Racism In The Middle Ages

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Racism is not an idea that developed on one specific date. It evolved over time through a collection of acts and experiences that overtook many individuals. Such a time would be the Middle Ages, anywhere from the fifth century to the fifteenth century of the common era. The question at hand is not when racism was born, rather, what happened in the Middle Ages that allowed and pushed forth the birth of racism. The Middle Ages was a time when slavery was taking hold, when religion was redefining its ideals, and when persecution against minorities took hold of nations large and small. Because the Middle Ages harvested so many ideas that separated the masses from the minorities, racism was able to cultivate into the injustices we see today.
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The year 1547 marks the beginning of racism. It is the year when the Archbishop of Toledo implemented the notion of identifying true Christians through their blood. This idea was not new to the Europeans, in fact, before the Inquisition and the Reconquista, the idea that blood defined a person was believed to be true. It is the idea that led to the Limpieza de Sangre also understood as the “cleanliness of blood.” The Limpieza de Sangre reserved the right to use certificates of blood which identified the Christians from the Others, and it was required for all the secular organizations in society. Blood is something natural, and when it is counted as a factor that differentiates cultures, religions, or groups of people, it becomes an identifier. Being able to identify the Other on a physical note allowed the segregation and deliberate discrimination which alluded to a racist mindset. Using blood as an identifier marked the beginning of the racism, because it validated the fact that there are differences, ones that can be noted internally and even externally. By believing that the differences within a human categorized them into separate bins, the notion that physical attributes could also set people apart, became widely…show more content…
In his book Inhuman Bondage, Davis explores the story of a slave named Madanu-bel-usur who was unlike the slaves that existed throughout the Middle Ages and after. Madanu-bel-usur was a slave who had property, negotiated business, and even had a family (Davis, 27). The idea that Davis brings up here is the way slavery has changed throughout time, seeing as slaves were once considered humans, and it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that they became dehumanized or better yet, they were considered animalistic. It was assumed during the Middle Ages that a slave was property of the master, meaning each part of the slave could be used by the master in any way they deemed acceptable. Needless to say, such a notion could only be accepted if both parties agree to formalities of their roles, slave and master. Many of the slaves themselves allowed themselves to be tortured and dehumanized by the majority because their faith believed that they and brought it upon themselves. The Curse of Harm, was used as justification of slavery and it was what identified the physical characteristics such as skin and body type to identify the Other. Through their own justification and the justification of the minorities through the majority rule, created a stigma that allowed racism to be born. Had the idea of blood and physical characteristics not become a widely recognized excuse for demonizing the Other during the Middle Ages, racism would have not been
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