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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old March 18th, 2012, 06:39 PM   #1

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Why did Edward I expel the Jews?


Title question is self explanatory - what was King Edward I of England's reasoning for expelling the Jews from his kingdom? Did they offer any intelligence or other support to his French, Scottish, or Welsh enemies?
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Old March 18th, 2012, 10:32 PM   #2

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Jews had become unpopular in England due to their status as moneylenders (they were allowed to lend money because they were exempt from the prohibition against Christians practising usury). They had been a rich source of revenue to the kings of England, who had previously protected them. But anti Jewish feeling in England had grown, and an edict had been passed forbidding them to practise usury, but they had found it difficult to move into other areas of trade due to prejudice and opposition from the guilds etc. So they were in a no win situation, not allowed to practise usury, yet unable to enter other trades.

Edward seems to have decided to expel the Jews (about 3000 in total) from England in order to be able to seize their property. He was heavily in debt. It seems like a short term policy to me, he would have done better, probably, to have not forbidden them from practising usury, and continued to milk them for their wealth, as his predecessors had done.

Last edited by Louise C; March 18th, 2012 at 10:41 PM.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 12:54 AM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Louise C View Post
Jews had become unpopular in England due to their status as moneylenders (they were allowed to lend money because they were exempt from the prohibition against Christians practising usury). They had been a rich source of revenue to the kings of England, who had previously protected them. But anti Jewish feeling in England had grown, and an edict had been passed forbidding them to practise usury, but they had found it difficult to move into other areas of trade due to prejudice and opposition from the guilds etc. So they were in a no win situation, not allowed to practise usury, yet unable to enter other trades.

Edward seems to have decided to expel the Jews (about 3000 in total) from England in order to be able to seize their property. He was heavily in debt. It seems like a short term policy to me, he would have done better, probably, to have not forbidden them from practising usury, and continued to milk them for their wealth, as his predecessors had done.
the seized property included all loans which the jews had offered. These were to be repayed to the crown..
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Old March 19th, 2012, 04:27 AM   #4

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It wasn't just finance. The jews were hated on religious grounds at a time when christianity had an extraordinary hold on popular imagination, stemming from the treachery of a jew to have Christ crucified. As such, they represented a potential threat to public order and there are examples of murderous riots against them.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 05:14 AM   #5

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It wasn't just finance. The jews were hated on religious grounds at a time when christianity had an extraordinary hold on popular imagination, stemming from the treachery of a jew to have Christ crucified. As such, they represented a potential threat to public order and there are examples of murderous riots against them.

Edward's main reason for expelling them though seems to have been financial, he needed money.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 07:10 AM   #6

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It wasn't just finance. The jews were hated on religious grounds at a time when christianity had an extraordinary hold on popular imagination, stemming from the treachery of a jew to have Christ crucified. As such, they represented a potential threat to public order and there are examples of murderous riots against them.
to further illustrate, I believe that jews were obligated to listen to three christian sermons each year including one at good friday. I think it was not untill the first Vatican council (1863) that this law was cancelled
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Old March 19th, 2012, 09:23 AM   #7
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Jews arrived in England along with William the Conqueror. They were hated by the English but given protection by the king because they were the bankers. In the 1200s Italians came to England and set up banks. No more need for Jews, so Edward I withdrew his protection and expelled them.
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Old March 19th, 2012, 09:57 AM   #8

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Thank you for your answers.

I believe there are inscriptions attesting to Hebrew-speakers in Roman Britain; there was presumably a Jewish community in existence before the Normans.
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