Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The relationship of the papacy to the Jews in the Middle Ages, which had developed under the influences of Patristic writers, Roman law, and papal precedent, was marked in the twelfth century by toleration and increasing restriction, but also by papal protection. Between the First Crusade massacres of Jews and the restrictions and persecutions of the thirteenth century, the twelfth century is set apart as a unique era in the lives of European Jews. As Eugenius III (1145-1153) and Alexander III (1159-1181) extended their protection to the Jews of Rome and perhaps all of Christendom through the papal document Sicut Judaeis, and simultaneously proclaimed Christianity's doctrinal superiority over Judaism, the Roman Jews also acknowledged the pope as their temporal lord and ruler in Rome through their presentation of the Torah. Other motivations for that contractual relationship perhaps existed, including the popes' need for financial backing. Eugenius III and Alexander III lived in exile through much of their reigns and struggled to maintain control of the Patrimony, a major source of papal revenues. During the same era, Eugenius III and Alexander III publicly promoted the Church's inheritance of biblical Judaism in the claim that the Treasures of the Temple of Herod existed in the Lateran basilica. Lateran texts, special liturgical rituals, and papal processions through Rome reinforced that claim. At the same time, the attitudinal influences of the Cistercians Nicolaus Maniacutius and Bernard of Clairvaux on Eugenius, and the Jewish steward Jechiel in the papal household on Alexander, cannot be measured definitively but suggest a paradoxical relationship with the Jews. The history of continuing papal conflicts with the Roman Commune and the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa confirms that Eugenius and Alexander unceasingly sought to establish their authority and power over Rome, the Patrimony, and Christendom throughout their papacies, and used popular perceptions that the Church possessed the Temple Treasures to buttress that authority. The popes' emphasis on biblical Judaism and actions toward the Roman and European Jews reflects a multi-faceted mosaic of papal attitudes toward the Jews and biblical Judaism between 1145 and 1181.



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Committee Chair

Maribel Dietz



Included in

History Commons