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Elijah of London

Cecil Roth

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Elijah of London The Most Illustrious English Jew of the Middle Ages By Cecil Roth Presidential Address delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England, December 12th, 1943. Students of medieval Anglo-Jewish history constantly find their attention arrested by the versatile and active personality of Magister Elias fil' Magistri Mossei, or (as he was called in Hebrew) Rabbi Elijah Menahem ben Rabbi Moses, of London. He belonged to the most distinguished Anglo-Jewish family of the Middle Ages?the only one, indeed, that we are able to trace in England, generation by generation, throughout the two tragic centuries involved. His father and several of his brothers were also men of note in their day : and the family's prominence continued with their children, down to the Expulsion of 1290. Magister Elias's business and public activities can be followed step by step in the secular records, while Hebrew sources provide us with details of his literary productivity and his eminence as a Talmudical authority. We even have particulars of his domestic arrangements, his cuisine, and the style in which he lived. There are few Jewish scholars, and probably few English commoners, of the Middle Ages whose lives can be reconstructed with such minuteness of detail. The attempt is made here not only on account of the subject's intrinsic importance, but also for its typical value.1 1 A word of warning is necessary at the outset. Joseph Jacobs, in his admirable early paper on the London Jewry (Papers Read before the Anglo-]ewish Historical Exhibition, pp. 22-50), followed with less excuse by several subsequent writers, identified our Rabbi Elijah with Elias le Eveske (i.e. Elijah Cohen) of London, Archpresbyter of English Jewry, 1243-1257, and drew up an elaborate family tree on this assumption 29</page><page sequence="2">3? elijah of london I. Ancestry The family of Magister Elias of London derived not from France, like the majority of medieval Anglo-Jewry, but from the Rhineland. It was descended in fact from one of the most famous German Rabbis of the Middle Ages, Simeon ben Isaac ben Abun, known as Rabbi Simeon the Great, who flourished at Mainz about the year 1000 and whose liturgical compositions still have an honoured place in the ritual of the Synagogue.2 It may be added that he claimed Davidic descent, and that according to legend one of his sons was the " Jewish Pope," Elhanan. The first of the family whom we know to have resided in England was his great-great-great-grandson, Moses ben Isaac ben Simeon,3 who was active as a financier in Bristol in the second half of the twelfth century and subsequendy removed to Oxford, where he died about the year 1184.4 He was known as haNadib?" the liberal "?indicating that he was regarded as a patron of letters : a point which is perhaps worth while taking into account in considering the atmosphere which conditioned the University in its early days. By his wife, Belaset or Rachel,4a he had three sons: Yom-Tob, Isaac and Simeon. On his death, his widow continued his affairs, being for some years one of the most (there is another in Adler, Jews of London, p. 46). But Elias le Eveske subsequently became converted to Christianity, while the other continued as a devoted Jew to his death; and moreover, once at least, the two men figured separately in the same document. Yet further confusion has been introduced by identifying our Rabbi with the Magister Elias who was invited to England in 1309, when, had he survived, he would have been a centenarian. On the basis of the contemporary records, it is possible to clear up the confusion once for all, and I do not propose to call further attention to previous misstatements on the subject. For Elias le Eveske and his unhappy career, reference may be made to Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History, pp. 30-2. 2 According to my reading of the family tree, the text of which was first published by D. Kaufmann in Jewish Quarterly Review ( = J.Q.R.), iii, 555-566, the male line of descent is interrupted by one female, grand-daughter of Simeon the Great. 3 Jacobs (Jews of Angevin England, pp. 253-4) plausibly identifies him with the Simeon of Treves martyred near Cologne in 1146 on his return from England, and suggests that he was perhaps the Rhineland Jew who had the famous religious dispu? tation with Gilbert Crispin at Westminster forty or fifty years earlier. 4 For him, see M. Adler, Jews of Medieval England, p. 186 ff. *a Cf. Genesis, xxix, 17.</page><page sequence="3">ELIJAH OF LONDON 31 active business-women in the country. Of their children, Isaac (who died relatively young) and Simeon remained in Oxford, where the latter's sons Isaac and Moses, and grandson Moses, were prominent in the thirteenth century.5 We are more concerned with the other son, Yom-Tob,6 who was interested in intellectual rather than in business pursuits and wrote a Hebrew work, Sepher haTenaim (" the Book of Conditions "), now lost. (It has been variously conjectured to deal with law and with grammar.7) His son in turn, named Moses after his grand? father, was a person of considerable note. He was active in business and communal affairs from about 1240 to the time of his death about 1268. He was regarded as a scholar of outstanding eminence, being referred to even in secular records as " Magister Mosseus " (some? times with the suffix " of London ");8 he wrote a work on Biblical punctuation and accentuation, printed to accompany Rabbinic Bibles from 1527 onwards and more than once published separately,9 as well as a composition on the dietary laws; and he begat with his wife Antera fiT Jacob a brood of children in whom medieval Anglo-Jewry reached its highest pitch of distinction. The following are the sons of Magister Moses of London who can be traced: (i) Elias, whose career and activities are the subject of this paper. 5 Cf. Rigg-Jenkinson, Exchequer of the Jews (=?./?) i, 33 6 I am unable to explain why he out of all the family does not figure in the secular records. He may possibly have been sent abroad to study at an early age, or else the uncommon name Yom-Tob (sometimes rendered literally as Bundy ( = Bon di) once as Cresse) may perhaps be concealed under some unsuspected homonym. [I am now inclined to believe that Simeon and Yom-Tob are identical.] 7 A. Marmorstein (J.Q.R., n.s., xix, i8ff) suggests that it is to be identified with MS. Or. 1389 in the British Museum?a ritualistic work. 8 The detailed account in Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History, pp. 3-11, can be yet further supplemented from the many references in contemporary records. 9 Last edited by S. L?winger under the Latin title Tractatio de punctis et accentibus quae a Moyse Punctuatore scripta dicitur (Budapest, 1929; offprinted from the Hebrew quarterly, haZofeh). For the other work mentioned, see Bodleian MS. Mich. 502 (Neubauer, Catalogue, pp. 104-5): it is no longer extant. Moses of London, called in this MS. " the mighty one " ( D^ljjn *P3N ) was the teacher of the grammarian Moses ben Isaac haNessiah: see the latter's Sepher haShoham, ed. Collins, p. 37.</page><page sequence="4">32 elijah of london II. Brothers (ii) Jacob, known as haNadib and presumably therefore a patron of scholarship like his grandfather. He lived in Oxford, where he was one of the most prominent Jews of the second half of the thirteenth century, selling Walter de Merton the property that served as the nucleus of his College. He died, impoverished and insane10 in 1277, leaving a daughter Antera and two sons, Benedict and Moses.11 The latter, a financier like his father, subsequently settled in Northampton. It was he who when the Jews were expelled from England in 1290 took into exile with him a prayer-book, on the blank leaves of which he compiled a calendar, as well as a genealogical tree which traced his ancestry back for ten generations, to Simeon the Great of Mainz.lla (iii) Cresse or Deulecresse, who was active in business in London to the time of his death in 1269. He was a man of high reputation, and on his demise the King himself testified that " he never com? mitted any fault against Us during his life, but lived well and faithfully according to the manner of the Jews, as a good and faithful Jew."12 His son Isaac, known as Cok Hagin (or Hagin) fil' Deulecresse, was the last Archpresbyter of English Jewry, 1281-90, and received a special safe-conduct at the time of the Expulsion.13 (iv) Berechiah or Benedict. He settled in Lincoln, where he played a prominent part in local business-life for many years. At the time of the Ritual Murder accusation of 1255, he was arrested, but was after? wards released. As Rabbi Berechiah of Nicole, his opinions were 10 Ex recta mente. Jacob of Oxford with his father, Moses of London, was con? cerned in the dispute regarding the divorce of David of Oxford in 1242; see my Anglo-Jewish Letters, pp. 12-4. 11 See the detailed account of his career in S. Cohen's paper on the Oxford Jewry in the 13th century in Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society ( = Trs. J.H.S.E.), xiii, 313 ff. He is confused there however with Jacob le Clerk, a member of the staff of the Exchequer of the Jews in London: the two once receive individual mention in the same document. 11a por tne genealogical tree, see above, page 30, and for its author below, page 60. It is the basis of the table appended to this article. 