In 70 CE, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans led early Christians to claim that this event was an example of divine retribution for the death of Jesus. Narratives promoting this cause-and-effect story of vengeance circulated widely throughout Europe in the medieval period, with frequent alterations designed to appeal to local constituencies and to advance particular political and religious agendas.
In this podcast, Timothy L. Stinson (NHC Fellow, 2021–22) explores the way that these “vengeance narratives” were both perennial and adaptable. Although the medieval versions of these stories encouraged anti-Judaic bias and persecution, the template of such narratives persisted throughout later ages even while featuring different groups. By understanding how these stories were continuously transformed over time, we can develop a better sense of the way that they helped to shape religious and national forms of identity across Europe.