Jewish presence in, and absence from, Wales in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

Writing at Winchester in the late twelfth century, the chronicler Richard of Devizes includes in his narrative a story of a French Jew who took into his service a Christian youth who was apprenticed to a cobbler. After some time, the Jew persuaded his assistant to travel to England where he told him he would prosper. As they parted, the Jew gave the young man some advice about where he should settle in England. He was, for example, to avoid London, every quarter of which abounded with lamentable obscenities. He was to avoid Canterbury and the region of Ely, which stank perpetually of the surrounding fens. Most other cities were similarly damned and in par? ticular he was advised not to settle in the northern parts, Worcester, Chester or Hereford, because of the danger from the Welsh who were prodigal with the lives of others.1 Modern scholars have tended to

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