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Thread: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    From what I understand - using Cecil Roth (1964) as a source - the seeds for the expulsion of the Jews from England by King Edward I in 1290 were planted earlier during the reign of his father, King Henry III. The Jews weren't allowed to live in England again until invited back by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s, although I believe Queen Elizabeth I had a Jewish physician.

    Henry repeatedly bankrupted the state treasury with his voracious spending habits (including building campaigns) and, as a result, taxed the Jews up to the hilt with tallages. The King's Jews were an easy target, being the protected "property" of the king who greased along the English economy as financiers providing nearly all its necessary money lending. Unlike the Christian French and Italian bankers and financiers resident in England, the Jews were not forbidden to charge interest rates on loans (usury) by papal decree, hence they made considerable profits. Those profits usually found their way into the king's coffers, which weakened the Jews' financial powers considerably. At the same time they were occasionally the targets of Christian mobs, yet earlier the civil authorities and king's sheriffs had always been keen to protect the Jews from such rioters.

    When Edward took the right of usury from the Jews in 1275 at the behest of the papacy, everything started to go downhill for them. The attempt to have them become artisans, merchants, and farmers failed miserably, largely because the guilds that handled all the various crafts and trades in the towns and cities were organized as Christian brotherhoods requiring a religious oath the Jews could not make. They also had no experience with farming since they were not allowed to own lands beforehand. The Jews became a useless burden that no longer produced money for the King, so he had them expelled in a political move that was hailed as very popular.

    Does anyone see it differently? That is, the reasons for their expulsion?

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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Just for fun, here's a medieval English depiction of Jews consorting with the Devil.


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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    The Jews didn't stop lending money when lending on interest was banned. They simply switched to "Lombard" crediting. That meant they were lending money against collateral, sometimes with an agreement that the collateral would be repurchased at a higher amount than the value of the loan.

    Therefore many of them kept making money, though not as easy as before. And since people from all the social classes owed them money, they didn't have too many friends (neither did the real Lombards, but those at least were Christians).

    When their expulsion was decreed, the king became the creditor in their place for the outstanding contracts. That was the main motivation behind the edict.

    The occupational hazards of being a banker during those times were quite important, as the Knight Templar would soon find out. The fact they were Christians was a minor detail, especially since any Christian could be accused of heresy, sodomy and other capital crimes.
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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    I vaguely recall that Edward declared bankruptcy in general, and screwed all his creditors.
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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    The Jews didn't stop lending money when lending on interest was banned. They simply switched to "Lombard" crediting. That meant they were lending money against collateral, sometimes with an agreement that the collateral would be repurchased at a higher amount than the value of the loan.
    Precisely! They also employed other tricks like charging late fees on loans or having the indebted pay them in kind with wool and grain. In fact, some Jews did fairly well for themselves in the wool trade following the 1275 edict against usury. The crippling tallage taxes levied on their whole community, however, was enough to ruin these modest returns.

    Therefore many of them kept making money, though not as easy as before. And since people from all the social classes owed them money, they didn't have too many friends (neither did the real Lombards, but those at least were Christians).
    Edward did have some of the French and Italians charged and a small number of them punished severely for committing fraud or other offenses, but most got away with a light fine. This stands in contrast with the Jews, who on one occasion had over 100 of their members executed when accused of coin clipping (shaving the edges off of many coins to melt the clippings down into bullion).

    When their expulsion was decreed, the king became the creditor in their place for the outstanding contracts. That was the main motivation behind the edict.
    Bingo. All the debts owed to the Jews were transferred to the King. He'd made his intentions very clear a couple years before the expulsion when he did basically the same thing to the Jews in his fief in Gascony, France. With the Jews' downfall from operating the royal Exchequer, all that money wasn't going to find its way into the king's coffers without taxation. Taking on owed debts proved even more profitable.

    The occupational hazards of being a banker during those times were quite important, as the Knight Templar would soon find out. The fact they were Christians was a minor detail, especially since any Christian could be accused of heresy, sodomy and other capital crimes.
    True, but the Jews were in the unique position of always being blasphemous for the simple reason that they didn't follow Christ's teachings. The Jews in the Byzantine Empire and elsewhere did okay for themselves, though.

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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Bingo. All the debts owed to the Jews were transferred to the King. He'd made his intentions very clear a couple years before the expulsion when he did basically the same thing to the Jews in his fief in Gascony, France. With the Jews' downfall from operating the royal Exchequer, all that money wasn't going to find its way into the king's coffers without taxation. Taking on owed debts proved even more profitable.
    Buying debt cheap when you have power of enforcement is always a good plan
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    René Artois's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    It was always useful to a king to attack a group you owed money too, that way to could seize their stuff and not pay them back. Philip IV we can see was in so much debt he attacked the Jews, the Lombards and the Knights Templar. Although the latter is a larger debate I won't get in to here (ignore Riley-Smith!).
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    Roma_Victrix's Avatar Gatorade, is it in you?
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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Quote Originally Posted by René Artois View Post
    It was always useful to a king to attack a group you owed money too, that way to could seize their stuff and not pay them back. Philip IV we can see was in so much debt he attacked the Jews, the Lombards and the Knights Templar. Although the latter is a larger debate I won't get in to here (ignore Riley-Smith!).
    That's an excellent point; the Jews weren't the only financially powerful group targeted by indebted monarchs. However, unlike Christian groups like the Lombards and Knights Templar, it was perhaps far more easy to target the Jews simply because of their "otherness" and separation from the Christian communities of Europe while being among them at the same time. That being said, Edward did grant all of the Jews safe passage out of England at least (on pain of death for anyone who disobeyed that royal command); the same cannot be said for the poor Knights Templar in France.


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    René Artois's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix View Post
    That's an excellent point; the Jews weren't the only financially powerful group targeted by indebted monarchs. However, unlike Christian groups like the Lombards and Knights Templar, it was perhaps far more easy to target the Jews simply because of their "otherness" and separation from the Christian communities of Europe while being among them at the same time. That being said, Edward did grant all of the Jews safe passage out of England at least (on pain of death for anyone who disobeyed that royal command); the same cannot be said for the poor Knights Templar in France.

    That was pretty much exclusive to the Templars in France though (other kings were far less harsh, except maybe in Cyprus but that was due to political ill-will). They had already confessed (those who survived torture) and when the Pope got involved and got Philip to tone down the trial and make it slightly less unfair, some recanted, becoming relapsed heretics in the eyes of the law and therefore to be executed. The Jews on the other hand were just a different religion, rather than a scary new and satanic (as they thought) heretical cult worshiping cats, having sex with each other, and practicing eastern witchcraft.
    Philip was under pressure to appear pious, being the grandson of a saint, whereas Edward I was not as bothered, being more concerned with practical matters.
    Bitter is the wind tonight,
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    I do not fear the coursing of the Irish sea
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Didn't they also clip coins?

  11. #11

    Default Re: Expulsion of all Jews from England, 1290 AD

    Quote Originally Posted by BosnianKnight View Post
    Didn't they also clip coins?
    Royal treasuries did that too. it was hardly exclusive buisness.

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