Sunday, November 19, 2006

Early history

William I to Henry I: 1066–1135
There is no evidence of Jews residing in Britain before the Norman Conquest; all permanent Jewish residents came from Normandy and other areas of northern France. The Norman Jews were primarily moneylenders, because they could not own land nor participate in trades (except for medicine). Catholic doctrine held that moneylending for interest was a sin; therefore, Jews dominated this business. The few references in the Anglo-Saxon laws of the Roman Catholic Church about Jews either relate to Jewish practices about Easter or apply to passing visitors, such as the Gallo-Roman Jews, slave-traders who imported English slaves to the Roman market. William of Malmesbury wrote that William I (William the Conqueror) invited a group of Jews from Rouen to England in 1070, believing that their commercial skills and incoming capital would make England more prosperous.

Around 1093, Gilbert Crispin, the Abbott of Westminster, issued a disputation about his exchange with a Jew, entitled "Disputation of a Jew with a Christian about the Christian Faith." Crispin wrote that:

"I wrote it recently putting to paper what a Jew said when formerly disputing with me against our faith in defence of his own law, and what I replied in favour of the faith against his objections. I know not where he was born, but he was educated at Mayence; he was well versed even in our law and literature, and had a mind practised in the Scriptures and in disputes against us. He often used to come to me as a friend both for business and to see me, since in certain things I was very necessary to him, and as often as we came together we would soon net talking in a friendly, spirit about the Scriptures and our faith. Now on a certain day, God granted both him and me greater leisure than usual, and soon we began questioning as usual. And as his objections were consequent and logical, and as he explained with equal consequence his former objections, while our reply met his objections foot to foot and by his own confession seemed equally supported by the testimony of the Scriptures, some of the bystanders requested me to preserve our disputes as likely to be of use to others in future."
This disputation was notable for the even-handed presentation of both the Christian and Jewish points of view, and for the congenial tone of the exchange.

At first, the status of Jews was not strictly determined. An attempt was made to introduce the Continental principle, that all Jews were the king's property, and a clause to that effect was inserted under King Henry I in some manuscripts of the so-called "Laws of Edward the Confessor." However, during Henry's reign (1100–1135) a royal charter was granted to Joseph, the chief rabbi of London, and all his followers. Under this charter, Jews were permitted to move about the country without paying tolls, to buy and sell goods and property, to sell their pledges after holding them a year and a day, to be tried by their peers, and to be sworn on the Torah rather than on a Christian Bible. Special weight was attributed to a Jew's oath, which was valid against that of 12 Christians. The sixth clause of the charter was specially important: it granted to the Jews the right of movement throughout the kingdom, as if these were the king's own property (sicut res propriæ nostræ).

Stephen to Henry II: 1126–1189
Christian-Jewish relations in England were disturbed under King Stephen, who burned down the house of a Jew in Oxford (some accounts say with the owner in it) because he refused to pay a contribution to the king's expenses. It was also during this time that the first recorded blood libel against the Jews was brought in the case of William of Norwich (March 1144).

While the crusaders in Germany were trying their swords upon the Jews, outbursts against the latter in England were, according to the Jewish chroniclers, prevented by King Stephen.

With the restoration of order under Henry II, the Jews renewed their activity. Within five years of his accession Jews are found at London, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, Thetford, Bungay, Canterbury, Winchester, Newport, Stafford, Windsor, and Reading. Yet they were not permitted to bury their dead elsewhere than in London, a restriction which was not removed till 1177. Their spread throughout the country enabled the king to draw upon them as occasion demanded; he repaid them by demand notes on the sheriffs of the counties, who accounted for payments thus made in the half-yearly accounts on the pipe rolls (see Aaron of Lincoln).

Strongbow's conquest of Ireland (1170) was financed by Josce, a Jew of Gloucester; and the king accordingly fined Josce for having lent money to those under his displeasure. As a rule, however, Henry II does not appear to have limited in any way the financial activity of Jews. The favorable position of the English Jews was shown, among other things, by the visit of Abraham ibn Ezra in 1158, by that of Isaac of Chernigov in 1181, and by the resort to England of the Jews who were exiled from France by Philip Augustus in 1182, among them probably being Judah Sir Leon of Paris.

In 1168, when concluding an alliance with Frederick Barbarossa, Henry II seized the chief representatives of the Jews and sent them over into Normandy, while tallaging the rest 5,000 marks (Gervase of Canterbury, ed. Stubbs, i. 205). When, however, he asked the rest of the country to pay a tithe for the crusade against Saladin in 1186, he demanded a quarter of the Jewish chattels. The tithe was reckoned at £70,000, the quarter at £60,000. In other words, the value of the personal property of the Jews was regarded as one-fourth that of the whole country. It is improbable, however, that the whole amount was paid at once, as for many years after the imposition of the tallage arrears were demanded from the recalcitrant Jews.

The king had probably been led to make this large demand upon English Jewry by the surprising windfall which came to his treasury at the death of Aaron of Lincoln. All property obtained by usury, whether by Jew or by Christian, fell into the king's hands on the death of the usurer; Aaron of Lincoln's estate included £15,000 of debts owed to him. Besides this, a large treasure came into the king's hands, which, however, was lost on being sent over to Normandy. A special branch of the treasury, constituted in order to deal with this large account, was known as "Aaron's Exchequer".

