Apropo Richard III



Well  according to  scholars, King Richard III (1452-1485) has turned up,  or better put, been turned up, pulled from blessed peace into the eyes of the public.   Although I’ve recently delved into British history– while researching  my book Jewish Lives: Britain 1750-1950 (Pen & Sword)–  I drew a blank about Richard, who pre-dated my featured  immigrants by several hundred years.    In fact,   with typical American  boorishness and  Shakespeare aside,I couldn’t place him at all.   But I had a sneaking suspicion.

So I googled   Richard III/Jews.  Oho,  my memory had served me wrong.  It was Longshanks, the  overly tall (for his time) King Edward I (1239-1307)  who did us in.

In 1275, after years of robbings,   beatings, forced conversions, hangings, and murder, he forbade his Jews   to practice usury, a service they (being damned anyway) had long  provided the Crown.  Although he  granted   trade and farming rights instead,  as Jews,  they  remained ineligible to join guilds or own land. In 1290, when they   could neither support ourselves nor contribute to the economy any longer, Edward I formally ordered all the Jews of Britain  to leave his kingdom forever.   The Jewish enclaves in London, Winchester, Canterbury, Oxford, Cambridge, Bury St. Edmunds, Colchester, Thetford, Ospringe, and elsewhere were emptied. Jewish homes and valuables reverted to the Crown.

Edward I is buried in Westminster Abbey.