Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 3408
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Einbinder , Susan L.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Pucellina of Blois: Romantic Myths and Narrative Conventions
  • Source: Jewish History 12, 1 (Spring 1998): Pages 29 - 46.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Antisemitism Hebrew Literature Jews Martyrs Pucellina of Bloìs, Jewish Martyr Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 12, 16
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  • Abstract: All of the Hebrew prose sources that describe the auto da fé at Blois in the spring of 1171 agree that a prominent Jewish woman of Blois, Pucellina, played a role of some importance in events leading up to the tragedy. Scholars of Jewish history have unanimously read these sources to imply directly or indirectly that Pucellina was the lover of Count Thibaut of Blois, and that her fall from favor led to misfortune for the Jewish community. This paper returns to the prose sources to argue that Pucellina may have been a moneylender in Blois whose clients included Countess Alix and her nutrix. Beginning with the earliest source, the letter from the Jewish community of Orleans following the auto da fé, and comparing the later versions of Ephraim of Bonn and Yosef haCohen, it is possible to see how the Jewish authors inceasingly downplay Pucellina as a figure wielding political and economic power among Christians and Jews. Gradually, Pucellina is refashioned as a failed Esther whose romantic attachment to the Christian ruler cannot save her people. The authors rely on a number of literary conventions and techniques adopted from contemporary romance literature, which nonetheless later readers have taken to be literally descriptive. The importance of identifying and understanding the types of literary strategies and conventions that underlie Hebrew martyrological writing of this period is illustrated by this study, which hopefully points the way towards future work. [Reproduced by permission of Jewish History].
  • Author's Affiliation: Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1998.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0334701X (print); 15728579 (electronic)
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