazan, "The Blois Incident of 1171: A Study in Jewish Intercommunal Organization,"Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 36 (1968), 13-31; idem, MedievalJewryin Northern France: A Political and Social History (Baltimore, 1973), p. 48.

    75 On Sigebert and his chronicle, see Wilhelm Wattenbach, Robert Holtzmann, and Franz-Josef

    Schmale, eds., Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter: Die Zeit der Sachsen und Salier (Darm-stadt, 1978), 2:727-37.

    76 Sigeberti auctarium Mortui Maris, ed. D. L. C. Bethmann, MGH SS 6:465.77 Sigeberti auctarium Ursicampinum, ed. Bethmann, MGH SS 6:472.78 Cf. Life 1.19, p. 31: "ignea de celo desuper lux subito emicuit" (my emphasis).


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    the factual parallels between the contents of this Continental notice and that ofthe Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

    D. L. C. Bethmann, who edited the chronicles of Sigebert and his continuators,

    indicates that the core text of the Mortemer annals was transcribed in 1155, andhe identifies the reference to William as one of a series of additions inserted withinthe following decade.79 He also declares that the Ourscamp compiler copied thebeginning of his notice about William from the Mortemer text, expanding it withinformation about the fate of the child's body drawn from another, unspecifiedsource.80 This probably represents an oversimplification of the relationship be-tween these two works, but despite their significant variations in detail, the annalsof Mortemer and Ourscamp are surely not entirely independent of one another,for the houses themselves were closely linked.81 Nevertheless, each author includesdata the other omits, indicating that during the second half of the twelfth centurymore information about William was available in northern France and Normandythan either of them individually chose to record.

    Whatever the exact relationship between these two entries may be, the shorternotice in the Mortemer chronicle ultimately proved the more influential in spread-ing information about the cult of St. William to Continental audiences. As inEngland, however, the process was slow. The first evidence of this diffusion ap-pears in the early-thirteenth-century chronicle of Helinand of Froidmont. Heli-nand's monastery in the diocese of Beauvais was a daughter house of Ourscamp,so it is not surprising that he should employ as one of his sources the annals ofthe similarly affiliated abbey of Mortemer. Under the year 1146 he transcribedthe Mortemer author's brief notice of the death of St. William, supplementing itwith an account of a vision in which a youth, also named William, saw the martyrin heaven.82 Helinand's work achieved only limited distribution, but around themiddle of the thirteenth century the famed Dominican encyclopedist Vincent ofBeauvais copied Helinand's entry, including the vision, into his Speculum histo-riale, a work that came to enjoy great popularity and influence.83 Of the manylater historians who borrowed from Vincent's Speculum, the most notable for thecase of St. William was Hartmann Schedel of Nuremberg. Working in the latefifteenth century, Schedel employed Vincent's work or one derived from it whenhe prepared his own chronicle.84 He, too, copied the brief report of William's

    79 Bethmann, MGH SS 6:463.

    80 Bethmann, MGH SS 6:472.81 Mortemer was originally an independent Benedictine foundation, but in 1137 it affiliated with

    the Cistercian order as a daughter house of Ourscamp: L. H. Cottineau, Repertoire topo-bibliogra-phique des abbayes et prieures, 2 (Macon, 1939), cols. 1990-91, 2160-61.

    82 Helinand of Froidmont, Chronicon, PL 212:1036-37. On Helinand's life and work, see AnselmeHoste, "Helinand de Froidmont," in Dictionnaire de spiritualite, ascetique et mystique, doctrine ethistoire, 7/1 (1969), 141-44; and the supplement by R. Aubert in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de geo-graphie ecclesiastiques, 23 (1990), 905-6.

    83 Vincent of Beauvais, Speculumn istoriale 28.84-85 (Strasbourg: Johann Mentelin, 4 Dec. 1473),4, fols. 96v-97r; or Speculum historiale 27.84-85, in Bibliotheca mundi seu Speculum quadruplex, 4

    (Douay, 1624; repr. Graz, 1965), cols. 1125-26.84 For a brief review of Schedel's career with substantial bibliography, see Beatrice Hernad and F. J.

    Worstbrock, "Schedel, Hartmann," in Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon, 2nd

    ed., 8/2 (1991), 609-21.


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    death, which remained virtually unchanged from the Mortemer annal. He alsoincluded a reference to the vision, but he omitted the text and inserted in its placea woodcut depicting William's martyrdom.85 essopp and James describe Schedel'sillustration, and unaware of the tradition through which he obtained his infor-mation, they simply cite his work as the only image of St. William they could findoutside of Norfolk and Suffolk.86 This tradition is clear and direct, and no greatinterest attaches to the entries in Vincent's Speculum and Schedel's chronicle, forboth simply pass along information they found in obvious sources. Helinand, onthe other hand, demands close attention because he provides a narrative that, inits general form, closely parallels portions of Thomas of Monmouth's hagiogra-phy.

    In book 2, among his proofs of William's sanctity, Thomas recounts two visionsthat attest to William's presence in heaven. This practice of citing visions as evi-dence that the soul of a holy man or woman has attained a glorious reward is acommon device in hagiographical literature, and the records of the First Crusadeshow that apparitions were especially important in establishing that the pilgrimswho died on the expedition were martyrs.87 Thomas's seven books contain ac-counts of more than thirty dreams and visions, and nearly all of these are quitetypical of hagiographical texts. Most of them involve visits by William to a widerange of visionaries, offering cures, revealing secrets, foretelling the future, de-manding gifts, and administering punishment.88 Less common, but by no means

    unprecedented,are endorsements of William's saintliness and

    thaumaturgicalpowers by better-known residents of heaven: the Virgin Mary, St. Catherine, St.Edmund, and, at the end of the work, Thomas Becket.89 In book 2, however,Thomas presents two stories that depart from the typical hagiographical patternand correspond more closely to the literary genre of visions of heaven and hell,of which the best-known example is Dante's Divine Comedy.90

    In these accounts, instead of merely receiving supernatural visitors, the vision-

    85 Hartmann Schedel, Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg: Anton Koberger, 12 July 1493), fol. CCIv.The scene of William's crucifixion is one of a series of images depicting sacrilege by and persecutions

    of Jews. On Schedel's chronicle and its context, see R. Po-Chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder:Jews and Magic in Reformation Germany (New Haven, Conn., 1988), pp. 45-47.

    86 Life, pp. lxxxvii-lxxxviii.87 Colin Morris, "Martyrs on the Field of Battle before and during the First Crusade," Studies in

    Church History 30 (1993), 103-4.88 On visions in Thomas's work generally, see Ward, Miracles and the Medieval Mind (see above, n.

    8), pp. 74-75. Apparitions occur most frequently in book 4, where seven of eleven chapters includeat least one vision: Life 4.1-3, 7-10.

    89 Life 3.6, pp. 130-31; 3.23, pp. 155-56; 6.10, p. 238; 7.19, pp. 291-93.90 On visions generally, see Peter Dinzelbacher, Vision und Visionsliteratur m Mittelalter, Monogra-

    phien zur Geschichte des Mittelalters 23 (Stuttgart, 1981); idem, Revelationes, Typologie des Sourcesdu Moyen Age Occidental 57 (Turnhout, 1991); and H. Fros, "Visionum medii aevi Latini reperto-rium," in The Use and Abuse of Eschatology in the Middle Ages, ed. W Verbeke et al. (Louvain, 1988),pp. 481-98. Eileen Gardiner, Medieval Visions of Heaven and Hell: A Sourcebook (New York, 1993),provides extensive bibliography concerning the particular subgenre, and Jacques Le Goff offers a briefreview of common features of these narratives in "Th