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Christian-Jewish Relations: Pope Innocent III Protest to Philip Augustus of France Against Royal Protection of Jewish Money-Lenders


Philip Augustus and Innocent III were in a dispute at this time about the taking of Normandy from John of England. The Pope complained of the royal protection granted to the Jews and of their usurious practices as money-lenders, but, though Philip often banished them, he always allowed them to return on payment of a fine.

But if sometimes those to whom they entrusted their money at interest produce Christian witnesses to the fact of repayment, more credence is placed in the document which the indiscreet debtor has left with his creditor through negligence or carelessness than in the witnesses he produces. Nay, in such a matter witnesses are not permitted against the Jews, so that their insolence has gone so far that-we refer to it with shame-the Jews of Sens built next to a certain old church a new synagogue, not a little higher than the church, in which place they celebrate their services in the Jewish rite. This they do, not as was the case before they were ejected from the kingdom, i.e., in a low tone, but with a great clamor, not scrupling to avoid disturbing the more holy celebrations in the church (of the Christians).

From: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1855), Vol. CCXV, pp. 501-503; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 178.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

Sources: Medieval Sourcebook