Hugh of Lincoln Disappears, Setting the Stage for One of The Most Notorious Blood Libels, 1255
On This Day in Jewish History, July 31, 1255
On July 31, 1255, 9 year old Hugh of Lincoln went missing. Nearly 1 month later, on August 27, he was found dead in a well. Although he was the victim of an anonymous murder, Jews were quickly pinned to be the culprit.
Without much basis for the allegation, Hugh’s friends came forward with the accusation that a Jewish man named Koppin had imprisoned Hugh for over a month, tortured him, and crucified him. The rumor spread that Hugh had been thrown into the well because the earth had supposedly refused to receive the body.
Over 90 Jews were arrested and charged with practicing ritual murder. Koppin, the accused, had allegedly confessed and was executed alongside 18 other Jews. Those who were not executed were imprisoned in London and were eventually released by the intervention of the Friars, though they were fined heavily.
The blood libel of Hugh of Lincoln was largely popular in medieval literature. In The Prioress’s Tale, written by poet Geoffrey Chaucer, Jews are described to be aroused by satanic urges to murder Christian children. While the libel has ancient roots, it has been revived countless times in the modern day. In fact, the most popular issue of the Nazi newspaper, Der Sturmer, had a reprint of a medieval depiction of a supposed ritual murder committed by Jews.
The blood libel, antisemitic in nature, is the allegation that Jews use the blood of non-Jews, typically Christian children, for rituals. Historically, when the allegations took place close to Passover, Jews were charged with using the blood to bake matzah. Though the blood libel myths grew in the 12th century after the First Crusade, the Torah explicitly forbids murder and blood sacrifices, and thus, the allegations are baseless in fact.
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Little-Saint-Hugh-of-Lincoln https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/blood-libel https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095949312