12 Stokes, op. cit. pp. 9-10; much further information in the contemporary records, as is the case with the other brothers. 13 Ibid., pp. 35-7.</page><page sequence="5">ELIJAH OF LONDON 33 deferentially cited by contemporary Rabbis, including his own brother, but no work by him has survived. It is possible that the famous Jew's House on Steep Hill, Lincoln?one of the finest examples of Norman domestic architecture in England?was formerly in his possession, as it was afterwards in that of his daughter Belaset (Rachel), the concourse of visitors at whose wedding was possibly responsible for the tragedy of 1255.13a From his library came presum? ably the Massoretic codex which the latter gave as dowry to her daughter Judith on her marriage in 1271 to Aaron ben Benjamin ben Josce Jehiel. Magister Benedict married a daughter of Joseph ben Aaron. He lived in a house in the parish of St. Benet in Lincoln, which he sold in 1267 to his son Hay im (known in the records as Hagin, or Vives) for ^60, the amount being advanced to the young man by his maternal grandfather. Besides Hagin (whose name figures in various deetls of the close of the thirteenth century) Magister Benedict had two other sons, Solomon and Manser, who apparently died young.14 (iv) Vives, died c. 1274 in London, leaving a widow Antera, a son Hagin, and considerable property.15 (v) Hagin, to be distinguished from the foregoing notwithstanding the similarity of name (Hagin = Hayyim = Life = Vives),16 for many years the agent of Richard of Cornwall. Like his learned brother 13a Her husband was apparently Hagin f. Joceus (P.R. 1272, p. 95). She must be carefully distinguished from her namesake, Belaset, daughter of Solomon of Walling ford, another prominent Lincoln Jewess, who met a tragic end in 1284, and may have been the original owner of the Jew's House. 14 Ibid., pp. 10-1; M. D. Davis, Shetaroth, pp. 293-302; E. J., iii, 55 and passim. For some of Magister Benedict's Rabbinical opinions, see Trs. J.H.S.E., xiv, 189, 192: I. N. Epstein in Madae haYahadut, 1926: and most recently M. J. L. Sachs's edition of the writings of Elijah of London (see below). [Cf. Additional Note.] 15 Stokes, op. cit. p. 9. 16 The two are mentioned individually in the same memorandum (Rigg, Select Pleas of the Excheq?er of Jews [?P.E.J.\ p. 77). Hagin was perhaps called by the Hebrew name, Vives by its Romance equivalent, bestowed in either case on a sickly infant as a token of good augury. It has however been maintained that Hagin is a diminutive form of Isaac (YitzhaJ() similar to the Continental Cha\in. Jacobs fancied that this medieval Anglo-Jewish financier gave his name to Huggin Lane in the City of London, and dubbed the clan to which he belonged " the Hagin Family.'* Charlon' son of Master Moses figures in E.J. iii. 287. C</page><page sequence="6">34 elijah of london Benedict, he settled in Lincoln and in 1257 was appointed Arch presbyter of English Jewry at the request of the communities of the realm. He had a chequered term of office, being accused of various misdemeanours, and dying in the midst of his troubles in 1280. Of his children, we know of a daughter, whom he married to Benedict, son of Cok fir Aaron, a London capitalist who had been killed in 126317; and a son Isaac (Cok fil' Hagin), the greatest Lincoln financier immediately before the Expulsion.18 III. Career Elijah, the most distinguished of Moses of London's children, was born probably in London, not later than the year 1220.19 His Hebrew name was Elijah Menahem, but only the first and more familiar com? ponent was used for secular purposes, so that he was generally known as Magister Elias fiP Magistri Mossei of London.20 In Hebrew, on the other hand, the two names were used in combination or alter? nately, the possibilities of confusion being thereby enhanced. He was probably sent to France?perhaps to Sens?for the purposes of his studies.21 He first emerges to light in the year 1251, when he wrote his Mishnah commentary (of which more will be said in due course). Two years after, he leased a house in Milk Street, London, 17 Stokes, op. cit. pp. 33-34; P.E.J., pp. 73-6. is Trs. J.H.S.E., ii, 94. 19 As will be seen, he was an author in 1251 and an active business-man in 1253, so that he cannot have been born after the second decade of the thirteenth century. He once cites indeed (Sachs, op. cit., p. 2), a report which he heard " from the mouth of R. Shimshon ben R. Abraham "?i.e. the eminent Rabbi Samson of Sens, who emi? grated to Palestine in 1211 and died there about 1230. If this statement is to be inter? preted literally, we must deduce that Elias was born not much after 1195; but, since he was at the height of activity when he died in 1284, it seems possible that this allusion to Rabbi Samson?if authentic?refers to indirect tradition. It may be noted that Elijah refers (Sachs, p. 23) to a decision of Samson's younger brother, Isaac, as reported by his father, Moses of London. 20 The phrase attributed to R. Menahem of London in the Sepher haShoham (see below, p. 34) " Elijah is his name writ," seems to imply that his name was symboli? cally altered in time of illness. This would explain certain inconsistencies; see below, p. 24. 21 See above, p. 10.</page><page sequence="7">ELIJAH OF LONDON 35 from Aaron of York. About the same time, his business affairs begin to receive attention. They continue to figure in the records with hardly a break over a period of some thirty years, clearly illustrating every facet of his activity as one of the most vigorous Anglo-Jewish financiers of his day. He had dealings with the King and Queen; he lent money to nobles, clergy and citizens; and he invested largely in house property. The raison d'etre of the English Jews under Henry III and his son was not the indubitably useful economic function they performed, but the vast amounts they had to surrender to the Treasury out of their profits. The total that Elias paid during his career, directly or indirectly, must have been enormous. In 1268, as a result of the inter? vention of the Papal Legate, he was excused from paying tallage for four years. (So as to ensure that no additional burden should be laid upon his co-religionists in consequence of this, it was arranged that his assessment should be deducted from the total, as was indeed stipu? lated by Rabbinic law, and not divided among the other tax-payers.22) The exemption lasted until 1272, when he and his brother Hagin were charged with raising a tallage of 6,000 marks, though in view of the impoverished state of the community they failed to produce the amount demanded.23 In 1275, we find him complaining that, although he had paid the entire amount levied upon him, he was being pressed for an additional ^25 6s. 8d. which was owed in fact by another magnate on account of his wife.24 Another burden on the Jews, hardly less grievous than taxation, was the recurrent remission of debts by the royal authority by means of " extents " of the period of repayment and enquiries into the means of the debtors. In 1262, Elias was promised that for the following five years he was to be exempt from any such grant at his expense.25 In 1263, during the Barons' Wars, the London Jewry was twice 22 Patent Rolls ( = P.R.) 1268, p. 204. 23 P.R., 1272, p. 716; below, p. 21. 24 Close Rolls ( = C.R.) 1275, p. 161. But there may be some confusion of name; see below, p. 35?. 25 P.R. 1262, p. 201.</page><page sequence="8">36 ELIJAH OF LONDON sacked by the insurgents and a number of the inhabitants butchered.25 Elias and his family are known to have lost a great deal of property, but were personally unscathed. It is probable that he was one of the party, including his father and other members of the clan, who sought refuge in Normandy during the troubles.27 On the restoration of order they returned to England. In consideration of his recent losses the King, now anxious to re-establish the normal economic function? ing of his Jews, again promised in 1265 to refrain from making any " extent" or similar grant at his expense for five years28?a period subsequently extended to ten.29 The arrangement was faithfully observed, at the beginning at least; and when in 1266 a debt due to him from Robert Ufford and Philip d'Arcy was cancelled by the royal authority, he was accorded a remittance in taxation by way of com? pensation.30 In the same year, he was empowered to distrain upon his pledges, notwithstanding the dispersal during the disturbances of the deeds formerly in the London chirograph chest;31 and at about the same time he received a grant of ^50 to make good his recent losses in part.32 These concessions, though shared by the other prominent English Jews of the time, are indicative of his good standing in the country and at court. In the ensuing years, progressive restrictions were placed upon Jewish activities, which made impossible the dangerously lucrative large-scale transactions in which they had previously engaged. Specially-favoured persons were nevertheless able to obtain exemption from some of the more galling provisions. In 1271 for example, not? withstanding the recent edict which forbade Jews to sell any debt due to them by Christians, Elias and his brothers Hagin, Benedict and Jacob, were licensed to make over to the Queen?doubtless on favour 26 See my recent History of the Jews in England, pp. 60-2; so also for other details relating to the background of Elijah's activity. 