網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

consideration, and established some curious regulations for their protection and his own profit. The revenues arising from the Jews were placed under the care of an office for the purpose, called the Jew's exchequer, in which the Justiciaries of tlie Jews presided. To these places, Jews and Christians were indifferently appointed. They had not only the Jewish revenues under their care, but were also judges of all civil matters, where a Jew was one of the parties. Lord Coke takes notice of a court, called the "Court of the Justices of the Jews."

"The king likewise (says Dr. Tovey) appointed justices itinerant thro' every county, who, amongst other articles, were to inquire concerning the murtherers of the Jews. Who they were that slew them? What lands and chattels were belonging to them, at the time they were slain? Who took possession of them, and were aiders and abettors of the murther?

"They were likewise to give orders, that all their effects should be apply'd to the king's use; and that those who were guilty of any of these particulars, and had not made fine to our Lord the King, or his justices, should be apprehended, and not deliver'd, unless by the said justices, or our Lord the King himself.

"And in order to know what were the particular monies, goods, debts, real and personal estates, belonging to every Jew in the nation, (that he might fleece them at his pleasure,) he commanded, (something after the manner of the Conqueror's Domesday,) that all effects, belonging to Jews, should be register'd."

We shall quote the rest of the regulations, as they are very curious, and strikingly illustrate the state of this people at the time.

"That the concealment of any particular should be forfeiture of body and whole estate.

"That six or seven publick places should be appointed, wherein all their contracts were to be made.

'" That all such contracts should be made in the presence of two assign'd lawyers, who were Jews, two that were Christians, and two publick notaries.

"That the clerks of William de Sancta Maria, and William de Chimelli, should likewise be present at all such contracts.

"That such contracts should likewise be made by indenture: one part of which was to remain with the Jew, seal'd with the seal of him to whom the money was lent; and the other in a common chest, to which there was to be three locks, and three keys.

"One key whereof was to be kept by the aforesaid Jewish lawyers, the other by the Christian lawyers, and the third by the aforesaid clerks.

"The chest also was to be seal'd with their three Seals.

"The aforesaid clerks were also commanded to keep a transcript roll of all such contracts: which roll was to be alter'd, as often as the original charters of contract were alter'd.

"And the fee for drawing every such charter was to be three pence: one moiety whereof was to be paid by the Jew, and the other moiety by him to whom the money was lent. Whereof the two writers were to have two pence, and the keeper of the rolls the third.

"It was ordain'd, likewise, that as no contracts for money, so no payment of it, or acquittance, or any other alteration in the charters, or transcript rolls were to be made, but in the presence of the aforesaid persons, or the greater part of them.

"The aforesaid two Jews were to have a copy of the said trah-" script roll, and the two Christians another.

"Every Jew was to take an oath, upon his roll,* that he would truly and faithfully register all his estate, both real and personal, as above directed; and discover every Jew whom he should know guilty of any concealment; as likewise all forgers, or falsifyers of charters, and clippers of money."

Under these regulations they continued to live, without any serious molestation, until the death of Richard, who died in 1199, as he had lived, distinguishing himself by his valour and prowess, before Castle Galhard in Aquitaine. His successor, John, perceiving the rich harvest that might be gathered from the Jews, if they were well cultivated, began his reign with conferring peculiar benefits upon them. Nothing was omitted that seemed likely to induce others of the nation to settle in this country, or which might put those already residing in it in perfect good humour. Among other privileges, he allowed them to choose a high priest;

"And granted him a charter of safe conduct, in such high flown terms of love and respect, that I question whether they were ever equal'd by any prince, speaking of his subject. He stiles him not only Dilectus and Familiaris, but commands all persons to be as careful of him as they would of his own person." Anglia Judaica, p. 60.

In the next year, came out the great charter of their privileges—an instrument which, if its conditions had been preserved, would have raised them in freedom and security even above the native subjects of the realm. By this charter, it

"Was granted, not only to the English Jews, but likewise to those of Normandy, that they might reside in the king's dominions, freely and honourably; that they might hold of King John, all things which they held of King Henry I. and which they now rightfully hold in lands, fees, mortgages, and purchases; and that they should have all their liberties and customs, as amply as they had them in the time of the said King Henry.

* Viz. Pentateuch.

"That if a plaint was mov'd between a Christian and a Jew, he who appeal'd the other shou'd produce witnesses to deraign his plaint; namely, a lawful Christian and a lawful Jew; that if the Jew had a writ concerning his plaint, such writ should be his witness; that if a Christian had a plaint against a Jew, the plaint shou'd be tried by the Jew's peers; that when a Jew died, his body shou'd not be detain'd above ground, and his heirs shou'd have his chatels and credits, in case he had an heir that wou'd answer for him, and do right touching his debts and forfeitures; that the Jews might lawfully receive and buy all things which were offer'd them, except things belonging to the church, and cloth stain'd with blood.*

"That if a Jew was appeal'd by another, without a witness, he shou'd be quit of that appeal by his single oath taken upon his book; and if he was appeal'd for a thing that appertain'd to the king's crown, he should likewise be quit thereof by his single oath taken upon his roll; that if a difference arose between a Christian and a Jew about lending of money, the Jew shou'd prove the principal money, and the Christian the interest; that a Jew might lawfully and quietly sell a mortgage, made to him, when he was certain he had held it a whole year and a day; that the Jews shou'd not enter into plea except before the king, or before the keepers of the king's castles, in whose bailywicks the Jews liv'd.

