The Jews of Medieval England, Part II: The Thirteenth Century

Under Kings John and Henry III the Jews were often heavily taxed. By the reign of Edward I, writes J.J.N. McGurk, they had lost their usefulness to the Crown and were expelled from England.

King John’s loss of Normandy in the years 1204-1206 marked as much of a turning point in the history of the Jews in England as it was in the history of the nation as a whole. To a very large extent English Jewry was Anglo-Norman in character by the early thirteenth century. With the loss of Normandy, their ancestral home in one sense, the Jews in England were cut off from their great continental centres; no longer, for instance, were they able to appeal to continental scholars against the decisions of their own Rabbis. England became an island politically once again. King John’s very efforts to recover Normandy drove him on to a course of arbitrary taxation, which in particular marked the beginning of the impoverishment of the Jewish communities in the thirteenth century. When they became of no further financial use to the Crown they were expelled from the nation.

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