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River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry

Jonathan Romain

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 43, 2011 River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry JONATHAN ROMAIN History can be as much about frustration as information. That certainly applies to the early records of the Jews of England. We do not know, and probably never shall, who was the first Jew ever to set foot on English soil. It is likely that individual Jews arrived as far back as Roman times, whether will? ingly as traders or by force as slaves. Some may have been here only tem? porarily, others for longer. However, it is impossible to talk of a settled Jewish community until the late eleventh century, when William of Normandy, who became William I of England in 1066, brought Jews from his French terri? tory to help colonize his new kingdom. William encouraged Jewish migration here for two reasons. First, it was useful having people here who were both French-speakers and loyal to him. On the Continent, Jews tended to be an urban population, not tied to the land and farms, much more mobile than most sections of society, and so were more amenable to travel. Second, many of them performed a useful economic func? tion as moneylenders. This was not a matter of natural aptitude but of bibli? cal interpretation. The Bible permits moneylending in principle, but stipulates several times that 'you shall not lend upon interest to your brother' (Exodus 22:24, Leviticus 25:35, Deuteronomy 23:20). The word 'your brother' was understood in rabbinic law to mean a fellow Jew, to whom, as an act of kindness to members of the same faith community, one should not charge interest, although one could do so to outsiders. Canon Law, however, interpreted the expression 'your brother' to apply to anyone, and held the verses to be an outright ban on levying interest. This may have been admirable in principle, but did not work in practice, as there was a constant demand for loans, small or large, at all levels of the social hierarchy; yet few people were prepared to make loans without charging interest, both so as to make a profit and so as to compensate for defaulters. With Christians being forbidden to enter such arrangements, here was an important economic vacuum. At the same time, medieval Jews were barred from many other occupa? tions: they could not farm, as they were not allowed to own land outside towns. They could own houses in urban areas, whether for their own resi? dence or to be let to others, although after 1271 this was limited to properties they lived in or let only to Jews. Many artisan jobs were closed to them as 21</page><page sequence="2">Jonathan Romain they could not join the guilds, which had a Christian character and where the admission ceremony involved swearing an oath in the name of Jesus Christ. The coincidence of these factors led many Jews to engage in money lending. It was an occupation that brought them problems in the long term, for people welcome moneylenders when in need of a loan, but tend to resent them when repayment is due. Anti-Jewish feeling became an inevitable by? product of their economic role in society. There was also the risk of clients being unable to repay their debts, along with the hazard of the king reward? ing his followers by pardoning them of Jewish debts. However, there was a benefit for future historians: many records of the Jews' financial transactions survive thanks to the Crown's interest in knowing the fiscal state of its most taxable subjects, and these provide glimpses into the life of medieval Jewry that might not otherwise have survived. At the same time, though, there is the danger of letting evidence of fiscal dealings dominate the picture of their lives, simply because they are the primary records today. Moneylending was certainly a Jewish occupation, but not all Jews were moneylenders. There is another caution that needs to be added for the purposes of this particular study. The individuals mentioned here are identified in the records by local place names - toponyms such as Moses of Aylesbury or Jacob of Wycombe. This does not necessarily mean that they were born in that location or that they lived there permanently (although that could have been the case). Their locative surname proves merely that they were associ? ated with that town at some point in their life - whether through birth, later residence or business links ? and it remained with them thereafter, even if they had left the area. Thus toponymic surnames are not evidence of long term residence, though they can indicate a connection between Jews and those areas and serve as important clues for later historians. The first Jews in Norman England may have settled in the London area, either because it was one of their points of entry or because it was the seat of royal power. The latter was important as the Jews were outside the tradi? tional feudal system, which was based on land and allegiance to local over? lords. Instead, their right of residence was dependent on the will of the Crown, with a two-way relationship: they being answerable directly to the king and the king being their legal protector. Indeed, when their legal status was formalized, they were described as 'chattels' of the king and physically belonged to him. One result was that he could tax them directly without per? mission of the barons or Parliament. This, along with his ability to fine Jews at will, is another reason why detailed records of their affairs survive, with lists of the royal penalties imposed on them, justly or unjustly. The Crown's fiscal power over Jews meant that it was in the king's interest to ensure their safety, although this was for his benefit rather than theirs. Henry III spelt out in graphic detail the total subservience of the Jews to the Crown in his 22</page><page sequence="3">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry Mandate to the Justices of 1253, which declared that 'no Jew remain in England unless he do the king's service, and that from the hour of birth every Jew, whether male or female, serve Us in some way'. The Jews largely remained in London until 1135, at which point provin? cial Jewry came into existence, indicating that the Jews felt able to leave the protection of the capital, although security was still a consideration. Thus, when Jews did begin to branch out to other areas of the country, it was usually to places which were royal strongholds, often with a castle and Royal Constable who was responsible for their safety. As a generalization, Jews tended to settle in clusters, preferring to be in proximity to their coreligion? ists. This was primarily for positive reasons, so as to be part of a communal structure, with the religious facilities that only a sizable gathering could provide, such as a synagogue, mikveh (ritual bath-house used for women), and school of instruction for children. However, individual Jews could also be found scattered in areas slightly further afield, but still with access to the town's Jewish life and never severing that umbilical cord. Of course, there were also negative reasons for staying close, as Jews were a double minority - both foreigners and non-Christians. In a world in which prejudice and superstition were rife, they could be easy targets if local disturbances arose. This was not often the case during the first hundred years of their stay, but in the second century, when religious hatred of Jews was deliberately fanned by Christian clergy, it led to increasingly hostile relations between Jews and their neighbours. Despite the attention given to the Jews by the Church, whether in vilifying them or trying to convert them, the