The blood libel refers to a series of false allegations that Jews kill Christians, specifically Christian children, for ritual purposes. One common purpose that has been touted is that the Jewish people use the blood of the murdered Christians as an ingredient in baking matzah bread, which is a special type of flatbread served at the Jewish holiday of Passover. These types of accusations have led to vengeful acts of mob violence, organized massacres (pogroms), and even complete desecration of entire Jewish societies. The blood libel accusations can be traced back to the 12th century in the English village of Norwich. A local boy named William had been found dead in the woods on the outskirts of the town and accusations quickly turned towards the Jewish population. The accusations, started by monk Thomas of Monmouth, stated that the local Jewish population had kidnaped William and tortured and murdered him in a fashion mocking the crucifixion of Christ. While few believed Thomas’s accusations, a cult focused on the supposed accusations towards blood rituals eventually formed. 
Also, around the time of William’s death, a myth began circulating that stated that Jewish leaders would meet annually to choose a country or a town, and from there choose a Christian that would be murdered for ritualistic purposes. These rumors persisted throughout Christian society during the Middle Ages. Jewish locals were often the first to be blamed whenever a Christian child went missing in a community. Even though there was often no evidence that the accused Jews had anything to do with the missing children, they were still rounded up and tortured horrendously until they confessed to the crime. The blood libel was not just limited to the matzah bread for Passover. Some Christians theorized that the wine that the Jewish people drank during Passover and the pastries that were made for the holiday of Purim all contained the blood of the missing Christians. Others claimed that the blood of Christians was used by the Jews as medicine or even a form of aphrodisiac. 
Overall, the Middle Ages saw at least 100 cases of blood libel, according to scholars. These accusations often resulted in the massacre of large Jewish populations and communities throughout Europe. However, the blood libel did not stop with the Middle Ages nor was it limited with just European Christian society. The Jewish community in the Syrian capitol of Damascus was under attack after a Christian priest and his servant went missing and were presumed dead. Several important members of Damascus’s Jewish community were accused and tortured and many synagogues and scrolls of the Torah were destroyed by angry mobs. The Muslim world had taken on many of the blood libel beliefs from the Christian world and were thusly responsible for the murders of many Jews in their communities.