Robert of Leicester’s treatise on the Hebrew computus and the study of Jewish knowledge in medieval England

In the spring or summer of 1294, a Franciscan friar named Robert of Leicester put the finishing touches to a lengthy treatise on time reckoning, which had been requested by Richard Swinfield, the bishop of Hereford ( 1282-1317).1 According to Robert’s own introduction, his work was written “in a rough style” and intended to deal with the “calculation of time, so that knowledge of the flow of the ages may be obtained more readily and, as I suppose, more certainly, provided that God deems it worthy to guide my intention”.2 At first glance, these words might give the impression that the present text is yet another medieval work on the computus (or compotus, as it used to be spelt in the thirteenth century), of whose kind one can still find thousands of preserved copies in European libraries. The principal subject of this rich and variegated genre was the date of

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