Friday, 4 November 2016

(Jewish) OTD: 4 November, part 1.


The early years of King Henry III’s reign (r. 1216-1272) were relatively good for medieval Anglo-Jewry. R. B. Dobson, once noted, in relation to the York Jewry, that these were the ‘halcyon years’. I think I would be comfortable applying this to England generally during the same period. As Robert Stacey highlighted, however, this came to an abrupt, and emphatic, end between 1239 and 1255. During that period, the Jews paid more than £200,000 (equating to one-third of the total currency in England). In 1239, Henry III levied a tax of one third of the value of Jewish movables. Two years later, the Worcester Tallage (1241-2) was implemented in order to raise 20,000 marks (£13,333 6s 8d). The cumulative effect of almost annual tallages was little short of crippling. The Worcester Tallage is, however, almost unique because the receipts for that tallage survive. Contained within The National Archives, these receipts were edited by Robert Stacey and published in 1992 by the Pipe Roll Society.  On 4 November 1241, there are two payments recorded, by two of the largest overall contributors: Aaron of York (who paid a total of £2634 0s 2½d, according to Stacey’s calculation) and David of Oxford (who paid a total of £993 13s 4d, according to Stacey’s calculation). Aaron paid the princely sum of £295. Put in context, the average baronial income during this period was £200 per annum, so that illustrates the scale of Aaron’s contribution individually and in general terms of all of his payments. Remarkably, the tally stick issued at the time of this payment also survives in The National Archives. Paying markedly less on the same day, David paid £59 6s 8d. Although this pales in comparison to Aaron’s contribution, by the standards of the day this was still an impressive sum.

Robert C. Stacey, “Royal Taxation and the Social Structure of Medieval Anglo-Jewry: The Tallages of 1239-1242”, Hebrew Union College Annual, 56 (1985), pp. 232, 235.

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