27 P.E.J., p. 73 ff. 2* P.R. 1265, p. 507. 29 P.R. 1270, p. 494. 30 P.R. 1266, pp. 170-1; cf. CR. 1261, pp. 381, 403. 31 P.R. 1266, p. 547. 32 P.R. 1271, p. 532.</page><page sequence="9">ELIJAH OF LONDON 37 able terms?the debts owed them by Roger Bertram,33 who is unlikely to have found the change advantageous. In 1275, the Statutum de Judeismo excluded the Jews definitely from all financial operations, and forbade them even to dispose of the real estate they had acquired in the course of business. Elias however was expressly authorised to sell some of his property to Christians.34 It was now necessary for him to divert his energies into other channels, and he and his eldest son Cresse were among those licensed to engage in commerce.35 Like some other magnates, he apparently turned his attention to the corn and wool trades. Records are extant of his transactions in these com? modities (sometimes in association with Aaron fiP Vives, another wealthy capitalist, whose name will recur in these pages) in Kent, Middlesex, and even Somerset. It is possible that his personal relations with Flanders, the seat of the wool-weaving industry, facilitated his new business interests. Perhaps in connexion with this, or else to see whether there was an opportunity of establishing themselves else? where, he and his son Cresse went overseas in the winter of 1277-8, being authorised to appoint attorneys to act for them during their absence.36 At the time of the wave of accusations concerning currency offences brought almost universally against English Jewry at the close of 1278, he was not immune from attack, and had to make his peace by submitting to the enormous fine of 1,000 marks (something like ^20,000 in modern values) " for a trespass touching the King's money." Even he was not able to pay so vast a sum in one instalment, and in July 1279 was empowered to settle the arrears, amounting to 450 marks, at the rate of 50 marks weekly.37 At the same time, he secured a formal guarantee against further charges on this account, such as were now embittering the lives of the English Jews.38 Shortly after, his son Benedict got into trouble with the authorities on a charge of the unlawful retention of certain pledges deposited with him by 33 P.R. 1271, p. 532. 34 P.R. 1277, p. 212. S5 E.J., iii, 278, 323; P.E.J., p. 132. 3? E.J., i, 96. 37 Fine Rolls, i, 114. 38 P.R. 1279, p. 312.</page><page sequence="10">3? ELIJAH OF LONDON William de Mortimer, the father being cited as a witness in the case.39 Meanwhile, Elias was winding up his financial affairs, and in 1280 obtained leave to alienate debts to the amount of ?500, notwithstand? ing the recent legislation.40 His activities brought him into touch not only with Exchequer officials but also with other persons of great account in public life, who treated him with marked cordiality. At an early stage in his career, he was in favour with Richard, Earl of Cornwall (King Henry's brother), who before his election to the throne of Germany in 1257 made over to him some property in Colechurch Street, London (formerly owned by Abraham of Berkhamsted), for which he was to pay each year at Easter one pound of cumin by way of rent. (This grant was confirmed by the Crown in 1262.41) Another powerful friend was the Papal Legate, Cardinal Ottobuono Fieschi (Pope for five weeks in 1276, as Adrian V), at whose instance he received his exemption from tallage in 1268.42 With successive Kings and Queens of England he was in close, and apparently not uncordial, relationship. An official enquiry made into his estate after his death gives some idea of his means. He had credits to the value of ^185; mis? cellaneous effects (gold, silver, jewels, pledges, and other items) worth ?266 13s. 4d. (400 marks); his house was valued at ^5 a year, and he had other house property in London worth ^19 16s. a year.43 The total estate declared (and there is reason to believe that this did not represent the full value) was worth upwards of ^1,000, equivalent to perhaps ^30,000 to-day; and this, notwithstanding the progressive impoverishment of English Jewry, and the crushing blow that his personal fortunes had received only five years before. 39 P.E.J., pp. in-2. There seems to have been an inner history to this dispute, as William de Mortimer was the Gentile confidant who had been sent abroad by Elias's brother Hagin to bring his ward, the infant Manser fir Cok, back to England. It is possible that Mortimer betrayed his trust and had the child baptised on the way home (P.E.J., p. 73 ff.) 40 P.R. 1280, p. 392; 1278. 42 P.R. 1268, p. 204. 41 Ch.R. 1262, p. 41. 43 P.E.J., pp. 131-2; the different figures in my History of the Jews in England, p. ioiw, resulted from following the details given, ostensibly from the original MS., in Historia Judaica, 1930, p. 94.</page><page sequence="11">ELIJAH OF LONDON 39 Elias lived, not in the neighbourhood of the London Jewry, but some little way off, in a house near the river in the parish of St. Nicholas, Candlewick (now Cannon) Street44 (St. Nicholas Aeon), which had formerly belonged to Isaac of Thouars, known as Isaac le Turk.45 In this, he showed considerable originality, for his father and other members of his family resided in Milk Street, off the Cheap, where he himself owned property. We know that his residence was built of stone, and that it included a great solarium, or sun-parlour.46 It seems natural to deduce that he was the London householder men? tioned in a rabbinical responsum of the time, obviously resident near the Thames, whose sun-canopy was purloined one Sabbath by a boatman, and who had it replaced with the help of a non-Jewish friend.47 That the same architectural feature should be mentioned in a Rabbinical document and in a Patent Roll is surely unique! The house was sufficiently commodious to be used by the London com? munity as a business and administrative centre. Here the Justices of the Jews were entertained and transacted their affairs when they were in London;48 and here, in 1266, Abraham fiF Benedict concluded an agreement with Fermin the Chaplain.49 The rental value of the house, as mentioned above, was ^5 per annum?a handsome sum for those days.50 Elias's household and business staff was no doubt con? siderable. We know of one responsible member of it?Abraham Motun (formerly an active man of affairs on his own account) whom he refers to as " my Jew " (mon ju); it was he who represented him on important negotiations, and accompanied him on his journeys.51 Though born in England and of English descent for generations, and though his culture language was Hebrew, Elias normally spoke French; and it was into this medium that he translated difficult or technical terms which he had to use in his Hebrew writings. More? over, his correspondence with non-Jews was of necessity in that lan? guage, and there is extant at least one example of his Norman-French epistolary style, which will be quoted below. In addition, there is no 44 E.J., i, 300 (This was in 1272). 45 P.R. 1286, p. 224. 4* Ibid. 47 Trs. J.H.S.E., xiv, 204-5. *s Ibid., p. 158. 49E.J., i, 300. 50 P.E.J., p. 131. 51 Infra, p. 31.</page><page sequence="12">4o elijah of london doubt that he spoke English. For business purposes, he had to be acquainted with Latin, the language in which agreements and official records?including bonds of indebtedness?were generally drawn up; though his knowledge of Greek was probably confined to the shape of the letter gamma (derived from Rabbinic sources) to which he refers on one occasion. Besides all this, he knew Aramaic, the language of Rabbinic discussion, and (at second hand) a few words of Arabic. It was a considerable linguistic equipment for a native-born English? man of the thirteenth century. IV. Economic Activities The English Jews of the Middle Ages were on the whole restricted to the important but despised profession of money-lending; and Magister Elias, wide though his intellectual interests were, was no exception. His financial transactions were on a large scale, extending over a great part of the country, from Cumberland in the north to Devon in the south; though some of his brothers, such as Hagin and Jacob, played an equal or perhaps greater role. His successive wives assisted him in his work, their names occurring together with his own on various contracts, as did those of his brothers and (later on) his sons. His other business associates at one time or the other included most of the great Anglo-Jewish magnates of the day, such as Benedict of Winchester, Gamaliel of Oxford, and Aaron fil' Vives. Sometimes moreover he might purchase debts from another Jew who was hard pressed for ready money or had to realise them for some other reason ?as he did, for example, in 1273 from Abraham Motun, his subse? quent retainer.52 There are records of loans made by him not only in the capital but also in the counties of Lincoln, Bedford, Dorset, Norfolk, Gloucester, Worcester, York, Essex, Sussex, Leicester, Derby, Buckingham, Surrey, Devon, Nottingham and Northampton, where his interests were increased by his marriage with Floria of Northampton.53 His clients included nobles, commoners, burghers ?E.J., ii, 55 53 See the transactions recorded under these names in the four volumes of EJ. and P.E.J., with additional details in the Patent and Close Rolls covering the same period; detailed references are superfluous, and would be burdensome.