'They shall not keep their doors or windows open': Urban space and the dynamics of conflict and contact in premodern Jewish-Christian relations

Daniel Jütte

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Jewish houses, and especially their apertures, were frequent targets of assault in premodern Europe. Were these attacks just a matter of Christians letting off steam, as some historians have argued, or were they signs that 'Jewish life was a perennial struggle for survival'? This question leads into a much larger methodological issue - namely, how historians should approach and frame violence in premodern Christian-Jewish relations. This article argues that assaults committed by Christians against Jews may well be said to form a specific category of violence; but to assess and analyse this phenomenon properly, one must take into account the general backdrop of the dynamics of violence - especially urban violence - at the time. In the specific case of window-smashing, it is important to consider the symbolism as well as the complex function of liminal spaces such as windows in the everyday lives of Jews and Christians. The conclusion will outline how anti-Jewish window violence left an imprint on both cultural life and economic activities (such as glassmaking) in Jewish communities well into the twentieth century.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)209-237
    Number of pages29
    JournalEuropean History Quarterly
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2016



    • Doors and windows
    • Jewish-Christian relations
    • urban space
    • violence

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • History

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