The Blood Libel Legend: Its Longevity and Popularity

13 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2013 Last revised: 10 Oct 2013

See all articles by John Ifediora

John Ifediora

American University; American University

Date Written: August 31, 2013


Jewish ritual murder accusations, in their common apprehension, refer to alleged killing of Christians by Jews in furtherance of religious rites, or specifically Jewish practice. The blood libel, however, is a special variant, and a subset of the broader ritual murder accusation, and came much later into the panoply of accusations leveled at the Jews in the Middle Ages. This essay seeks to address the explanations given by scholars for the popularity and longevity of the blood libel as it touches on the following aspects of the legend: what gave rise to the blood accusations in the Middle Ages when the consequences were so horrific and brutal? Who “first” made the accusations against the Jews in medieval times, and who stood to benefit from such charges, or were they occasioned by economic, social, and religious circumstances that defined medieval Europe? But most importantly, what sustained and popularized it from the twelfth to the twentieth century?

Keywords: Economic History

JEL Classification: B14, B19

Suggested Citation

Ifediora, John, The Blood Libel Legend: Its Longevity and Popularity (August 31, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

John Ifediora (Contact Author)

American University ( email )

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American University ( email )

Washington, DC
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United States
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