Before there was QAnon, there was the 'blood libel'. Forget there being parallels, one could say that the latter is simply the former, repackaged for a social media age. /1
Beginning in the High Middle Ages, as European feudal realms gave way to larger metropolises, and growing economies, it was the 'Other' who provided a useful scapegoat - the Jews. /2
Prohibited from working many professions (sometimes only permitted to be moneylenders), forced to wear special clothes and confined to ghettoes, it was easy to target Jews as those responsible for Ill fortune. /3
In order to incite the persecution of Jews, there needed to be a pretext, and along with the poisoning of water sources during the Black Death, there was the 'Blood Libel' - the supposed murder of children by Jews to collect their blood for ritual use. /4
England appears to be flashpoint for cases of the 'blood libel' in the mid to late medieval period, with a series of massacres.

The discovery of the murdered body of 'William of Norwich' in 1144 instigated this trend, with similar occurrences in Bury, Gloucester & Lincoln. /5
In many cases, local saint's cults rose up around these murdered children, even without the blessing of the centralised Church. The stories of these supposed ritual murders were repeated until they became accepted fact. /6
Indeed, it is the 'blood libel' that is considered partly responsible for the pogroms of 1189, leading to the deaths of hundreds of Jews across England - particularly in York & London. /7
Later, the 'blood libel' spread to Europe. Simon of Trent & Werner of Oberwesel, as well as the Young Girl of Pforzheim became touchstones for antisemitic hatreds. /8
While cases of the 'blood libel' decreased over time in Western Europe, in the East, they increased. As late as the early 20th century, pogroms such as that at Kishinev in modern day Moldova were instigated by murdered children being blamed on ritualised Jewish murder. /9
As late as 1929, however, 'blood libels' were still being propagated in places like rural Bavaria, and even Massena, New York. /10
Both QAnon and the 'Blood Libel' share very clear structural similarities.

Most prominently, both are predicated on the idea of children being harmed by a group of wealthy, detached 'outsiders'. /11
Both QAnon & 'Blood Libel' hold that children are being trafficked and harvested by these outsiders.

In the case of the 'blood libel", it is blood for rituals - usually at Passover - by Jews.

QAnon holds that there are satanic rituals, or the harvesting of adrenochrome. /12
Both QAnon & the 'Blood Libel' are decentralised in terms of their spread.

The 'blood libel' was not always supported by the centralised Church and sometimes actively suppressed.

QAnon is largely leaderless, relying on largely anonymous message board postings. /13
Whether by design, or the vagaries of human nature, the two conspiracy theories can be said to born of the same primal fears - outsiders harming our children for their own ends. /14
Children are harmed in our world - mostly by their family and friends. Child-trafficking occurs, and is a blight. However, the attention of millions has been coopted by a number of actors, large and small, to foster hatreds based on nonexistent atrocities. /15
I can't tell you what to say to friends and family that have fallen into this trap, and I'm sad to say that they're not the first to have been taken in, and they won't be last.

This is a pattern that keeps on repeating. /16
What you can do is refuse to engage, and to shut down any attempts to spread baseless QAnon conspiracy theories in your digital spaces.

This may mean ceasing communication with, or blocking individuals.

As hard as it sounds, this poison thrives on oxygen and space. /17
These are dark times, and more than ever we need to take note of the stories we tell.

In the past, the lie that is the 'blood libel' killed hundreds of thousands.

Will we one day say the same of QAnon? /FIN

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More from @MikeStuchbery_

16 Sep
So I've mentioned that a British fascist group called Patriotic Alliance are putting out their own home schooling curriculum. I've finally managed to look at it and well, buckle up... /1
The first document on offer is titled 'Be Proud Of Your People' and promises parents and kids activities to inspire pride in 'British and European peoples'.

For some reason, it kicks off with a description of Black Lives Matter (?) as a Soros-funded Marxist organisation. /2
Then, when suggesting activities to highlight the achievements of British ancestors, they encourage the discussion of the 'true intentions of BLM' that can be found at the beginning of the document (?) /3.
Read 13 tweets
6 Sep
For a couple of reasons I've been spending time in the city of Pforzheim lately. Here's a rather unassuming view that I've been taking in with my coffee. It's also a view that is the result of twenty awful minutes in 1945. /1 Image
Pforzheim is about forty minutes from Stuttgart by regional train. Some people commute to the largest city. For centuries, however, it was considered a centre of learning, and later, of jewelry-making and the creation of precision instruments. Its wealth made it gorgeous. /2 Image
While Pforzheim had been bombed during the course of World War Two, by the time 1945 dawned, it had escaped the fate of cities, such as Stuttgart, almost totally levelled. However, its reputation as a centre of precision engineering, and railway connections was to doom it. /3 Image
Read 11 tweets
31 Aug
Horst Wessel was born on the 9th of October, 1907, in a suburb of Berlin, to a middle class family of clergy. He passed his high school Abitur and went to study law. Throughout his adolescence, he drifted through a series of nationalist youth groups. /1
In each of these groups, Wessel was an enthusiastic participant, often joining in to instigate brawls with left-wing groups. Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, Berlin was the scene of frequent street battles. /2
In 1926 Wessel joined the Sturmabteilung/Stormtroopers or 'SA'. This was the paramilitary arm of the Nazi Party, initially made up of WW1 veterans and petty thugs, and later on, young men keen looking for purpose and a ladder up. /3
Read 14 tweets
26 Aug
It's been a while since I regaled you with horrible historical tales but damn, I learned about this guy tonight, and I have to share him with you. I want to tell you about Franz Ludwig Schenk von Castell - the so-called 'Executioner Count'. /1
Going in, I need to make one thing clear - what is today southern Germany in the late 18th century was a complete shitshow from a law and order perspective. War, weather, economic implosions and plague had all made life outside cities and towns a rather fraught endeavour. /2
Listening to a historian of the period - who happens to also teach police cadets in the modern state of Baden-Württemberg - I heard it claimed that there was almost a 'parallel society' of thieves, robbers and highwaymen outside the cities and especially around main roads. /3
Read 12 tweets
10 Aug
The only part of Düsseldorf's old castle left is this single tower, that now houses the city's maritime museum.

What I like about it, is that it is the location of a rather dramatic ghost story... Image
Poor Jakobea von Baden was born in 1558, into the ruling family of the Duchy of Baden. As a young woman, she was married to Johann Wilhelm of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, whose seat was in Düsseldorf.

Johann Wilhelm, not to put too fine a point on it, was impotent and mad... ImageImage
There was a lot going on with Johann Wilhelm. His parents hated him, he had syphilis and he was known for nuclear tantrums at court.

Jakobea tried to provide an heir - and rule in her husband's stead - but she faced an uphill battle...
Read 8 tweets
22 Jul
So, I climbed my 'mountain' yesterday. The Michaelsberg, near Cleebronn, is a very special spot. First a Celt sacred site, then a Roman temple honouring the moon, then an Alemannic church, it finally ended up a Capuchin monastery. Image
Legend has it that the 'mountain' was the site of a battle between the Devil and St Boniface. Boniface prayed to St Michael, and Michael sent a feather with which Boniface defeated the Devil. The feather was then kept as a relic until the Reformation, when it was stolen... Image
...the punchline to the legend is that St Michael then supposedly cursed the Duchy of Württemberg with a 'writing madness' - a way of explaining away the reputation of locals as rebels and revolutionary authors. Image
Read 6 tweets

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