The Rise of Anti-Semitism in Angevin England
Henry II's Reign
The Jews first came into England with William the Conqueror from
Anjou though were first documented to be in England in 1140's. They
were a minority very different from the English in many aspects.
They wore different clothes, ate different foods,
celebrated fifferent holidays and had a different
religion to the English
As Jews weren't obliged to follow church law they were the
only ones able to loan money and so even their occupations
were defining and very different from the christians in
The Jews kept very much to themselves and travelled a lot so made
few social connections. They often lived outside of city gates in their
From 1164 Henry II borrowed money from only Jewish
money lenders. This drew attention to them and increased
baronial hostility as well as church dissaproval.
Aaron of Lincoln died in 1186. He was found to be
one of if not the richest man in Northern England
leaving behind hundreds who owed him money.
A seperate Exchequer was set up to deal
with the Aaron's finances after his death
as all money owed to Aaron was now to
be paid to the king. (Exchequer of Aaron)
Even Becket borrowed from the Jews to
fund his campaign against Toulouse in
Isaac fil Jurnet was also one of
the richest men in England and
lent to the abbey of Westminster.
On the death of all Jews their any
debts owed to them were then owed to
the king. Henry therefore took a special
interest in the Jews.
Christians had to borrow from Jews as nobody else was to be involved in usury. The
aritocracy therefore despised the Jews as they had to pay them back the money at
interests of up to 66%
Relationship with the King/Angevin Despotism
The Jews were under the King's protection. which
came at a price The Jews and all of their properties
were seen as posessions of the crown.
In 1164 Henry II stopped borrowing money from
christian money lenders and used Jews like Aaron of
Lincoln instea\d. He believed them to be richer and
easier to exploit.
Henry, from the start of his reign, made it a point to restrict
the power of the barons who haad become too powerful
during Stephen's reign. The barons resented the king for
limiting their power and in turn resented the jews who were
so strongly assosiated with Henry and his finances.
When Aaron of Lincoln died and his huge wealth
became evident Henry II realised the profitabe potential
of the Jews. By the end of his reign he had begun taxing
the Jews almost systematically. Again this fuelled
Under Henry II's Assize ot Arms the King ordered that Jews were not to own
arms or armour. They couldn't own wearpons to protect themselves and so relied
on the kings for protection even mroe.
The third Laterean Councel condemmned usury. This was therefore a job left to
the Jews who were then seen as sinners for loaning money.
Though the church didn't promote violence and
discrimination against the Jews during Henry's reign
directly they did little to stop it.
The church recognised the Jews as different and warned christians
against socialising with them.
The church didn't force baptism on Jews during Henry II's reign though they made it a
point to identify Jews as unsaved sinners increasing hostility and visibility.
Jews accused of ritual murder. They were
thought to have murdered a boy; William or
Norwich in 1144 for his blood. The boy was
made a saint suggesting the Church were
against the Jews. Other similar murdered
followed and so hostility increased throughout
Henry II and Richard's reign. This climaxed in
1190 in the North.
1144 William of Norwich
Bury St Edmunds 1181
Richard I's Reign
Crusades and Religious Fervour
Richard was crowned king in 1189 and left
only a few months later to lead the third
Knights and noblemen were joining the
expensive crusade to the Holy Land and
so were borrowing from the Jews
increasingly. They had to pay back the
Jews at huge interest increasing hostility
towards the money lenders.
The idea of the Jews commiting deicide was spread during the
time of the crusades. They were seen as the 'more accesible'
enemies of Christ as they were much closer and more vulnerable
than the muslims.
With Richard on crusade he wasn't there to protect the
Jews, his property, from all of this increased hostility.
During Richards reign a systematic exploiting of the
Jews came about. With increased funds the crusade and
Richard's ransom demanded they were taxed heavily.
Kights and noblemen needed money to
fund their journey to the Holy Land and so
had to borrow from the Jews at huge
In 1190 the York Pogrom took place. One of the main motives
lying behind it was finance. After the Jews were massacred at
Clifford's tower the Archa was found and documents containing loan
information was burned.