In this era, Jews lived on good terms with their non-Jewish neighbors, including the clergy; they entered churches freely, and took refuge in the abbeys in times of commotion. Some Jews lived in opulent houses, and helped to build a large number of the abbeys and monasteries of the country. However, by the end of Henry's reign they had incurred the ill will of the upper classes. The anti-Jewish sentiment fostered by the crusades, during the latter part of the reign of Henry, spread the anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the nation.

Massacres at London and York (1189–1190)
Richard I had taken the cross before his coronation (September 3, 1189). A number of the principal Jews of England presented themselves to do homage at Westminster; but there appears to have been a superstition against Jews being admitted to such a holy ceremony, and they were repulsed during the banquet which followed the coronation. The rumour spread from Westminster to the City of London that the king had ordered a massacre of the Jews; and a mob in Old Jewry, after vainly attacking throughout the day the strong stone houses of the Jews, set them on fire at night, killing those within who attempted to escape. The king was enraged at this insult to his royal dignity, but took no steps to punish the offenders, owing to their large numbers. After his departure on the crusade, riots with loss of life occurred at Lynn, where the Jews attempted to attack a baptised coreligionist who had taken refuge in a church. The seafaring population rose against them, fired their houses, and put them to the sword. So, too, at Stamford fair, on March 7, 1190, many were slain, and on March 18 fifty-seven were slaughtered at Bury St. Edmunds. The Jews of Lincoln saved themselves only by taking refuge in a castle.

York Castle, where the Jews of York were killed in 1190.Isolated attacks on Jews occurred also at Colchester, Thetford, and Ospringe, but the most striking incident occurred at York on the night of March 16 (the day of the Jewish feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol, the shabbat before Passover) and March 17, 1190. The Jews of York were alarmed by the preceding massacres and by the setting on fire of several of their houses by the anti-Jewish rioting in the wake of religious fervor during crusaders' preparations for the Third Crusade against the Saracens, led by Richard.

Their leader Josce asked the warden of York Castle to receive them with their wives and children, and they were accepted into Clifford's Tower. However, the tower was besieged by the mob of crusaders, demanding that the Jews convert to Christianity and be baptized. Trapped in the castle, the Jews were advised by their religious leader, Rabbi Yomtob of Joigney, to kill themselves rather than convert; Josce began the self-immolation by slaying his wife Anna and his two children, and then was killed by Yomtob. The father of each family killed his wife and children, and then Yomtob stabbed the men before killing himself. The handful of Jews who did not kill themselves surrendered to the crusaders at daybreak on March 17, leaving the castle on a promise that they would not be harmed; they were also killed. In the aftermath the wooden tower was burnt down.

Ordinance of the Jewry, 1194
During Richard's absence in the Holy Land and during his captivity, the lot of the Jews was aggravated by William de Longchamp. The Jewish community was forced to contribute toward the king's ransom 5,000 marks, more than three times as much as the contribution of the City of London. On his return, Richard determined to organise the Jewish community in order to ensure that he should no longer be defrauded, by any such outbreaks as those that occurred after his coronation, of his just dues as universal legatee of the Jewry. Richard accordingly decided, in 1194, that records should be kept by royal officials of all the transactions of the Jews, which without such record should not be legal. Every debt was to be entered upon a chirograph, one part of which was to be kept by the Jewish creditor, and the other preserved in a chest to which only special officials should have access. By this means the king could at any time ascertain the property of any Jew in the land; and no destruction of the bond held by the Jew could release the creditor from his indebtedness. This "Ordinance of the Jewry" was practically the beginning of the Exchequer of the Jews, which made all the transactions of the English Jewry liable to taxation by the King of England, who thus became a sleeping partner in all the transactions of Jewish usury. The king besides demanded two bezants in the pound, that is, 10 per cent, of all sums recovered by the Jews with the aid of his courts.

At this point in time Jews had many of the same rights as gentile citizens. However, their loans could be recovered at law, whereas the Christian usurer could not recover more than his original loan. They were in direct relation to the king and his courts; but this did not imply any arbitrary power of the king to tax them or to take their money without repayment, as is frequently exemplified in the pipe-rolls. They were the king's "men," it is true, but no more than the barons of the time; and they had the privilege of the baronial rank, and thus could move and settle anywhere.

Under John, 1205-1216
As early as 1198 Pope Innocent III, had written to all Christian princes, including Richard of England, calling upon them to compel the remission of all usury demanded by Jews from Christians. This would render the Jewish community's very existence impossible.

On July 15, 1205, the pope laid down the principle that Jews were doomed to perpetual servitude because they had crucified Jesus. In England the secular power soon followed the initiative of the Church. John, having become indebted to the Jewish community while in Ireland, at first treated Jews with a show of forbearance. He confirmed the charter of Rabbi Josce and his sons, and made it apply to all the Jews of England; he wrote a sharp remonstrance to the mayor of London against the attacks that were continually being made upon the Jews of that city, alone of all the cities of England. He reappointed one Jacob archpriest of all the English Jews (July 12, 1199).

But with the loss of Normandy in 1205 a new spirit seems to have come over the attitude of John to his Jews. In the height of his triumph over the pope, he demanded the sum of no less than £100,000 from the religious houses of England, and 66,000 marks from the Jews (1210). One of the latter, Abraham of Bristol, who refused to pay his quota of 10,000 marks, had, by order of the king, seven of his teeth extracted, one a day, till he was willing to disgorge (Roger of Wendover, ii. 232; but see Ramsay, "Angevin Empire," p. 426, London, 1903).

