Edict of Expulsion

Edict of Expulsion

:"This article describes the Edict of Expulsion, given by Edward I of England in 1290, that expelled all Jews from England for 350 years. For information on the 1492 Edict of Expulsion from Spain, see the Alhambra decree. For other legislations expelling Jews from their homes, see Jewish refugees."

In 1290, King Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England. Lasting for the rest of the Middle Ages, it would be over 350 years until it was formally overturned in 1656. The edict was not an isolated incident but the culmination of over 200 years of maltreatment.

Buildup to Expulsion

The first Jewish communities of significant size came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. On the conquest of England, William instituted a feudal system in the country, whereby all estates formally belonged to the king, who appointed lords over vast estates, subject to duties and obligations (financial and knights) to the king. Under the lords were further subjects such as serfs, which were bound and obligated to their lords. Merchants had a special status in the system as did Jews. Jews were declared to be direct subjects of the King, harvnb|Glassman|1975|p=14.] unlike the rest of the population. This had advantages for Jews, in that they were not tied to any particular lord, but were subject to the whims of the king. Every successive King formally reviewed a royal charter granting Jews the right to remain in England. Jews did not enjoy any of the guarantees of Magna Cartaharvnb|Rubenstein|1996|p=36.] of 1215. Economically, Jews played a key role in the country. The church at the time strictly forbade usury, or the lending of money for profit. This left a hole in the heart of the European economy that Jews quickly filled (canon law was not considered to apply to Jews, and Judaism permits loans with interest between Jews and non-Jews).harvnb|Parkes|1976|p=303.] As a consequence, some Jews made large amounts of money. However, taking advantage of their unique status as his direct subjects, the King could expropriate Jewish assets in the guise of taxation. He levied heavy taxes on Jews at will without having to summon Parliament.harvnb|Rubenstein|1996|p=37.] The Jewish community acted as a kind of giant monetary filter: Jews collected interest on money loaned to the people which the King could take at his pleasure. Jews acquired a reputation as extortionate money lenders which made them extremely unpopular with both the Church and the general public. While antisemitism was widespread in Europe, medieval England was particularly antisemitic. An image of the Jew as a diabolical figure who hated Christ started to become widespread, and antisemitic myths such as the wandering Jew and ritual murders originated and spread throughout England; as well as Scotland and Wales.harvnb|Glassman|1975|p=17.] Jews were said to hunt for children to murder before Passover so they could use their blood to make matzah.harvnb|Rubenstein|1996|p=39.] Antisemitism on a number of occasions sparked riots where many Jews were murdered, most famously in 1190 when over a hundred Jews were massacred in the city of York.


The situation only got worse for Jews as the 13th century progressed. In 1218, England became the first European nation to require Jews to wear a marking badge.harvnb|Glassman|1975|p=16.] Taxation grew increasingly intense. Between 1219 and 1272, 49 levies were imposed on Jews for a total of 200,000 marks, a huge amount of money. The first major step towards expulsion took place in 1275, with the Statute of Jewry. The statute outlawed all usury and gave Jews fifteen years to readjust.harvnb|Prestwich|1997|p=345.] However, guilds as well as popular prejudice made Jewish movement into mercantile or agricultural pursuits almost impossible. While in Gascony in 1287, Edward ordered English Jews expelled. All their property was seized by the crown and all outstanding debts payable to Jews were transferred to the King’s name.harvnb|Prestwich|1997|p=306.] It was a bleak sign of things to come. Edward’s personal views on Jews are something of a mystery. In the glimpses we have of his dealings with them, he seems interested but unsympathetic. His mother, however, does seem to have been anti-semitic.harvnb|Prestwich|1997|p=346.] Whatever his personal feelings, by the time he returned to England in 1289 Edward was deeply in debt. The next summer he summoned his knights to impose a steep tax. To make the tax more palatable, Edward in exchange essentially offered to expel all Jews.harvnb|Prestwich|1997|p=343.] The heavy tax was passed, and three days later, on July 18, the Edict of Expulsion was issued. One official reason for the expulsion was that Jews had neglected to follow the Statute of Jewry. The edict of expulsion was widely popular and met with little resistance, and the expulsion was quickly carried out.

The Jewish population in England at the time was relatively small. While population estimates vary, probably less than 1% of England was Jewish; perhaps 3,000 people.harvnb|Prestwich|1997|p=344.] The expulsion process went fairly smoothly, although there were a few horrific stories. One story told of a captain taking a ship full of Jews to the Thames while the tide was going out and convincing them to go out for a walk with him. He then lost them and made it back to his ship before the tide came back in, leaving them all to drown. Other stories exist of Jews being robbed or killed, but the majority of the Jews seem to have crossed the channel in safety.

