Little Bits of History

July 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 18, 2017

1290: King Edward I of England issues the Edict of Expulsion. When William the Conqueror came to England in 1066, he instituted a feudal system, appointing lords who were beholden to him and allowing them their rule over the serfs. Merchants and Jews received special status with direct subjugation to the King. Jews were not tied to any particular lord but where at the whim of any king. Each king had to review the charter and determine if Jews would remain in England. The Magna Carta did not include rights for Jews. Christians were not permitted to loan money for profit but Jews did not suffer under this restriction, allowing them to fulfill a valuable service in the communities. Over time, this service came to be seen as usury and the Jews came to be seen, in England and all of Europe, as Jesus killers.

In 1218, Henry III became the first king to demand Jews within his reign wear a badge to mark them out. Between 1219-1272 a total of 49 new taxes were placed on Jews for a total of 200,000 marks, an incredibly high amount. In 1275, it became illegal to lend money with interest and Jews had 15 years to adjust. In 1287, Edward I ordered Jews expelled from the duchy of Gascony. He seized all their assets for the crown. Edward returned to England in 1289, deeply in debt. In the summer of 1290 he called for his knights to impose a new, steep tax and in order to make the citizens more willing to pay it, he offered them expulsion of all Jews from England. The tax was passed, and on this day the Jews were officially sent from England.

The Jewish population of the time was small, approximately 2,000 people. They had failed to comply with the Statute of Jewry, and had continued to charge interest on lent money. This continued to make them unpopular and their expulsion was quickly carried out. There seems to have been no violence associated with their removal, although there are some tall tales to the contrary. The Jews left for Scotland, France, the Netherlands, and Poland, all of them at the time still protecting Jews. The Jews would eventually find other nations just as inhospitable and there was wide resettlements and purges throughout the Middle Ages.

Jews stayed away from England until their formal return in 1655 except for a small group at Domus Conversorum. These were a group of Jews who had converted to Christianity and remained in London. On this day, about 80 residents stayed behind with another 48 converts admitted and records end in 1609. Jews remained banished from the country until Oliver Cromwell looked at wealthy Jews in Amsterdam and wished to invite them, and their lucrative trade, back to England. There had been intermittent attempts to bring Jews back, but it took more than 360 years before Cromwell’s invitation was legalized in 1657.

The observant Jew has his own sense of values. Torah Judaism is his blueprint for this life, his target for existence. – Meir Kahan

It is essential that Christians understand this: Every Jew – secular, religious, assimilated, left-wing, right-wing – fears being killed because he is Jewish. This is the best-kept secret about Jews, who are widely perceived as inordinately secure and powerful. But it is the only universally held sentiment among Jews. – Dennis Prager

Being a Jew, one learns to believe in the reality of cruelty and one learns to recognize indifference to human suffering as a fact. – Andrea Dworkin

I am thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, and as a Jew throughout the world. Everywhere an intruder, never welcomed. – Gustav Mahler


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