First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Hildegard (Hildegardis), a virgin of mature years, flourished in the Rhineland through her miraculous life. Although a laywoman, and uneducated, through divine power she miraculously received grace in her sleep and was thrown into ecstasies. And so she not only learned to speak Latin, but also to read it and to compose verse in it. She wrote books of Christian learning, and it is said that she also prophesied. Even the Blessed Bernard wrote her a number of letters. She wrote letters to those at Cologne concerning the future fate of the clergy because the clergy sought renown without having earned it, and claimed credit without works.[Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), German abbess and mystic, was born of noble parents, and from her eighth year was educated at a Benedictine cloister at Disibodenberg by Jutta, sister of the count of Sponheim, whom she succeeded as abbess in 1136. From childhood she experienced visions, which in her 43rd year she divulged to her friend, the monk Godefridus, who committed them to writing, entitling them (“Know the Ways [of the Lord]”). She corresponded with Anastasius IV and Adrian IV, and the emperors Conrad III and Frederick I. After she migrated with eighteen of her nuns to a new convent on the Rupertsberg near Bingen, she continued to exercise the gift of prophecy and to record her visions in writing. She died in 1179. She has never been canonized, but her name is in the Roman martyrology. In addition to being a mystic, she also wrote many songs, a musical play entitled (‘The Play of Virtues’), and works on the medicinal properties of herbs, gems, stones, etc.]

Gratian (Gracianus), a monk of Saint Proculus who was Tuscan, was born in the city of Ginsa[The city of Ginsa is unknown. Perhaps the chronicler or his source meant Chiusi.] in Tuscany. In the Year of the Lord 1149 he was held in great veneration and esteem at Bologna for his intelligence, wisdom, and scriptural teachings. Among other works he very masterfully compiled a book of canon law, called the Decretum, which was confirmed by Pope Eugenius and ordered read in the schools of higher learning. It is so arranged that the points, articles and meanings can be noted and distinguished. Gratian divided the work into three parts, and with it those learned in the law are familiar. Certain teachers have written commentaries and interpretations upon it.[Gratian, compiler of or , and founder of the science of canon law, was born about the end of the eleventh century, and at an early age is said to have entered the Camaldulian monastery of Classe near Ravenna, whence he afterwards moved to that of San Felice in Bologna, where he prepared the which seems to have been completed before 1150. The work commonly known as the exercised great influence on the formation of the canon law, and was the chief authority in the universities. So much so that no other work of the same kind has been compiled.]

Peter Lombard, bishop of Paris and a Lombard was (as Vincent the Gaul states) highly renowned at this time among the learned of Paris for the goodness of his life and his keen intelligence. He wrote an excellent work on higher thought, a laborious achievement consisting of a useful collection of sayings by many holy fathers. He also wrote the large glossaries on the Psalms and the Epistles of Paul, containing many references, as well as numerous excellent spiritual, good and spirited works; and before the people he delivered very beautiful and worthy sermons, productive of good.

Peter Lombard (c. 1100 - c. 1160), bishop of Paris, son of obscure parents, was born at the beginning of the 12th century, at Novara, then considered as belonging to Lombardy. He was educated at Bologna, and removed to France, carrying a recommendation to Bernard of Clairvaux, who first placed him under Lotolf at Reims, and later sent him to Paris with letters to Gilduin, abbot of St. Victor. He obtained a theological chair in the school. His famous textbook, the Sententiae, was written between 1145 and 1450. He became bishop of Paris in 1159, and according to one account died the following year.

His famous theological handbook, Sententiarum libri quatuor (‘Four Books of Opinions’) as the title implies, is primarily a collection of opinions of the fathers. These are arranged in four books, treating respectively of God, virtues, the seven sacraments and eschatology. The most important thing in the book was its crystallization of the doctrine concerning the sacramental system by the definite assertion of the doctrine of the seven sacraments, and the acceptance of a definition of sacrament not merely as “a sign of a sacred thing,” but as itself “capable of conveying the grace of which it is the sign.” The sentences soon attained immense popularity, ultimately becoming the textbook in almost every theological school, and giving rise to endless commentaries, over 180 of these being written in England. In 1300 the theological professors of Paris agreed in the rejection of 16 propositions taken from Lombard, but their decision did not obtain universal currency. Lombard also wrote numerous commentaries on the Psalms, Canticles, Job, and the Pauline Epistles. The Glossae seu commentarius in psalmos Davidis (‘The Glosses or Commentary on the Psalms of David’) were first published at Paris in 1533.