size of the medieval Jewish contingent was always modest. At its height in 1200, it was estimated to be four to five thousand, comprising 0.25 per cent of the total population of England and 1.25 per cent of the urban population.1 As for the Thames Valley, medieval Jews spread throughout the area, although it is impossible to locate the very first Jew locally. It is tempting, but fallacious, to seize on a reference by the seventeenth-century chronicler Anthony Wood to a land transaction in 1075 in Walton, in the north suburbs of Oxford, which warrants the land 'against Jews'. This was intended as a guarantee that the rights of the land would not be transferred to Jews, which could later lead to the Crown claiming the land, as the Jews themselves were regarded as the property of the Crown. However, the stipulation could simply be the inclusion of a standard legal clause that does not necessarily indicate Jews were actually living in the area at the time. There is also doubt as to whether such a warranty was in existence at that period.2 1 R. B. Brown and S. McCartney, 'David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester: glimpses into a Jewish family in thirteenth century England' Trans jfHS E XXXIX (2004) 3. 2 I am grateful for this to Edgar Samuel, according to whom Wood had made an error when dating the transaction, as such warranties belonged to a much later period. 23</page><page sequence="4">Jonathan Romain Oxford The first incontrovertible mention of a local Jewry is not until 1141 and occurs upriver in Oxford, although this implies that a community was well established there by then, so must have been formed earlier. The reference is to a tax that Matilda, then in the midst of a civil war with Stephen, imposed on the Jews of Oxford. When the city was recaptured by Stephen, he too demanded a levy from them, although three and a half times as much as that given to Matilda, as a punishment for helping her. As for individual Jews, someone who left his mark on the town, albeit for the worse, was the son of Moses of Wallingford, known as Deus-eum-crescat or Dieulecresse. Some time before 1190 he was in the town and started taunting pilgrims on the way to the shrine of St Frideswide in Oxford, where miracles of healing were believed to be performed. According to Roth's description of events based on a chronicler's contemporary account: He showed his opinions in the most contemptuous and sacrilegious manner. He would pretend to limp, and then to walk freely, or else clench his fingers as though with palsy and then open them again, and afterwards inform the bystanders that these miracles were quite as genuine as any wrought by the saint and that they might as well let him have their alms instead of presenting them in church. His father told him to stop his antics, but Dieulecresse flatly refused, saying that he for one was not afraid of the saint. As a result the two had a violent quarrel; and whatever the reason, that same night the young man committed suicide by hanging himself in the kitchen of the house. There was at this time no Jewish cemetery in Oxford; and when the body was taken to London for burial (the Christian faithful fancied that the dogs bayed after it more than was usual) the coffin fell ignominiously from the cart, and the neck that had uttered the blasphemies was broken. The saint's triumph could not have been greater or more public.3 Oxford was the most important town in the Thames valley area, and had the largest Jewish community, with about 150 to 200 Jews living there, approxi? mately a twentieth of the total Jewish population of England. Their economic importance was evident from the fact that it was one of a limited number of towns that had an archa (a locked chest in which official documents of loans transacted by Jews were kept).4 The system was introduced in 1194 in the Ordinances of the Jewry. It is a remarkable example of early bureaucracy and provided an efficient method of record-keeping, vital to both the creditor and debtor as well as the Crown, which took a keen interest in the finances of its 3 C. Roth, The Jews of Medieval Oxford (Oxford 1951) 31; H. G. Richardson, The English Jewry under Angevin Kings (London i960) 127-32. 4 C. Roth, A History of the Jews of England (Oxford 1964) 91. 24</page><page sequence="5">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry 'chattels'. The archae of each town were supervised by a group of two rep? utable Jews, two reputable Christians and two clerks.5 Each document - often referred to as a 'chirograph' - was drawn up in duplicate (after 1239 in trip? licate), with the copy being placed in the archa, which had three locks. Oxford Jewry was also one of a handful of centres in which Jews had their own ceme? tery. Until 1177, Jews who died anywhere in the country were taken to London and buried in the cemetery in Cripplegate, as happened in the case of the notorious Dieulecresse. After that date, Jews were permitted to estab? lish local cemeteries, which the larger communities did, and land was bought by Oxford Jews for a cemetery of their own outside East Gate.6 As for a syn? agogue, any building could serve as a place of prayer, so Jews would gather together in a large room in someone's home or workplace for weekly or Sabbath services, and no formal synagogue was necessary. Still, it was desir? able, particularly where there was a large community, and around 1228 an Oxford Jew - Copin of Worcester - purchased a house off Fish Street in St Aldate's parish, which he then dedicated as a synagogue for his coreligionists.7 The synagogue became caught up in a curious incident a few decades later. During a solemn procession on 17 May 1268 by the clergy through the Jewish quarter to St Frideswide, a Jew snatched the crucifix held by the leader of the procession and broke it underfoot. Roth suggests that as no indi? vidual was apprehended, the incident is slightly suspicious, with perhaps a Jewish bystander falling accidentally against the bearer and tripping him up. Whatever the real cause, the entire community was held responsible and ordered to pay for a new portable crucifix, made of silver, as well as a per? manent one of stone. There was some debate as to where it should be located: the spot where the incident took place, or opposite the synagogue, which would have been highly provocative, and was vetoed by Henry III. Eventually, on 3 February 1269, the crucifix was fixed in the grounds of Merton College, with an inscription bearing testimony to the event. It is no longer standing today.8 Merton already had a loose Jewish connection, for in 1267, Walter de Merton, Henry's Chancellor, had founded the college through purchasing some local houses from their Jewish owner, Jacob son of the famous Rabbi Moses of London.9 Detailed studies of the Jewish life in 5 At various times these included Bedford, Berkhamstead, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Colchester, Devizes, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Huntingdon, Ipswich, Lincoln, London, Marlborough, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Stamford, Sudbury, Wallingford, Warwick, Wilton, Winchester, Worcester and York. 6 Other cemeteries were established in Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Northampton, Norwich and York. 7 Roth (see n. 3) 17. 8 Ibid. 151-4. 9 M. D. Davis, Hebrew Deeds of English Jews (London 1888) 369. 