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The Economic and Financial Position of the Jews in Mediaeval England. Presidential Address

Sir Lionel Abrahams

<plain_text><page sequence="1">THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSI? TION OF THE JEWS IN MEDLEVAL ENGLAND. PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS. Delivered before the Jewish Historical Society oj England, June 25, 1917, by Sir Lionel Abrahams, K.G.B. I must begin with two apologies. The first is for the delay in giving my Presidential Address. For that I shall be readily forgiven. You will easily have controlled your impatience to hear me: and you will realise how exacting are the claims of work in a Government depart? ment during the war. My second apology is for the fact that my address is not based as completely as I should have wished on original authorities. This also is due to pressure of work. To save time I have sometimes, though not often, had to rely on modern historians where I should have liked to use only ancient records. Having made my humble apologies, I now proceed to put forward a far from humble claim, viz. that my subject is part of a question of commanding importance, which urgently demands scientific discussion and which Jewish writers have treated with the most unwise and unfortunate neglect. It is a matter of common knowledge that great power and eminence in the economic and financial spheres is habitually attributed to the Jewish race. All who are acquainted with Jews and with finance know how erroneous in fact and how prejudicial to Jewish interests that attribution is. And yet we should look in vain among Jewish writers for any serious attempt to correct it. Indeed Jewish writers, far from correcting the error, do much to foster it. If, when we have read unfriendly remarks about the harmful and excessive financial influence of the so-called " big Jew " or " Inter? national Jew " or " Cosmopolitan Jewish financier," 1 we turn to some 171</page><page sequence="2">172 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION Jewish, author hoping to discover the sober truth, we find instead Mr. Zangwill describing Mr. Jacob Schiff as " the financier of the Japanese war against Russia," 2 a description which, if correct, would be damaging proof that Jewish financial influence really is far greater than it ought to be; and we find also our good friend Mr. Henriques, in a work issued by this Society, making the amazing claim that Jews, when no other field for their energies was open to them, acquired " supremacy in the world of commerce and finance/' 3 and still retain it.4 I need not labour the points that the correction of views so erroneous and mischievous as to the past and present financial position of the Jews is greatly to be desired, and can be accomplished only by the collec? tion and presentation of facts relating to many countries and many centuries. You will see at once that, since my address of this evening attempts to do this work for one particular period, it is a contribution, however humble in itself, towards a very desirable object. After this preface, I may now ask you to turn your minds to the Jews of England in the period before their expulsion by Edward I. in 1290. We will consider, first, the opinions expressed by writers of note regard? ing their financial and economic position; secondly, the facts (so far as ascertainable) which, as you will see, suggest conclusions much at variance with the opinions of noted writers. The common belief about Jews of England in the fiddle Ages is that by their wealth and activity they were an element of first-class im? portance in the country. In the eighteenth century Tovey, the first systematic writer on Anglo-Jewish history, said that, when we remember that the Jews of mediaeval England were the only tolerated usurers, the wonder of their prodigious riches is explained.5 In the nineteenth century Mr. Do well, the author of the standard History of Taxation in England, told his readers that the departure of the Jews from England necessitated more severe taxation of the non-Jews who remained.6 Bishop Stubbs, the great authority on mediaeval English history, hazards the conjecture that the expulsion of the Jews in 1290 had such financial effects as to be one of the causes of the pecuniary difficulties which led Edward I. to call together the Great Parliament of 1294, an event of cardinal significance in English history.7 In a work published by our own Society, Mr. J. M. Rigg speaks of what he describes as the already vast wealth of the English Jews in</page><page sequence="3">OF JEWS IN MEDIAEVAL ENGLAND. 173 the middle of the twelfth century.8 Our late President, Dr. Joseph Jacobs, said that " the Jews acted the part of a sponge for the Royal Treasury. They gathered up all the floating money of the country to be squeezed from time to time into the King's treasure chest." 