Jewish History

, 23:319 | Cite as

Martyrs in rivalry: the 1096 Jewish martyrs and the Thebean legion

  • Eva HaverkampEmail author


As part of his chronicle telling of the persecutions of Jews in 1096 during the First Crusade, Shlomo bar Shimshon, writing about 1140, told the story of the Jewish martyrs of Cologne who had taken refuge in Xanten. This account stands out as the most theological and programmatic text of the entire chronicle. The reason is to be found in the local constellations of Xanten. By probing the different levels of knowledge the Jews of Cologne, and Shlomo, could have had about Xanten and its role in contemporary Christian religiosity, this article shows how Shlomo responded to what is known as the Thebean martyr cult and its associated legends on an almost one for one basis. Christian veneration of the Thebean martyrs and the propagation of their cult are seen through the prism of Shlomo’s text. The essay wishes to show how the realm of shared culture or common ground between Christians and Jews can be further explored by “localizing the sources.”


Common Ground Jewish Community Twelfth Century Programmatic Text Eternal Life 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ludwig-Maximilians University MunichMunichGermany

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