« 上一页继续 »
then pierced himself to the heart. The next morning the populace rushed to the assault with their accustomed fury. They beheld flames bursting from every part of the castle, and a few miserable wretches with supplications and wild cries, running to and fro on the battlements, who related the fate of their compar ns; they entreated mercy ; ey offered to submit to baptism. No sooner were the terms accepted, and the gates opened, than the fanatic multitude poured in and put every living being to the sword. Not content with this triumph, they rushed to the cathedral, demanded all the bonds and obligations which had been laid up there in the archives, and cast them all into an enormous bonfire. The king might perhaps have forgiven their former crime, the massacre of his unoffending subjects; but this was an inexpiable offence—treason against his exchequer—as all these debts would have fallen to the Crown. Geoffrey Rydal, bishop of Ely, the chancellor, was sent to York to investigate the affair ; but the ringleaders of the riot fled for a time to Scotland, and the chief citizens entered into recognizances; nor does it appear that any persons paid the penalty - of the law for this atrocious massacre, by which 500, or 1,500, men (the numbers vary) were put to death.
On his return from captivity, Richard directed his attention to the affairs of the Jews ; the justices on their circuits were ordered to inquire who were the murderers, and what became of the property which had been seized : all who were in possession of these effects, and had not compounded by a fine, were to be brought to justice. The whole community was placed under certain statutes, and the Jews were formally recognised as belonging to the Crown.
THE JEWS IN ENGLAND.
John, previous to his accession, had probably many dealings with the Jews; he knew their value as a source of revenue, and commenced his reign by heaping favours upon them, by which more were daily tempted to settle in the kingdom. It might almost seem that this weak and unprincipled, but crafty, prince, had formed a deliberate scheme of allowing them to accumulate ample treasures, in order that hereafter he might reap a richer harvest of plunder, and render himself independent of his unruly subjects.
The favour of John was not likely to conciliate that of his subjects. All classes looked on the Jews with darker jealousy. The same defamatory tales were repeated of their crucifying children; and the citizens of London, probably envious of their opulence, treated them with many indignities. The king wrote a strong rebuke to the mayor and to the barons of London, in which he com-mended the Jews to their protection, stating that he attributed the recent outrages only to the fools, not to the discreet citizens of the metropolis.
On a sudden, impatient as it were that any part of his subjects should suppose him capable of a long effort of justice, or perhaps rejoicing in thus having prepared himself subjects for spoliation, in whose behalf neither the imperious pope nor his refractory barons would interfere, John passed to the extreme of cruelty against the miserable Jews. Every Israelite, without distinction of age or sex, was imprisoned, their wealth confiscated to the exchequer, and the most cruel torments extorted from the reluctant the confession of their secret treasures. The story of the Jew of Bristol is well known, who was to lose a tooth a-day till he betrayed his hoards. Ten thousand marks of silver were required of this wealthy merchant; he obstinately lost seven teeth, and saved the rest by paying the ransom demanded. The king gained 60,000 marks by this atrocious proceeding: A second time demands equally extravagant were made ; and these unhappy wretches, who paid so dearly for the privilege of being vassals of the Crown, were still further plundered by the barons as belonging to the king. Their treasures in London were seized, and their houses demolished to repair the walls, by these stern assertors of the liberties of the land.
Yet the regulations relating to the Jews in the Great
Charter, though not, perhaps, quite equitable, were by no means wanting in moderation. If a man died in debt to a Jew, the debt bore no interest till the heir came of age. The wife received her dower, and the children their maintenance ; the debt was to be discharged out of the residue.
The first act of the guardians of the realm under Henry III. was to release the Jews who were in prison, and to appoint twenty-four burgesses of every town where they resided to protect their persons and property. But the church was their most implacable enemy, for Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, and Hugh of Wells, bishop of Lincoln, prohibited all Christians, on fear of ecclesiastical censure, from selling them the necessaries of life. The Crown interfered, and commanded all good subjects to defy the spiritual interdict. But these days of peace did not continue long. A crime was laid to their charge, much more probable than the tales of their crucifying children--their tampering with and clipping the coin of the realm. Perpetual demands were made upon them, which they were obliged to pay, and yet their wealth seemed to suffer little diminution. The reason must be found in the enormous interest of money, which seems to have been considered by no means immoderate at fifty per cent.