9 In another passage he says : " No wonder the expression ' rich as a Jew ' passed into a proverb ; as applied to the English Jew of the twelfth century ib was as tautologous as saying ' rich as a bank.' "10 As an illustration of the importance of the Jews, he describes them, in a statement which he would surely have revised if he had lived, as having financed Strongbow's expedition to Ireland ; a theory which rests on no more secure foundation than a Pipe Roll entry recording that Josce, Jew of Gloucester, was fined ?5 on account of the money which he lent to those who, against the king's prohibition, went over to Ireland.11 I am confident that all the ambitious statements which I have quoted about the financial and economic position of the Jews in England in the Middle Ages are, broadly speaking, wrong. Fortunately we are able to test them by some figures which are drawn from various periods in the two centuries (from about the time of the Conquest to 1290) of Jewish residence in England, and which relate to the most instructive fact in the financial position of the Jews, viz. the revenue which their royal masters were able to extract from them. I will draw your attention to three figures bearing on this point : (1) In the latter half of the twelfth century, almost certainly the most prosperous period of the two centuries, Dr. Jacobs estimated that the Jews yielded to the Crown about ?3000 a year;12 and, although I have not been able to undertake the heavy task of verifying this esti? mate in detail, I accept it because Dr. Jacobs, in spite of his faux pas about Strongbow and some other slips, had an exceptionally wide knowledge of the records of this part of Anglo-Jewish history. (2) My second figure is drawn from a century later. In 1269 the Jews com? pounded by a payment of ?1000 for freedom for three years from talliage, which though not the only, was by far the most important, item of their contribution to the Treasury 13 (3) Finally, as I mentioned in a paper read to this Society twenty-two years ago, the records of Edward I. show that in the last few years before the Expulsion the Jews yielded to the Exchequer less than ?700 a year.14</page><page sequence="4">174 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION My last two figures, showing that in spite of the Crown's absolute mastery over the Jews it got from them only a few hundred pounds a year in the latter part of the thirteenth century, are enough to refute, without any elaborate discussion of the changes in the value of money, the idea that in the thirteenth century the Jews were such an import? ant financial element in England that their departure changed the relations between the general population and the Exchequer. But greater care is needed in considering whether in the twelfth century, when the Jews were yielding ?3000 a year to the Exchequer, their position was such as Dr. Jacobs thought it to be. To form any opinion on this question, the first thing necessary is to estimate what ?3000 in the twelfth or thirteenth century was worth in the money of to-day, say, in the period just before the war. Dr. Jacobs thought that money of the period with which he dealt should be multiplied by about 30 to get its modern value. I think that he is not quite right, but not very far wrong. The matter is so important that I shall venture to give you some of the information on which an estimate must be based. Professor Thorold Rogers' famous History of Agriculture and Prices contains invaluable information from contemporary documents about prices of agricultural produce, dairy produce, and cattle in the thirteenth century. Statistics published by the Board of Agriculture contain somewhat similar information for the twentieth century. With no great liability to error we can compare the two sets of prices and draw some conclusions. The average price of wheat from 1261 to 1400, a period not far from the one with which we are concerned, was 5s. lOfd. per quarter.15 The average in 1913 was 31s. 8d.,16 that is, about 5| times that of the earlier period. The carcass of the best ox sold in the reign of Edward I. for 13s. 4d.17 The corresponding figure in 1913 was about ?20, or about 30 times as much.18 The carcass of the best pig cost 4s. in the reign of Edward I.19 In 1913 it was about ?4, 17s. 9d., or about 24 times as much.20 A good sheep cost 2s. in the reign of Edward I.21 In 1913 the price was about 50s., or 25 times as much.22 Butter cost |d. a pound late in the thirteenth century :23 we ought perhaps to multiply by about 28 to get to the price in 1913.24 A mason's wages were 4d. a day in the late thirteenth century.25 The multiplier for 1913 ought perhaps to be taken at about 20. I do not pretend to base</page><page sequence="5">OF JEWS IN MEDIAEVAL ENGLAND. 175 on these figures and on others which I might give a precise comparison between the value of money in the twelfth or thirteenth and the twen? tieth centuries. The factors to be considered are so numerous and in some respects uncertain that great precision would, I think, be impos? sible even after the most laborious research. But it is fairly evident that the right mulbiplier is nearer to 20 than to 30. And there are one or two facts other than the price of produce which tend to sup? port the view that 20 is a sufficiently high multiplier. In 1288 four unjust judges were punished. Three are said to have been fined ?23,000, ?4600, and ?670 respectively. All the property of the fourth was con? fiscated. It is said to have amounted to 100,000 marks, or ?67,000.26 If we multiply this by 20, the property of the fourth judge comes out at nearly ?1J millions, surely as high an equivalent in modern money as it is reasonable to assume. Again, when Henry III.'s sister married, her dowry is said to have been 300,000 marks, i.e. ?200,000.27 Multi? plied by 20 this would amount to the equivalent of ?4,000,000 at present values. This does not seem too low even for a king's sister's dowry. I should therefore take 20 as a fairly liberal estimate of the figure by which money of the twelfth and thirteenth century should be multiplied to get to its modern value. On this basis, the ?3000 a year which, according to Dr. Jacobs' estimate, the Jews of the twelfth century contributed to the Exchequer was the equivalent of about ?60,000 of modern money. How much per head this represented