The intermediate period

Between the expulsion of Jews in 1290 and their formal return in 1655, there is no official trace of Jews as such on English soil except in connection with the Domus Conversorum, which kept a number of them within its precincts up to 1551 and even later. An attempt was made to obtain a revocation of the edict of expulsion as early as 1310, but in vain. Notwithstanding, a certain number of them appear to have come back; for complaints were made to the king in 1376 that some of those trading as Lombards were Jews ("Rot. Parl." ii. 332a).

Occasionally permits were given to individuals to visit England, as in the case of Dr. Elyas Sabot in 1410; but it was not until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and Portugal in 1497 that any considerable number of Sephardic Jews found refuge in England. One of these as early as 1493 attempted to recover no less a sum than 428,000 maravedis which the refugees from Spain had entrusted to Diego de Soria. In 1542 many were arrested on the suspicion of being Jews, and throughout the sixteenth century a number of persons named Lopez, possibly all of the same family, took refuge in England, the best known of them being Rodrigo Lopez, physician to Queen Elizabeth, and who is said to have been the origin of Shylock. Besides certain distinguished converts like Immanuel Tremellius and Philip Ferdinand, the most remarkable visitor was Joachim Gaunse, who introduced new methods of mining into England. Occasional visitors, like Alonzo de Herrera and Simon Palache in 1614, are recorded.



last1 = Adler| first1 = Michael
title = Jews of Medieval England
publisher = Edward Goldston
year = 1939
isbn =
last1 = Glassman| first1 = David
title = Anti-Semitic Stereotypes Without Jews: Images of the Jews in England 1290-1700
publisher = Wayne State University Press
year = 1975
isbn = 0-8143154-5-3
last1 = Parkes| first1 = James
title = The Jew in the Medieval Community
publisher = Hermon Press
year = 1976
isbn = 0-8720305-9-8
last1 = Powicke| first1 = Sir Maurice
title = The Thirteenth Century, 1216-1307
publisher = Clarendon Press
year = 1953
isbn =
last1 = Prestwich| first1 = Michael
title = Edward I
publisher = Yale University Press
year = 1997
isbn = 0-3000715-7-4
last1 = Rubenstein| first1 = W.D.
title = A History of the Jews in the English-Speaking World: Great Britain
publisher = Macmillan Press
year = 1996
isbn = 0-3335583-3-2

ee also

*History of the Jews in England
*History of the Jews in England (1066-1200)
*History of the Marranos in England
*Resettlement of the Jews in England
**Menasseh Ben Israel (1604-1657)
*Jewish Naturalization Act 1753
*Influences on the standing of the Jews in England
*Emancipation of the Jews in England
*Early English Jewish literature
*History of the Jews in Scotland

External links

* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/search_results.jsp?searchType=1&pageNum=1&search=england&searchOpt=0 England related articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Expulsion — may refer to:*Expulsion (academia), removing a student from a school or university *Deportation, the expulsion of someone from a country *Population transfer, the forced migration of people by the state *Repatriation, return of refugees or… …   Wikipedia

  • Edict — An edict is an announcement of a law, often associated with monarchism. The Pope and various micronational leaders are currently the only persons who still issue edicts.Notable edicts*Edicts of Ashoka, by Ashoka the Great, of the Mauryan dynasty… …   Wikipedia

  • Edict of Fontainebleau — The Edict of Fontainebleau (October 1685) was an edict issued by Louis XIV of France, also known as the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1598, which had granted to the Huguenots the right to worship their religion without persecution from the …   Wikipedia

  • 1782 Edict of Tolerance — Background information = The Edict of Tolerance was a religious reform of Joseph II, during the time he was emperor of the Habsburg Monarchy. His religious reform known as the Edict of Tolerance was composed of two separate laws one was enacted… …   Wikipedia

  • Jews, expulsion of the — 1290. The Jews in Britain, most of whom arrived during the 11c from France, had long acted as bankers to the ruling and business classes (being permitted to lend money at interest whereas Christians were not). In Henry III s reign, the Jews had… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • History of the Jews in Spain — Part of a series of articles on Jews and Judaism …   Wikipedia

  • Alhambra Decree — Main article: History of the Jews in Spain Antisemitism …   Wikipedia

  • Timeline of antisemitism — This timeline of antisemitism chronicles the facts of antisemitism, hostile actions or discrimination against Jews as a religious or ethnic group. It includes events in the history of antisemitic thought, actions taken to combat or relieve the… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Jews in France — The Jewish community in France presently numbers around 600,000, according to the World Jewish Congress and 500,000 according to the Appel Unifié Juif de France, and is found mainly in the metropolitan areas of Paris, Marseille, Strasbourg, Lyon …   Wikipedia

  • SPAIN — (in Hebrew at first אספמיא then ספרד), country in S.W. Europe. The use of the word Spain to denote Sepharad has caused some confusion in research. Spain came into being long after the Jews had been expelled from the Crowns of Castile and Aragon,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.