The discovery of two medieval mikva’ot in London and a reinterpretation of the Bristol ‘mikveh’

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London's medieval Jewry was a late-eleventh-century offshoot from that of Rouen. In culture and economy the two Jewries remained closely linked until the loss of Normandy in 1204. Josce the Rabbi and his sons Isaac and Abra? ham, who led the community for much of the century, built the magna scola, the principal synagogue, behind the family home at the northeast end of Old Jewry. Here, in the Jewish court, in close proximity to the scola, one would expect to find the mikveh, with other communal facilities such as butchery, baths, ovens and hospitium nearby, the last referred to in a starr of 1266. By the late twelfth century the magnates Isaac of Lincoln and Jurnet of Norwich had mansions on Lothbury, giving direct access to this court.1

The site of the Jewry is first referred to in a St Paul's survey c. 1127, in which lands are described as in vicus judeorum. As with the oldest term used at Rouen, this is a reference to the Jewish quarter or district. Reference to St Olave's shows these to have been on the west of Colechurch Lane, known since 1290 as Old Jewry. The term vicus may well be used in a legal as well as this topographic context. As the customs of the Jewry stated that 'the Jews and all they have are the king's', it lay beyond city jurisdiction of ward courts and Court of Hustings. Against Jews, citizens had to seek justice at a royal court; in the city, that of the constable of the Tower or the Justices of the Jews. Cases between Jews were left to their own jurisdiction. Only from 1194, when the great series of public records begins, can one pin down with preci? sion the parishes and streets which constituted the Jewry. Prior to that there are only the Pipe Rolls of 1130-1 and 1155-6, the chroniclers and other 1 J. Hillaby, 'London: the i?th-eentury Jewry revisited' Trans JHSE XXXII (1992) 100-101; idem, 'The London Jewry: William I to John' Trans JHSE XXXIII (1995) 36-9; idem, 'Beth Miqdash Me 'at: The Synagogues of Medieval England' The Journal of Ecclesiastical History XLIV (1993) 182-98; M. D. Davis, Shetaroth: Hebrew Deeds of English Jews before 1290 (London 1888) no. 54. 15

1 J. Hillaby, 'London: the i?th-eentury Jewry revisited' Trans JHSE XXXII (1992) 100-101; idem, 'The London Jewry: William I to John' Trans JHSE XXXIII (1995) 36-9; idem, 'Beth Miqdash Me 'at: The Synagogues of Medieval England' The Journal of Ecclesiastical History XLIV (1993) 182-98; M.

incidental references. The Jewry was no ghetto. Christians and Jews lived side by side, Christians often predominating.2 The 1170s were the golden age of the London Jewry. Much wealth was invested in housing, but ownership may not mean tenure and tenants could be Christian. Henry IPs exchequer began to target its wealthiest members ?.1180, such as le Brun. 1189-90 saw attacks on London and other Jewries, with massacres at York, Stamford and Lynn. As on death so also in debt, houses escheated

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