Aaron of York

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" The king ordains that no Jew should remain in England unless he does some service to the king and that, as soon as possible after birth, whether male or female, every Jew should serve us in some way."1 The purpose for which Jews lived in this country in the pre-Expulsion days could not be more clearly expressed than in the words of this decree issued by Henry III. in the year 1253. As the records of the period demonstrate, the royal authority over the Jews was exercised


A.E. The Jews of Angevin England, by Dr. Joseph Jacobs. Rigg, i., ii. The Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, (published for the Society by J. M. Rigg). Jenkinson, iii., do. vol. iii., by Hilary Jenkinson. S.P. Select Pleas etc., from the Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, edited by J. M. Rigg. Loewe. Starrs and Jewish Charters in the British Museum (published by the Society), i.-iii., edited by I. Abrahams, H. P. Stokes and H. Loewe. Trans. Transactions of the Society, i.-xii. P.R.O. Public Record Office. Stokes. Studies in Anglo-Jewish History, by Canon Dr. H. P. Stokes. M.P. Matthew Paris, English History (1235-1273). Translated by J. A. Giles, i.-iii. Ramsay. The Dawn of the Constitution, 1216-1307, by Sir J. H. Ramsay. Stubbs. Constitutional History of England, by Canon W. Stubbs.


 

1 Madox, The Exchequer of the Jews, i. 248, " Rex providit et statuit quod nullus Judeus maneat in Anglia nisi servitium regi faciat. Et quam cito aliquis Judeus natus fuerit, sive sit masculus sive foemina, serviat nobis in aliquo." Close Rolls, 1253, p. 312. This is one of thirteen ordinances about the Jews issued by king Henry III.

114 AARON OF YORK.

with the utmost rigour. Whilst, as Mr. Cyril Picciotto2 and Mr. Frank Schechter3 have shown, the Jews enjoyed certain rights granted to them by their royal master as against the nobles3* and the general population, they were at the absolute mercy of the king against whose demands they had no redress.4 Professor Ramsay5 points out that there were three attitudes towards the Jewry to be remarked on the part of different classes of the community. By the Crown they were regarded as domestic animals to be milked and utilised. By the common people and the Baronage, with de Montfort and Prince Edward at their head, they were regarded as wolves to be extirpated ; by the merchants who had commercial dealings with them they were respected and protected. Evidence of the close relationship of the king to " his " Jews abounds, and is particularly illustrated in the lives of the most prominent representatives of Anglo-Jewry. Aaron of Lincoln was the typical Jew of Angevin England of the twelfth century?as Dr. Joseph Jacobs has fully indicated6?and another Aaron, who was the son of Jose of the city of York, occupied a similar position in the following century in the days of Henry III. The number of references to Aaron of York in

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