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A: Paris, Île-de-France, France

Louis IX Orders the Burning of 12,000 Manuscripts of the Talmud

Equestrian statue of Saint Louis at the Sacré-Cœur

Equestrian statue of Saint Louis at the Sacré-Cœur. Ideologized but perhaps suggestive of the militant side of his personality.

In 1242 French King Louis IX (St. Louis), who characterized himself as "lieutenant of God on Earth," conducted two crusades. In order to finance his first crusade he ordered the expulsion from France of all Jews engaged in usury, and the confiscation of their property, for use in his crusade.

Louis also ordered, in response to the 1239 decree of Pope Gregory IX, the burning in Paris of 24 cartloads or roughly 12,000 manuscript copies, of the Talmud and other Jewish books. These he had ordered seized in 1240.

To understand the magnitude of this destruction one must bear in mind the unbelievable labor involved in copying out a single manuscript copy of the Talmud, the Hebrew text of which extended to about 2,000,000 words. It is also very probable that manuscripts included in this destruction dated back for many centuries and included priceless information.

Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World. A Source Book:315-1791, rev. ed. (1999) page 163 states that the burning of Talmuds in Paris probably occurred again in 1244.

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