Blood Libel: On The Trail of an Antisemitic Myth by Magda Teter


Traces of Simon in Trent

The cult of Simon of Trent emerged soon after the boy’s body was found, even before the trial was in full swing. But the cult was not recognized by the pope until the 1580s. Its recognition led to a creation of a local pilgrimage route, its traces still visible today. For a full discussion of this process, including the topography in Trent, see Chapter Three of Blood Libel: On The Trail of An Antisemitic Myth.

The earliest iconographic representations of Simon’s story (September 6, 1475)

The earliest representations not just of Simon but of Jews in print come from Trent and the aftermath of the trial. The images below come from Albert Kunne’s Hystorie von Simon zu Trient published on September 6th, 1475, just three days after the arrival of the papal envoy Bishop de Giudici of Ventimiglia who was sent to Trent from Rome to investigate the verity of the accusations against Jews and the validity of the cult. More on this see Chapter Two.

Simonine iconography by type -“Martyrio”(killing)

During the Trent trial and soon after, three types of iconography developed: martyrio, depicting the alleged killing of Simon; victima, Simon’s lifeless body; and Simon “in glory.” With time, there would be a distinct geographic distribution of these types: “in glory” dominating the Italian iconography, and “martyrio” the northern European. The image from Schedel’s 1493 Liber chronicarum became the iconic image of “blood libel” or “ritual murder.” There is no evidence that this image had much cultural significance in the early modern period. It became “iconic” thanks to its ubiquitous use by the Nazis, especially the May 1, 1934 issue of Der Stürmer. Far more replicated was the image reproduced in Gottfried’s and Gueudeville’s chronicles.

Simonine iconography by type -“Victima” (corpse)

Simonine iconography by type -“in glory”

Simonine iconography in Andreas von Rinn “in glory”