Organized religion is a central force throughout most of the history of mankind, and especially during this period.
Most of the Western and Mid-Eastern non-Jewish world spiritually consolidate. Most people adopt either Christianity or Islam. The two religions vie for domination and become aggressive, sometimes even fanatical. The Jewish minority is frequently caught in the middle.
The Christians take a massive step and establish the First Crusade in the late eleventh century to liberate Palestine from Islamic domination.
On their way to save Palestine from the Infidels, huge mobs perpetrate atrocities and genocide against many innocent Jewish communities in their path, all in the name of religion. Out of the horror, some Jews are forced to convert.
Upon conquering Jerusalem, the Crusaders assemble the city's three-thousand Jewish inhabitants into the synagogues and torch the buildings. Estimates are that fifty Jews in all of Palestine survive the Crusades. When the Ramban arrives, fleeing from Spain in 1270 CE, there is not even a quorum of ten Jews in all of Jerusalem.
Medieval Christian leadership saw political and social opportunity in the Crusades. The successes marked a high point of domination. However, success from conquest is its own undoing. When the Moslems eventually gain the upper hand, there is no place for the vanquished to go but down.
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