Though John squeezed as much as he could out of the Jewish community, they were an important element on his side in the triangular struggle between king, barons, and municipalities which makes up the constitutional history of England during his reign and that of his son. Even in Magna Carta clauses were inserted preventing the king or his Jewish subjects from obtaining interest during the minority of an heir.

Increasing Persecution, 1200s
With the accession of Henry III (1216) the position of the Jews became somewhat easier, but only for a short time. Innocent III had in the preceding year caused the Lateran Council to pass the law enforcing the Badge upon the Jews; and in 1218 Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, brought it into operation in England, the badge taking the form of an oblong white patch of two finger-lengths by four. The action of the Church was followed by similar opposition on the part of the English boroughs.

Petitions were accordingly sent to the king in many instances to remove his Jews from the boroughs, and they were expelled from Bury St. Edmunds in 1190, Newcastle in 1234, Wycombe in 1235, Southampton in 1236, Berkhamsted in 1242, Newbury in 1244. Jews were expelled from the lands of Queen Dowager Eleanor in January 1275 ( which included towns such as Guildford).

With the outbreak of the Barons' war violent measures were adopted to remove all traces of indebtedness either to the king or to the higher barons. The Jewries of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Winchester, Cambridge, Worcester, and Lincoln were looted (1263-65), and the archæ either destroyed or deposited at the headquarters of the barons at Ely. Simon de Montfort, who had at an early stage expelled the Jews from his town of Leicester, when at the height of his power after the battle of Lewes annulled all indebtedness to the Jews. He had been accused of sharing the plunder, but issued edicts for their protection after the battle (Kingsford, "Song of Lewes," pp. 59, 80, Oxford, 1890). Both the Jewry and the king as its representative must have suffered incalculably by this general wiping out of indebtedness.

The value of the Jewish community to the royal treasury had become considerably lessened during the thirteenth century through two circumstances: the king's income from other sources had continually increased, and the contributions of the Jews had decreased both absolutely and relatively. Besides this, the king had found other sources from which to obtain loans. Italian merchants, "pope's usurers" as they were called, supplied him with money, at times on the security of the Jewry. By the contraction of the area in which Jews were permitted to exercise their money-lending activity their means of profit were lessened, while the king by his continuous exactions prevented the automatic growth of interest.

By the middle of the thirteenth century the Jews of England, like those of the Continent, had become chattels of the king. There appeared to be no limit to the exactions he could impose upon them, though it was obviously against his own interest to deprive them entirely of capital, without which they could not gain for him usurious interest.

Further prejudice had been raised against the Jews just about this time by the revival of the blood libel, a charge of ritual murder. The king had sold the Jewish community to his brother Richard of Cornwall in Feb., 1255, for 5,000 marks, and had lost all rights over it for a year. But in the following August a number of the chief Jews who had assembled at Lincoln to celebrate the marriage of a daughter of Berechiah de Nicole were seized on a charge of having murdered a boy named Hugh. Ninety-one were sent to London to the Tower, eighteen were executed for refusal to plead, and the rest were kept in prison till the expiry of Richard's control over their property.

The "Statutum de Judaismo," 1275
Shortly after his coronation Edward I., in 1275, determined to solve by a bold experiment the Jewish question as it then existed in England. The Church laws against usury had recently been reiterated with more than usual vehemence at the Council of Lyons (1274), and Edward in the "Statutum de Judaismo" absolutely forbade Jews to lend on usury, but granted them permission to engage in commerce and handicrafts, and even to take farms for a period not exceeding ten years, though he expressly excluded them from all the feudal advantages of the possession of land. This permission, however, regarded as a means by which Jews in general could gain a livelihood, was illusory. Farming can not be taken up at a moment's notice, nor can handicrafts be acquired at once. Moreover, in England in the thirteenth century the guilds were already securing a monopoly of all skilled labour, and in the majority of markets only those could buy and sell who were members of the Gild Merchant. By depriving the Jews of a resort to usury, Edward was practically preventing them from earning a living at all under the conditions of life then existing in feudal England; and in principle the "Statute of Judaism" expelled them fifteen years before the final expulsion. Some of the Jews attempted to evade the law by resorting to the tricks of the Caursines, who lent sums and extorted bonds that included both principal and interest. Some resorted to highway robbery; others joined the Domus Conversorum (see below); while a considerable number appear to have resorted to clipping the coin as a means of securing a precarious existence. As a consequence, in 1278 the whole English Jewry was imprisoned; and no less than 293 Jews were executed at London.

Leadership of the Chief Rabbis, 1200s
Jews were allowed to have their own jurisdiction, and there is evidence of their having a bet din with three judges. Reference is made to the parnas (president) and gabbai (treasurer), of the congregation, and to scribes and chirographers. A complete system of education seems to have been in vogue.

At the head of the Jewish community was placed a chief rabbi, known as "the presbyter of all the Jews of England" ; he appears to have been selected by the Jews themselves, who were granted a congé d'élire by the king. The latter claimed, however, the right of confirmation, as in the case of bishops. The Jewish presbyter was indeed in a measure a royal official, holding the position of adviser, as regards Jewish law, to the Exchequer of the Jews, as the English legal system admitted the validity of Jewish law in its proper sphere as much as it did that of the canon law.