we do not know, because we have not statistics of population. Dr. Jacobs thought that there were about 2000 Jews in England at the end of the twelfth century.28 This figure seems to me too low, because there appear to have been about 16,000 at the time of the Expulsion in 1290:29 and in the intervening century the Jews suffered much and the tendency appears to have been towards emigration rather than immigration, so that an increase from 2000 to 16,000 seems improbable. But even taking Dr. Jacobs' figure of population, it would show that in the twelfth century the English Jewry, in spite of its absolute subjection to the Crown and of the rigorous supervision by the Crown of all its financial affairs,30 yielded to the Exchequer the equivalent in modern money of about ?30 a head. This would indicate a fairly high level of financial prosperity, but nothing corresponding to the idea of vast</page><page sequence="6">176 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION wealth and financial importance to the State which is assumed in the passages quoted on pp. 172-3. I believe, but I put this forward only as a belief, that the Jewish population at the end of the twelfth century was larger, the yield per head to the Exchequer less, and the general average of financial prosperity lower, than Dr. Jacobs' figures would show. I need scarcely explain that the end of the twelfth century represents the high-water mark of Jewish wealth in the pre-Bxpulsion period. From the end of the twelfth century the changes of condi? tions in regard to wealth, as in other respects also, were very decidedly for the worse, The figures which I have put forward are in striking contrast with what is implied in the opinions of writers so deserving of respect as Bishop Stubbs and Dr. Joseph Jacobs. You cannot but ask a question which I have not failed to put to myself, viz. How is it that, if the conclusions suggested by my figures are correct, previous authorities have fallen into the error of exaggerating so seriously the financial importance of the Jews of mediaeval England ? I shall venture first to give my answer in general terms, then support it by the discussion of certain particular cases, then pass on to some matters which arise out of it. My general answer to the question about the cause of the errors of modern historians is that they have, first, failed to use adequately the extant information without which a correct judgment on matters on which they have pronounced is impossible ; secondly, that they have sometimes used other information with an uncritical failure to allow for its notorious untrustworthiness in certain respects. As an instance of failure to use adequately the extant information, I may mention that the invaluable official records which show the real financial position of the Jews and their relation to the Crown in the reign of Edward I. had, as far as I know, never been used until I gave the substance of them in an essay published in 1895.31 If Bishop Stubbs had been aware of these documents, showing the insignifi? cance of the Jewish revenue just before the Expulsion, he would never have said that the Expulsion was " no doubt one cause of Edward I.'s pecuniary difficulties in 1294," and that it " cut off one of the most con? venient means by which the king could indirectly tax his people." 32 The second cause of error?viz. the uncritical use of information</page><page sequence="7">OF JEWS IN MEDLEVAL ENGLAND. 177 obtained otherwise than from official records?has been much more serious in its results, and is also less excusable than failure to study obscure and highly technical records. In order to explain briefly the special dangers attending the use of mediaeval sources of information, I will remind you of a passage in the works of Bishop Stubbs himself. In his Constitutional History he mentions the famous incident in the reign of Edward III., when an important Parliamentary vote was based on the calculation that there were 40,000 parishes in England, whereas actually there were only 9000 ; and he says that this is " a curious illustration of the absolute untrustworthiness of mediaeval figures which, even when most circum? stantially minute, cannot be accepted except where, as in the public accounts, vouchers can be quoted." 33 This emphatic utterance coming from a very great authority ought to have been borne in mind by all writers on mediaeval history. We will now note how recklessly it has been disregarded. The idea of modern writers as to the financial importance of the Jews of mediaeval England is partly based on somewhat general observations by the chroniclers of the period, which were the outcome of causes to be mentioned later ; but to a much greater extent they appear to rest on certain specific statements as to enormous contributions exacted from them by the Crown on particular occasions :? (A) By far the most important of such statements is the one made by Gervase of Canterbury regarding an alleged contribution in 1188. In describing the events of that year he says : "All England was grievously vexed in giving (to the king) tenths, so that the Christians gave ?70,000 and more, and the Jews ?60,000." 