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Thomas of Monmouth was a monk in Norwich cathedral priory in the mid-twelfth century, but nothing more is known about his life. Miri Rubin is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London. She is the author of two books for Penguin: The Hollow Crown: A History of Britain in the Late Middle Ages and Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary.
This is a fascinating surviving chronicle from 12th century England which holds a unique and terrible place in the history of anti-Semitism. The Life and Passion of William of Norwich gives a remarkable insight into life in a medieval cathedral city, brilliantly capturing the everyday concerns of ordinary people and focussing on the miraculous cures carried out at a shrine. But this was no ordinary shrine; fervent worshippers gathered around the burial-place where they believed that a boy was buried, a boy murdered by the Jews of Norwich. A chilling, highly significant document, The Life and Passion of William of Norwich is, as far as we know, the earliest version of what was to become the 'blood libel' which has haunted Europe ever since. Miri Rubin both superbly translates the book and in her introduction interprets the sequence of events that led to the monk Thomas of Monmouth's appalling narrative. The consequences of his fantasies have been incalculable.