Six presbyters are known through the Thirteenth century: Jacob of London, reappointed 1200; Josce, 1207; Aaron of York, 1237; Elyas of London, 1243; Hagin fil Cresse, 1257; and Cresse fil Mosse.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Settlement of Jews in England
Geoffrey H. Smith
There is little evidence to suggest that Jews settled in England in any large numbers until after the Norman Conquest. It was in Normandy, at Rouen, that a large Jewish community had existed since the Gallo-Roman era (see Gesta Regum Anglorum ii, 371n). William of Malmesbury stated that the Conqueror brought the Jews of London from Rouen. Thus it was armed might, not democracy, which led to England being occupied by Jews.
However, Jews soon became indebted to the Norman Exchequer. An example of Jewish indebtedness is that King Richard I (who reigned 1189-1199) instructed Isaac, son of a rabbi, to pay 1,000 marks to Henry de Gray, keeper of the Jews in Normandy. (For references to Henry de Gray see Morant, History of Essex i. 95 and Landon, Itinerary of Richard I no. 451.)
The first Jews to settle in England, then, were undoubtedly Jews from Normandy and in England they multiplied their number and their coins, until their expulsion in 1290.
The Jews of England flourished, travelled many miles around Europe and profited through their usurious proclivities and mercantile pursuits. They lived lavishly, owned great mansions and bought up English land when the English failed to meet their loans. (For proof of the wealth of Jews in England, see Pipe Roll 3, Richard I, Magister puerorum Ysaac (teacher of boys Isaac) p. 32; Vivus scriptor Helye (living writer Helye) p. 61; Coc de domo Abraham (abode of Abraham), Josce de domo Samsonis (Samson's home), Mosse de eadem domo (Moses of the same home), Biket de domo (Biket's home) p. 140.)

"The ostentation which possession of great wealth enabled the Jews to display, and their unconcealed contempt for the practices of Christianity, made them an object of universal dislike; as usurers, moreover, they had gained a strangle-hold on the recently founded monastic houses whose splendid buildings they had financed, and on many of the smaller aristocratic families..." From Domesday Book to Magna Carta (1951), p. 353
During the 12th century, England was visited by Jews from Italy, Spain and Russia, as well as from French-speaking lands.
Jews in medieval England built 'the great Synagogue' just a short walk from the Tower of London. This was an error for which many Jews paid later, on their short walk to the Tower for their execution. The Synagogue was used not only for religious ceremony but also to 'invite' claims against Christian debtors, effecting a settlement of their debts. (See Rigg, Select Pleas, pp. 9, 12; Cal. Plea Rolls, passim and Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora v. 398-9.)
Following the death of Henry I, who reigned 1100-1135, the situation surrounding Jewry in England dramatically changed to their advantage when Stephen was elected as King of England. Stephen was weak and most of his reign (1135-1154) was marked by civil war. Stephen's weakness included a fondness for Jews and they soon founded communities at Norwich, Cambridge and Oxford. After the death of his son in 1153 Stephen acknowledged Matilda's son (Henry II) as his heir to the throne.
During Henry II's reign (1154-1189) Jewish communities could be found at Lincoln, Northampton, Thetford and Bungay; also in Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Wiltshire. In 1159 King Henry II levied taxes of 200 marks on the Jews of London, Norwich (72½ marks), Lincoln (60), Cambridge and Hampshire (50), Thetford (45), Bungay and Northampton (22½), Oxford (20), Gloucestershire and Wiltshire (2). Gloucestershire and Wiltshire saw most of the fighting for accession to the throne. (See From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, pp. 150-3 and also the map, contained therein.)
During Stephen's reign, when the royal power waned, Jews had preferred to settle on lands within the jurisdiction of the great lords of the day and under their protection. Thus, the easy explanation during Henry II's reign of the presence of Jewish communities at Bungay and Thetford, two towns belonging to the Earl of Norfolk, Hugh Bigod.
Dramatically, in 1192, Isaac of Saint Edmund's was killed at Thetford during a rising to awareness of the Jews by the populace. The Pipe Rolls of Richard I contain many traces of massacres of Jews.
By the time of Henry III's reign (1216-1272) there were sizeable Jewish communities in Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Colchester, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Lincoln, London, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Stamford, Winchester, Worcester and York. (This is proved by Transactions, xi 99-111, Jewish Hist. Soc., which were lists of taxation of Jews.)
One of the richest Jews in England around 1255 was Abraham of Berkhamstead, presented that same year to the Earl by King Henry III. Abraham was a very active Jewish usurer who had debtors in half the counties of England, from Devon to Yorkshire. Orders were issued to the sheriffs that debtors pay up, within a month of Easter following, or else their chattels would be seized. (For Abraham of Berkhamstead, see Richard of Cornwall, pp. 69-70.)
After the massacre of Jews in 1264, "divers Jews, taking alarm at the troublous state of the realm, went overseas... to Normandy" (see Select Pleas, p. 75).
By 1276 there were only two Jews engaged in money-lending in the town of Exeter (see PRO E.101/249/31), their names are Auntera, widow of Samuel, the son of Moses, and Isaac, the son of Moses (apparently of the same family).
By 1290, a cataclysmic date for Jews, there was but one household, that of a Jewess named Comtesse, in the High Street of Exeter (see E.101/249/27 no. 32). In Ipswich Jewish households realised no more that Ј7 6s 8d. when sold (Pipe Roll 22, Edward I, E.372/139, membrane 3).
Under Edward I (reigned 1272-1307) we read of the expulsion of Jews from Winchelsea and Bridgenorth – "in quam nullus Iudeus aliquibus temporibus habitare consueverit aut morari." (in that no-one lending a share or portion dwelling temporarily has been accustomed or hindered; see Foedera i.n. 503 and Cal. Close Rolls, 1272-1279, p. 130).
Whatever may have been the position in the 12th century, in the 13th permanent residence outside one of the larger towns mentioned above appears to have been illegal without the King's licence. The statutory provisions of 1239 and 1253 seem to have been no more than an affirmation of what was already the rule (Liber de Antiquis Legibus (Book of Old Law), Camden Soc., p. 237; Close Rolls, 1251-1253, p. 313). In 1237, for example, the Sheriff of Northamptonshire was instructed to see that no Jew resided outside the town of Northampton (see Close Rolls, 1234-1237, p. 425). Unauthorized residence appears, moreover, to have been the reason why the Bailiff of Sittingbourne was instructed in 1231 to arrest Isaac the Jew with his chattels (Close Rolls, 1231-1234, p. 12), for in 1266 a licence was required for a Canterbury Jew to depart and reside in Sittingbourne (Cal. Plea Rolls, I, 134; for later cases see Rigg, Select Pleas, pp. 61, 82; Cal. Plea Rolls, ii. 163; iii. 5, 127).
How the authorized communities established themselves in the 12th century is uncertain: no charter is known which permits Jews to reside in the towns where there is later evidence for the existence of synagogues. If, at first, there was some tacit understanding that in certain royal boroughs they would be protected from the wrath of the peasants, later their right of residence appears to have been a matter of accepted custom: "in quam nullus Iudeus aliquibus temporibus habitare consueverit aut morari." The important Latin words are habitare (dwell) and morari (hindered). What was at issue was not visits or temporary stays for the purpose of business, for it is evident that Jews travelled all over the country, as indeed their charter permitted them to do, but the establishment of a permanent community. Jews might indeed own property in towns in which they did not reside, as at Cambridge, whence they had been expelled in 1275. They had also been expelled from Bridgenorth at the insistence of the townspeople in 1274, but to that town the people complained shortly afterwards, "they still have their repair, three or four days in the week, because they own a house in the town." Even though they had been expelled from Bridgenorth they were still returning to lend money, although they were not allowed to stay there more than a few days at a time.

