Life in the first half of the 13th Century continued in the shadow of dramatic and perilous historical events including the Second Reconquista; the fourth to sixth crusades; the rule of the Ayyubids; the Mongol invasion; the rise of the Mamluks; and the emergence of high scholasticism. Within this context, Jewish life was often fraught with danger and uncertainty, but it also gave rise to a number of extraordinary individuals. David Solomon examines the personalities and contributions of some of the significant Jewish figures who lived during this time. He also explores the impact of numerous initiatives concerning Jews, including various papal decrees, the Fourth Lateran Council, the beginning of the Inquisition, the burning of Jewish texts, forced disputations, and anti-semitic canards. This period also saw Jewish spiritual, cultural and linguistic developments that would shape the lives of communities for centuries.