The author investigates blood libel trials against Jews after the murder of a Christian child, in a case made against them that Jews use the blood for ritual sacrifice. The setting of these trials takes place in Trent, Italy, where the suspects were intolerably tortured to the point that they were forced to confess. I found it interesting how the author was able to trace out how exactly the fraudulent charges were made, and how the fraudulent confessions were formed.
The case itself highlights one of the long-standing anti-semitic accusations against Jews in the middle ages--that they would kill and use Christians and their blood for ritual sacrifice. These accusations would later become known as "blood libel". In the case of the murder of this child, 18 Jews were imprisoned, all the men eventually being subject to execution and the women torture.
The beginning of the book highlights the historical context in which the murder and subsequent "trials" took place. Chia later goes on to describe the various torture methods and the unpredictable outcomes this torture lead to--like the confession of a crime that the accused did not commit. Chia makes the case that the main reason much of this torture and forced confession took place was because of the prince-bishop of Trent's upbringing and his role in the process.
Despite the so-called evidence the bishop of Trent received proving the guilt of the Jews in France, Chia makes it clear that this "evidence" is not valid and that the persecuted were, once again, victims of anti-semitic claims that were able to gain traction.