Central and Late Medieval Europe

Len Scales

in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199232116
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Central and Late Medieval Europe

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  • History
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)



This article examines genocide in the Central and late Medieval Europe. The existence of peoples in Europe in the central and later Middle Ages reflected the facts of power: for contemporaries, ethnic communities were axiomatically political ones. Where the interactions of different peoples were most intensive, stress-laden, and ideologically and politically charged, acts of ethnic destruction were anticipated, and in some quarters sought most keenly. Outright ethnic destruction was most likely to occur where political subjugation was reinforced by fundamental religious difference. Pagans, Muslims, and Jews, but also, in an age of sharpened conceptions of religious orthodoxy, adherents of false forms of Christianity, were singled out for extreme solutions. For the rest, the history of this long period is partly one of how, through more intensive and precisely defined interactions, different imagined ethnic groups evolved forms of coexistence and mutual accommodation.

Keywords: genocidal fantasies; Latin Europe; Christianity; Jews; medieval people; ethnic destruction

Article.  11161 words. 

Subjects: History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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