Source Five: The Statute of the Jewry

The Statute of the Jewry (the provisions made by the King for the Jews of England), dated 31st January 1253, Catalogue Ref: C 54/66, m. 18)

In 1253, King Henry III enforced a series of new laws (known as articles) to tighten control over Jewish life. This was known as the Statute of Jewry. A statute was a new law introduced by the highest authority. Many historians believe that this marked a new phase in the deterioration of Christian-Jewish relations in England as the king’s new rules attempted to segregate and isolate Jews in their local communities.

Latin Transcript

De provisione facta per regem de Judeis Anglie

[I] Rex providit et statuit quod nullus Judeus maneat in Anglia nisi servicium regis faciat. Et quam cito aliquis Judeus natus fuerit, sive sit masculus sive femina, serviat nobis in aliquo.

[II] Et quod nulle scole Judeorum sint in Anglia nisi in locis illis in quibus hujusmodi scole fuerunt tempore domini Johannis Regis, patris regis.

[III] Et quod universi Judei in sinagogis suis celebrent submissa voce secundum ritum eorum, ita quod Christiani hoc non audiant.

[IV] Et quod quilibet Judeus respondeat rectori ecclesie, in cujus parochia manent de omnibus parochialibus ad domum ipsius Judei spectantibus.

[V] Et quod nulla nutrix Christiana de cetero lactet aut nutriat puerum alicujus Judei, nec aliquis Christianus vel Christiana serviat alicui Judeo vel Judee nec cum ipsis comedat, vel in domo sua commoretur.

[VI] Et quod nullus Judeus vel Judea comedat aut emat carnes in quadragesima.

[VII] Et quod nullus Judeus detrahat fidei Christiane vel publice disputet de eadem.

[VIII] Et quod nullus Judeus habeat secretam familiaritatem cum aliqua Christiana nec aliquis Christianus cum Judea.

[XI] Et quod quilibet Judeus ferat in pectore suo manifestam tabulam.

[X] Et quod nullus Judeus ingrediatur aliquam ecclesiam vel aliquam capellam nisi transeundo, nec in eis moretur in vituperium Christi.

[XI] Et quod nullus Judeus impediat aliquo modo alium Judeum volentem ad fidem Christi convertere.

[XII] Et quod nullus Judeus receptetur in aliqua villa sine speciali licentia regis nisi in villis illis in quibus Judei manere consueverunt.

Et mandatum est Justiciariis ad custodiam Judeorum assingnatis, quod sic fieri, et sub incursione bonorum predictorum Judeorum firmiter teneri faciant.

Teste Rege apud Westmonasterium xxxj. die Januarii. Per regeni et consilium

Simplified Translation

Provisions made by the King for the Jews of England.

I) The King has outlined that no Jew should remain in England unless he do the King service, and that from the hour of birth every Jew, whether male or female, serve us in some way.

II) And that there should be no more synagogues of the Jews in England, only those that existed in the time of King John should remain.

III) And that Jews should lower their voices in synagogues, so that Christians can not hear them.

IV) And that all Jews should pay a duty to their local Christian church.

V) And that no Christian nurses should look after the male child of any Jew, nor any Christian man or woman serve any Jew or Jewess, or eat with them, or stay in their houses.

VI) And that no Jew or Jewess eat or buy meat in Lent (a Christian festival).

VII) And that no Jew speak poorly of the Christian faith, or publicly dispute it.

VIII) And that no Jew have relations with any Christian woman, and no Christian man with a Jewess.

IX) And that every Jew wear his badge conspicuously on his breast.

X) And that no Jew enter any church or chapel.

XI) And that no Jew stop another Jew wanting to convert to the Christian faith.

XII) And that no Jew be received in any town but by special license of the King, except those towns in which Jews are allowed.

And the Justices assigned to the custody of the Jews are commanded that they put these rules into effect, and that they rigorously observed on pain of forfeiture of the chattels of the said Jews.

Witness the King at Westminster, on the 31st day of January. By King and Council.

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Read through Source 5 and consider the following questions:

  1. What do you think King Henry meant by the word “serve” in Article I (1)?
  2. Why do you believe King Henry restricted the building of more synagogues?
  3. Look at Article 9 (IX). Why might the king want Jews to wear a distinctive badge?
  4. Which rule do you believe is the most severe? Explain your answer.
  5. How do these rules compare to the “prosperous” age for Jews as suggested in Task 1?