34 If this statement is correct, the Jews were really of extraordinary financial importance in England, since the king got from them a sum equivalent, if the multiplier of 20 be used, to ?1,200,000 in modern money, and almost equal to what he got from the whole non-Jewish population of the country. Dr. Jacobs35 and Mr. Bigg36 accepted the statement of Gervase without criticism, and naturally based on it magnificent ideas of the wealth of mediaeval Jews. But when we bear in mind Bishop Stubbs's remark about the absolute untrustworthiness of mediaeval figures except where vouchers can be quoted, we naturally ask with what authority does Gervase of Canterbury write, and what external evidence VOL. VIII. M</page><page sequence="8">178 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION is there as to the correctness or otherwise of this particular statement of his ? The answer to these questions is as follows : Gervase of Canterbury was a simple monk who spent all his life at Canterbury. We know from his writings that his main interests were in ecclesiastical affairs, especially those of Canterbury Cathedral and the monastery attached thereto. He was also interested in meteorology or architecture. There is nothing to show that he knew more about finance or public affairs generally than any other mediseval monk. If, therefore, his statement is not supported by direct evidence, and is clearly at variance with indirect evidence, his own personal authority cannot win credence for it.37 As regards direct evidence, what we might expect is some state? ment in official records, like what we have regarding many other talliages and other exactions of the same period (such, for example, as the contri? bution of 5000 marks in 1194, mentioned just below), showing that the ?60,000 alleged to have been contributed in 1188 was paid, at least in part. No shred of such direct evidence has yet been discovered in the records about the alleged payment of ?60,000 in 1188. Dr. Jacobs thought that he had found one shred, but a careful examination shows that he was misled.38 As regards indirect evidence, the important and unanswerable fact is that, with certain exceptions of which I shall speak later, the talliages of which we have good evidence before the reign of Edward I. are for sums from 500 marks (?333) to ?5000.39 It is incredible that, if ?60,000 was to be had for the asking, impecunious kings would be content with ?5000 or less from the Jews, their helpless chattels^40 This general consideration is strikingly supported by an incident relating to a year only six years after the date of the alleged talliage of ?60,000. In 1194, when Richard I. returned from Germany in great need of money, the Jews of England were required to promise him a gift. Dr. Israel Abrahams' admirable edition of the 'Northamp? ton Donum (circulated last year to members of our Society) shows that the amount promised was 5000 marks, or about ?3300. The amount paid was about half. It is as nearly certain as any historica statement can be that the reason why the Jews paid no more was that they could not. Taking all the evidence positive and negative, direct and indirect, about the alleged payment of ?60,000 in 1188, can there be any other conclusion than that its acceptance by modern writers is</page><page sequence="9">OF JEWS IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND. 179 merely an illustration of their neglect of Stubbs's warning about the untrustworthiness of mediaeval figures unsupported by official evidence, and that in actual fact no such payment was ever made ? Lest I appear to be paradoxically sceptical on the subject I may mention that Tovey, early in the eighteenth century, gave an intelligent reason, though not the ones that I have given, for thinking that in all likelihood the money was never levied.41 It is strange that later writers, who have based important conclusions on the contrary assumption, have taken no notice of Tovey's doubts.42 (B) I now pass to another statement which has had a great effect in misleading later writers on Anglo-Jewish history. Roger of Wend over, a chronicler whose narrative has been incorporated in the work known as the Larger Chronicle of Matthew Paris, says that in 1210 King John imprisoned all the Jews of England, men and women, and punished them cruelly in order to get money from them. " One of the Jews of Bristol," he goes on, " refused, though lacerated by a variety of tortures, to pay a suitable sum for release. Whereupon the king ordered his torturers to extract one of his double teeth every day until he should have paid 10,000 marks (i.e. about ?6700). For seven days this was done. On the eighth day the torturers were just beginning when the Jew, seeing at length where his true interest lay, paid the 10,000 marks."43 If this story were true, it would tell against my view of the very limited financial importance of the mediaeval English Jews, because, if the equivalent of more than ?130,000 in modern money could be got in tbe manner stated from an otherwise unknown Jew of Bristol, the Jewish community must have been very rich and a possible source of great revenue to the Crown. I can give briefly under two heads my reason for believing that the story is either untrue or exaggerated. First, there is the character of the writer who tells it, Roger of Wendover. This is summed up by a trustworthy modern authority on the thirteenth century, Mr. H. W. C. Davis ''Roger of Wendover," he says, " is a copious and inaccurate writer. . . . Where he is the sole authority for an event, he is to be used with cau? tion." 44 Secondly, there are the probabilities of the case. The Jew's wealth, which he is supposed to have surrendered after losing seven double teeth, must have been either in non-money forms (such as bonds, book debts, houses, etc.) or in money. So far as it was in</page><page sequence="10">180 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION non-money form, it would have been all registered under a system which by 1210 was well established,45 so that it is absurd to suppose that the Jew could have concealed it, or would have tried to do so. So far as his wealth was in money, there is a double absurdity in the story : first in supposing that the king's officers could not have discovered it by domiciliary search ; secondly, in thinking that a Jew, who could only make a living by lending his money, would keep in his house a sum equal to about ?135,000 in modern value. I venture to say that the story of John's exaction of 10,000 marks from the Jew of Bristol cannot be seriously defended. (C) The next untrustworthy story demanding notice is one con? tained in an anonymous manuscript in Corpus Christi College, Cam? bridge, to the effect that in 1210 King John imprisoned all the Jews of England and despoiled them of their chattels to the value of 66,000 marks, i.e. nearly ?1,000,000 in modern money 46 I need not dwell either on the improbability of this story or on the insufficiency of the authority on which it rests, since my criticisms of the statements of Gervase of Canterbury and Roger of Wendover apply to it mutatis mutandis; but I may observe that the uncritical credulity with which pre-Expulsion history has been written is nowhere more strikingly illustrated than by the reproduction of the anonymous story of the 66,000 marks, as though it represented a well-established fact, in a work published a few years ago by the Jewish Historical Society of England 47 Before passing finally from the errors due to reliance on mediaeval chroniclers, I ought in fairness to mention that the official records them? selves contain a limited amount of evidence which, until carefully checked, appears to accord with the views generally adopted by modern writers as to the wealth of the mediaeval Jews. The records show that between 1240 and 1250 a period of terrible misgovernment and despe? rate financial expedients on the part of the Crown, two talliages of 20,000 and 60,000 marks were imposed on the Jews by Henry III.48 If it were the case that talliages of this amount, or even a large portion of them, were paid in cash, this would be a strong point against my argument as to the comparative financial unimportance of the mediaeval Jews. Actually the chief direct evidence regarding the two great talliages is to the effect that, in spite of the most barbarous measures of coercion (including the imprisonment not only of defaulters but of their wives</page><page sequence="11">OF JEWS IN MEDIAEVAL ENGLAND. 181 and children), the contributions to which individuals were assessed were in some cases not paid.49 We know also that such payments of talliages as were made in the thirteenth century were often made not in cash but in securities, i.e. by the transfer to the Crown, for enforcement as and when possible, of bonds representing debts originally due to Jews.50 We know also that after the middle of the thirteenth century the Jews were greatly impoverished and the talliages imposed on them were of amounts trivial in comparison with those imposed between 1240 and 1250.51 These facts clearly point to the conclusion that, to the uncertain extent to which the great talliages of the middle of the thirteenth century were paid, they represented not taxation but the confiscation of capital, a process which cannot be often repeated, and which is entirely different from what Dr. Jacobs had in mind when he apparently thought of the Jews as a sponge which could be dipped into the wealth of the population, squeezed into the Exchequer, and re dipped and re-squeezed ad infinitum. We may safely dismiss the idea that this could be done to anything like the extent which Dr. Jacobs imagined. As I am anxious to avoid the appearance of paradox, I am bound now to face a question which must necessarily occur to you, viz. How is it that, if my view as to the moderate wealth of the mediaeval Jews is correct, the opposite view was clearly taken by at least some writers in the thirteenth century, as is shown by the passages which I have quoted earlier ? It seems to me that there are three explanations of this fact. The first, which is implied in what I have already said, is that the mediaeval writers in question were not competent authorities on financial questions. The second is that the wealth of the Jews, though not very important in the aggregate, was largely concentrated in the possession of a few rich men. If, as was undoubtedly the case, a few men like Aaron of Lincoln or Jurnet of Norwich could produce on occasion large sums of money,52 it was natural for an unworldly monkish chronicler to think that all Jews were of necessity exceedingly rich. And the liability to error in this respect was increased if, as appears to have been sometimes the case, the rich Jews dealt not merely with their own money but with the money of large partnership groups of which they were the heads.53 The individual wealth of the head of the group would be greatly over-estimated if he was erroneously regarded as the sole</page><page sequence="12">182 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION owner of all the money that he handled. But there was a third reason, far more important than those already mentioned, which led the con? temporaries of mediaeval Jews to exaggerate their wealth. Briefly, it is that in the twelfth and thirteenth century the wealth of the general population was to a very small extent held in money or in forms capable of being readily turned into money; that payments were largely made in kind ; and that the Jews were among the few classes, perhaps the only class, to hold mainly in metallic money or securities for money such possessions great or small as they had. It is not to my present purpose