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In Memoriam Barrie Dobson

Joe Hillaby

<plain_text><page sequence="1">In Memoriam Professor Barrie Dobson, 1931-2013 A leading authority on English medieval Jewry, and former President of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Professor Barrie Dobson died at his home in York on 29 March 2013. He held the chair of medieval history at the University of Cambridge from 1988 to 1999, having previously served as Professor of Medieval History at York, where he was Deputy Vice Chancellor from 1984 to 1987. Barrie's particular achievement was to arouse the interest of the general public in the Jews of medieval York and the 1190 massacres, and with it a much wider awareness of English medieval Jewry. By an unfortunate irony, as he pointed out, this most famous of all the medieval provincial Jewries had been less well served either by local scholars or national historians than most of its counterparts. Dobson's interest in Jewish history, he liked to explain, was "derived from the enthusiastically learned teaching of Dr Cecil Roth", who opened his first lecture: "In spring, we are told, young men's fancy turns to love; but in the late 12th century it turned to killing Jews." His booklet, The Jews ofMedieval York and the Massacre of March 11 go, sold to visitors to the castle, was first published in 1974. The revised edition of 1996 was reprinted in 1999 and again in 2002; it is now being printed on demand. Barrie returned to the subject of York's medieval Jewry a number of times. In a lecture to the JHSE he considered "The decline and expulsion of the medieval Jews of York", which was published in the Society's Transactions in 1979. His election as President of the JHSE in 1990 came in recognition of his major contribution to the study of medieval Anglo-Jewry. His presidential address was delivered on 25 October, "more or less seven hundred years to the day since the last persecuted survivors of the once sub stantial medieval English Jewry were crossing the channel into involuntary exile." Its subject, "The Jews of Medieval Cambridge", was "worth our attention precisely because it is so exceptionally difficult to write", as com pared to that of Oxford, so fully explored by Cecil Roth. As President of the Ecclesiastical History Society in 1991-92, Barrie's theme for the Society's annual conference was "Christianity and Judaism". Diana Wood wrote in her preface to the Proceedings that "those who predicted few communications and an easy year for the editor ... could not have been more wrong." She produced a bumper volume, with thirty-two papers ranging from "Origen on the Jews" to "The Role of the Ustasa in Axis-con trolled Croatia". In his contribution, a discussion of "The Role of Jewish Women in Medieval England", Barrie developed a theme first explored in 1934 by Michael Adler in his presidential address to the JHS. Barrie took it 178</page><page sequence="2">Professor Barrie Dobson up again in his address to the Medieval Colloquium held at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1991, speaking about "A minority within a minority: the Jewesses of thirteenth-century England". At a conference hosted by the Wessex Medieval Centre and the Parkes Centre for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at Southampton University in 2000, Barrie delivered a paper on "The Medieval York Jewry Reconsidered". In 2010 his collected essays on the subject were published by the University of York as The Jewish Communities of Medieval England. Barrie's contributions have been an inspiration to all of us working in this field. JOE HILLABY 179</page></plain_text>