"All the world suffers from the usury of the Jews, their monopolies and deceit. They have brought many unfortunate peoples into a state of poverty, especially farmers, working-class people, and the very poor." Pope Clement VIII, 1592
The experience of the Jews at Norwich must have taught every Jew in England how necessary royal protection was, and how easily religious passions could be aroused, even among the highest clergy. For it was the Bishop of Norwich, William Turbe, who was most active in prosecuting the charge of ritual murder against the Jews of his city, up to the supreme tribunal, the court held before the King himself. (See Jessopp and James, St. William of Norwich pp. 92-93, 103-10.)
Although contemporary Jewish authors deny such things as ritual murder, some admit that there may have been some unpleasant Jews around at the time.
Jewish Ritual Murder in England Before 1290
Arnold S. Leese
The first known case occurred in 1144; after that, cases cropped up from time to time until the Jews were expelled from the realm by Edward I. The most famous of these incidents was that of Little St. Hugh of Lincoln in 1255. I record these cases in chronological order; and I do not deny the possibility that some of them, in which details are lacking, were "trumped up" ones, where death may have been due to causes other than ritual murder and the Jews blamed for it; but the case of St. Hugh, particularly, was juridically decided, and the Close and Patent Rolls of the Realm record definitely cases at London, Winchester and Oxford. There seems no reason to doubt that many cases of ritual murder have been unsuspected and even undiscovered.
1144, Norwich. A twelve year-old boy was crucified and his side pierced at the Jewish Passover. His body was found in a sack hidden in a tree. A converted Jew, called Theobald of Cambridge, confessed that the Jews took blood every year from a Christian child because they thought that only by so doing could they ever obtain their freedom and return to Palestine; and that it was their custom to draw lots to decide whence the blood was to be supplied; Theobald said that last year the lot fell to Narbonne, but in this year to Norwich. The boy was locally beatified and has ever since been known as St. William. The Sheriff, probably bribed, refused to bring the Jews to trial.
In J. C. Cox's Norfolk Churches, vol. II, p. 47, as also in the Victoria County History of Norfolk, 1906, vol.. II, is an illustration of an old painted rood-screen depicting the ritual murder of St. William; the screen itself is in Loddon Church, Norfolk, unless the power of Jewish money has had it removed. No-one denies this case as a historical event, but the Jews of course say it was not a ritual murder. The Jew, C. Roth, in his The Ritual Murder Libel and the Jew (1935) says: "Modern enquirers, after careful examination of the facts, have concluded that the child probably lost consciousness in consequence of a cataleptic fit, and was buried prematurely by his relatives." How these modern enquirers arrived at a conclusion like that after all these years, Mr. Roth does not say; nor is it a compliment to the Church to suggest that its ministers would allow the boy's death to be celebrated as the martyrdom of a saint without having satisfied themselves that wounds on the body confirmed the crucifixion and piercing of the side. And why the relatives should bury the boy in a sack and then dig it up and hang it in a tree would puzzle even a Jew to explain.
John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the Church records this ritual murder, as did the Ballandists and other historians. The Prior, William Turbe, who afterwards became Bishop of Norwich, was the leading light in insisting that the crime was one of Jewish ritual murder; in the Dictionary of National Biography (edited by a Jew!) it is made clear that his career, quite apart from this ritual murder case, is that of a man of great strength of character and moral courage.
1160, Gloucester. The body of a child named Harold was found in the river with the usual wounds of crucifixion. Sometimes wrongly dated 1168. (Recorded in Monumenta Germania Historica, vol. VI (Erfurt Annals); Polychronicon, R. Higdon; Chronicles, R. Grafton, p. 46.)
1181, Bury St. Edmunds. A child called Robert was sacrificed at Passover. The child was buried in the church and its presence there was supposed to cause miracles. (Authority: Rohrbacher, from the Chronicle of Gervase of Canterbury.)
1192, Winchester. A boy crucified. Mentioned in the Jewish Encyclopaedia as being a false charge. Details lacking.
1232, Winchester. Boy crucified. Details lacking. (Mentioned in Hyamson's History of the Jews in England; also in Annals of Winchester; and conclusively in the Close Roll 16, Henry III, m.8, 26.6.1232.)