to discuss at length why the Jews held their property in this exceptional form; but the fact has so often been used as a ground for attack that I will briefly say that it was clearly due, not to any innate love of money dealing or usury, but to two causes. First, Jews were so liable to persecution and expulsion that, even if they could have chosen other forms of property, they would naturally have preferred the port? able form of money, or of bonds representing loans ; secondly, social institutions so barred them from other occupations that dealing in money as loanable capital was the only occupation open to them on any considerable scale.54 I need not illustrate in great detail the prevalence of transactions in kind and the scarcity of money in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which were the chief causes that created an erroneous impression of the real wealth of the Jews. But the matter is of such exceptional import? ance that I will venture to give one rural and one urban illustration in order to bring the facts home to you vividly. My rural illustration is from a certain manor in the twelfth century. The lord of the manor had under him villains, who were in effect tenants. They did not pay rent as we know it; but each of them had to make payments in service, kind, and money as follows. He had to work for the lord three days a week; to plough four acres in the spring ; to supply two oxen to the plough team three days in winter, three in spring, one in summer ; finally, to give the lord every year 2s. ljd. in money, one hen, and sixteen eggs. The payment in money may be estimated at about 9 per cent, of the value of the total dues.55 My urban illustration is from the record of a searching inquiry made for the purpose of taxation into the move ables possessed by the inhabitants of Colchester in 1301. Three hundred and ninety households were examined. Property of many</page><page sequence="13">OF JEWS IN MEDIAEVAL ENGLAND. 183 kinds was found and valued, such as furniture, jewellery, silver plate, animals, trade necessaries, wine ; but less than ten of the 390 house? holders were found to possess any money. The largest sum was two marks (?1, 6s. 8d.); other sums found in different households were one mark (13s. 4d.), ten shillings, four shillings, two shillings.56 It is easy to see the position which a Jew would occupy in a society which, while by no means poor, had so little money. Ordinarily a land? owner or the abbot of a monastery would live mainly on the actual yield in kind of his estates. The trivial amount of money received from his tenants was enough for the small portion of expenditure which had to be incurred in cash. But occasionally a special need would arise. The landowner would have to set out on military service and would need money for a suit of armour and the expenses of his journey. Or he would have to go to London or to the King's Court on legal business and need money for travelling expenses and Court fees.57 An abbot would find that his monastery needed structural repairs, and that he had to pay cash for materials and labour. He would get money from a Jew,58 and would think him extremely rich, through his failure to see that the Jew could help not because he was richer, as he probably was not, than the landowner or the abbot, but merely because such property as he had was in a form more suited for the immediate pur? pose. The mistake was a natural one. It is the same as we are apt to make when we read the " Merchant of Venice " and think that Shylock must have been much richer than Antonio, whereas his real advantage was not in his greater wealth, but in the quite different fact that, whereas Antonio's wealth was in argosies, Shylock's, though perhaps of less amount, was in ducats. It is important that we should realise how the mistake arises, so that we may be on our guard against falling into it as so many writers, mediaeval and modern, have done. I will venture in conclusion to draw attention to some larger questions which are involved in what has been said in this address. Just as I have endeavoured to show that the financial importance of the Jews in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries has been greatly exaggerated, so I am confident that the same thing can be proved to demonstration regarding the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Patient and laborious research is needed. But the work is one which ought to be done not merely in order to serve the cause of</page><page sequence="14">184 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION historical truth, and incidentally to make it easier to answer misrepre? sentations, but also for the much higher purpose of removing from the minds of Jews and non-Jews illusions regarding the Jewish race and its potentialities. The idea exists that for the last nineteen centuries the chief Jewish work of the world has been that which comes from the financial genius and financial and economic eminence of the race. Not only is that an illusion?because Jewish financial genius does not exist, and Jews have attained as a whole comparatively little in the way of financial and economic eminence?but it is a mischievous illusion, since it tends to obscure the fact that the only kind of greatness which the Jewish race has ever attained, or seems likely to attain, is spiritual greatness. We were great in the past because we were the people in whose midst the pcophets spoke. If we are to be in any way great in the future, there is no reason to believe that we shall be so in any other than the spiritual sphere. If this is so, and if Jews and non-Jews are to realise it, one necessary condition is that our racial claims to other forms of distinction should be put aside; and among other things that our real insignificance in the financial sphere should be satis? factorily established. I have endeavoured in this address to con? tribute something in this direction in regard to one period of history. I earnestly hope that similar work will be done with regard to other periods by those who have more knowledge and competence, and above all more leisure, than I possess.