25</page><page sequence="6">Jonathan Romain Oxford have already been published by Roth and Christopher Cluse, and those interested in its story in general or the individuals involved are referred to them.10 Windsor If Oxford was the regional centre, many Jews lived locally, either as satellites of the Oxford community or gradually making their way from London along the Thames. The river had the same impact then as did the railways in later centuries, facilitating commerce and leading some traders to relocate their families to new areas. Starting down-river, Windsor was a natural point for Jews to settle, especially as it offered the protection of a royal castle. Among the individuals recorded was Hake of Windsor, on whose behalf the Exchequer of the Jews went to court in 1279 to claim 40 shillings owed him by William Chyvee. However, it is notable that the action was taken 'to the king's benefit', as that was where the money was going. Hake, like many Jews, was merely a conduit of income to the royal purse.11 That same year, Lumbard of Windsor, along with his wife Sarah, faced charges of coin-clip? ping. This involved filing bits of silver off coins in sufficient quantity to produce additional ones, thereby devaluing the currency. It was common in the Middle Ages, and an accusation often levelled against Jews, because their moneylending activities meant that they had more access to large quantities of coinage than most people. Lumbard did not stand trial as he died of natural causes before it could take place.12 However, before he died, he also faced the additional woe of seeing his son Cresse being arrested on charges of theft and rape in Wilton where he was living. The records give graphic details of the alleged crime: Isabel of Rockeleye [or Lockerley] appeals [against] Cresse son of Lumbard, a Jew of Windsor, that whereas she was in peace of God and the king in Wilton on the Thursday after the feast of St Matthew the Apostle at the time of the curfew in the sixth year of the reign of the present king [1278] and was cross? ing East Street to the east of the bridge of Habbridge, Cresse had assaulted her and as a felon had robbed her of her surcoat of blue cloth with a fur of stran dling worth fifteen shillings and another surcoat of squirrel fur worth six shillings; and subsequently the same Cresse, not content with this felony, dragged the same Isabel with all his force into his own house in which he lived 10 Roth (see n. 4); C. Cluse (ed.) The Jews ofEurope in the Middle Ages (2004). See also Brown and McCartney (see n. 1). 11 S. Cohen, Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews (London 2005) 5:185 no. 960. 12 Z. E. Rokeah, 'Money and the hangman in late 13th century England' Trans JHSE XXXII (1993) 201; Cohen (see n. 11) 5:97 no. 115. 26</page><page sequence="7">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry in East Street and made her enter that house against her will and at once dragged her into a cellar on the north side of the house, knocked her down to the ground and choked her and had carnal intercourse with her.13 Cresse denied both charges and elected to go before a jury. At the date set for the trial, he came to defend himself, but Isabel failed to appear and the case was dismissed - although Cresse still had to pay the king half a mark to release the case. Jewish life in Windsor did not last much longer. The rest of the community were expelled in an edict issued on 13 October 1283: To Geoffrey de Picheford, constable of Windsor Castle. Order to be caused to be removed from that town certain Jews who have entered it and who inhabit it, without doing injury to their bodies or their goods, as, according to the custom of the king's Jewry, his Jews ought not to dwell in other cities, bor? oughs or towns than in those wherein there is a chest of the chirographers of the Jews and wherein they were wont from old time to dwell, and certain Jews have entered that town, wherein there is no chest of the chirographers and no Jew was wont to dwell of old time.14 This expulsion edict takes it for granted that the Jews belong to the king - referring to them as chis Jews' - while it also harks back to the Mandate to the Justices issued by Henry III in 1253 which had ordered that 'there be no syn? agogues of the Jews of England save in those places in which such synagogues were in the time of King John, the king's father'. It implies that Jews had not settled in large numbers in Windsor by the time of John (1199-1216), although it is hard to know whether the few families living there in 1253 had left and then returned, or whether that edict had never been properly carried out, hence the need for the 1283 expulsion. The edict may have been respon? sible for the fact that 'the son of Sarah of Windsor' was no longer in the town, but living in Bedford when he was summoned to appear before the barons in 1287 to be informed of a tallage that was about to be exacted. Sarah was by then a widow, while her son's name is not given in the sources - perhaps Cresse, perhaps a brother.15 There were also a number of Jews whose stay in Windsor was because they had fallen foul of the king's pleasure. Most prominent was Abraham son of Muriel, who lived in London, where he was an active financier and a member of one of the leading Anglo-Jewish families of the time. In October 1204 the Close Rolls record that: 'The King to Robert of Oldbrige. We order you to send to our Justices appointed in London for the custody of the Jews, 13 Cohen (see n. n) 5:61 no. 372. A subsequent entry (405A) describes how he 'with force felo? niously opened the legs of the same Isabel with his left hand and by force oppressed her and made her bloody'. 14 Quoted in A. Corcos, 'Extracts from the Close Rolls' Trans JHSEIV (1903) 214. 15 Z. E. Rokeah, Medieval English Jews and Royal Officials (Jerusalem 2000) 342. 27</page><page sequence="8">Jonathan Romain Abraham fil. Muriel, whom you have in our prison in Windsor.'16 The reason for his detention was that after the death of his father, Joseph son of Isaac, his mother married Isaac of Oxford in 1203. When her new husband died that same year, both she and Abraham were accused of concealing his wealth so as to avoid duties accruing to the Crown. They were fined the massive sum of a thousand marks and given a strict deadline for payment, but despite selling property in England, and even travelling to Rouen to dispose of land there, they could not meet the penalty. Abraham was there? fore imprisoned in Windsor before being summoned to face the justices of the Jews. Despite these tribulations and further fines, he was able later to restore his fortunes, and ranked fifth highest in the London tallage list of 1239.17 It was unusual for a man to be called by the name of his mother rather than that of his father. This could be because the father was unknown, or of disreputable character, but in this case it is probably because his father died shortly after Abraham's birth. The prison facilities at Windsor meant that over the years several other Jews living elsewhere in the country came to spend time in the castle. They included Hagin, son of the scholar Moses of London, who lived in Lincoln and had been elected to the position of Arch-Presbyter, serving as an adviser to the Crown on Jewish affairs in the realm. Hagin's long period of office, from 1258 to 1280, was marked by traumas and controversies. He had to flee the country after concealing from the authorities the death of a child so as to save his relations from having to pay inheritance tax, and was also accused of financial misdealings, so that in 1275 he was imprisoned in the Tower of Windsor at the command of the king, where he died of natural causes in 1280.18 A later 'inmate' at the castle was Aaron Crespin of London. In 1275 he had been summoned before the courts in the capital on charges of tres? pass and fraud, and when he failed to appear it transpired that he was already imprisoned in Windsor after another accusation.19 Runnymede Not far away from Windsor is the spot at which King John signed Magna Carta in 1215. The twenty-five barons who demanded the meeting were encamped at Staines, while the king and his retinue were staying at Windsor Castle. No Jews are associated with Runnymede itself, but it is notable that 16 Close Rolls, 13 October 1204, quoted inj. Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England(London 1893) 237 17 J. Hillaby, 'The London Jewry: William I to John' Trans JHSEXXXlll (1995) 34-6. 18 H. P. Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History (London 1913) 35; Roth (see n. 4) 80. 19 J. M. Rigg, Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews (London 1910) 2:229-30. 28</page><page sequence="9">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry of Magna Cam's sixty-two clauses, two relate to Jews and their money lending activities: 10. If anyone who has borrowed from the Jews any amount, large or small, dies before the debt is repaid, it shall not carry interest as long as the heir is under age. 11. And if a man dies owing a debt to the Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing of that debt.20 The two clauses indicate that there was great concern over the effects that mounting interest might have on the under-age heirs and widow of debtors. The solution was a freeze on interest payments, while the debt was to be paid only once appropriate living expenses had been guaranteed. The insertion of the clauses also hints at the unpopularity of Jewish moneylenders, even though Christians entered into loans with them voluntarily. Burnham Continuing upstream, there are no references to Jews in Maidenhead, but there was a connection with the nearby Abbess of Burnham. In 1276 she was among several people summoned to court because she was the tenant of John de Boveney, who was in debt for 31s id to Bonevye, the son of Jacob, and Elias of Bedford, and that amount was in turn owed to the king as part of their tallage. It is a good example of how the Crown gave legal backing to Jewish claims against debtors, although largely in its own interest. It high? lights the way in which the Crown used Jews - via tallages which it could impose freely ? to extract money that it could not have raised nearly as easily via taxes. It is likely that, as in many other cases, while the Crown was the main beneficiary, it was Jews who, as the middlemen, were most resented.21 Marlow Further up the Thames, medieval Marlow can claim association with at least one Jew. Ursel (or Joshua) of Marlow is one of six Jews, along with six Christians, who formed a jury to hear a case in London in 1274 concerning the way Isaac PEveske was beaten and wounded by Henry of Durham.22 Three years later, Ursel requested a judicial investigation into a matter of his 20 J. Romain, The Jews of'England(London 1985)47. 21 H. G. Richardson, Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews (London 1972) 4:73 no. 236; Cohen (see n. 11) 134. 22 Rigg(seen. 19) 129. 29</page><page sequence="10">Jonathan Romain own, and was charged two shillings for it, although the nature of the problem is not known.23 Henley Records for that same year indicate that another family had settled not far away in Henley, where Bonamy of Henley paid 40s for the privilege of erect? ing gates on his house.24 This passing reference to a domestic structural alter? ation is significant. For a start, it must have been a fairly substantial property to be able to take gates, which indicates that he was a person of means. Whether this addition was decorative or defensive is open to conjecture, although given the hostile climate that existed in the last few decades of Jewish life in England, the latter is the most likely. Moreover, this is clear evidence of a Jew actually residing along the Thames. Bonamy earned his surname not by doing occasional business in the area, but by actually dwelling there. Caversham Continuing along the Thames towards Reading, one hears of an unnamed Jew in Caversham being fined ?50 in 1275. This was a considerable sum for an individual to pay, although it could be related to the cost of a licence that was recorded as being granted to a Jew, permitting him to reside in the area - a requirement following the 1275 Statu tum de Judeismo, which restricted Jews to residing in towns that already had an archa.25 He may or may not have been 'Copyn fil. Bonavita' who lived there at that time.26 However, a fine or imprisonment did not necessarily imply a legal misdemeanour on the part of the Jew concerned, as monarchs would often impose fines at will (and imprisonment to ensure rapid payment) for their own fundraising purposes. Examples include the donum levied in 1194 to pay for the release from cap? tivity of Richard I during the Crusade, or in 1221 to pay towards the mar? riage of Henry Ill's sister Joan to Alexander II of Scotland. Reading Higher up the river, a Jew in Reading called Hakelot or Isaac is recorded. According to the deposition of Richard of Anesty in 1163, 'when I was in Reading, Hakelot the Jew, whom I found there, lent me thirty shillings at 23 Richardson (see n. 21) 168, 192. 24 Ibid. 179. 25 Ibid. 120 no. 432; 131; R. R. Mundill, England's Jewish Solution (Cambridge 1998) 22. 26 Roth (seen. 3)31. 30</page><page sequence="11">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry three pence a week for the pound, which I kept for five months and for which I paid usance of seven shillings and six pence'.27 The town nearly became interwoven with the land of Israel when Henry II was staying at the Benedictine Abbey there in 1185 and was visited by Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Roger, the Master of the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem. They offered Henry, then considered one of the most powerful and effective rulers in Europe, the crown of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem, which was facing grave danger from the Muslims. Despite an accompanying letter from the Pope urging him to accept, Henry declined the offer.28 Reading has a special place in the history of medieval Anglo-Jewry thanks to Robert of Reading (referred to in the sources as Robert de Reddingge). He was a Dominican friar, an order that had been increasingly active in the thir? teenth century in whipping up popular fury against local Jews through preaching anti-Jewish sermons. The monks also went into synagogues and forced Jews to sit through sermons designed to convert them to the 'true faith'. It seems that Robert of Reading studied Jewish literature - in order to gain background material for his anti-Jewish activities - but began to become interested in the faith himself. Finally, instead of leading the Jews to Christianity, he converted to Judaism, adopted the Hebrew name of Haggai and married a Jewish woman. The scandal of any Christian joining the unbe? lievers was bad enough, but the apostasy of one from the ranks of the clergy was even worse. This public disgrace for the Church could only result in severe punishment, but Robert/Haggai, along with his new wife, fled the country and disappeared from history.29 His flight may have been hastened by memories of the fate of a deacon involved in a similar case in Oxford in 1222. He, too, adopted Judaism and was brought to trial at Osney Abbey, just outside Oxford, with no less a figure than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, presiding. The deacon was unrepentant. When presented with a crucifix, he declared 'I renounce the newfangled law and the com? ments of Jesus the false prophet', and apparently blasphemed the Virgin Mary. He was sentenced to death and burnt at the stake. A plaque in his memory was erected at the ruins of Osney Abbey in June 1931, although it names the deacon as Robert of Reading, probably because the latter's case is similar, despite occurring fifty years apart. Thus the plaque testifies to the martyrdom of'Robert of Reading, otherwise Haggai of Oxford', who 'suf? fered for his faith on 17th April 1222'.30 But the religious traffic could be in 27 Palgrave, Commonwealth, II, p. xxiv ff, quoted in Jacobs (see n. 16) 41. With 20s to the pound, and 12p to a shilling, the amount paid in interest was exactly right. 