1235, Norwich. In this case, Jews stole a child and hid him with a view to crucifying him. Haydn's Dictionary of Dates of date 1847, says of this case, "They [the Jews] circumcise and attempt to crucify a child at Norwich; the offenders are condemned in a fine of 20,000 marks." (Further authority Huillard Breolles, Grande Chronique, III, 86; also Close Roll, 19 Henry III, m.23.)
1244, London. A child's body found unburied in the cemetery of St. Benedict, with ritual cuts. Buried with great pomp in St. Paul's. (Authority: Social England, vol. I, p. 407, edited by H. D. Traill.)
1255, Lincoln. A boy called Hugh was kidnapped by the Jews and crucified and tortured in hatred of Jesus Christ. The boy's mother found the body in a well on the premises of a Jew called Jopin or Copinus. This Jew, promised by the judge his life if he confessed, did so, and 91 Jews were arrested; eventually 18 were hanged for the crime. King Henry III himself personally ordered the juridical investigation of the case five weeks after the discovery of the body, and refused to allow mercy to be shown to the Jew Copinus, who was executed.
Hugh was locally beatified, and his tomb may still be seen in Lincoln Cathedral, but the Jewish Money Power has evidently been at work, for between 1910 and 1930 a notice was fixed above the shrine as follows: "The body of Hugh was given burial in the Cathedral and treated as that of a martyr. When the Minster was repaved, the skeleton of a small child was found beneath the present tombstone. There are many incidents in the story which tend to throw doubt upon it, and the existence of similar stories in England and elsewhere points to their origin in the fanatical hatred of the Jews of the Middle Ages and the common superstition, now wholly discredited, that ritual murder was a factor of Jewish Paschal Rites. Attempts were made as early as the 13th century by the Church to protect the Jews against the hatred of the populace and against this particular accusation."
At a visit to Lincoln of the Jewish Historical Society, in 1934, the Mayor, Mr. G. Deer, said to them: "That he [St. Hugh] was done to death by Jews for ritual purposes cannot be other than a libel based upon the prejudices and ignorance of an unenlightened age." The Chancellor on the same occasion said: "It was quite obviously one of the very many cases of slander spread about the Jews from time to time. No doubt, the child died or fell down the well."
These people, Jews and Gentiles, bring no evidence whatever for their statement; it couldn't have happened, they say. Why not?
Was Henry III, weak in character as we know him to have been, ever charged with being an immoral man? Did the judges not examine the body, which was only four weeks dead? Is Haydn's Dictionary of Dates (1847 edition) medieval and superstitious when it said of this case "They [the Jews] crucify a child at Lincoln, for which eighteen are hanged"? There are no 'ifs' and 'buts' here! Or does Copinus's confession not tally with that of Theobald, quoted above in the first Norwich case? Copinus said, "For the death of this child, nearly all the Jews in England had come together and every town had sent deputies to assist in the sacrifice."
No-one questions the historical facts in this case; but Jews and Judaized Gentiles alike unite in denying the fact of ritual murder.
Strack, in his The Jew and Human Sacrifice, written in defence of the Jews against the Blood Accusation, omits all mention of this famous case, which is the subject of the Prioress's Tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and is referred to in Marlowe's Jew of Malta. Hyamson's History of the Jews in England devotes the whole of Chapter IX to "Little St. Hugh of Lincoln," showing the importance of the ritual murder issue in the Jewish mind today. (The following Close Rolls of the Realm refer to the case of St. Hugh: Henry III, 39, m.2, 7.10.1255; 39, m.2, 14.10.1255; 40, m.20, 24.11.1255; 40, m.13, 13.3.1256; 42, m.6, 19.6.1258. And the Patent Rolls, Henry III, 40, m.20, 26.11.1255; 40, m.19, 9.12.1255; 40, 27.3.1256; and 40, m.5, 20.8.1256.)
1257, London. A child sacrificed. (Authority: Cluverius, Epitome Historiae p. 541.) Details lacking.
1276, London. Boy crucified. (Authority: The Close Roll of the Realm, 4, Edward I, m.14, 3.3.1276.)
1279, Northampton. A child crucified. Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, 1847, says of this case: "They [the Jews] crucify a child at Northampton for which fifty are drawn at horses' tails and hanged." (Further authorities: Reiley, Memorials of London, p. 15; H. Desportes, Le Mystére du Sang.)
1290, Oxford. The Patent Roll 18 Edward I, m.21, 21st June 1290, contains an order for the gaol delivery of a Jew, Isaac de Pulet, detained for the murder of a Christian boy at Oxford.
Only one month after this, King Edward issued his decree expelling the Jews from the Kingdom. There is, then, every reason to believe that it was the Oxford murder which proved the last straw in toleration.
A similar ritual case was one of the main stimulants to the King and Queen of Spain to expel professing Jews from that country in 1492 (Leese: Jewish Ritual Murder, p. 20).
