Wednesday, 2 November 2016

(Jewish) OTD: 3 November, part 2.


On the Fine Rolls of Henry III website, a somewhat innocuous entry is listed for 3 November 1235 (though the item itself is undated). This is listed as “concerning a fine of the Jews of Norwich, accused of circumcision”. This refers to a case which effectively spanned the 1230s, and went into the 1240s, in Norwich. In 1230 Odard son of Benedict was allegedly abducted by a number of Jews and forcibly circumcised. To my knowledge, we do not know who Benedict was, but given that his son wasn’t already circumcised, it certainly seems possible that the he was a convert. It was not until 1234, however, that this case ended up in court, when a number of Jews were brought to court. Vivian Lipman notes that the Pipe Roll of 1236-7 records that the Jews listed in this entry agreed to pay a fine of £200 and to have the case judged “according to the Assize of the Jewry” and 50 marks (£33 6s 8d) to have bail. This is almost certainly the same case, which raises an intriguing set of questions surrounding why the dates don’t correspond – though given the chronology of the case, 1235 seems to be the more likely. There is, however, an error in the Fine Rolls of Henry III translation – though it is not the translators fault. The first name in the entry should read Mosse Mokke (son of Solomon) – who, in 1240, would be convicted and hanged for the circumcision. This has been transcribed as two names – “Mosse, Mack’”. By virtue of the fact that images of the original membrane are also included, it is clear that there is an ink dot (for want of a better phrase) separating the two names which was interpreted as a grammatical point. I’m not entirely sure why it is there, but given the context of the case, this was clearly an error and reads “Moss Mock” on the original manuscript.

“Henry III Fine Rolls Project”, available online at accessed on 2 November 2016.

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