The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC EventsHistory Program Events

03-06 Networks of Power and Channels of Knowledge: Jewish and Papal Responses to Blood Libels in Early Modern Poland and Italy


March 6th, 2014
5:00 pm
Room 5114

Accusations that Jews killed Christian children appeared in Europe in the twelfth century. In 1247, Pope Innocent IV condemned such accusations, and until 1540 this condemnation stood, despite local challenges.  Yet, when in 1759, Polish Jews reached Rome to seek papal condemnation of such accusations, in the wake of a new wave of trials against them, they failed to obtain it.  The talk will take the familiar story of blood libel against Jews to tell a broader story of religion, politics, and culture in Europe. It will explore Jewish and Christian responses to blood libels in the early modern era focusing on cultural, social, and political connections between Italy—center of papal power, and Poland—the periphery of papal influence but a home to the largest Jewish community in the world.



Magda Teter is Professor of History and the Director of the Jewish and Israel Studies Program at Wesleyan University. She specializes in early modern religious and cultural history, with an emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations in Eastern Europe, the politics of religion, and transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. Teter is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (2006), Sinners on Trial (2011), and a co-editor of and contributor to Social and Cultural Boundaries in Pre-modern Poland (2010) and Stosunki chrześcijańsko-żydowskie w historii, pamięci i sztuce (2013). Teter’s work has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2012), the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation (in 2007 and 2012), the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, YIVO Institute, and the Yad Ha-Nadiv Foundation (Israel), among others. In 2002, she was a Harry Starr Fellow in Jewish Studies at Harvard University, and in 2007-2008, an Emeline Bigelow Conland Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies also at Harvard University.