</page><page sequence="13">ELIJAH OF LONDON 41 and monasteries, not to mention the royal family?for example, the Queen Mother, Eleanor of Provence, to whom he advanced 600 marks in 1275.54 Another of his large-scale transactions, which gave rise to prolonged litigation, was with Sir Norman d'Arcy (who was ulti? mately absolved of his indebtedness by the Queen Mother), the amount in question being no less than ^500; while Walter de Huntercombe owed him in 1275 the sum of 500 marks, and Nicholas de Lenham at about the same time something over ^200, secured on Norfolk estates which were subsequently made over to the Prior of Nor? wich.55 At the other end of the scale there are on record transactions for as little as ^4.56 Other eminent clients of his included Sir Robert Burnel, Sir William Montgomery, Sir William de Boyville, Master Nicholas of Waddingham and Guy de Rochford.' Most of the debts (which frequently changed hands owing to sale, or to confiscation or cancellation by the Crown) were secured on landed property and rent rolls. Default was followed either by some fresh arrangement or by distraint, the landowner sometimes continuing in occupation of the property as tenant. In such cases the Jew, whether or not more humane, had to be more circumspect than others; it is significant that when a trivial debt contracted with Elias was presented by the Crown to the Bishop of Worcester, the latter distrained on the property with a harshness which resulted in vigorous protest.57 One of the most important of all Elias's transactions was with David Ashby of Northamptonshire and his wife, involving in the end upwards of ?600, secured on their estates. At the time of the domination of Simon de Montfort, the deeds in question were with? drawn from the Chirograph Chest in London and the debt cancelled : but when the royal authority was reasserted the cancellation was automatically revoked. Elias now disposed his claim to Alan de la Zouche, Constable of the Tower and a trusted adviser of the King's; but a complication ensued owing to the death of the principals and the assumption of the wardship of the Ashby heirs by the Earl of 54 For the loan to Eleanor of Provence, C.R., 1275, p. 150. 55 E.J., ii, 282, &amp;c; i, 255, 294, 299; ii, 25, 66; ii, 31. 56 E.J., ii, 31. 57 E.J., ii, 31.</page><page sequence="14">42 ELIJAH OF LONDON Sussex, who vindicated his title to the lands and obtained seizin.58 Precisely how the matter ended is not clear. There was one transaction, which had very wide repercussions, with the Abbot and Convent of Stratford, of whose indebtedness of ^350 only ^100 was repaid. In addition, Elias had apparently advanced money to a certain William Bukweyt on the security of lands which had since passed into the possession of the Convent. Queen Eleanor of Provence, by what seems to have been an arbitrary exercise of authority, had the entire debt cancelled; and, in a formal acquittance which the Rabbi made out to the Convent in 1276, he had to specify that " if Eleanor Queen of England of noble memory, mother of the king that now is, should not be content with this Starr, then the same Jew is bound to make another Starr to the same Abbot and convent touching all the said debts."59 Thanks to his good stand? ing at Court, a total loss was not involved, for as a special act of grace the creditor was granted certain bonds which had fallen into the royal hands, so that he might recoup himself.60 The episode was not yet concluded. The Justices of the Jews at the time were H?mo Hauteyn and Robert Ludham, who were in the habit of visiting Elias in his house when they came to London on official business, bringing with them various charters and rolls. Scenting an opportunity for profit during the re-enrolment of the details of this somewhat complicated transaction, they falsified the addition, thus raising the amount involved by ?30. Of this they credited the Crown with only ^10, while they divided the surplus. It was also alleged that from time to time they had fraudulently altered the entries in other rolls also. It was only after Elias's death that these charges were formally made. (We are given much picturesque detail in the original document, which has only recently come to light.) After a commission of enquiry to investigate these and other malpractices of which they were accused, they were removed from office and had to pay a ruinous fine of ^1,000. The vastness of the sum, which was equiva 58 E.J., i, 43-5, 62. 59 E.J., iii, 224. 60 Ibid., p. 286.</page><page sequence="15">ELIJAH OF LONDON 43 lent to a fortune, indicates how much they were suspected to have amassed by their dishonesty.61 Like most of the wealthy English Jews of the day?as for example his brother, Jacob of Oxford?Elias was a property-owner on a consid? erable scale. Not only did several country estates fall into his hands as the result of having been used as security for debt?a practise which led to repeated complications and sometimes ill-feeling?but in addition he acquired many urban dwelling-houses by purchase or other means. In London he had, besides his residence in Candlewick Street, part of a house in Milk Street inherited from his father, and another, which had formerly belonged to Aaron of York, adjoining the home of his nephew Cok Hagin; other property acquired from the former in 1266; Aaron of Berkhamsted's house, presented to him by Richard of Cornwall; another in Colechurch Lane; and various tenements once owned by his converted namesake Elias le Eveske, formerly Presbyter Judaeorum, purchased from the Crown for 400 marks. Some further property from this source was situated in Northampton, where he was granted in addition in 1281 by the King certain houses confiscated from Elias fiP Esther, worth 6s. 8d. per annum, at a quit-rent of only one penny.62 Notwithstanding the restrictions lately placed on the ownership of real estate by Jews, his house-property in London alone at the time of his death was worth nearly ^25 a year.63 It has already been pointed out how after the promulgation of the Statutum de Judeismo in 1275, Magister Elias turned his attention to a fresh sphere of activity, being specifically licensed to engage in trade although not a member of the Gild Merchant, and being concerned thereafter in large-scale transactions in corn and wool. In 1280 more? over we find him and Aaron fiP Vives, another great magnate of London Jewry, importing from Gascony seven tuns of good wine "made according to Jewish rite." This obviously facilitated the observance of ritual practise in a matter which gave rise to great 61 Select Cases in the King's Bench (Seiden Society), i, civ ff. 62 P.E.}., p. 119; P.R. 1266, p. 544 and 1281, p. 43; Ch.R. pp. 16, 161. 63 P.E.J., pp. 131-2.</page><page sequence="16">44 elijah of london difficulty in England, and concerning which English Jews were notoriously lax : and it was presumably a matter of piety rather than of business.64 V. Communal Leadership Over a considerable period, Master Elias was recognised as the lead? ing member of the London community, and indeed of English Jewry as a whole. We find him acting officially in this capacity in 1282, when Martin le Bas, Citizen of London, sold a certain piece of land in the parish of St. Giles outside Cripplegate to " Magister Elias, son of Magister Moseus, and the entire community of the Jews of England " as an extension to their cemetery.65 It is to be presumed that on other occasions when the " community of the Jews of Eng? land " figures at this period?as for example at the time of the protest against the oppressive Statutum de Judeismo in 1275?Master Elias similarly appeared at their head. He was moreover one of the wit? nesses, together with the Mayor of London and other distinguished Jews and Christians, to the deed of 1280 whereby Aaron fiT Vives made over to the London community his property in Catte Street (adjoining the garden belonging to his brother Vives) for the purpose of constructing a new synagogue, to replace the one confiscated and destroyed in 1272.66 This new place of worship, in which Master Elias himself probably worshipped, and which (it is interesting to note) was apparently decorated with frescoes, was itself dismantled at the order of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1282. In matters connected with the financial administration of the Anglo Jewish community, Elias played a significant role. Frequently he received monetary payments for the King?perhaps in the capacity of Chirographer of the London archa; and, when Benedict of Win? chester gave up his post as Chirographer in that city, it was Elias who certified his son Lumbard to be a fit person to take his place. On more 64 CR. 1280, p. 60. 65 P.E.J., pp. 122-3. Up to 1177, the cemetery had served all the Jews of England, not only those of the capital, and for this reason presumably the extension was acquired in their name. 66 Ch.R., ii, 245.