</page><page sequence="15">OF JEWS IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND. NOTES. 1 National Review, Jan. 1916, p. 651; Feb. 1916, p. 814; Oct. 1916, p. 160. London Magazine, Jan. 1917, p. 510. 2 The War for the World, p. 320. My friend Mr. Zangwill tells me that his statement which I criticise is based on what is said in the Jewish Encyclopedia, xi: 98, viz: that Messrs. Kuhn, Loeb &amp; Co. of New York (Mr. Schiff's firm) "subscribed for and floated the three large Japanese war loans in 1904 and 1905." It will be found on reference to the official Hand Book of the National Loans of Japan (Tokio, 1906), that Japan issued in 1904 and 1905 five loans for ?107,000,000 in all, of which ?67,750,000 was issued in England, France, and Germany, and ?39,250,000 in America The interest and responsibility of Messrs; Kuhn, Loeb &amp; Co. were confined to the American issues. Whether the firm had the sole responsibility for the American issues or was merely the head of a syndicate, I do not know. Even if it was solely responsible for the American ?39,250,000, the description of Mr. Schiff as "the financier of the Japanese war against Russia " is clearly wrong. 8 Preface to Jews and the English Law, p. vi. 4 In another passage (The Return of the Jews to England, p. 9) Mr. Henriques falls into the error of repeating as correct Coke's statement that the Jews yielded ?420,000 to the Exchequer from 1266 to 1274. Coke's error was demonstrated and explained in 1738 by Tovey (Anglia Judaica, pp. 237-238). 5 Anglia Judaica, -p. 121. 6 History of Taxes and Taxation in England, i. p. 69. 7 Constitutional History of England, octavo edition, vol. ii. pp. 137, 580. 8 Select Pleas, Starrs, and other Records from the Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, ed. Rigg, Preface, p. xvii. 9 Jews of Angevin England, xix. 10 Ibid., xv. 11 Ibid., xix. and 51. 12 Ibid., xix. 13 Tovey, Anglia Judaica, p. 167. 14 Transactions of Jewish Historical Society of England for 1894-5, p. 82. 15 Thorold Rogers, History of Agriculture and Prices, i. p. 218. 16 Agricultural Statistics, 1914 (Command Paper 8112), vol. xlix. Part III., p. 211. 17 Munimenta Gildhallm Londoniensis (Rolls Series), I. lxxxi. 18 Agricultural Statistics, 1914, vol. xlix, Part III., shows (p. 219) that the average price in 1913 was 38s. lid. per cwt.; and I am informed on good authority that the average weight of a fat bullock is about 10? ewt. 19 See note 17 above. 20 Agricultural Statistics, p. 221, shows price in 1913 as about 8s. 6d. per stone. 185</page><page sequence="16">186 ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL POSITION The Agricultural Output of Great Britain (Stationery Office), 1912, shows the average weight as 160 lb. 21 See note 17 above. 22 Agricultural Statistics, 1914, p. 221, shows 1913 price as ahout 9d. per lb. The Agricultural Output of Great Britain, p. 12, shows average weight at 67 lb. 23 Rogers, i. 452. 24 Agricultural Statistics, 1914, p. 228. 25 Rogers, i. 322. 26 J. F. Bright, History of England, i. 179. 27 Tovey, Anglia Judaica, p. 106. 28 Jews of Anvegin England, p. 381. 29 Tovey, Anglia Judaica, p. 244. 30 Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, p. 156. 81 Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England for 1894-95, pp. 76-105. 32 Constitutional History of England, ii. p. 580. 33 Ibid., ii. 459, note 1. 34 Gervase of Canterbury, ed. Stubbs (Rolls Series), 1879, i. p. 422. 35 Jews of Angevin England,^. 91. But see note 38 below. 38 Select Pleas, Starrs, &amp;c, 1902 (published for the Jewish Historical Society of England), p. xvii. 37 What is said in the text about Gervase's qualifications is based on his own writings and Bishop Stubbs's Introduction to his edition in the Rolls Series. 38 Dr. Jacobs identified the tenth (or ?60,000) alleged by Gervase to have been paid in 1188 with the confiscation of a quarter of the chattels of the Jews, which is referred to in a record of 1187 as having then already occurred (Jews of Angevin England, pp. 91 and 93). This identification must have been due to an oversight. Similarly, Dr. H. P. Stokes (Studies in Anglo-Jewish History, p. 100) appears for once to have fallen into an error when he identifies Gervase's tenth or ?60,000 with the Guildford Talliage, known from the records cited by Dr. Jacobs in Jews of Angevin England, pp. 88, 195, and 277, and describes the latter as "The Guild ford Talliage (?60,000)." There is no evidence that the Guildford Talliage amounted to ?60,000; and there is clear evidence that, whatever its amount, it was not, as Gervase says of the ?60,000, paid in 1188. Part of the Guildford Talliage was still unpaid in 1199. (Jacobs, p. 195.) 30 See the list in Mr. Jenkinson's "Record of Exchequer Receipts from the English Jews," published in this volume. 40 It is just within the bounds of possibility that Henry II. may have contem? plated in 1188 a great confiscation of Jewish capital of the kind mentioned on page 180 above as having apparently taken place between 1240 and 1250, and may have estimated the yield of such an operation at ?60,000. But the assumption that he actually carried out the operation in 1188, when he was practically on his death? bed, is highly improbable. We might have to adopt it if the evidence for the payment of ?60,000 were primd facie good; but there is no justification for doing so when the evidence is primd facie bad. 41 Anglia Judaica, p. 16. 