28 D. Phillips, The Story of Reading (Newbury 1983) 27. 29 I. Abrahams, 'The Deacon and the Jewess: a prefatory note' Trans JHSE VI (1912) 259. 30 F. W. Maitland, 'The Deacon and the Jewess' Trans JHSE VI (1912) 260-76; see also Roth (see n. 3) 19-21. 3i</page><page sequence="12">Jonathan Romain both directions, for a few years after Robert of Reading's case Henry III was present to witness the baptism of Philip the Convert in 1234 near Reading. 31 Wallingford Up the Thames lies Wallingford. Its Jewish population had grown rapidly in the second half of the twelfth century. No community appears among the towns whose Jews were taxed in the 1159 Donum, but it is named in the 1194 Donum (the 'Northampton Tallage'), so had clearly sprung up between those dates. Among the community at that time was Samuel of Wallingford.32 Another, Moses of Wallingford, was a person whose integrity managed to bridge the growing Jewish-Christian divide, for the chronicler of Acta Sanctorum described him as ca man less detestable than the rest of the Jews'.33 A later resident, Abraham of Berkhamstead, the son of Manser, moved to Wallingford in 1242 after the Jews had been expelled from Berkhamstead, and was a moneylender of substance. Abraham had such a high number of transactions that an archa was established in Wallingford specifically to accommodate his business. The lack of many other Jews in Wallingford presented a problem, for, as noted earlier, every archa needed two Jews to be among those supervising its procedures; as a result, they had to be brought from Oxford when occasion required. Some of the loans Abraham contracted there were still outstanding in 1267, when the chirog? raphers at Wallingford were ordered to withdraw ?40 'of the better and clearer' debts owing to him and to give them as part payment for his levy to the Queen, Eleanor of Provence.34 When Abraham died in 1272, Edward I was quick to order the chirographers to hand over charters of debts which had been due to him and of which the king then took over the ownership.35 The authorization for establishing the archa had come not from the king, as would normally have been the case, but from Henry's brother, Richard of Cornwall, who owned both Berkhamsted and Wallingford. Indeed, for a period he had controlled Jews throughout the entire kingdom, for Henry had mortgaged to him the Jews of England for a year in 1255 and again in 1271 in return for loans.36 As has been said, Jews were seen and treated as the prop? erty of the Crown to be used and disposed of as any other holding. Henry had needed to raise extra revenues and had mortgaged his Jews to Richard 31 L. Fogle, 'The Domus Conversorum' Trans JHSE XLI (2007) 6-7. 32 I. Abrahams, 'The Northampton Donum of 1194', in Miscellanies ofthe Jewish Historical Society of England (hereafter Miscellanies) I (London 1925) 64. 33 Acta Sanctorum, lvi 576 (19 Oct.), quoted in Jacobs (see n. 16) 68-70. 34 J. M. Rigg, Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews (London 1905) 1:151. 35 Ibid. 2:188. 36 Roth (see n. 3) 32; Richardson (see n. 3) 17. 32</page><page sequence="13">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry who envisaged that he would recoup his outlay through the fines and impo? sitions he could levy from them. He had already benefited from Abraham in 1250 after the latter had been accused not only of maltreating an image of the Virgin but of killing his wife Floria for her refusal to imitate him. It was claimed that Abraham had put the icon at the bottom of his privy, defecated on it and told his wife to do likewise. When she instead removed and cleaned it, he took her life.37 Richard gained his release from the charge on payment of a heavy fine. The inference is that Abraham was innocent of the crime, or the case would not have been dropped, but he still had to pay as though it were a privilege.38 Richard's dealings with Abraham extended to his son, Hagin, who in 1272 was involved in a dispute with another Jew, Jospin, the son of Solomon of Marlborough, over a deal with Richard, who is described by his subsequent title, King of the Romans, but who had by then passed away. The result was that Hagin was taken from the hearing in Marlborough 'and thence carried by night to Wallingford castle, and there imprisoned for a year . A relatively minor incident, but significant for the individuals involved, was the case of a horse's bridle lost in Wallingford in 1272. The details are mundane, but provide a fascinating glimpse into everyday barter in medieval England. It is also a rare record of a Jew giving a non-Jew a pledge, whereas usually it was the reverse, and of a non-Jew lending money to the Jew. Bone vie of Oxford had hired a horse from Ralph Le Walle in order to journey to London. Bone vie accused Ralph of witholding a bowl of mazer-wood with a silver rim, but without foot, valued at half a mark, which he had given Ralph as a pledge for the horse. According to Ralph, the mazer-wood bowl was indeed given as a pledge and the horse was hired for i6d. It was also agreed that if Bonevie exceeded the stipulated period of hire, then he would give Ralph id for every further day. He claimed that Bonevie had kept the horse an extra twelve days, and had used the horse on another occasion for ten days to go to Wallingford, where he lost the bridle, which was worth half a penny. Ralph also alleged that he had lent Bonevie's wife sixpence, making a total of twenty eight and a half pence extra being owed to him, and for this reason he was keeping the bowl. Bonevie hotly disputed this, and it was left to the Sheriff to try to sort out the conflicting evidence.40 Another Jew associated with the town was Diei of Wallingford, whose life mirrored many of the dangers facing English Jews. In 1244 ne nad to pay a 37 Mundill (see n. 25) 51. 38 J. Hillaby, 'A Magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford' Trans JHSE XXXI (1990) 34-5; Roth (see n. 4) 56. 39 Rigg (see n. 34) 1:305. 40 J. M. Rigg, Select Pleas, Starrs and other records from the Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, 1220-1284 (London 1902) 63-4. 33</page><page sequence="14">Jonathan Romain mark of gold as a pledge for his wife, Bona, who had been charged with coin clipping, and he was killed in 1266 during disturbances involving the follow? ers of Simon de Montfort. His wife accused Hugh de Kakesete and others of the crime, but it was never brought to court.41 An overseas visitor who became associated with the town was the scholar Josceus de Alemannia, also known as Rabbi Joseph ben Avraham of Germany and as Josce of Wallingford. In 1275 he had to travel to London to sit on a Commission of Inquiry.42 Apparently he dabbled in mysticism, for he and the famous Rabbi Elijah of London taught a student a magical formula to be recited over a par? ticular plant in order to gain, either through a dream or by a flash of intu? ition, the answer to some specific enquiry.43 But his supposed skills in this area did not protect him from brushes with the law - whether through his own malpractices or as a result of false accusation - for in 1278 he was accused of coin-clipping while still in Wallingford.44 It was a troublesome year for him, for he was also accused of trespass by entering the house of Peter of Witton, in Wallingford, and carrying away goods to the