York 1190: Jews and Others in the Wake of Massacre was organised by Sarah Rees Jones and Sethina Watson of the Centre for Medieval Studies and the Department of History.

The conference was supported by the British Academy, the Jewish Historical Society of England and the Royal Historical Society. The Borthwick Institute republished the essays of Barrie Dobson on anglo-jewish history for the occasion: The Jewish Communities of Medieval England . We are publishing a collection of essays relating to the theme of the conference and developing further related research projects.

Friday, 24 September 2010

New explanation for the Expulsion

Coming Soon!!!!!

The political economy of expulsion: the regulation of Jewish money lending in medieval England.


This paper develops an analytic narrative examining an institution known as ‘The Exchequer of the Jewry’. The prohibition on usury resulted in most money lending activities being concentrated within the Jewish community. The king set up the Exchequer of the Jewry in order to extract these monopoly profits. This institution lasted for almost 100 years but collapsed during the second part of the thirteenth century. This collapse resulted in the expulsion of the Anglo-Jewish population. This paper provides a rational choice account of the institutional trajectory of the Exchequer of the Jewry. This account explains why it ultimately failed to provide a suitable framework for the development of capital markets in medieval England.

Forthcoming: Constitutional Political Economy, vol. 24, number 4. December 2010.

In a new explanation of the Expulsion of 1290 this paper leads with the idea that the rise of parliament led to deterioration in the position of England’s Jewish population. The battle against the Jews was a part of a thirteenth century power struggle. A brick in state craft and what Carpenter would call a ‘Struggle for Mastery’. The Exchequer of the Jews was jettisoned at the end of the thirteenth century because it was not politically incentive compatible. From a longer term perspective, the Exchequer of the Jewry looks like an institutional ‘false start’. It failed to result in the development of broad or deep capital markets.

The Exchequer of the Jewry was an institution designed to maximize the amount of rent that could be extracted from the prohibition against usury a veritable ‘engine of extortion’ as Charles Gross would have called it. Koyama argues that the ultimate demise of this institution came not because these rents were dissipated (though he admits some dissipation did occur), but because the political incentives facing the king changed. He returns to the almost lost but prophetic words of J R Green (1877 !!) Green observed that it ‘was in the Hebrew coffers that the Norman kings found strength to hold their baronage at bay’ (p123). He argues that the kings after Edward I would not have access to these coffers, and as a result parliament would be in a better position to hold them to account.

Mark Koyama is about to join the Economics Department at the University of York.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Congratulations Anthony!

Feeling Persecuted : Christians, Jews and Images of Violence in the Middle Ages

One of the most fascinating aspects of medieval culture was the imaginary violence Christians believed that Jews carried out, and the subsequent violence Christians committed against Jews. Many Christians believed that Jews committed crimes against Christian children, Christ's body, and the Eucharist, leading them to conclude that Jews were out to destroy their religion and way of life. They retaliated with expulsions, riots and murders that systematically denied Jews the right to religious freedom and peace. In Feeling Persecuted: Christians, Jews, and Images of Violence in the Middle Ages, Anthony Bale explores the Christian pain and fear so often blamed on Jews, and how the imagined violence caused Christians to retaliate with crushing violence of their own. Through close reading of a wide range of European sources, Bale exposes the spiritual and intellectual benefits of imagined Jewish violence, and how the images of Christian suffering and persecution were central to medieval ideas of love, belonging and home life. These images and texts even expose a surprising practice of recreational persecution, and show that the violence perpetrated against medieval Jews was far from simple anti-Semitism and was in fact a complex part of medieval life and culture. Feeling Persecuted reveals the culture of imagined violence and tracks its far-reaching consequences into modern Jewish-Christian relations. Anthony Bale's comprehensive look at poetry, drama, visual culture, theology and philosophy make Feeling Persecuted an important resource for anyone interested in the history of Christian-Jewish relations, and the impact of past events on modern culture.

About the Author

Anthony Bale is Professor of English and Medieval Cultures at Birbeck College, University of London. He is the author of The Jew in the Medieval Book: English Antisemitisms 1350-1500 (2006).

The Jews of York

Shai Grosskopf sent me this picture. He says it is from a book that he owns which was published in Germany in 1861 and which tells the story of the Jews of York in the twelfth century. I can pass on his email address to anybody who would like it.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

First Prize for First Submission!

To Carlee Bradbury, for submitting her paper on
"Dehumanizing the Jew at the Funeral of the Virgin Mary” - the first contribution to our proposed volume.

Lady Chapel Window, south side of the choir clerestory, York Minster