The Persecution of Jews
by Roger of Hoveden
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."
Sources: 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.