"That the Jews wherever they were, might go whither they pleas'd, with their chatels, as safely as if they were the king's chatels, nor might any man detain or hinder them: and the king by this charter commanded, that they shou'd be free throughout England and Normandy of all custom, tolls, and modiations of wine, as fully as the king's own chatels were; and that his liege men shou'd keep, defend, and protect them, and no man implead them, touching any of the matters aforesaid, under pain of forfeiture, as the charter of King Henry the Second did import."

By another charter, granted on the same day, it was decreed, that all differences amongst themselves, which did not concern the pleas of the crown, should be determined by themselves, according to their own law.

For these charters the Jews paid four thousand marks. The immediate consequence of these favors was, to excite discontent and envy among the people; who straight began to

* So Mr. Madox, in his Hist. Excheq. p. 174, translates Pannus Sanguinolentus. But I believe it signifys no more than deep red or crimson cloth, which is sometimes call'd Pannus Blodeus, or bloody cloth, relating merely to the colour of it. For in the accompts of the

Prior of Burcester, who gave his servants red liveries, we read Et

in Blodeo panno empto pro Armigeris Sf Valectis. Kennet Paroch. Antiq. p. 576. But why the Jews were not permitted to buy red cloth is to me a secret. Bloody cloth, strictly so call'd, I think they woudn't buy. Ang. Jud.

accuse the Jews of crucifixion, of circumcising their children, and false coining.

"The citizens of London offer'd them so many indignities, and abus'd them in such a manner, that the king was forc'd to take publick notice of it. And thereupon wrote a very menacing letter to the mayor and barons; wherein he told them that he had always lov'd them much, and protected them in their rights and libertys; wherefore he believ'd they retain'd the same affection for him, and wou'd do every thing for his honour, and the tranquillity of his kingdom; yet he cou'd not but wonder that, since they well knew what special protection he had lately granted the Jews, they should so little regard his peace, as to suffer them to be evil entreated; especially when other parts of the nation gave them no disturbance. Wherefore he commanded them to take particular care how they were injur'd for the future; assuring them, that if any ill happen'd to the Jews, thro' their connivance or neglect, they shou'd be answerable for it. For, (continues the king,) I know full well, that these insolencies are committed only by the fools of the city, and it is the business of wise men to put a stop to them. This happen'd in the 5th year of King John."

This solicitous care of the Jews lasted during the first ten years of the reign of this monarch, without his demonstrating that they were his sole property, except by a great many private exertions of arbitrary power over them, which appear on the records. As in the instance of Robert, the son of Roger, who had married a wife, whose father was much in their debt, for which debts the king granted him a full and complete discharge.* And in the taking away a house from a Jew, and giving it, without any consideration, to Earl Ferrars.-t;

John, in the eleventh year of his reign, began to act to the Jews in his real character, and disclosed his hitherto concealed purposes. An account of the measures which were adopted by the king is thus given by Dr. Tovey.

"But the next year after, viz. 1210, in the eleventh year of his reign, the king began to lay aside his mask, and finding that no new comers made it worth his while to stay any longer, he set at once upon the old covey which he had drawn into his net, and commanded all the Jews of both sexes, throughout England, to be imprison'd, till they wou'd make a discovery of their wealth; which he appointed officers to receive in every county, and return to his exchequer. Many of them, no doubt, pleaded poverty, or pretended to have given up all: but as the tyrant was in earnest to have their last farthing, he extorted it by the most cruel torments.

* Pat. 10. Joh. m. 5.
t Claus. 15. Joh. m. 3.

VOL. I. PART II. Q

"Stow* says, that the generality of them had one eye put out. And Matthew Paris tells us, that from one particular Jew at Bristol, the king demanded no less than ten thousand marks of silver, (a prodigious summ in those days!) which being resolutely deny'd him, he commanded one of his great teeth to be pull'd out, daily, till he consented. The poor wretch, whose money was his life, had the courage to hold out seven operations, but then, sinking under the violence of the pain, ransom'd the remainder of his teeth, at the price demanded. The whole summ extorted from them, at this time, amounted to threescore thousand marks of silver."

Again:

"John therefore being disappointed of any forreign assistance, his subjects were able for some time to cope with him, and the troubles continu'd. Which continuing, likewise, his occasion for money, the Jews were call'd upon a second time, after theirfleeces had been suffcr'd to grow for four years. In vain did they take refuge in their common plea of inability. For some of them, who dwelt at Southampton, being tardy in their payments, the sheriff was commanded to imprison them immediately in the castle of Bristol, and send up, forthwith, to London, all such summs of money as he had already receiv'd from any of them, or shou'd receive hereafter."

Again, when the king was contending with his barons, the Jews reverted into the hands of the latter as legitimate plunder.

"But after this second storm was blown over, they met with nothing but fair weather for two years; and then, the war continuing between the king and his people, the barons (whose lands had been miserably ravag'd by the king's forces) coming to London, made what reprisals they cou'd upon the king's Jews; and after having ransack'd their treasures, and demolish'd all their houses, employ'd the materials of them to repair the city walls and gates, which they had broken down at their entry."

Our antiquary adds:

"Yet, altho this year prov'd unfortunate to the Jews at London, it might be reckn'd favourable to the Jews in general; for within two months after this accident, they were acknowledg'd by the king to be so considerable a body of people, as to deserve some notice in his Magna Charta; an honour thought proper to be omitted in the new great charter, which was afterwards publish'd by King Henry the Third."

The last act of King John to the Jews was to employ them in a deed, to execute which he could not compel any of his

Matthew Paris and Stow, ad annum 1210.

« 上一頁繼續 »