Roger of Hoveden:
The Persecution of Jews, 1189
The Coronation of Richard I in 1189 lead to an incident of
violent anti-Semitism. Hoveden relates this incident, but does
not go on to explain that its later unrolling lead to a wholesale
massacre of Jews in York. See the description of that massacre
by Ephraim of Bonn.
While the king was seated at table, the chief men of the Jews
came to offer presents to him, but as they had been forbidden
the day before to come to the king's court on the dav of the coronation,
the common people, with scornful eye and insatiable heart, rushed
upon the Jews and stripped them, and then scourging them, cast
them forth out of the king's hall. Among these was Benedict, a
Jew of York, who, after having been So maltreated and wounded
by the Christians that his life was despaired of, was baptized
by William, prior of the church of Saint Mary at York, in the
church of the Innocents, and was named William, and thus escaped
the peril of death and the hands of the persecutors.
The citizens of London, on hearing of this, attacked the Jews
in the city and burned their houses; but by the kindness of their
Christian friends, some few made their escape. On the day after
the coronation, the king sent his servants, and caused those offenders
to be arrested who had set fire to the city; not for the sake
of the Jews, but on account of the houses and property of the
Christians which they had burnt and plundered, and he ordered
some of them to be hanged.
On the same day, the king ordered the before-named William, who
from a Jew had become a Christian, to be presented to him, on
which he said to him, "What person are you," to which
he made answer, " I am Benedict of York, one of your Jews."
On this the king turned to the archbishop of Canterbury, and the
others who had told him that the said Benedict had become a Christian,
and said to them, "Did you not tell me that he is a Christian?"
to which they made answer, " Yes, my lord." Whereupon
he said to them, "What are we to do with him?" to which
the archbishop of Canterbury, less circumspectly than he might,
in the spirit of his anger, made answer, "If he does not
choose to be a Christian, let him be a man of the Devil;"
whereas he ought to have made answer, " We demand that he
shall be brought to a Christian trial, as he has become a Christian,
and now contradicts that fact." But, inasmuch as there was
no person to offer any opposition thereto, the before-named William
relapsed into the Jewish errors, and after a short time died at
Northampton; on which he was refused both the usual sepulture
of the Jews, as also that of the Christians, both because he had
been a Christian, and because, he had, " like a dog, returned
to his vomit."
From Roger of Hoveden: The Annals, comprising The History of
England and of Other Countries of Europe from AD 732 to AD 1201,
trans. Henry T. Riley, 2 Vols. (London: H.G. Bohn, 1853; rep.
New York AMS, 1968), Vol 2, pp. 117-19
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© Paul Halsall July 1997