The distresses of King Henry III. increased; and as his Parliament resolutely refused to maintain his extravagant expenditure, nothing remained but to drain still further the veins of the Jews. The next year the king renewed his demands, and he sold to his brother Richard all the Jews of the kingdom for 5,000 marks, giving him full power over their property and persons. Our records still preserve the terms of this extraordinary bargain and sale. Popular opinion, which in the worst times is some restraint upon the arbitrary oppression of kings, in this case would rather applaud the utmost barbarity of the monarch ; for a new tale of the crucifixion of a Christian child, called Hugh of Lincoln, was now spreading horror throughout the country. The fact was confirmed by a solemn trial, and the conviction and execution of the criminals. · It was proved, according to the mode of proof in those days, that the child had been stolen, fattened on bread and milk for ten days, and crucified in the presence of all the Jews in England. But the earth could not endure to be an accomplice in the crime ; it cast up the buried remains, and the affrighted criminals were obliged to throw it into a well, where it was found by the mother. The body was canonized, and pilgrims crowded to the church of Lincoln to pay their devotions before the infant martyr. Great part of this story refutes itself; but it is possible that among the ignorant and fanatic Jews there might be some who, exasperated by the constant repetition of this charge, might brood over it so long as at length to be tempted to its perpetration. How deeply this legend sunk into the public mind may be conceived from Chaucer's “ Prioress's Tale”
O young Hew of Lincoln, slain also
By curséd Jews, as it is notable. The Jews had probably passed back to the Crown on the election of Richard as king of the Romans. They were again sold to Prince Edward ; by Prince Edward, as they probably thought a more dire calamity, made over to certain merchants of Dauphiny. The last solemn act of Henry of Winchester was a statute of great importance ; it disqualified the Jews altogether from holding lands or even tenements, except the houses of which they were actually possessed in the city of London, where they might only pull down and rebuild on the old foundation. Henry almost died in the act of extortion; he had ordered the arrears of all charges to be peremptorily paid, under pain of imprisonment.
The death of Henry released them from this Egyptian bondage ; but they changed their master, not their fortune. The first act of Edward's reign regulated the affairs of the Jews exactly in the same spirit, and this edict was followed up by the celebrated Act of Parliament concerning Judaism, the object of which was to force the Jews to abandon usury and betake themselves to traffic, manufactures, or the cultivation of land. It positively prohibited all usury, and cancelled all debts on payment of the principal, Many of them, thus reduced, took again to a more unlawful and dangerous occupation-clipping and adulterating the coin. In one year 280 were executed for this offence in London alone. But not all the statutes, nor public executions, nor the active preaching of the Dominican friars, who undertook to convert them if they were constrained to hear their sermons, could either alter the Jewish character, still patient of all evil so that they could extort wealth, or suppress the still increasing clamour of public detestation, which demanded that the lard should cast forth from its indignant bosom this irreclaimable race of rapacious infidels.
The king listed to the public voice, and the irrevocable edict of total expulsion from the realm was issued. Their whole property was seized at once, and just enough money left to discharge their expenses to foreign lands, perhaps equally inhospitable. The king issued orders that they should be treated with kindness and courtesy on their journey to the sea-shore, but they were pursued from the kingdom with every mark of popular triumph on their sufferings. The number of exiles is variously stated at 15,060 and 16,511 ; all their property, debts, obligations, mortgages escheated to the king. The convents made themselves masters of their valuable libraries-one at Stamford, another at Oxford—from which the celebrated Roger Bacon is said to have derived great information ; and long after the common people would dig in the places they had frequented in hopes of finding buried treasures.
During the succeeding reigns, until the time of the Commonwealth, the Jews did not again settle in this country. Cromwell summoned an assembly of two lawyers, seven citizens of London, and fourteen divines, to debate the question-first, whether it was lawful to admit the Jews ; secondly, if lawful, on what terms it was expedient to admit them. The lawyers decided at once on the legality; the citizens were divided; but the contest among the divines was so long and so inconclusive that Oliver grew weary, and the question was adjourned to a more favourable opportunity, The necessities of Charles II. and his courtiers quietly accomplished that change which Cromwell had not dared openly to venture. The convenient