value of ten pounds. The claim was subsequently proved to be false, although it emerged that, unbeknown to Peter, his wife had pawned to Josce some household items.45 Someone who found that the burden of being Jewish too much to bear was Agnes of Wallingford, who decided to renounce her faith and enter the Domus Conversorum (House of Converts) in 1280. This was a residential centre in Chancery Lane, London, which had been established in 1232 by Henry III for the support of Jewish converts to Christianity. They lived there free of charge and with a daily allowance for their needs. Such support was necessary because the Crown had a legal claim on the property of any Jew who converted to Christianity - on the grounds that the possessions of a Jew were effectively the possessions of the Crown, and a Jew who became a Christian meant that the Crown would lose its assets unless they were sur? rendered on conversion. Jews who changed faith thus not only relinquished any support they might previously have enjoyed from their family and the wider community, but any property they owned. This was a major disin? centive to thoughts of baptism, quite apart from the social upheaval it would cause, but the Crown was more interested in maintaining the fiscal value of Jews than the purity of their souls. But in 1280, in order to encourage con? version, Edward waived for a seven-year period his claim to the property of Jews who left their faith.46 It is not known what motivated Agnes - be it 41 H. Loewe, Starrs and Jewish Charters (London 1932) 2:79; Rigg (see n. 34) 73, 130. 42 Roth (see n. 3) 117, 134. 43 C. Roth, 'Elijah of London' Trans JHSE XV (1946) 53. 44 Rokeah (see n. 12) 196; see S. Cohen (see n. 11) 5:43 no. 272. 45 Cohen (see n. 44) 67 no. 406. 46 Roth (see n. 4) 79. 34</page><page sequence="15">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry genuine religious conviction, exhaustion from the financial penalties facing Jews, or fears for her safety - but whereas there had only been a small number of residents in previous decades, she was among nearly a hundred persons at this time.47 The pressure Jews felt at that time may be seen through another local Jewess, Belaset of Wallingford (also known as Bellasez), the daughter of Solomon. She was a businesswoman and property-owner, yet also had a criminal record and had been condemned for felony five times.48 In 1278 she was one of 293 Jews charged with coin-clipping, taken to the Tower of London found guilty and hanged in 1284. It may have been that she did engage in disreputable practices, but it has been suggested that the fact that the charges were simultaneously issued against so many Jews indicates they were trumped up and motivated by the hostility of debtors and the greed of Edward I. Since Belaset was one of the king's chattels, her debts were auto? matically taken over by the Crown. These included bonds in Lincoln out? standing at the time of her death, and also a property she possessed there, one of the few medieval buildings still surviving today which was once owned by a Jew. Built around 1170, it is known as Jew's House and attracted some attention in 1275 because of a young woman who lived there. Judith, the daughter of another Belaset (the daughter of Benedict of Lincoln, son of Moses of London, not the Belaset of Wallingford, the daughter of Solomon), in February of that year was married next door in the building known as Jew's Court, which was thought to have served as the synagogue of Lincoln Jewry. Judith came from one of the most famous Anglo-Jewish families (she was the granddaughter of Rabbi Moses of London) and her wedding brought guests from all over England there. Belaset of Wallingford's house was valued in 1290 as 19s 6d, almost the highest figure in the list of properties formerly belonging to Jews.49 Dorchester Not far away, in Dorchester, a Jewish community sprang up in the mid-thir? teenth century. Individual Jews whose names survive are Solomon Episcopus, known formally as Solomon Episcopus de Dorcestria ludeus, who is recorded as living there from 1241 to 1250. Although his surname might suggest some religious function, it had more of an economic signifi? cance, with a role akin to that of a royal bailiff, acting as an intermediary between the Crown and local Jewries.50 There was also Isaac of Dorchester 47 M. Adler, 'History of the Domus Conversorum' Trans JHSEIV (1903) 53. 48 L. Abrahams, 'The Condition of the Jews of England in 1290' Trans JHSE IV (1903) 64. 49 C. Roth, Essays and Portraits in Anglo-Jewish History (Philadelphia 1962) 52, 56, 304. 50 Roth (see n. 3) 6-7. 35</page><page sequence="16">Jonathan Romain in 1275, while Aaron of Dorchester is recorded there two years later.51 This was after the Statu tum de Judeismo of 1275 whose provisions, as mentionned earlier, included restricting Jews to living in towns which had an archa, which Dorchester lacked. However, he was the beneficiary of special licences granted to individual Jews to dwell elsewhere. A few miles to the west, Abingdon had a small Jewish community, but none of the names of its members are known.52 Wycombe Away from the river Jews were scattered throughout the region. It is known that a number were present in Wycombe, for there was an edict expelling them from the town in 1235. Four years later, Isaac of Wycombe, had to pay a tax on a third of his property, although it is unclear whether this was still in Wycombe or elsewhere.53 It does seem, though, that this expulsion was not wholly effective or was later allowed to slip, for in the 1262 Oxford tallage are listed Moses of Wycombe and Ansell of Wycombe,54 while in 1286 Jacob de 'Wycumbe' was accused of coinage violations, which is most likely to have been coin-clipping.55 Four years later, in June 1290, Jacob was part of an Oxford jury of six Christians and six Jews empanelled to investigate an elab? orate conspiracy to defraud the Abbey of Osney. It was alleged that certain Jews had forged a deed that recorded a loan by a recently deceased Jewish moneylender to the Abbey, and for which payment was then demanded. Owing to the indeterminate nature of the evidence, the jury was unable to reach a verdict and the matter was dropped.56 Basingstoke There were few Jews south of the Thames, but there is a passing reference to Ellis (Elias) of Fleet who had to pay two marks for the Easter tallage of 1254.57 In the southwest was Lumbard (= Longbeard), who paid four shillings and eight pence to gain a special permit to live in Basingstoke in 1273.58 After his father died, his mother, Licoricia, married again, to David 51 Richardson (see n. 21) 15 no. 45; Roth (see n. 3)31. 52 Roth (see n. 4) 277. 53 M. Adler, 'Jewish Tallies of the Thirteenth Century' Miscellanies II (London 1935) 18. 54 Mundill (see n. 25) 201-2. 55 Rokeah (see n. 12) 195. 56 Roth (see n. 3) 164. 57 Richardson (see n. 21) 146. 58 Rigg (seen. 19) 104. 