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Following the spread of the Black Death through the surrounding countryside of Savoy and subsequently Basel, the Jews were accused of having poisoned the wells, because they suffered a lower mortality rate than the local gentiles from the pestilence.
The City Fathers of Basel attempted to protect their Jews but to no avail: the local guilds demanded their blood and 600 were handed over. They were shackled inside a wooden barn on an island in the Rhine, which was set afire. The few survivors—young orphans—were forcibly converted to Catholicism.
Following the massacre, it was decreed that all Jews were banned from settling in the city of Basel for 200 years, although this was revoked several decades later.
- The Jerusalem Post. This Week in History: The Jews of Basel are burnt.
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