[JUDAISM GROTIUS, Hugo (1583-1645), Dutch humanist]. Jerzy SLUPECKI (1615-1661). Autograph letter signed ("Georg[ius] Slupecki Cap[itanus] Pilsn[ensis]") to H. DE GROOT as Swedish ambassador in Paris, Lublin, Poland, 19 September 1636. 1½ pages, folio, integral address panel, in Latin, strip cut from blank left-hand margin, SLUPECKI'S ARMORIAL SEAL in red wax (diameter 15 mm. ( 5/8 in.)), minor losses.
A LETTER REGARDING 17TH CENTURY ATTITUDES TOWARDS JUDAISM. A highly interesting letter in which Slupecki details the libellous charges frequently made against the Jews in Poland of ritual slaughter of Christian children, the blood of whom was alleged to be used in Jewish religious ceremonies. Slupecki is convinced that this is a base fabrication, for lack of evidence and the fact that "daily experience demonstrates abundantly enough, how much [the Jews] shrink from blood of any kind." In addition, there is no obvious reason why Christian blood should be required. He goes on to narrate a recent incident in Lublin when candles were inexplicably extinguished as a Jew was about to be tortured by the authorities, which Slupecki sees as a divine indication of the innocence of the accused, although it did not save him from torture and death. Slupecki inquires if similar accusations are made in Grotius's own area, and if there is any reference to such practices in the Talmud, deferring to the preeminence of Grotius's learning.
Jerzy Slupecki of Konary had spent some time in the west of Poland, where Protestant influence was not crushed by the Counter Reformation. The present letter provoked a lengthy reply from Grotius, 12 December 1636 (Briefwisseling, VII, 576-580, 1969), in which he cites the Theodosian Codex and numerous scriptural, patristic and historical authorities, and concluded that where a case is not clear it is better to absolve the guilty than to condemn the innocent. The popular myths known as "blood libel" or "ritual murder" were first circulated by the Greek church, and by the 11th century had spread throughout Europe, provoking violent emotions and encouraging harshly repressive and discriminatory measures against the Jews. There were savage attacks on Jews in Poland intermittently throughout the 17th century.