Petrus Comestor a brother of the two aforesaid, not in the flesh, but in virtue, lived at this time; and (as Vincent the Gaul notes) he wrote a scholastic history in which he gave elegant expression to the narratives of both testaments, and at appropriate places introduced matters of profane history. He also wrote several very beautiful poems in praise of the Virgin Mary. And so, at this time, the church was much enlightened with learning. Some say that the three teachers, aforesaid, were brothers in the flesh, but born out of wedlock; and as their mother felt no remorse on that account, she was ordered to do penance for that which she should have rued.[Peter Comestor (‘the Eater’ or ‘Devourer’) was a famous theologian of the 12th century. ]

William (Guilhelmus), a child in England was, at this time, crucified by the Jews on Good Friday, in the city of Norwich. Later one reads a miraculous story of this child.

At this time the Genoese were so esteemed for wealth and renown that King Conrad granted them the privilege of minting gold and silver coins with his portrait on them; and these they use to this day.


Crucifixion of William, an English child, by the Jews. A cross lies on the hillside in the open country. Upon it lies a young man whom three men have bound, hand and foot. One, who is bearded, is fastening the last bond; a second man is driving a nail through William’s right hand; while the third is drilling a hole into the cross just below the child’s feet. A basket of tools and cord stands on the left. The crucifiers are marked by the usual circular badge (generally of yellow cloth) on breast or shoulder.

The chronicler does not give the time of the occurrence except to say that it occurred “in these times,” but there is no dating of the folio or page, or other earmark by which the time can be determined. The following is a list of children said to have been murdered by Jews: Wojciech Petrena of Poland, in 1598: Andreas at Innsbruck; Simon of Trent, 1475, cited by Schedel; William of Norwich, the present instance; Henry of Regensburg, Hugo of Lincoln, Staenchen of Cologne, Kenelm of Winchcombe, Lorenzo of Morostica, Ludwig of Ravensburg, Novello of Bergamo, Mancos of Portugal, Rudolph of Bern, Werner of Wesel, Esther Solymossy of Tisza-Eszlar (1882), and Staenchen Hegemann of Xanten (1891).

Israel Abrahamson, in his Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, devotes a chapter to “The Jewish Badge,” (Chapter XVI, pp. 291-306), from which we quote as follows:

But at the beginning of the thirteenth century there dawned on the Jews of Europe a new era, dark with degradation and misery. The Church resolved in 1215 that thenceforward Jews and Mohammedans must be marked off from their fellows by a badge prominently fastened to their outermost garment. The exact motive for inflicting this distressful stigma cannot be discovered, but, as the ostensible reason, Innocent III advanced the argument that the measure was imperative if intermarriage or concubinage was to be prevented between Christians and non-believers. This desire to inhibit concubinage and perhaps intermarriage is repeated in many subsequent bills, and may be regarded as the official justification of the badge which Jews were doomed to wear for several pitiful centuries. An attempt was indeed made to show that Moses had already commanded the Jews to wear a distinctive mark on their garments, but this application of the law of the fringes (Numbers 15:38) to the law of the badge was an insult added to injury.

Clear and emphatic in its demand that the Jews must wear badges, the Lateran Council nevertheless avoided details. It left the definition of the size, color, and character of the degrading mark to the taste of local governors and states. Rarely, the Jews themselves were left to their own devices, and were allowed to choose their own badges. The shape was by no means uniform, but the circular mark was undoubtedly the most usual. It is unnecessary to seek any deep significance in the choice of the circular form of the badge. Some have seen in it a representation of a coin, in allusion to the financial pursuits of the Jews or to the thirty pieces received by Judas Iscariot as the prices of his betrayal. Others have discerned in it the form of the Host, an emblem of Christianity which the Jews refused to accept, but which they were now forced to wear over their hearts. Yet a third explanation is worthy of mention. The badge was itself perhaps derived by Innocent III from the Mohammedans. If so, the circle or full moon would be an antithesis to the Crescent of Islam.

