Jews and castles in medieval England

In 1201 King John granted his Jews a charter of liberties which begins: ‘Know that we have granted to all Jews of England and Normandy that they reside in freedom and honour in our land and hold of us all that they held of King Henry our father’s grandfather.’ This indicates that the rights granted go back at least to the time of Henry I who reigned from 1100 to 113 5, within a generation of the Norman Conquest. The charter goes on to include the following passage: ‘Jews shall not enter into any pleas save before us [which means that they should sue and be sued only in the royal courts] or before those who have ward of our castles, in whose bailiwicks [ballivis] Jews dwell.’1

I want to stress this matter of the jurisdiction over the Jews given to those responsible for royal castles, because the charter, dated

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