1. Recent analyses comparing the genomes of Ashkenazi Jews with those of non Jewish Europeans suggest that most present-day Ashkenazi Jews, who were expelled from England in 1290, from France in 1394 and from Spain in 1492, migrated to Eastern Europe, becoming the Ashkenazi community and are descended from just 350 individuals dating back to between 600 and 800 years ago. (Carmi, et al. 2014).

2. Simon of Trent was a child victim of an alleged ritual murder by the Jews of Trent. He was born in 1472, the son of Andreas Unverdosben. The following account of this episode is excerpted from the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906).

The harmonious relations between Christians and Jews in Trent had excited the anger of the semi-demented Franciscan friar Bernardinus of Feltre, who was a son of a notorious enemy of the Jews. Endeavoring to incite the people against the Jews, Bernardinus predicted that at the next Jewish Passover a ritual murder would occur. In accordance with this prediction, the child Simon, twenty eight months old, disappeared. The people of the community declared that the child would be found among the Jews. Although a careful search through the Jewish quarter proved fruitless, after the body of a child was found in a river, the Jews were nevertheless accused of murder and of using the blood of the Christian child for ritual purposes at Passover (a common, well-worn, antisemitic Blood Libel). All the members of the Jewish community, women and children included, were arrested and tried. After weeks of torture, they “confessed” in the exact words dictated by their clerical tormentors and assassins. Eight of the wealthiest Jews, after receiving baptism, were put to death, some being burned at the stake and the rest beheaded.

But the cruelty of the proceedings had aroused general indignation, and Pope Sixtus IV, alarmed for the reputation of the Church, commanded Bishop Hinderbach to suspend proceedings and, together with the Bishop of Ventimiglia and the Bishop of Trent, conduct another investigation.

The Bishop of Ventimiglia reported to Rome that, as the result of the investigations, he found the Jews innocent, that Simon had been killed by Christians with the intention of defaming the Jews, and that Bishop Hinderbach had planned to enrich himself by confiscating the estates of those executed. Sixtus IV then appointed a commission of six cardinals to investigate the two proceedings. The head of the commission, being an intimate friend of Bernardinus of Feltre, the result was a foregone conclusion, especially since the whole Catholic Church would have been involved in the condemnation of the Bishop of Trent. Accordingly, Sixtus IV declared the proceedings against the Jews in Trent to be “rite et recte factum” (Done properly and correctly).

About a century later, both Bernardinus of Feltre and Simon of Trent are said to have been canonized by Gregory XIII, the former as a prophet, and the latter as a martyr.

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