</page><page sequence="17">ELIJAH OF LONDON 45 than one occasion, he and his brother Hagin had to fill the unpopular function of tax-gatherers among their co-religionists. Thus in 1269 they were called upon to provide the King with four marks of gold, and being unable to find the amount at short notice had to borrow it from Henry de Winton, the roles of borrower and lender being reversed. Four years after, the arrears of this levy were still being collected.67 By this time the two brothers had become involved in a similar matter on a far larger scale, having been made responsible for levying a tallage of 6,000 marks on English Jewry to defray the expenses of the Crusade undertaken by Edward, the king's son; not with conspicuous success, as a great part of the total remained out? standing, and an audit was ordered in the presence of the Constable of the Tower.68 Seven years later Elias was alone made responsible for a levy, Hagin being by now in disgrace. His apportioning of the burden on this occasion gave rise to some ill-feeling on the part of his business associate and rival, Aaron fil' Vives, whose patron Edmund of Lan? caster intervened on his behalf. In consequence, Elias was forbidden to make any levy upon the other until the forthcoming Parliament, and the Constable of the Tower was ordered not to take any pro? ceedings at his instruction in connexion with this matter.69 As a man of substance, Elias was occasionally called upon to " mainpern " some wealthy co-religionist (that is, to take responsi? bility for his appearance before the civil authorities when he was summoned): in 1276, Bonamy of York, or in 1273?together with another one of the clan, Hagin?his own brother Benedict of Lincoln, whose failure to appear on the specified day left them " in mercy."70 On the other hand, he was himself mainperned on occasion?e.g. in 1276, when he failed to put in an appearance in connection with a law-suit brought by a Christian landowner.71 In 1275 he and two others were required to testify to the good character of a London Jewess suspected of harbouring a criminal.72 ?7 P.E.J., pp. 68-70. 69 CR. 1279, p. 570. " E.J., iii, 89. 68 P.R. 1272, p. 716. 70E.J., i, 239, ii, 64, iii, 114. 72 Davis in Jewish Chronicle, 22, xi, 1889.</page><page sequence="18">46 elijah of london VI. The Rabbi In 1253, when Elias's name is first encountered in the records, he is spoken of as " son of Master Moses "; but from 1266 onwards, when the records and references become more plentiful, he is himself invariably referred to as '' Magister," indicating that his proficiency in Rabbinic law and medical science, and the respect with which he was regarded by his co-religionists, had become known to the outside world. (There was at this time no formal ceremony or diploma of ordination). His Rabbinical qualifications were indeed recognised by the authorities in something more than title. In 1268-70, it became known that one Sadekin of Northampton remained recalcitrant after being excommunicated by his co-religionists. The King, scenting the possibility of profit, " summoned to his presence Master Elias, son of Master Moses; and the same Master Elias came before the said King and testified that the said Sadekin was excommunicate for an offence against his Law, and had persisted in that excommunication for forty days and more "; in consequence of which the monarch piously con? fiscated the culprit's possessions and bestowed them on the Queen. Some years later Elias was called upon to testify in like manner before King Edward in the matter of the excommunication of Cok Hagin fir Deulecresse, the later Archpresbyter and his own nephew.73 In 1273 he adjudicated in accordance with Jewish law in a case between Isaac of Warwick and Aaron Crispin, his decision being enforced by the civil authorities.74 It is probable that on other occasions when Rabbinical testimony was needed, Master Elias similarly took a lead? ing part?for example, when it was decided in 1277 that one who hesitated to declare his religion when challenged was not to be con? sidered a Jew,75 or when in 1267 the Masters of the Law, after a debate among themselves, came before the Justices of the Jews and pronounced that the understanding between Master Samuel of Bolum and Milla, widow of Saulot Motun, did not constitute a binding contract of marriage.76 But there were occasions when the Rabbinical authority was suspected of being used in a manner detrimental to 73 P.E.J., p. 88. "P.E.J., p. 19. 74 E.J., ii, 41. 7*E.J., i, 152.</page><page sequence="19">ELIJAH OF LONDON 47 the interests of the Crown. In 1274, for example, Elias was alleged to have exercised undue pressure on his co-religionists, presumably by threatening excommunication, to influence a case which Bonamy of York had pending before the Courts. The accusation was, however, false : and the Rabbi felt sure enough of his ground to pay ten bezants for an enquiry under oath in the Synagogues as to whether any sentence had been promulgated there against those who assisted or impeded the north country financier.77 Among his co-religionists, Magister Elias, as Rabbi Elijah Menahem of London, was recognised as an outstanding authority on matters of Jewish law and practice, his name being abbreviated later on under the form " RaM ( = Rabbi Menahem)" or 44 RaM of Londres," or even 4 4 the Rabbi of Londres." His opinions are cited by such standard authorities as Mordecai ben Hillel of Nuremberg (d. 1298), author of an authoritative ritual work in which the decisions of the Franco-German rabbinic schools were codified; and his rulings still govern Jewish practice in certain details. The Rabbi's competence in this field indicates the high intellectual level of the Jews of thirteenth-century England; for (as has been seen) he was English-born and of English descent for generations, and received only part of his education (at the most) outside England.78 His principal teacher was without doubt his father, Rabbi Moses ben Yomtob (known among his contemporaries as Magister Mosseus of London), the eminent grammatical and Talmudic authority, while he mentions also his indebtedness to Rabbi Benjamin of Canterbury (? Cambridge), another well-known scholar of the previous genera? tion, and to his teacher Rabbi Samson of Sens, one of the greatest of contemporary French Talmudists. His education must have been conceived on broad lines, as he is one of the relatively few Rabbinical writers of his day who was no less familiar with the Palestinian than with the Babylonian Talmud.79 In addition to his other manifold activities, he was accustomed to serve as Hazan, or Reader, leading the congregation in prayer. (This 77 P.E.J., p. 86. 79 Sachs and Epstein, ut supra. 78 See above, p. 34.</page><page sequence="20">4? ELIJAH OF LONDON pious duty was not as yet professionalised, though the salaried [ ? ] chanteur is occasionally met with in the secular records of the time.) In his writings, there are some references to his practices when acting in this capacity, and to turns of phraseology that he recommended; and he was sometimes known to his contemporaries as " Rabbi Menahem the Hazan of London."80 He mentions in his writings the special benedictions?unknown to our liturgies?which he was accus? tomed to pronounce on rising before the aged and honouring those advanced in years;81 and he composed others for charitable works such as the bestowal of alms or lending to the poor.81a A relatively large number of references to Rabbi Elijah's opinions and decisions are scattered about medieval Rabbinic literature, and have recently been brought together. All aspects of Jewish law are dealt with?ritual, liturgical, commercial and so on. We learn that he claimed for the Rabbis the right to punish recalcitrant members of the Jewish community by shaming them publicly in Synagogue,82 or even inflicting corporal punishment on them. We know his recipe for the manufacture of the Haroseth for Passover eve, using as the ingredients all the fruits mentioned in the Song of Songs?apples, dates, figs, pomegranates and nuts, crushed together with almonds and moistened in vinegar.83 He expresses his opinion concerning the value of the ancient Hebrew currency in contemporary terms? interesting enough, since it comes from a financier whose transactions were on an extremely large scale : "A ma ah is equal to one-half of a [pound] sterling, and a dinar three shillings, while 100 zuz are 80 Ibid. But the identity of the two Menahems, though very probable, is not abso? lutely certain. [See Additional Note.] 81 Cf. the texts in Sachs, op. cit. pp. 17-8. 81a Kirjath Sepher xx. 230. In Bodleian MS. Or. 759 there is included a note about the proper Prophetical reading for the Sabbath and New Moon ascribed to R. Elijah [ben] Menahem of Londres. 82 Marmorstein in J.Q.R. ut supra, p. 35. But the passage quoted, ibid., p. 31? implies rather that the Rabbi considered that circumstances might merit such punish? ment than that he necessarily claimed (still less had) the right to inflict it. The phrase was taken by Rashi to mean to " spread out " for flagellation, not to stand in the pillory, and probably R. Elijah understood it in the same sense. 83 This is quoted in the Etz Hayim of Jacob of London; J.Q.R., iv, 551.