Tuesday, 8 November 2016

(Jewish) OTD: 8 November


My profound apologies if this isn’t up to the usual standard – I wrote it on a commuter train, with an unfeasibly small amount of elbow room, and haven’t had time to check it for anything other than factual accuracy.

In 1232 a tallage of 10,000 marks (£6,666 13s 4d) was imposed upon the Jews of medieval England by the king’s ministers, Peter des Roches and Stephen de Segrave. Subsequent to this, the Jews were able to secure terms for payment in stages – with a final sum of 3,000 marks (£2,000) to be paid in 1236.[1] This entry in the Liberate Rolls, reveals a payment towards that sum by the York Jewry. More particularly, it demonstrates that Aaron of York had, on behalf of the York Jewry, paid £22 10s 7½d directly into the wardrobe. Whilst in terms of most Jews, one might expect this sum to paid directly into the Exchequer (or another governmental department), it was not uncommon for the richest Jews in the land to pay into the wardrobe. We encountered Aaron of York in the OTD for yesterday (7 November 1246), so we know that he was one such Jew. What can be added to yesterday’s entry, however, is that a decade before Aaron had been approaching the pinnacle of his career. A little under two months after this payment, at the end of December, he was appointed to the office of presbyter iudeorum, the highest (secular) office that it was possible for  a Jew to reach in medieval England during this period. What isn’t entirely clear from this entry is whose money it was, that was being paid into the Wardrobe. Ordinarily, this would not really matter and it might be safe to infer that a richer Jew was paying for the community. In this instance, however, it is exceedingly important to know because in February 1236, Aaron had purchased an exemption from tallage payments “for life” in return for an annual payment of 60 marks (£40), as an amendment from a similar deal the year before.[2] Consequently, this entry from the Liberate Rolls provides an important insight into Aaron’s career at this point.

Calendar of the Liberate Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office: Henry III, 1226-1240, ed. H. C. Maxwell Lyte (London, 1916), i, p. 244.

[1] Discussed in Robert C. Stacey, “Royal Taxation and the Social Structure of Medieval Anglo-Jewry: The Tallages of 1239-1242”, Hebrew Union College Annual, 56 (1985), p. 178-179.
[2] I collect references to Aaron of York but I don’t have access to Adler’s survey article in my present location so shall check that for clues when I return home this evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment