People looked for answers. They needed answers to questions: where did the plague come from? why is it here? why am I alive? A scapegoat was needed since anger and frustration had to be focused. And Europe was full of scapegoats. On charges that they had poisoned the water with the "intent to kill and destroy all of Christendom," the extermination of European Jews began in the spring of 1348. Jews from Narbonne and Carcassone in France, were dragged from their homes and thrown into bonfires. It was commonly accepted that the plague was God's punishment. But anger could not be directed toward God. The Jew, as the eternal stranger in Christian Europe, was the most obvious target. He was the outsider who willingly separated himself from the Christian world.
During the epidemic of 1320-1321, hundreds of lepers died and it was believed that the Jews had caused the deaths of these unfortunate souls. When the plague came twenty-five years later, the Jews were once again the target of blame. Why did this occur?
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