Richard Malebisse (ringleader, warden)
John Marshal (Sheriff)
1194- Richard reorganised English Jewry. He set up the 'Exchequer of the Jews' which
supervised the affairs of the Jews. It was presided over by Justices. Richard could now
track the Jew's financial affairs more effectvley and gain from them easier. The York
pogrom also motivated Richard to improve the way Jewish financial documents were
stored and accessed. They were now stored in an Achre which required the presence of
certain number of people. Documents were also split into two matching halfs so that the
debtor and debtee knew how much to pay and who to.
The Jews were forced to pay 3x as much money towards
Richard's ransom before his return inn 1194.
several tallages and levies a minimum of 20,000 marks between
1189 and 1194
Barons and aristocracy still associated
Jews with the Angevin Despotism and
despised them for it.
Barons and aristocracy made up a large
percentage of people who borrowed from
Jews and so disliked the fact that they had
to pay the Jews money or give their lands
iver when payment was due. They also
disliked the idea that when Jews died they
owed the king.
Northern barons who owed Jews money played big
parts in the York Pogrom (1190). This financially
motivated hostility from the barons fuelled the burning
of the Jew's documents as it meant their debts were
cleared- no proof of ever owing money.
Relationship with the king
The King was still seen the 'owner' and protector of
the Jews. This lead to the idea of Jews being little
more than objects.
With Richard gone on the third crusade and then kept in custody until
1194 the Jews were seen as vulnerable. Their protector was absent
and on crusade no less. This motivated the many attacks on the Jews
between 1190 and 1194.
At Richard's corronation at Westminster he refused to allow the Jews
in. Barons and locals misunderstood this as hostility and so when Jews
arrived they were killed and chased away. This prompted an all out riot
against the Jews and their communities. Richard was angered though
he didn't respond with a very harsh punishment suggesting to his
barons and subjects he didn't care very much. This leinient reaction may
have prompted the pogrom at York one year later.
Richard made Jews surrender 1/4 of their moveable property between 1186-1194
Relationship with king
Jews were still regarded the property of Enlgish kings and were still
under their protection.
John charged the Jews 4000m for royal
protection and privellages plus 1/10 of the value
of their debts.
Jews were increasingly dehumanised during
John's reign as he tallaged them at will at saw
them as little more than money machines
Jews were a big financial aid for John and contributed to funds for his
campaign after 1204. The Jews were therefore seen as sponges who
funded the greedy Angevin kings. The Jews were seen to be increasing
royal power through means of finance. This was exactly the thing the
barons didn't want.
John appointed Jews to high
status jobs. E.g Leo of Norwich
was roya goldsmith
1199- John pardoned York Pogrom leader Richard Malebisse
and restored his property
1203- John was forced to remind mayor of London that Jews were
under royal protection
"If we had given our peace to dogs it ought to be involiably observed" King John to Mayor of London
The loss of Normandy impacted the Jews greatly. Trade and business
links were cut off and Jews were vulnerable- seen as money machines by
John. E.g I saac of Norwich fines 10,000 marks to contribute twd
campaign for continetall lands.
1210- Bristol tallage imposed. Believed to be
around £40,000. John ordered arrest of all Jews
until tallage was payed. Property was
confiscated and people like Isaac of Canterbury
were even hamged.
1213/1214 another large scale seizing and counting of property of Jews.
Sheriffs put pressure on Jews to pay large amounts of money. Many killed,
imprisoned and some fled and not allowed back until they vowed to pay.
During John's reign Enland was still suffering from the financial
exactions Richard brought. With his main mission being to reclaim
his lands on the continent he needed money - lots of it. He taaxted
everyone more tham double the amount of tax his predeccesors
had. He focussed on the Jews as they were rich and regarded his
property anyway. He took advantage of their wealth.
Philip expelled Jews from his lands in 1182 so many refugees sought safety in England.
Increasing number = increasing hostility from christians as numbers peaked in John's reign
4th Lateran Council 1213 demanded Jews had to wear
special dress to distinguish themselves from christians
Jews were still seen as pariahs and envied from their wealth and special royal
privelleges e.g Jews could be tried by their own people and swear on the Torah.