Humanities

HIST1098 The Road to Expulsion: The Jews of Medieval England (1066-1290)

Module Overview

Students first investigate the size of England’s Jewish population, the locations in which Jews lived, and their ways of making a living. Close attention is also given to the Jews’ frequently troubled relations with the majority Christian population. In order to aid understanding of the position of Jews within English society, the module gives close attention to the wider changes that transformed England between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. For example, we consider the emergence of a centralized state bureaucracy which allowed the royal government to control and tax the Jews. As the culmination to the module, students address the question of why the Jews were expelled from the kingdom. To help answer this question, and to aid our overall understanding of the position of England’s Jews, we will devote some attention to the character and fortunes of other European Jewries of this period, especially those of northern France.

Co-ordinator: Dr Chris Briggs

Module Details

Title: The Road to Expulsion: The Jews of Medieval England (1066-1290)
Code: HIST1098
Year: 1
Semester: 1

CATS points: 15 ECTS points: 7.5
Level: Undergraduate

Aims and objectives

• Provide an introduction to medieval history and the sources used to write it

• Use the example of England’s Jewish community as the route into a wider exploration of key features of the medieval world

• Provide an opportunity to investigate the causes of significant historical events, in this case the expulsion of the Jews from England

Syllabus

 

A Jewish community first came to England following the Norman conquest of 1066. Initially, the Jews enjoyed royal protection, and prospered as a result of their financial activities. Within a little over two centuries, however, the community had begun to suffer greatly under a range of pressures, and in 1290 the Jews were expelled from the kingdom by King Edward I. This module aims to make sense of the changing fortunes of England's Jews by looking at this community in a broad context. Teaching and learning is based around a course pack of 40 primary sources, which range from chronicle accounts to royal proclamations, records of lawsuits, and caricature drawings of Jews.

Students first investigate the size of England's Jewish population, the locations in which Jews lived, and their ways of making a living. Close attention is also given to the Jews' frequently troubled relations with the majority Christian population. In order to aid understanding of the position of Jews within English society, the module gives close attention to the wider changes that transformed England between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. For example, we consider the emergence of a centralized state bureaucracy which allowed the royal government to control and tax the Jews. As the culmination to the module, students address the question of why the Jews were expelled from the kingdom. To help answer this question, and to aid our overall understanding of the position of England's Jews, we will devote some attention to the character and fortunes of other European Jewries of this period, especially those of northern France.

Learning and teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours: 2
Private study hours: 10
Total study time: 12 hours

Teaching and learning methods

• Short lectures on the Jews, and on aspects of English government, society, and economy
• Discursive reading of selected key sources in class, led by the module convener
• Seminars built around presentations by individual students, and on discussions in groups of individual sources

Resources and reading list

D. Carpenter, The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 (2004)
R. Chazan, The Jews of Medieval Western Christendom (2006)
R.R. Mundill, England’s Jewish Solution. Experiment and Expulsion (1998)
P. Skinner, ed., Jews in Medieval Britain (2003)
K.R. Stow, Alienated Minority. The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe (1992)

Assessment

Assessment methods

1 written essay (1000 words) 20%
1 written essay (2000 words) 40%
Examination (1 hour) 40%