Please sign in to post.

18 July marks the anniversary of the Edict of Expulsion of 1290

I don't want to let 18 July pass without mentioning here on the forum its importance in European history, as I have done with other key dates of other expulsions on the mainland --

It was in 1290 that King Edward I ordered the expulsion of all Jews from England.

When feudalism was formalized in the wake of William the Conquerer's conquest of England in 1066, Jews occupied an important spot in England because they technically reported directly to the king, not to the lords of local estates - and Jews were not entitled to the protections of the Magna Carta. This meant that they were employed as tax collectors and lenders (not allowed by Church rules, sort-of) and that the king could in turn arbitrarily fleece them in order to finance his own wars and other initiatives.

Edward had gotten into this habit in Gascony, worked himself into a hole, debt-wise, and then found it a convenient steam-valve to take possession of his Jews' money and property and get rid of them. No one was inclined to stand up on their behalf, since they killed Christ and used the blood of Christian children to bake matzah, etc... (England is a land of firsts, one being that it was the first European nation to require Jews to wear a marking badge, in 1218.)

Jews affected by the English Edict of Expulsion of 1290 moved to France, the Netherlands, and Poland. They were not formally/legally allowed back until 1657, under Oliver Cromwell. That doesn't mean that there really weren't any Jews in England during that period; they just identified as Lombards or Basques or some such. Elizabeth I had a personal physician named Rodrigo Lopez, for instance, a Portuguese converso famous for being the only royal doctor in English history that was executed (for plotting to poison the Queen).

This spring of 2022 marked the 800th anniversary of the synod at which the legal oppression of English Jews began, and in repentance for this the Church of England made a formal apology:

The official public schoolchildren's explanation of the topic is here (note the tone-deaf usage of the phrase 'ordinary people' repeatedly):

And the wikipedia article has some useful info as well:

Within the bounds of the RS forum I want to offer this post as a complement to the earlier discussion like this one:

Posted by
2316 posts

King Edward I had a lot more going on besides exploiting his Jews to pay off his debts -
he also conquered Wales and Scotland, and to this day is considered a major villain by Scottish historians.

As a teenager he was married to a Castilian girl in an effort to keep the Spaniards from invading Gascony, and they had more than a dozen kids. His expenses were always high, and he always found someone he could make pay.

Posted by
104 posts

Thank you for sharing this important event in history. The historical role of Jews in European society is fascinating.

I would only edit that no one stood up for the Jews because it was incorrectly believed that they killed Christ and used the blood of children, etc.

Now, of course, it is known that Jesus was among the thousands of Jews who were victim to Roman violence.
And the blood libel claim is utter nonsense - in fact the Torah explicitly forbids the consumption of blood - even animal blood.

Posted by
2316 posts

Nick, I think human nature adapts to the conditions within which it operates, like so much else of biological evolutionary mechanisms. The killer app, the innovation that distinguishes the human journey from the rest of the pack, is that we have cultural mechanisms that can alter and ameliorate those conditions at size scales and time scales that biological adaptation can't match --

and then the tragedy is that those cultural mechanisms have become so powerful that they create new conditions that become harder and harder to overcome. The moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, but only if we ourselves help with doing the bending.

By posting about the way things were in England under Edward I I am not trying to tear down the whole of English society, and similarly by discussing the sins of America's founders I don't think people should be trying to condemn the American experiment, but to paint a more accurate picture.

Note, if we will, that the horrible facts of life in Greece two and three millennia ago do not stop us from gaining from the wisdom of the Classical philosophers, and the particulars of oppression during the period of convivencia in Iberia do not erase our enjoyment of the products of its artists and poets -- we need to be fair to those times and to our own by looking at the complete story, not trying to plaster over it with cartoons.

Posted by
1316 posts

I’ll also mention that London Walks has an excellent Jewish London tour and this is covered on that walk.

The tour is occasionally offered virtually so you might check their website, particularly in winter.