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censured. Henry had banished the Jews, because he wanted money: of course, he would not miss such an opportunity, when an accusation of this kind was brought forward, either te fine or banish the Jews, who had crucified a child!
That they deserved correction in those days is certain: one Josces, a Jew of Glocester, notwithstanding Henry's prohibition, had furnished money to his enemies in Ireland; and Sancto, a Jew of St. Edmund's Bury, had been so daring as to take in pledge, certain vessels appointed for the service of the altar; others were grown so presumptuous as even to scoff at the highest dignitaries of the church *.
But Henry very soon found out a method to punish these scoffers in the plenitude of their pride ; for having made an agreement with the king of France, to make a voyage to the Holy Land, he called a parliament at Northampton, in order to raise the ways
The Christians were taxed at seventy thousand pounds, and the Jews at sixty thousand. Considering the amazing disparity, the exorbitance of the sum must be looked upon as an act of the highest barbarity; and would induce pity for their excess of punishment, rather than reproach at their mental feelings. A dislike arose between the two monarchs, the intended Crusade was relinquished, and consequently the money was never levied. The Jews were soon after gratified by the death of Henry II. in the hope that their miseries would end with him: but they were lamentably disappointed.
* A certain sew having the honour to travel towards Shrewsbury, in company with Richard Peché, archdeacon of Malpas, in Cheshire, and a reverend dean, whose name was Deville : amongst other discourse, which they condescended to entertain him with, the archdeacon told him, that his jurisdiction was so large as to reach from a place called Ill Street, till they came to Malpas, and took in a very wide space of country. To which the infidel, more witty than wise, immediately replied, “Say you so, Sir, God grant me then a good deliverance ! for it seems, I am riding in a country, where Sin (Peché) is the archdeacon, and the Devil himself the dean ; where the entrance into the archdeaconry is Ill Street, and the going from it Bad Steps (Mal-pas) !" This is adduced to prove that the insolence of the Jews must have been very offensive to the common people, when two reverend dignitaries of the church could not escape raillery. The story is related by Giraldus Cambrensis, and he was certainly one of the most just of his time; therefore his assertions are well worthy of credit. We cannot however avoid adding a belief that this facetious Jew, at least, could not be an accomplice in the before mentioned tragical crucifixions.
His successor, Richard I. being to be crowned at Westminster, the Jews, willing to pay their court in the best manner possible, flocked from all quarters in their best apparel, and with rich presents to the new sovereign. His courtiers, as well as the populace, conceiving that the Jews were sorcerers, and might possibly bewitch the king, should they be permitted to attend at the coronation ; orders were therefore issued, forbidding any Jew, under the severest penalties, to come near the palace; but several, who had travelled a great distance, unwilling to lose their labour and expence, persuaded themselves, that being strangers, they should pass unnoticed in London, and ventured, in defiance of the proclamation, to appear in the Abbey, where, being recognized, they were instantly assaulted and dragged, half dead, out of the church.
The rumour of this proceeding having reached the City, the populace, imagining they should gratify their monarch, immediately broke open the houses of the persecuted, and murdered every Jew they could meet; and they were not confined in their rage to the afflicted persons they had immolated, but destroyed their habitations with fire.
The more sage citizens had endeavoured in vain to repel this outrage; but finding their efforts useless, they dispatched messengers, desiring assistance from the king. Upon the recital of the horrid news, Richard immediately dispatched Glanville, his chief justice, with several of the chief nobility, to suppress the riot; they, however,were unsuccessful, and the insurgents continued their murder and spoliation till next morning. By this time better measures having been concerted, the king caused such effectual enquiry to be made after the ringleaders, that several of them were apprehended and brought to justice. Two were hanged for
plundering plundering a Christian, under pretence that he was a Jews and one for burning a Jew's house, which had fired that of a Christian adjoining.
But though these outrages against the Jews were thus happily suppressed, in and about London ; the report of the riches torn from them, so operated upon the generality of the lower classes of people in other places, that had not a peculiar Providence operated in their favour, their extermination must have been inevitable.
