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.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Robin. This sounds like an intriguing argument and I will seek it out!!

    I am currently thinking about the ratio of Christian to Jewish credit - specifically thinking about the huge market in rent charges (as just one of many financial instruments and opportunities) which fuelled supplies of credit in later twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This market changed too after 1290. But I do wonder how big it was compared to Jewish credit - impossible to quantify - or not? Do we still put too much emphasis on Jews as creditors?