36</page><page sequence="17">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry of Oxford, who was among the extremely wealthy Jews of the town and whose business transactions covered several counties. The wedding nearly failed to take place, owing to complications over David's divorce from his first wife, Muriel, possibly because she had not borne him any children. Muriel appealed to a Beth Din (rabbinic court) in France (English and French Jews had remained in close contact since Norman times, and the reli? gious authorities there served both communities) to overturn the divorce on the grounds that it was against her will. The French Beth Din upheld her plea and an ad hoc English Beth Din ordered him to remarry Muriel, but David turned to the king, and no doubt made a gift at the same time. As a result, on 27 August 1242 Henry issued these instructions to Moses of London, Aaron of Canterbury and Jacob of Oxon (presumably the three members of the English Beth Din): 'We do hereby forbid you to hold hence? forth any plea concerning David Jew of Oxford and Muriel who was wife of the same; nor under any circumstances are you to distrain him either to take or to keep that wife or any other. Know for a certainty that if you do other? wise, you will incur grave punishment therefore.'59 Lumbard's mother fulfilled her role to her new husband and bore him a son, Asher, although David died in 1244. So great was his estate that a death duty of five thousand marks was imposed, equivalent to ?2,500,000 today,60 and Licoricia was sent to the Tower of London to prevent her fleeing abroad or defaulting. Most of the sum was used for the king's construction of Westminster Abbey. David and Licoricia's house in Oxford was taken over by the Crown, with the rents arising being gifted to the Domus Conversorum in London. Licoricia moved to Winchester, where she met a violent death in 1277 when she and her Christian maid were killed during a burglary. Lumbard himself had already moved to Basingstoke by then, while his son Solomon lived nearby in Odiham, having paid the king 28 pence for the priv? ilege of moving to an area in which Jews had not previously settled.61 Lumbard had not been alone in the town, for his brother, Jospin of Basingstoke, is recorded in 1272. They seem to have had business links, for Jospin, Lumbard and his other brother Isaac were charged over a financial disagreement with Thomas de Chelwarton. On the day appointed for the hearing, none of them appeared in court, Jospin refusing to respond to the summons, Lumbard being out of the country and Isaac being sick in bed. By the time of the next hearing, Jospin and Lumbard were unavailable, both imprisoned in the Tower of London for non-payment of their tallages, while s9 Close Rolls 1242 (see n. 16) p. 464; Roth (see n. 3) 51-4 for a more detailed account of the divorce proceedings. 60 For rough comparative values see Brown and McCartney (see n. 1) 34: the medieval sum of 1 mark (approximately 13s 4d or 68p in modern usage) would be equivalent to c. ?500 today. 61 Rigg (see n. 19) 163. 37</page><page sequence="18">Jonathan Romain Isaac was still sick.62 No further details are known, save that Lumbard sur? vived his period of incarceration and was still in England when the expul? sion order was made in 1290.63 Newbury A few Jews moved further west, leaving the Thames and heading along the Kennet. When Bonefey or Bonevie left Bristol in 1231 to visit Newbury, he decided to remain there for a while, and gained permission to do so from Eleanor, the Countess of Pembroke and sister of Henry III. Bonevie reap? pears in the records in 1241, accused of coin-clipping.64 He was also caught up in a violent incident in the Warwick synagogue in 1245. It seems that Leo, the son of Deuleben, along with his daughters Anterra and Sigge, and his sister Muriel, all met Bessa, the wife of Elias of Warwick, at the door of the synagogue around midday on a Monday afternoon, whereupon: the said Leo kicked her with his foot so that she fell within the doorway in a fit as if dead, and the said Anterra, Sigge, and Muriel, and Henna, the wife of the said Leo, dragged the said Bessa out of the doorway by her hair and beat her and so ill-treated her that when she was brought home she miscarried of her infant, but the child was as yet too young for its sex to be distinguished ... also that, when the said Bessa met the said Leo, Anterra, Sigge, Muriel, and Henna, she was wearing a buckle and rings of gold, but the number and quality of the rings are quite unknown; also that the said Bessa did not attack Anterra, daugh? ter of Leo, nor beat or ill-treat her or gnaw her nose and ears; also that the said Bessa was carried home, and laid in her bed, and did not smear herself with the blood of animals, but, horrible to relate, I was bathed in her own blood as she held her infant.65 It is clear from this record that Leo was accused not only of assault, but also of theft, while his counterclaim was that Bessa had started the fracas by attacking his daughter and had then simulated injuries by covering herself with animal blood. In the event, Elias was fined for making a false charge of robbery, but Leo was found guilty of disorderly conduct and both he and his entire family were expelled from the town and banned from ever returning. Bonevie of Newbury was Leo's brother, and it was therefore to him that Leo turned when he had to provide someone willing to act as a pledge for Leo that no harm would come to Elias through Leo or from anyone acting on his behalf. 62 Ibid, (see n. 34) 277, 294; Richardson (see n. 21) 4:5 no. 14. 63 For the rest of his family, see Brown and McCartney (see n. 1) 1-34. 64 Rokeah(seen. 12) 176. 65 Rigg (see n. 34) 103-4,73. 38</page><page sequence="19">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry In the following decade a rare piece of information regarding personal pos? sessions is revealed, for in 1253 the Sheriff of Hampshire, Henry de Farley, stated that he had a valuable book belonging to Bonevie of Newbury ? a Hebrew version of the Pentateuch - which he had given him as a pledge towards money owing to the king.66 After Bonevie died, his wife, Pucelle, carried on his business activities, although whether she was still living in Newbury or moved elsewhere is not clear. However, it seems that she died in suspicious circumstances, for in 1279 a warrant was issued for the arrest of John of Notley, then living in Winchester, to answer for her death.67 In 1272 the courts at Lincoln record a reference to Fluria of Newbury, the widow of Bonevie of Newbury, and her decision not to prosecute a debt against the prior of Thurgarton.68 In the same year she appeared before the Cambridge courts because she 'had lost the middle part of a chirograph for ?20 under the names of Roger Russel and Abraham of Rye, which she had in her posses? sion. She was granted a writ for the chirograph in the chest and made a payment for the privilege.69 There had been an expulsion of all Jews from the town in 1244, so either Fluria had returned there a few years later, or the order had never been fully implemented. She was certainly not the only Jew living locally, for in 1275 one also hears of a Josce of Newbury.70 The fol? lowing year it is recorded, in a then common but still delightful turn of phrase, that one of his clients, Alan de la Harloter, was now free from any outstanding debts 'from the Creation till the End of the World'.71 Josce was originally from Devizes and still had business interests there at the time of the expulsion, according to the bonds and money owing to him then: in the Oxford area, he was owed ?23 1 is 4d and 24 quarters of corn amounting to ?8, while in Wiltshire it was ?22 6s 8d, along with 4 quarters of corn worth ?1 6s 8d.72 He may not have been able to collect those debts, for in October 1290, while other Jews were preparing to leave the country, he was on trial at the Tower of London, accused of forging three deeds of indebtedness to a total amount of ?3000 in the name of the Abbot and Convent of Reading and of fabricating a copy of the Abbey seal on them. The outcome of the trial is unknown and his fate is obscure.73 66 H. P. Stokes, 'Records of MSS and documents possessed by the Jews in England before the Expulsion' Trans JHSE VIII (1918) 88. 67 Cohen (see n. 11) 185 no. 955. 68 Richardson (see n. 21) 9 no. 26. 69 Rigg(seen. 34)311. 70 Richardson (see n. 21) 16 no. 55. 71 H. Jenkinson, Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews (London 1929) 3:142. 72 Abrahams (see n. 48) 101, 104. 