</page><page sequence="21">ELIJAH OF LONDON 49 300 peshutim or twelve835* peshutim of silver. Hence according to our reckoning a gold litra is fifteen pounds sterling."84 Indeed, in the matter of exchanges the London Rabbi's views were accepted as against those of the foremost Continental authorities of the time, Rashi and Jacob Tarn. His competence in mathematics is illustrated also by the complicated regulations which he gives for working out the incidence of the Sabbatical year. One characteristic of his method which may be noted is his manner of dealing with hypothetical ques? tions, for which his formula was " I was asked in vision " and " I replied in vision." His slightly pedantic use of Scriptural verses is also noteworthy, illustrating as it does his puristic literary taste. Before his signature he often set down the abbreviation |UD?, perhaps the initials of ppj 310-01* in r\WQ |n5 indicating his father's name. This appears to link him with another series of Rabbinic responsa, hitherto unascribed.85 A good many illustrations of contemporary Anglo-Jewish life can be recovered from his scattered opinions. English Jews travelled some? times on horseback; and if one Jew hired a horse from another and allowed a Gentile to ride it, Master Elias considered that the borrower was responsible to the owner, as it was notorious that people were careless where Jewish property was concerned. The English roads were none too secure, our Rabbi decided that if one of two partners was held to ransom while returning from market with his mer? chandise, it was his responsibility only, as he should not have exposed himself to unnecessary risk. An agent employed to dispose of an object on commission was entided to demand a proportionate share of his losses from the owner, though one who retained all the profit had to bear the loss alone, as in effect he was working on his own account. The Rabbi discussed the casuistic problem presented by dealers who displayed cloth for sale at the market, spreading the 83a Twenty-five, according to another reading. 84 Minhat Jehudah, p. 46a: cf. Catalogue of Hebrew MSS. of David Sassoon, i, 175. 85 Cf. the passages from British Museum MS. Or. 1398 and elsewhere, referred to by Dr. Marmorstein in J.Q.R. n.s., xix, 23-5, with however an impossible ascription (Moses ben Jacob, who in fact was Elias of London's nephew, did not belong to the " Nessiah " or Comitissa family). D</page><page sequence="22">5? ELIJAH OF LONDON material against their bodies or (in the case of the punctilious who feared a forbidden intermixture) over a piece of wood. Tailors who worked for Gentiles were sometimes faced with a similar quandary. This is interesting testimony to a hitherto-unsuspected variety of calling among English Jews. Their main occupation was of course the lending of money at interest: and occasionally (as we know too from secular sources, some of which specifically mention Rabbi Elijah) two financiers might make a loan conjointly. He regarded it as proper for a Jew to purchase Hebrew books which a co-religionist had abandoned under stress of circumstances, and to demand his outlay from the original owner if they were reclaimed; for this was unlike other property, and if unransomed would probably be destroyed. When a Jew followed the practice of changing his name at time of illness, in the hope of affecting his fate, he considered that the former appellation should be retained for ordinary purposes, as was the case with the patriarch Jacob when he became known as Israel. (We now understand perhaps the reason for the Rabbi's double name, and why his retainer, Abraham Motun, continued to be thus known after he had received the royal licence to change his style.) Master Elias knew apparently of isolated Jews living in remote town? ships, who came into the nearest community to attend service on the High Holydays. Notwithstanding the traditional purity of Jewish family life, he had to deal on at least one occasion with problems arising out of a wife's infidelity. Hemp, the Rabbi informs us (he calls it by the French name, chanvre) was in general use in England, for sewing as well as foj? making footwear, so that there was no need to suspect a forbidden admixture of wool and flax in the manufacture of garments. The home and table of the English Jew of the upper class seem to have been luxurious. We are told of the practice of spreading an em? broidery (fapiz) of mixed material on the beds, of six birds roasted together on a single spit, and of visitors being regaled with figs and grapes; but this must have been in an exceptionally well-to-do house? hold. The favourite dishes included fruit tarts (fortes), to which there was no objection even if they were made by Gentiles, as well as</page><page sequence="23">ELIJAH OF LONDON 51 pies (pastides), meat-cakes (rissollez) and special cakes made for unweaned children. Plums, pears, quinces and peaches were familiar. Cooking was done in large ovens, presenting special conditions from the point of view of the dietary laws. Though Elias disapproved of the practice, his co-religionists bought bread from non-Jewish bakers; but regarding milk they were less lenient, and it was not customary for them to take the creme from it unless it was prepared under super? vision. Cider, purchased by the cask, was a favourite drink, though he did not approve of acquiring it during Passover, lest it should con? tain some suspicion of leaven. One of the delicacies on this festival was a species of unleavened cake kneaded in fruit-juice (mead). As befitted a wine-importer, with close connexions with the Continent, he had some knowledge of viticulture and of the processes followed in grafting vines. As regards the insular methods of agriculture, he was aware at least that sowing generally took place after Passover and the harvest before the Jewish New Year in the Autumn. He refers also at one place to " high places where there are contained various sorts of stones or metal, which are called miniere" English Jews seem to have been exceptionally interested in litur? gical questions. We learn of some of their practices in this respect, and of the phrasing which certain of their scholars (such as Elias's own brother, Magister Benedict de Nicole) preferred in the standard texts; and we are told how Rabbi Elias himself, when leading the congregation in prayer, refused to offer any petition on behalf of individual requirements on the Sabbath, the day of rest and comfort. Anticipating a minor reform of our own time, it was his practice on Sabbath mornings to make a general benediction for those summoned to the Reading of the Law and not an individual one for each per? son.86 He had no objection to passing through a church for a short 86 For these details, see the texts published by Sachs and the articles by I. N. Epstein, I. Epstein and A. Marmorstein, ut supra, where the relevant passages are collected; reference should in each case be made to the original text, as their deduc? tions are sometimes unwarranted. Attention was first called to these sources by Joseph Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, pp. 287-9, wno includes however among the statements of Rabbi Elijah one which should be ascribed to Eliezer of Bohemia. Similarly, some of the opinions cited in the</page><page sequence="24">52 elijah of london cut.86a He was strongly opposed, like all Rabbis of the age, to the submission of disputes between Jews for adjudication to the civil courts, and considered it proper to exercise religious sanctions in order to avoid this, even in cases when the Jewish and secular laws happened to coincide. This is a particularly interesting expression of opinion in view of the fact that (as we have seen above) his decisions according to Talmudic law were accepted, and even enforced, by the civil authority.87 VII. The Mystic The existence of a mystical school in medieval Anglo-Jewry is slowly becoming apparent. It is perhaps to be connected with the " Pious " or Hassidim who are found here and there in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and presumably followed the ascetico mystical tendencies that were emerging in German Jewry at this time.88 We know too of an Anglo-Jewish scholar of the period, Elhanan ben Iakkar, who wrote a treatise on the Cherubim and a com? mentary on the " Book of Creation," based on the lectures of Isaac of Dampierre (12th century).89 Our Rabbi Elijah had similar interests. It is recorded how on one occasion he carved a talisman on the door? post of his house, in order to save it from fire;90 and he refers to the " mysteries " involved in the Aramaic version of various Biblical verses included in the liturgy.91 He had a reputation as an exponent and teacher of esoteric lore. Among his associates was Rabbi Joseph ben Abraham of Germany, who is clearly identical with the Magister Joceus de Alemannia who served on a commission of enquiry in a text are ascribed to " RaM of Londres," who may in some cases be Rabbi Moses, Elias's father; this however does not affect the bearing on Anglo-Jewish conditions assumed in the text. 86a Kirjath Sepher, xx, 230. 87 For the enforcement of Jewish law by the Gentile courts see the passage quoted by Marmorstein, p. 31. Particularly interesting is the phrase t\*fy^T\pT\ D?SDni N^tt&gt; which is to be found in the English shetaroth. 88 See the names in my History of the Jews in England, p. 119 : and for the Hassidim of medieval Germany, Scholem's Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, pp. 79-118. 89 Weinberg in Jahrburch des j?disch-literarisches Gesellschaft of Frankfort, xx, 283-4; Scholem, op. cit., pp. 84, 371. 90 J.Q.R. uti supra, p. 32: Epstein in Trs. J.H.S.E., xifi. But the identity of the two Menahems, though extremely probable, is not quite certain. 91 Sachs, p. 33.