FYI January 09, 2022

On This Day

1349 – The Jewish population of Basel, believed by the residents to be the cause of the ongoing Black Death, is rounded up and incinerated.[3]

The Basel Massacre

With the spread of the Black Death in the 14th century, there were pogroms against Jews triggered by rumours of well poisoning. Already at Christmas 1348, before the plague had reached Basel, the Jewish cemetery was destroyed and a number of Jews fled the city. In January 1349, there was a meeting between the bishop of Strasbourg and representatives of the cities of Strasbourg, Freiburg and Basel to coordinate their policy in face of the rising tide of attacks against the Jews in the region, who were nominally under imperial protection.

The pogrom was committed by an angered mob and was not legally sanctioned by the city council or the bishop. The mob captured all remaining Jews in the city and locked them into a wooden hut they constructed on an island in the Rhine (the location of this island is unknown, it was possibly near the mouth of the Birsig, now paved-over). The hut was set alight and the Jews locked inside were burned to death or suffocated.

The number of 300 to 600 victims mentioned in medieval sources is not credible; the entire community of Jews in the city at the time was likely of the order of 100, and many of them would have escaped in the face of persecution in the preceding weeks. A number of 50 to 70 victims is thought to be plausible by modern historians. Jewish children appear to have been spared, but they were forcibly baptized and placed in monasteries. It appears that also a number of adult Jews were spared because they accepted conversion.[3]

Similar pogroms took place in Freiburg on 30 January, and in Strasbourg on 14 February. The massacre had notably taken place before the Black Death had even reached the city. When it finally broke out in April to May 1349, the converted Jews were still blamed for well poisoning. They were accused and partly executed, partly expulsed. By the end of 1349, the Jews of Basel had been murdered, their cemetery destroyed and all debts to Jews declared settled.[4]

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Born On This Day

1892 – Eva Bowring, American lawyer and politician (d. 1985)
Eva Kelly Bowring (January 9, 1892 – January 8, 1985) was a U.S. Senator from Nebraska. Bowring was born in Nevada, Missouri. In 1928, she married Arthur Bowring. They made their home at the Bowring Ranch near Merriman in Cherry County, Nebraska.[1]

Bowring was active in Republican politics in Nebraska. She was appointed to the United States Senate by Governor Robert B. Crosby to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Dwight Griswold, making her the first woman to represent Nebraska in the Senate. She served from April 16, 1954, to November 7, 1954. Bowring was the fourth of six Senators to serve during the fifteenth Senate term for Nebraska’s Class 2 seat, from January 3, 1949 to January 3, 1955.

After her service in the Senate, Bowring continued ranching near Merriman. She served part-time on the Board of Parole of the Department of Justice from 1956 to 1964. She died in 1985, only one day before her 93rd birthday. After her death, Bowring Ranch was donated to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, becoming Bowring Ranch State Historical Park.

 
 

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