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[A Lecture Delivered by Mr. E. D. Mocatta at the Kensington Town Hall on April 22nd, 1888.]
The migrations of the Jews probably preceded by many centuries their final dispersion after the conquest of Judaea by the Romans, but the outflow which succeeded that great national disaster was on a very large scale. In the first centuries of Christianity we find traces of them in most of the regions which they now inhabit, dispersed through the length and breadth of the Roman Empire. The break-up of that vast fabric contributed to scatter them still further, and the irruptions of the Mohammedans into Northern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century brought hundreds of thousands of Jews to swell the already existing congregations of those regions.
The massacres and horrors perpetrated upon the Jews in Central Europe by the fanatical and over-excited hordes of the Crusaders at the end of the eleventh century inspired so much terror that in some communities they assembled in their synagogues with their families and set fire to them, perishing in the flames to avoid a still worse fate at the hands of their tormentors. Whole masses of Jews at this time left their homes and settled in Poland and other Slavonian countries out of the immediate reach of destruction, and this accounts for the Jews of Poland and Russia employing as their vernacular to this day an antiquated form of German, intermingled with many words and expressions derived from Hebrew and other extraneous sources. The second Crusade, in the twelfth century, brought almost equal horrors upon the unfortunate Jews of Central Europe.
The Jews of Spain and Portugal, who had enjoyed an amount of toleration rare in those times, and had attained a remarkable degree of mental cultivation with much influence, were probably in the thirteenth century over a million in number. Their wealth and power about this period excited the jealousy of the rest of the population, led on by the bigotry of the clergy, and, after a series of persecutions and ineffectual efforts at their wholesale conversion, the
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