When the body of a nine year-old boy was found in a well in Lincoln in 1255, the Jewish owner of the well was (despite the lack of any evidence) held for the child’s murder.
Before his execution, he was tortured and coerced into implicating not only himself but also a number of prominent Jews, that had come to the city to attend a wedding, in a ritual murder that among other tortures involved the boy being crucified.
Six months earlier Henry III had sold his rights to tax the Jews to his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, this alleged crime gave him an excuse to seize the property of any found guilty of the crime.
92 Jews were arrested and taken to London, 18 were hanged for refusing to take part in the trial and the rest were found guilty and sentenced to death but later pardoned when Earl Richard interceded on their behalf.
Little Hugh’s body was buried in Lincoln Cathedral.
The story of the boy’s death stirred the anti-semitism that was already virulent in England at that time. Read more »