42 In my Expulsion of the Jews from England (Oxford, 1895), I accepted (pp. 13</page><page sequence="17">OF JEWS IN MEDI2EVAL ENGLAND. 187 and 15) the statement that the Jews paid Henry II. ?60,000 in 1187. (I should have said 1188?) My excuse is that, in writing on the Expulsion, I was mainly concerned with the history of the thirteenth century, and thought that I could safely follow Dr. Jacobs, the standard writer on the twelfth century, in regard to an incident alleged to have occurred in that century. I did not then realise that his extra? ordinarily valuable work on pre-Expulsion history is marred by a want of aptitude, very natural in a literary man, for handling financial questions. 43 Matthew Paris, ed. Luard,ii. p. 528. 44 Encyclopedia Britannica, xxiii. p. 455. 45 Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, pp. 156-159. 46 Madox, History of the Exchequer, Second Edition (1769), vol. i. p. 223. 47 Calendar of Plea Rolls, &lt;kc, ii. p. xvii. 43 Madox, History of the Exchequer, i. pp. 224 and 225; Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History, pp. 85,92. 49 Madox, i. 225, footnote w; Prynne, Second Part of a Short Demurrer, p. 30 (wrongly numbered 32). 50 Prynne, Second Part of a Short Dmurrer, p. 30 (wrongly numbered 32), p. 44. (Et si contigerit quod aliquis Judeus vel Judea defecerit in solutione porcionis quse ipsum Judeum vel Judeam contingit de tallagio et portione prsedictis, tune accedas ad archas prsedictas et extrahi facias de melioribus et clarioribus debitis tuis in archis illis inventis usque ad portionem quse ipsum Judeum vel Judeam continget de tallio et portione prsedictis ad distringendum omnes debitores eorun dem debitorum.) See also Rigg, Calendar of Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the J ews, vol. ii. (1910), pp. 311 (chattels of Abraham son of Moses and debts of Gamaliel of Oxford "in the King's hand for talliage"), 312 (the clearer debts of Deudone Crespyn and his sons retained to the king's use for talliage), 314 (bonds of Benedict son of Deulecresse and of several London Jews placed in the Treasury for default of payment of talliage), 317 (debts owing by Simon de Anesy to David of Stanford and Elias of Doncaster retained to the king's use, but credited to Reyna widow of David and to Elias against what is due from them on account of talliage and other debts to the king). 61 A talliage of 1000 marks was imposed in 1255, and one of 500 marks in 1260. (Prynne, Second Part of a Short Demurrer, pp. 44, 48.) 82 Among rich Jews the following may be mentioned, the numbers after their names being the pages of Jews of Angevin England, in which evidence of their wealth will be found :?Aaron of Lincoln (58, 71, 79, 91, 313), Jurnet of Norwich (64, 90), Brun (73, 84), Benedict of Norwich (74), Samuel of Northampton (140); Benedict of York (117, 145), Joce of York (ibid.). Aaron of York was also rich; but the evidence as to the amount of his wealth affords almost as curious an illustration of the difficulty of dealing with mediseval figures as the one quoted from Stubbs on p. 177 above. Aaron told Matthew Paris that in seven years he paid the king 30,000 marks of silver, and the queen 2000 marks of gold (Tovey, Anglia Judaica, p. 109). But in 1235 a Letter Patent was issued freeing him from all talliages for the rest of his life (and also from certain other debts to the king, which he was to have liquidated by instalments of ?5 a year), in consideration of his paying to the Treasury 50 marks every Easter and every Michaelmas. 53 Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, pp. 55-56, 58, 73. Dr. Jacobs* statement</page><page sequence="18">188 JEWS IN MEDIAEVAL ENGLAND. (p. 314) that Jews were not allowed to have partnerships does not seem to be in accord with the evidence. His statement in another part (p. 333) of his book that the king required payment for allowing a partnership, appears to be more correct. 54 See my Expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, pp. 38-44, 46-47. 85' Social England, edited by H. D. Traill (1893), i. p. 359. On the basis of the information in vol. i. of Rogers's History of Agriculture and Prices, the value of the payments in service and kind may be estimated as follows : ? s. d. Three days' work a week (worth half the annual value of the wages of an agricultural labourer, which may be taken at ?1, 15s. 2d., p. 289). 17 7 Ploughing four acres (p. 280)....... 2 8 Two oxen for the plough team for seven days a year (pp. 25 and 329) 6 One hen (p. 363) ........ . 11 Sixteen eggs (p. 452) ........ J ?1 0 10| Another illustration of the small proportion of their total dues which land? owners received in money is given by Rogers in Six Centimes of Work and Wages. At the end of the thirteenth century each serf on the manor of Cuxham, in Oxford? shire, paid ljd. a year in money, but made payments in kind and services worth about 9s. a year (p. 40). 66 Dowell, History of Taxation and Taxes in England, i. pp. 232-6. 67 Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, p. 39. Cf. also Lipson, Economic History of England, p. 530. 68 Cf. the well-known cases of Bury St. Edmunds and St. Albans (Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, pp. 60 and 79). See also my Expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, p. 26.</page></plain_text>