Be this as it may, the circular form of badge, though the most common, was not the only one in use. Changes were effected in one and the same country, and it does not seem that the English design, imitative of the two tables of stone, was introduced into this country earlier than 1275. These tablets were apparently worn on the hem of the outer garment. On the other hand a badge, two inches wide and four inches long, was imposed on English Jews in 1222. Similarly, a modification was made in England with regard to the color. Originally the badge was white, but Edward I altered this to yellow and fixed seven as the age at which the badge became compulsory. It does not appear that the English Jews were forced to wear distinctive garments as well as the badge, but in Austria in the thirteenth, and in Germany in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the Jews were compelled to use a special hat, known as the ‘Judenhut.’ It was pointed at the top, and the brim was often twisted into the shape of a pair of horns. Red was the favorite color. It is not clear whether the Jews of Germany wore this hideous hat as the substitute for the circular wheel or in addition to it. Other kings preferred other colors, thus in 1713, Frederick William imposed a green hat on the Jews of his realm. It is certain that the wheel-badge was usual in Germany in the fifteenth century, the predominant color being yellow or saffron. Jews fixed it on their breast, while Jewesses were obliged to bear two blue stripes on their veils or cloaks. The size of the wheel varies, sometimes it was fixed at an inch in diameter, sometimes it was as big as a florin, sometimes it resembled a crown, sometimes it was as much as 100 millimeters across. Occasionally the letter S (= signum) appeared in the yellow circle. In Switzerland, in 1435, the badge took the form of a piece of red cloth, shaped like a pointed hat; in 1508 it had become a wheel fixed on the back. In Crete, the obnoxious circular sign was also inscribed on the doors of houses occupied by Jews.

France may claim the honor of inventing the circular badge, which was already known in Paris in 1208. In Marseilles, indeed, the Jews were permitted an alternative; they might wear either a yellow calotte or a head-dress, or if they preferred they might adopt the wheel. Here, too, the age at which the badge must be borne was fixed at seven years. In general, the rule in France was that Jew and Jewess alike wore the circular mark, though, in the case of the women, it was often replaced by a veil. Some variation occurs in the age at which Jews began to wear the badge. In Marseilles, the age was seven, in Arles (1234), thirteen for boys and twelve for girls, in Avignon, the age was raised (in 1326) for boys to fourteen. In France the wheel was worn mostly on the breast, or at least above the waist; but sometimes a second circle was added, to be placed on the back ‘retro in dorso.’ Sometimes it was placed on the hat, or on the girdle; it might be pinned or sewn on to the garment which it disfigured. In other instances, the badge was worn on the left shoulder. As to the material used, no prescription existed, but the bull of Gregory IX (1233) probably represents the usual custom. If this be so, the badge must have been made of felt or cloth, and more rarely of cord, leather, or silk. In France, as elsewhere, the common color of the badge was yellow; but, occasionally, the wheel was parti-colored, white and red. More rarely still the circular mark was green. The same variations in size were indicated above in the case of Germany and Austria occur in the French badges, but on the whole, the French badges were rather smaller than the German. It must be stated, to the honor of the Church, that though the clergy were responsible for the infliction of the badge, the secular authorities acted on their own initiatives when they enforced the canonical regulation by heavy fines and penalties. Any informer received as a reward the garment from which the Jew had dared to omit the distinguishing mark. In Nice, the town council and the informer divided the spoils between them. The threat of corporal punishment and the menaces of death seem, however, to have usually resolved themselves into monetary fines. Probably the Jews had to buy the badges from the public authorities, and Philippe le Bel devised the sale of badges a fresh source of income for the royal exchequer.

It is unnecessary to enter into details with regard to the Jews of Italy and Spain. Here the same general facts present themselves; the motive and the manner in which the object was attained were identical with the motive and its execution in the rest of Europe. The chief difference lay in this – that in Spain, Italy, and southern France the Jews were able to resist the infliction of the badge with more or less success for a considerable period. Moreover, many Jews in these more favored lands were able to buy personal exemptions. The same remark applies to other countries, but the exemptions were most numerous in Spain and Italy. In Spain, moreover, Jews enjoyed in general a privilege only exceptionally granted elsewhere. They were permitted to discard the badge on their journeys. It is interesting to notice that when Bonami, son of Joce, settled in France after his expulsion from England in 1290, Philippe le Bel exempted him from the duty of wearing the badge, and temporarily allowed Bonami’s son a similar license.