73 R. R. Mundill, 'The Jewish entries from the Patent Rolls 1272-1292' Trans JHSE XXXII (1993) 85; Roth (see n 3) 80. 39</page><page sequence="20">Jonathan Romain Hungerford Nearby in Hungerford was Belia and her son-in-law Vivant. They were taken to court in 1244 by Hugh son of Hugh to contest a charge they made on him for 18 marks, which he claimed he did not owe them.74 Meir of Hungerford can be dated there in 1253, but by 1265 he is found Oxford, where he had resettled.75 Medieval Jews, unlike their Christian contemporaries, tended to be highly mobile, partly because they were not tied to land and could move their business easily to new areas, partly because they often had extended family living in other towns who could give them hospitality, and partly because occasional local disturbances forced them to relocate. It is known that Meir died some time before 1273, thanks to a reference to his death in a case over repayment of a loan taken out with Meir by Roger Gimel of Faringdon, the ownership of which Meir had then sold to Gamaliel of Oxford.76 Apparently someone Jewish was residing on the outskirts of the town a few years later, for in 1287 the Sheriff of Wiltshire was sent a writ to produce in court four Jews, one of whom was ca Jew living at Caerleton outside Hungerford'.77 Another coreligionist a few miles to the north was Benedict of Lambourne, who was owed four marks in 1278 by John de Rede of Upper Lambourne.78 Whether he had any Jewish company locally depends on whether he is the same as or different from the 'Jew of Lambourne', owed ?2 13s 4d in 1275.79 The final years The sudden appearance of court cases in the 1270s and 1280s may have been connected with the Statutum de Judeismo (Statute of Jewry) that was intro? duced in 1275 by Edward I. It was an early experiment in social engineering that was radical for its time. Edward was facing two problems: the vociferous opposition of the Church to usury, which was the mainstay of the Jewish community, and the deep unpopularity it brought on them among the pop? ulation at large. In addition, Jews had been impoverished by formidable amounts of royal taxes and fines, and were no longer of financial use to the Crown. Edward therefore ordered that Jews cease lending money on interest and instead turn to other trades, and become merchants, artisans and farmers. Various ordinances were made to accommodate this transition, such 74 Rigg(seen. 34)81. 75 Roth (see n. 3) 31, 65. 76 Rigg (see n. 19) 115. 77 Rokeah (see n. 15) 343. 78 Cohen (see n. 11) 163 no. 877. 79 R. R. Mundill, 'Lumbard and Son' Jewish Quarterly Review LXXXII, 144 n. 24. 40</page><page sequence="21">River Jews: medieval Jews along the Thames as a microcosm of Anglo-Jewry as being allowed to hold land on ten-year leases. But a combination of other economic restrictions and social antagonism between Jews and Christians meant that the experiment ended in failure. Jews were unable to make a success of their new businesses, so that some left England and others secretly returned to usury. The increasingly difficult conditions of English Jews may even have driven some to risk trying to make money by debasing existing coinage, for in 1279 the Sheriff of Berkshire, Alan son of Rowuld, was reim? bursed for time and costs 'spent carrying various Jews arrested for clipping the king's money from Oxford to London'.80 In a similar note of recompense two years later, it is stated that as well as escorting Jewish prisoners to Newgate, he was also responsible for baptizing some Jewish children.81 Of all the financial pitfalls and religious persecutions faced by medieval Jews, perhaps the worst danger was the false Ritual Murder allegation, based on the belief that, around Easter, Jews would crucify a Christian child in mocking imitation of the Crucifixion. There was no truth in the libel, but the setting up of shrines to such cases, with a reputation for procuring mirac? ulous cures, persuaded credulous people, including King Henry III, that Jews were guilty of such atrocities. Every town felt it needed a martyr's shrine to cure the sick, and from 1144 onwards many English towns were the scene of Ritual Murder libels, but there was no such occurrence in the Thames Valley. The very last references to Thames Jews concerns the Sheriff of Berkshire, William de Greinvill, being ordered to bring Gilbert Wace to trial on 1 July 1290 over a hauberk (coat of mail) belonging to Roger de Clifford which Wace had taken from a Jew, Simon de la Haye. It is likely that Roger de Clifford had arranged a loan with Simon and given the hauberk as a pledge, and that it had then been stolen from him by Wace.82 Of wider significance was the item which had allegedly been stolen from him, for a law enacted in 1181 had decreed that: 'No Jew shall keep with him mail or hauberk, but let him sell or give them away, or in some other way remove them from him so that they may remain in the service of the king of England'.83 Having a hauberk as a temporary pledge may not have transgressed this law, but it reflected the fact Jews, being outside the feudal hierarchy and chain of command, did not serve in the army. They were not allowed to hold arms as this might denude those summoned to war and therefore deprive the king of his full fighting strength. In some ways this exemption was a great boon, but it also meant that Jews had no arms with which to protect themselves during times of civil unrest and from attack by local mobs. 80 Rokeah (see n. 15) 245. 81 Ibid. 258. 82 Ibid. 370. 83 Roger de Hovedene, Chronica II 261, quoted in Jacobs (see n. 16) 75. 4i</page><page sequence="22">Jonathan Romain Expulsions - local and national Throughout the thirteenth century, Jews had suffered from a series of local expulsions in various parts of the country. In Berkshire and Buckinghamshire this included Wycombe (1235), Newbury (1244) and Windsor (1283). However, in 1290 Edward I ordered the Jews to leave England entirely. It was the first national expulsion of Jews in any country, and was emulated in subsequent decades by France and later Spain. Anglo Jewry largely returned to France, from where they had come two centuries earlier, and effectively disappeared from history as a recognizable group, assimilating into French Jewry and having to endure further rounds of dis? crimination, persecution and expulsion. Jewish memories of the Thames meandering through Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire would not be revived for several hundred years. London still has streets and sites named after them - such as Old Jewry and St Lawrence Jewry - but there are no such memorials in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Were it not for the surviving fiscal records of medieval Jewry, much of their story might have been hidden from view. What is clear, though, is that while medieval Anglo-Jewry may have congregated in towns and near royal strongholds, it also had a presence in more rural areas. Kings and bishops in urban centres may have been the clientele of the richer Jewish moneylenders, but most Jews operated on a smaller scale, and their debtors included not only townsfolk, but villagers and peasant freeholders. While the majority of Jewish moneylenders still resided in the larger towns and merely travelled to outlying areas for business, it is clear that others did settle further afield, including villages and towns along the Thames.84 Those Jews brave enough to venture into the more remote parts of the countryside between London and Oxford, often found the Thames guiding their direction. Through the records of their dealings with non-Jews we gain an insight into the medieval 'river Jews' that might otherwise have totally sunk from view. 84 Mundill (see n. 25) 11-12, 21-2. 42</page></plain_text>