</page><page sequence="25">elijah of london 53 case involving Magister Elias himself in London in 1275.92 The two instructed a certain Marcus (apparendy a foreign student of the esoteric) in a magical formula to be recited over a particular plant in order to elicit " the name that is written in the herb," the object being to procure, either by dream or by a flash of intuition, the answer to some specific enquiry. (Two formulae recommended by R. Elijah are recorded.) This was known as Seder haSheelah or " Order of Enquiry."93 Long after, a Cabbalist who went by the name of " Maestre Marcus " informed the Spanish rationalist Isaac ibn Polegar how, in his youth, he had travelled to " a distant land, of the isles of Germany " to study with a renowned mystical sage, and lived in his house for a long time as his personal attendant; how one night he secretly copied out an esoteric work the contents of which the other was unwilling to divulge : and how he was thereby enabled to return home with supernatural speed.93a It would seem probable that we have here a reminiscence of his visit to England and his intercourse with Rabbi Elijah Menahem of London. VIII. The Physician Like many Rabbis of the Middle Ages, Elijah of London was also a physician. (It is to be noted that the combination of the two pro? fessions is less frequently found in conjunction with a business career, 92P.E.J., p. 86. 93 Cf. Catalogue of Hebrew MSS. of David Sassoon, i, 445: I owe the details to Professor G. Scholem, who has inspected the manuscript. In view of the fact that R. Josce certainly lived at one time in England (see the preceding note), I suspect that ^'31^1 ItPN (" of Lunel ") appended to the name in the MS. should read "itptf t2"Vtt1^n (" of London "). 93a Cf. The Support of Faith, ed. G. Belasco (London, 1906) p. 87: Professor Scholem, the eminent authority on Jewish mysticism, has been good enough to endorse my identification. The story in given in preposterous detail. Another medieval mystic whose name is associated with England is Jekutiel of London, reputed author of a Cabbalistical explanation of the " Canopy of the Righteous " (Christ Church, Oxford, codex 198, and other MSS.). I have Professor Scholem's authority for stating that this ascription is almost certainly pseudepigra phical. Nevertheless, it is significant that such a work should have been ascribed in thirteenth-century Provence to an English mystic, who is not necessarily imaginary.</page><page sequence="26">54 ELIJAH OF LONDON in which also he was outstandingly successful.) His reputation was not confined to his co-religionists nor yet to his compatriots, but spread across the narrow seas to the Continent. Thus, he was con? sulted regarding the treatment of Jean d'Avesnes, Count of Flanders, for a malady with which the local physicians were unable to cope. The cure that the Rabbi sent was partially successful, and the Count pressed him by letter and influential personal contacts to come and complete the treatment. Since he was unwilling to leave England without the approval of the authorities, the patient and his uncle, the Count of Hainault, wrote to the Chancellor, Robert Burnell, asking that he should be given the necessary facilities. In the end the Rabbi allowed himself to be persuaded, applying in 1280 for permission to do what was desired. His letter of application to the Chancellor, which he sent through his confidential assistant Abraham Motun, was written in Norman French. The transactions had however to be carried on with some circumspection because of private jealousies? in particular on the part of his business rival and associate, Aaron fiT Vives, with whom he had recently quarrelled. It is worth while to quote the letter in full: To my dear Lord from his liege, greeting! Sire: Whereas my name is known much in distant lands at more than its true value (which is nought), I have been requested by the Count of Flanders in many letters and by a special messenger to cure a malady which his nephew hath, which malady is perilous, and to administer thereto a remedy. And whereas by the cure which we have sent to him he is somewhat eased, more than by any other that hath been administered to him by any other person, he hath requested me by express letters and through many high persons of the country that I do go thither in person or send him a sure substitute : for a man can better work by sight than by hear? say. He hath written to you that you procure me a safe-conduct from our Lord the Lord King. For my part, I should fear to go unless you counsel it and let me have a letter of safe-conduct. I am sending accordingly Abraham Motun fiz Benet, my Jew, to procure this for me. And I do pray your Highness so much as in me lies,</page><page sequence="27">elijah of london 55 that you send courteously to Sir Stephen de Penchester [Justice of the Jews] that he may search my men gendy, for they are bearing with them nothing except their expenses only, for fear of slan? derers. Dear Lord, please to conceal my requirements from Aaron fiz Vives. May our Lord accomplish your desires for your good.94 The safe-conduct was obtained, and it is to be presumed that the mission was duly accomplished soon after?apparendy not without success, as the Count survived for another twenty years.95 IX. Works Apart from numerous opinions and decisions on points of Rabbinic law ascribed to him, which are cited in secondary sources, Elijah Menahem of London is known to have composed the following works: (i) A commentary on the first Order of the Mishnah (originally perhaps on the whole), based on that of his master, R. Samson of Sens, and composed in 1251. A manuscript of this fell into the hands of R. Yom-Tob Lipman Heller in the seventeenth century when he was living in exile at Great Nemirow in Russia, and was lavishly used by him in his classical Mishnah commentary, Tosaphoth Yom-Tob. The contents, though not the author's name, thus became familiar to some extent to Jewish scholars, and the book was again lost to view. The portion relating to the first tractate, " Blessings," was, however, rediscovered a short while back in a manuscript of 1393 in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem by Dr. I. N. Epstein and fully described by him (Madae haYahadut, Jerusalem, 1926) and more recently by J. L. Sachs (Kirjath Sepher, xx, 229-230). From certain details of phraseology, it appears that the present rescension of the work is due to one of the author's pupils. 94 Joseph Jacobs, Une lettre francaise d'un juij anglais au xiiie siecle in Revue des Etudes Juives, xviii, 256-261. It must be mentioned that Jacobs was wrong in stating, and I in accepting (Anglo-Jewish Letters, pp. 15-16) that Aaroji fil' Vives was Elias's nephew. 95 It is possible that Magister Elias is identical with Elias le Mire (i.e. the Physi? cian) who owned houses in Southwark: Ch. R. 1280, p. 222.</page><page sequence="28">56 ELIJAH OF LONDON (ii) " Decisions " on the first Order of the Mishnah, contained in the same MS. and published by J. L. Sachs: DrlJ? w5k '1 &gt;pDD DWI 'D? B?YWtflD (Jerusalem, 1941). (iii) Commentary (now lost) on the Talmudic tractate Shebuoth; referred to in MS. Montefiore 108 (see Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, xiv, 190). (iv) A Treatise on Oaths, probably appended to this work, also no longer extant (ibid). (v) The Tosaphoth or Additamenta to the Talmudic tractate Rosh haShanah, ascribed to R. Elijah of London, on internal evidence by I. N. Epstein, op. cit. p. 63 (but cf. Sachs, op. cit. p. 6), It is on record that the Hebrew library of a relatively obscure con? temporary of Elias's in Winchester comprised forty-nine volumes. Since almost the only important Anglo-Jewish codex of the Middle Ages that has survived in this country includes no less than sixteen titles, such a collection was equivalent to a considerable library. It is worth while to place on record those works which Magister Elias referred to in his writings and presumably possessed, in order to give some idea of the sphere of interest of an English Jew of the period and the geographical range of his literary contacts : (i) Bible. (ii) Babylonian Talmud. (iii) Jerusalem Talmud. (iv) Mishneh Torah and/or Commentary on the Mishnah of Moses Maimonides, " the Spanish Sage," as R. Elias calls him. (There is no evidence that he was acquainted with the Guide to the Perplexed, though it is probable that his contemporary, David of Oxford, had it in his library.) (v) Sheiltoth of R. Ahai. (vi) Siddur of R. Amram Gaon. (vii) Hala\hoth Gedoloth. (viii) Megillath Setarim of R. Nissim of Kairouan. (ix) Sepher halttim of R. Judah b. Barzilai of Barcelona. (x) Decisions of R. Isaac al-Fasi. (xi) Sepher haYashar of R. Jacob Tarn of Ramerupt.</page><page sequence="29">elijah of london 57 (xii) Writings of R. Hai Gaon. (xiii) Sepher haTerumah of R. Barukh b. Isaac of Worms. (xiv) Responsa of the Geonim. (xv) Tosaphoth of R. Jehiel of Paris (fl. 1240). (xvi) Tosaphoth of Judah Sir Leon of Paris (d. 1224) on tractates Bera\hoth and Yoma. (xvii) Aru\h : Talmudic dictionary of R. Nathan of Rome. (xviii) Jerusalem Targum, or Aramaic version, of the Scriptures. While it is true that these works can have comprised only a small proportion of those to which Master Elias had access, and that they cover a relatively small field of Rabbinical literature, the list is of interest as indicating something of the range of an Anglo-Jewish library of the period and the speed with which recent Continental productions had crossed the Channel. X. Pupils and Influences Of Magister Elias's immediate pupils, we know only of the elusive Marcus, who studied mystical lore with him and Magister Josceus de Alamannia. He is also believed to have been the teacher of R. Moses ben Jacob the Bohemian, who is occasionally cited in contemporary continental sources.96 Rabbi Elijah's name was well known to Jewish scholars of his own age and for some time after, and there are references to or quotations from him in (among others) the following authorities: (i) Mordecai (ritual code of Mordecai ben Hillel of Nuremberg, d. 1298, which sums up the decisions of the Franco-German school of Talmudists). (ii) Shilte haGibborim (commentary on the above). (Hi) Minhat Jehudah of Judah b. Eleazar of Troyes (c. 1313): supercommentary on Rashi, quoting many north French exegetes, including also Joseph de Nicole. (iv) Iakkar of Vienne, 13th century (cf. Kirjath Sepher xx, 230). (v) Tosaphoth Yom-Tob of Yomtob Lipman Heller, 17th century (see above). 