The Jews, in attempting to escape responsibility for these deaths by ritual murder, do not hesitate to impugn the probity of two of the Kings of England, against whose moral character no-one else has dared to cast a slur. Here are some examples. Firstly the Jew Hyamson (in History of the Jews in England, 1928 edition, p. 21) wrote: "It has also been pointed out that the Blood Accusation was as a rule made at a time at which the Royal Treasury needed replenishing." This foul accusation against men of upright character was repeated in the Jewish Chronicle Supplement, April 1936, p. 8 (speaking of the Lincoln case in the reign of Henry III): "Henceforth and especially under the zealously Christian Edward I, the Crown and its officers became almost a worse peril to the Jews than mobs intent on loot and led on by fanatic priests and knightly spendthrifts who had borrowed Jewish money. When 18th century writers of history began to examine the old records in a new sceptical temper some may be found venturing on such unkind surmises as that the alleged crucifixions of Christian children only seemed to happen when kings were short of money."
To deny that the cases of St. William of Norwich and St. Hugh of Lincoln were Jewish ritual murders is to accuse certain English Kings, certain English Clergy, and certain English administrators, known to be men of good morals, of murdering and torturing Jews to get their money, after accusing them of horrible crimes. In the case of St. Hugh, the sentence was juridical; in the case of St. William, the mob took the matter into their own hands because the Sheriff would take no action himself.
Whom do you believe – the Jews or the English?
"It is difficult to refuse all credit to stories so circumstantial and so frequent." So says Social England concerning ritual murders in England (vol. I, p. 407, 1893, edited by H. D. Traill).
A significant fact is that Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, at least up to 1847, quoted the ritual murders in Norman and Plantagenet England as undisputed facts. In later editions in the sixties, all mention of them is extirpated! We may take it that the Jewish Money Power began to dictate to the Press in England somewhere in the fifties of the last century.
The Expulsion of the Jews from England
Geoffrey H. Smith
Upon accession to the throne, Edward I was conducting a crusade against the Saracen. Returning to England in 1274, he found the realm in ruins, as a result of his father's folly.
Many debtors, realising that the Jews of England were in trouble, refused to honour their debts. An audit organised by the government revealed widespread corruption. Many formerly affluent Jewish financiers had to sell their property in order to fulfill their tax obligations. Many also failed to pay the taxes due and were simply banished, as Jews were only tolerated when they could devise means to legally rob the English so as to pay taxes to the Crown.
The generally run-down condition of Jewry cried out for reform, and events abroad indicated one method of bringing it about.
In 1274, when Edward returned from the crusades, the Council of Lyons under Pope Gregory X ordered the Christians to condemn the sin of usury and those who conducted it, both native-born and foreign. Pious Edward, being a loyal son of the Church, went into immediate action, and ordered an investigation into the practices of the Florentine bankers. They had been in England since 1223. There then followed an investigation of the Jews.
For nearly 200 years Jewish bankers had been favoured by the Crown and encouraged to fill the royal coffers – this cannot be denied. But now that Jews were impoverished, their 'usefulness' could be forgotten. And so Henry III's policy of restricting Jewish activities, and the Church's policy of suppressing usury, were combined in an attempt to prevent Jews from practising their expertise in loaning money at interest.
A foolish attempt was made to turn Jews from usurers and merchants to material producers and common labourers. This proposal – putting Jews to work – was submitted by Robert Grosseteste, later Bishop of Lincoln. He thought it a good idea and he approved it. See Grosseteste, Epistolae, ed. Luard, V. p. 3ff. (To this day, Jews in Israel refuse to sweep the streets and do menial work.)
Then later, Thomas Acquinas urged similar action upon the Duchess of Brabant. "If rulers think they harm their souls by taking money from usurers," he wrote, "they should see that the Jews are compelled to labour." (See Opusculum ad Ducissam Brabantae, 1261.)
The Stätütüm dè Jûdèísmö of 1275 was promulgated in the Common Council of the Realm at Westminster. Both Jews and Christians were forbidden to lend money at interest; offenders would suffer punishment. Debts outstanding at the time the Statute was introduced were to be paid by the following Easter.