At York, in particular, a tragedy was acted at which human nature shudders. The rabble attacked the unfortunate Jews who had retired, under the protection of the governor, to the castle for safety. Headed by the clergy, who thought they were doing God service by the extermination of his creatures, they attacked the castle on all sides, and held it in siege for several days. A canon regular of the Præmonstratinsian order, was so zealous in the cause, that he would often stand by them in his surplice, and proclaim with a loud voice, “ Destroy the enemies of Christ! Destroy the enemies of Christ !” and before he went dut in the morning to assist in battering the walls, he would eat-a consecrated host! But his eagerness was his destruction. Approaching too near the wall that was well defended, a large stone from the battlements crushed him to death.
In such a dreadful dilemma, the besieged Jews called a council, and having, in despair, consumed every article of value which belonged to them by fire, and buried the rcmainder in the earth, to disappoint the avaritious banditti of their plunder, they set fire to the fortress in several places; and the men, after cutting the throats of their wives and children, murdered themselves. Their adviser to this desperate act, a foreign rabbi, out of respect to Jocenus, a person of distinction among that people, first slew him ; the rabbi being the last self devoted victim in this horrid tra. gedy *. It is said that no less than fifteen hundred perished in this miserable mannert. * Knighton.
Upon Richard's return from the Crusades, he took the Jews under his protection ; but, in order to know what were the particular monies, goods, debts, real and personal, and estates belonging to every Jew in the nation; and that he might more effectually fleece them, as his-necessities or caprice suggested, he commanded that all effects belonging to that people should be registered ; that concealment should be the forfeiture of body and the whole estate ; that all contracts should be made in the
of two assigned lawyers, who were Jews, two that were Christians, and two public notaries. Every Jew was to take an oath, upon his roll (the Pentateuch) that he would truly, and faithfully, register all his estate, both real and personal, and discover every Jew whom he should know guilty of any concealment; as likewise all forgers, or falsifiers of charters, and clippers of money.
At this barbarous period, the king's will was the measure of every transaction; and, upon paying generously, every enormity might claim a dispensation. Thus if a debtor to a Jew bribed the monarch, he would order that the bond should carry no interest: and unless the Jew also subscribed something towards gratifying the royal broker, he would so compound the business with the debtor, as to make the Jew lose even his principal. In no case was a Jew allowed to sue for his debt without poundage to the king, the stated sum of which was the tenth penny. To exact these licensed robberies, justices of the Jews were appointed, that the king's exchequer might not lose its accustomed influx.
King John, as crafty as he was irreligious, perceiving what a rich harvest might be gathered from the Jews, if they were well attended to, in the beginning of his reign used every art to import them into his kingdom: and not only confirmed their antient privileges, but granted others. He allowed them a high priest, whom he stiled not only Our trusty and well beloved, but commanded all persons to be as careful of him as they would of the king's person,
In the second year of his reign he granted them his great charter of privileges, by which they were enabled to reside in his English and Norman dominions, both freely and honourably; that they might hold of the king all possessions and privileges as in the reign of Henry I. besides others of great extent.
But the jealousy of the citizens of London having been excited by the king's extravagant favour, they offered to the Jews so many indignities, and abused them in such a manner, that John was compelled to interfere in a particular manner.
He wrote a menacing letter to the mayor and barons of the city ; told them he loved them, and protected them in their rights and liberties; wherefore he believed they retained the same affection for him, and would do every thing for his honour and the tranquillity of his kingdom: yet he could not but wonder that, since they well knew what special protection he had lately granted the Jews, that they should so little regard his peace, as to suffer them to be evil treated; especially when other parts of the nation gave them no disturbance. Wherefore he commanded them to take particular care how they were injured for the future; assuring them that if any ill happened to the Jews, through their connivance, or neglect, they should be answerable: “for,” says the king," I know full well that these insolences are committed only by the fools of the City, and it is the business of wise men to put a stop to them.”
But the mercy of John towards his subjects of the Jewish persuasion, proceeded solely from the property he held in them. He was angry when they were mal-treated by his subjects; but when his own interest interfered, his punctilio in their favour vanished; and he extorted from them in the most arbitrary manner, and exercised such an absolute jurisdiction over their property, that a line can scarcely be drawn between the depredation of the king, or the sanguinary disposition of his subjects. This is sufficiently proved by the grant of a house belonging to Isaac De Norwich, a Jew in London, to the Earl De Ferrars.
In 1210, to evince in plain character, that the “tender mercy of the wicked is cruelty," the king began to draw VOL. II. No. 43.