96 Germania Judaica, p. 38.</page><page sequence="30">5? elijah of london (vi) Sepher haShoham : grammatical treatise by Moses ben Isaac haNessiah, another English scholar of the period, who refers (c. 5) to an ingenious combination of the servile letters of the Hebrew alphabet by R. Menahem of London, embodying his alternative name : fl*?K (vii) Hayyim Obadiah of Salonica in his Be'er Mayyim Hayyim (Salonica 1546). (viii) Jacob ben Asher of Toledo in his Biblical commentary, Exodus xxi, 32. (ix) Asher of Toledo in commentary to Maaser Sheni, f. 5. (x) Ms. Halberstamm 354 (now in Library of Jews' College, London (cf. J.Q.R. n.s. xix, 27ft)). XL Family Magister Elias was more than once married. His first wife was Pucelle, who engaged in business transactions in association with him in 1253.97 On her death he espoused a wealthy widow, Fluria, formerly wife of Sampson of Northampton, an active local capitalist with children of her own, whom we first find mentioned as his wife in 1267.98 He had several children. The eldest was probably Cresse (perhaps named after his great-grandfather Yom-Tob), who was engaged in many business transactions in London at the beginning of the reign of Edward I, both on his own account and in association with his father,99 and like him was empowered to engage in trade by royal licence in 1277. He died however during his father's lifetime, leaving a widow Chera and a son Leo.100 The other children of Magister Elias were Abraham, Isaac, Benedict, Moses and Leo,101 regarding whose business transactions considerable details may be garnered from the records. "P.E.J., p. 14. 98 CR. 1275, p. 268; E.J., i, 155, 234, 264, ii, 169; CR. 1273, p. 172. I am at a loss to explain the reference in CR. 1275, p. 161, to Rosa, formerly wife of Elias fil' Aaron of York, as being married to Elias fil' Moses of London, unless there were two persons of this name, the second not a scholar (" magister "). 99 E.J., ii, 12, &amp;c. io? P.R. 1285, p. 184; Trs. J.H.S.E., ii, 97. 101 P.E.J., p. 133.</page><page sequence="31">elijah of london 59 XII. His Death It was apparently in the spring of 1284 that Master Elias of London died. The financial implications immediately interested the authori? ties. On the Tuesday next after the Feast of St. Barnabas, in June, an enquiry was made into his estate before the Treasurer, Barons and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and one of the Justices of the Jews, depositions being made on oath by a mixed Jury of Jews and Chris? tians.102 It was found that he left personal property to the value of 400 marks, a dwelling-house in which he lived with a rental value of ^5, other real estate worth ^19 16s. yearly, and credits to the aggre? gate value of ^185.103 The principal heir was his widow Fluria, who was permitted to recover her dowry under Jewish law and to remain in possession of the property and chattels on the payment in four instalments of a " fine " of 400 marks. Of the credits she was to receive ?100 (of which she was to pay ^5 to the other heirs), ^85 going to the Exchequer. On her agreeing to these terms, a writ was issued under the Great Seal for her late husband's houses and bonds to be delivered to her.104 But there was a sequel later on. It was alleged that she had concealed the full extent of her husband's wealth, and in consequence she was fined the enormous sum of X1?000 (equivalent to some ^30,000 in modern values) which the King generously ordered to be paid over to Queen Eleanor. But the widow's conduct cannot have been considered very reprehensible, for simultaneously she was excused all further payment of tallage so long as she lived.105 The blow must have been all but fatal to Elias's heirs. Henceforth, the family which had been so influential for generations in the life of London Jewry loses a good deal of its prominence. The most notable member henceforth was apparently his son Abraham, who in the following year was granted custody of his young cousin, Hagin fiF Vives, with the ultimate right of arranging for his marriage.106 In 102 CR. 1284, p. 268. 103 See above, p. 38. 104 P.E.J., pp. 131-2: the long inventory of credits in the original MS. is as yet unpublished. 105 P.R. 1285, p. 193. 10* P.R. 1286.</page><page sequence="32">6o ELIJAH OF LONDON 1286, two years after his father's death, Fluria, who was still in occu? pation of Elias's great stone-built house, sold him, " according to the custom of Jewry," twelve feet of land adjacent to the solarium.107 That autumn he and his brothers were still engaged in winding up the estate,108 but little more is known about them. But it is clear that their age of ease was over, the change having become apparent when in 1285 gold to the value of 5^ marks, seized in the house of Elias's daughter-in-law Chera, widow of Cresse, was given by Edward to his Queen.109 At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the posterity of Magister Elias was chiefly represented by his son Moses, who occupied a house at the corner of Wood Street and Lad Lane,110 and his grandson Leo fiT Cresse, with his house in Ironmonger Lane.111 Other members of the family still active included his nephew, the Arch-Presbyter Cok Hagin fir Deulecresse, and his sister-in-law Antera, widow of Vives.112 Another nephew, Moses fiT Jacob, of Oxford (now living in Northampton), was one of the for? tunate few who received a special safe-conduct on their journey abroad, with his wife, children, household and property; the bailiffs, barons and sailors of the Cinque Ports being enjoined to secure him safe and easy passage at a moderate charge.113 With him he bore into exile the genealogy of his family, to which we owe the framework of the foregoing account. From Germany they had come; to Germany their last recorded representative returned. lo'p.EJ., pp. 133-5. los P.R. 1285, p. 184. 109 P.R. 1286, p. 224. 110 Trs. J.H.S.E., ii, 97; Jacobs, London Jewry, map. Miscellanies of J.H.S.E., iii, 32-3. 112 Trs. J.H.S.E., ii, 97. 113 P.R. 1290, p. 381.</page><page sequence="33">ELIJAH OF LONDON 6l ADDITIONAL NOTE A closer inspection of the Bodleian MS. Mich. 502 referred to above (p. 31, note 9) has revealed an unsuspected wealth of information regarding the intellectual life of medieval Anglo-Jewry, and especially the family of Moses of London. There are over a score of references in the glosses to English Talmudists of the thirteenth century, in terms which make it seem probable that in the brief period between its writing in 1280 and the Expulsion of 1290 the volume was owned and annotated in this country: in any case, the writer obviously had access to an Anglo-Jewish library. The work is the extremely popular Sepher Mizvoth Katan or Lesser Book of Precepts by Isaac of Corbeil, composed in 1277. It may be noted that the parvum volumen, worth twenty shillings, owned by Isaac le Prestre of Bristol in 1285, has been conjecturally identified with this (Adler, Jews of Medieval England, p. 292): unfor? tunately, I am unable to find in the English records any trace of the Azriel ben Azriel for whom the volume was copied. There are many citations in the MS. from the collectanea and opinions of Moses of London, one of which (f. 99b) quotes his uncle, Elijah of York (XpUIIND HH U"P^N '"in )? This scholar, formerly known only from Tosaphoth, Yoma 27a and Zebahim 14b, was slain in the massacre of 1190, according to the Hebrew elegy by Joseph of Chartres edited by me in Metsudah, 1943, pp. 116-21: presumably, Magister Elias was named after him. Since it is pretty certain that R. Yom-tob, Moses of London's father (the author of the SepJier haTenaim) did not have a brother named Elijah, it is to be assumed that his wife was a sister of the martyred York scholar. (It is arguable that the principal victim of the York massacre was this Yom-tob, not Yom-tob of Joigny; this, however, would involve acute chronological difficulties). The decision here referred to mentions also "the tradition of my holy (?=martyred) teacher, R. Menahem, which I received from him ". It is not clear whether this refers to the teacher of the scribe?i.e. R. Elijah Menahem of London??or of R. Moses, in which case there must have been two English scholars of this name. This, as we have seen, is not improbable: the coincidence may, indeed, have led to some confusion hitherto: cf. Menahem the Scribe of London, cited in Davis' SHetaroth, p. 356, who might conceivably be the subject of the elegy on a scholar of that name ascribed to the Anglo-Jewish poet Meir of Norwich {Revue des Etudes Juives, XVII, 154). The Bodleian MS. contains also fully a dozen references to Rabbi Berechiah of Lincoln, Elijah Menahem's brother, which reveal him not only as a scholar of note but also as an industrious copyist, whose writings were treasured and consulted after his death.</page><page sequence="34">62 ELIJAH OF LONDON H ? o o &lt; ? 8-a .? ? CO &lt;u ol O ?3 c? +1 _? 3 ? ! 8 II o +i 2 j3 o ?3 ?"8? 2* 3 5. - &gt; M C ~ II -'So M 2 &gt;&gt; o ?Tl U M 8 a ? - ?l</page></plain_text>

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