“Aaron the son of the Devil”, c. 1277 (E 32/12, m. 3d)

Despite the tightening restrictions on England’s Jewish community, Jews and Christians continued to interact with one another. They are even recorded to have committed crimes together in select court cases. For example, in court case recorded before the forest court in 1277, it was reported that two of Aaron of Colchester’s sons, amongst other Jewish men, were part of a mixed-faith gang tried for illegal deer hunting in Colchester, Essex. This case is particularly curious as a caricature of Aaron was drawn next to record and labelled ‘Aaron, son of the Devil’ in Latin. 

Contextual Information: 

 This image includes one of the earliest English depictions of the Jewish badge – the piece of yellow taffeta, six fingers long and three broad, cut to represent the shape of the tabula (stone) that recorded the Ten Commandments. The badge was first introduced in England by Pope Honorius III’s orders following the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, but it was only after the Statute of Jewry c. 1275 that it had to be worn in England by every Jew aged over the age of seven. 


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Consider this image and the additional information below, before reflecting on the following questions:  

  • What does the image suggest about attitudes towards Aaron of Colchester?  
  •  How does the image compare to the cartoon of the Norwich Jewish community that we considered last lesson? Note the similarities and differences.  
  •  What does the presence of the Jewish badge on Aaron’s chest suggest about the effectiveness of the new rules introduced in the Statute of Jewry c. 1275?