And that each Jew after he shall be seven years old, shall wear a badge on his outer garment that is to say in the form of two tables joined of yellow fait of the length of six inches and of the breadth of three inches.
As regards the ownership of land, the Stätütüm dè Jûdèísmö was more liberal than the legislation of four years earlier, which prohibited it entirely except for personal occupation.
Following the promulgation of the Statute, Jewry held a meeting to consider the long-term impact. They drew up a long petition, begging the King and his Council to make modifications. Poor Jews (they claimed) should be allowed to dispose of property to fellow Jews, instead of being forced to tear down buildings for scrap material.
Jews could no longer travel about safely and usury was no longer profitable as debtors realised their increasing plight. Their petition to the King and Council was a pathetic plea for mercy, begging to be allowed to live at peace under Edward as they had done since the days of the Norman Conquest. (See Select Cases in Court of King's Bench, Edward I, vol. iii, pp. xxxi, cxiv.)
During the year following the enactment of the Stätütüm dè Jûdèísmö, many Jews unable to pay their taxes were imprisoned and their families deported overseas. Wealthy Jews, in contrast, turned to the sale of corn and wool. They proved successful at Bristol, Canterbury, Exeter and Hereford, trading in corn, while at Lincoln, Norwich and Oxford their interest was wool. Dealing in trinkets, jewelry and common junk continued as of old.
Many Jews, forbidden by the Statute to profit from usury took to 'clipping' the coinage: that is, clipping or filing the edges of gold and silver coins, putting it back into circulation and melting the clippings and filings into bullion.
This offence is condemned in Sepher Hassidin pp. 305-6 and is recorded as one of the reasons for the Expulsion by Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, in his Responsa. (Also by the chroniclers Ibn Verga and Usque in their accounts of the Expulsion; and less sceptically, Isaac Abrabanel in his Yeshwoth Meshiho, p. 46.) Jews were punished more severely than Christians if clipped coins were found about their person.
Even Jewish historians admit that usury was their sole occupation at one time, but once that channel of livelihood had been forbidden, conditions worsened, dramatically and fatefully for Jews. Prosecutions increased until at last the King appointed a judicial commission to investigate.
On 17 November 1278 Jews all over England were arrested in house-to-house searches in every city that had Jewish quarters. Several hundred were sent to the Tower, their property confiscated and escheated to the King. Among the Jews arrested were Benedict fil' Licoricia, a prominent Jew of Winchester, and the affluent woman financier Belaset of Lincoln. The house confiscated from Belaset of Lincoln is still standing in Steep Hill. (For the official inventory of the property confiscated, extant only for Bristol, Devizes and Winchester, see Misc. J.H.S.E. ii, 56-71.)
A few Jews stayed alive by discovering the benefits of Christianity, and gave up Judaism. Only three Christians were hanged for clipping the coinage and melting it down into bullion.
Thus, the end came about to large-scale offences against the coin of the realm. The sale and export of bullion by Jews was prohibited (cf. P.R. 1283, pp. 56, 79; see also: Annales Monastici ii, 390-1; iii, 279; iv, 278).
In November 1286 Pope Honorius wrote to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, reaffirming the decision of the Lateran Councils. He enlarged on the evils of relations between Christians and Jews and warned of the pernicious consequences of the study of the Jews' Talmud. The King joined in the dialogue and condemnation by reviving the crimes of ritual murder. Jewish writers use the word "allegation" with regard to ritual murder with boring regularity.
On 6 February 1283 a Justice of the Jews, Hamo Hauteyn, set up a commission to investigate charges against Jews accused of selling plate made of clippings or silvered tinplate to foreign merchants. However, Justice Hauteyn was cashiered as he was far from genuine also. (See Select Cases in Court of King's Bench, Edward I.)
To coin a modern phrase, there was only one 'final solution' to the Jewish problem. But the banishment of Jews was by no means a new idea in the 13th century. It had been employed all over Europe as far back as the 7th century.
In England various parliaments attempted to interest the King to order the expulsion of all Jews and it seems to have crossed the mind of Henry III. The Jews averted immediate disaster by making a better offer.
The final step was taken on 18 July 1290 by an Act of the King in his Council. It happened to be (long since remembered with awe) the fast of the ninth of Ab, the anniversary of manifold disasters for Jews, from the destruction of Jerusalem onwards. On the same day writs were issued to the sheriffs of many English counties, informing them that by Royal Decree all Jews were ordered to leave England before 1 November; any who remained were declared liable to be executed. The news of the expulsion was greeted by the population with great joy. Parliament promptly agreed to royal demand for a fifteenth of moveables and a tenth of the spiritual revenue, in taxation against Jews.
The Jews of London started their long journey to the coast "under the custody of the Lord King," bearing the Scrolls of the Law, "una cum libris suis" (at one with their book). On board ship, at Queenborough, at the mouth of the Thames, ship's anchor was cast at ebb-tide and the ship grounded on a sandbank. The ship's Master then invited his passengers to stretch their legs. When the tide reversed direction so did the Master, climbing back on board while telling the helpless Jews that they "ought to cry unto Moses, by whose conduct their fathers passed through the Red Sea." The Jews all drowned but the Master also met a bad end. He was hanged when the pious Edward learned of his mockery and manslaughter.
Most of the Jews went from England to France, while others wandered to Spain, Germany and Flanders. That fateful year for Jews, 1290, saw the first general expulsion from any country of that era. As chronicled in recorded history, Edward I was the first to order wholesale banishment of the Jews, with such awesome and long-lasting effect. His example was followed sixteen years later in France, by Philip de Bel, and two centuries later by Ferdinand and Isobel of Spain.