Thursday, 9 May, 2024 - 4:37 pm




On the site of the Osney Mill Marina, on Mill Street, Oxford, on the remains of Osney Abbey, there is a plaque, erected in 1931 by Professor of semitic languages, Herbert Loewe, commemorating one of the first known burnings at the stake for heresy in England. This was performed against Haggai of Oxford, formerly known as Robert of Reading, a deacon, who converted to Judaism, and married a Jewish woman. When ordered to recant, he refused, and an edict was passed at the Council of Oxford, convened by Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury (1150-1228), that he should be degraded and immediately delivered to the fire.[1] This took place on Sunday, 17 April 1222 AD, corresponding to the Hebrew date: 4 Iyyar 4982.


The plaque on the former site of Osney Abbey, unveiled by Professor Charles Seligman (1870-1940), states:[2]


Near this stone in Osney Abbey,
Robert of Reading,
Otherwise Haggai of Oxford,
Suffered for his faith
On Sunday 17 April 1222 A.D.
Corresponding to 4 Iyyar 4982 A.M


Another martyrdom took place in Oxford 333 years later, in 1555, against the three bishops of the Church of England: Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who were burned at the stake for their faith during the reign of Queen Mary. Latimer and Ridley were burnt on 16 October 1555, while Cranmer was burnt five months later on 21 March 1556. A Victorian era spire-like martyrs’ memorial stands at the south end of St Giles to commemorate this event. In this essay, we will present the story told by this plaque in the primary sources, study the variants between the sources, which questions its accuracy and ways in which one can understand the context of the incident in Jewish tradition and law in 13th century England.


1222 conversion


The mention of the Jewish martyrdom at Oxford of 1222, may be found in the annals of Walter of Coventry (flourished 1290–1300), in Memoriale Fratris Walteri de Coventria.[3] Solomon Grayzel (1896-1980) cites the account in ‘The Church and the Jews in the 13th century: A study of their relations during the years 1198-1254, based on the Papal letters and the conciliar decrees of the period’ (1933):[4] ‘According to Walter of Coventry, a deacon who had converted to Judaism was at this Council (The Council of Oxford, April 17, 1222) condemned to be burned.’[5] While the details of the case varies between the sources, the key facts may be gleaned from the following five sources, collated by English historian and jurist Frederic Maitland (1850-1906): Walter of Coventry, Ralph of Coggeshall , Henry of Bracton, Waverly, Cistercian house of Waverley and Dunstable Priory. As some of the annals record events year by year, they suggest immediate records of events as they transpired, others within a few years after the event. The recording of the incident in five annals indicates the basic facts of episode certainly occurred.


No mention


Some annals, however, do not mention the Council of Oxford at all, including the annals of Burton, Worcester, and Bermondsey.’[6] The annals of Winchester, Tewkesbury, and also Osney, where the burning of the deacon took place, mentions the Council of Oxford, but no mention of the deacon. The absent of the mention of the account, however, does not suggest the incident did not happen, as Maitland points out, monastic annalists recorded events based on merely what might be of interest to their Abbey or ‘struck his fancy, making sometimes what seems to us a very capricious selection of facts.’[7] One may argue, then, that a reason for the omission of the burning of the deacon convert to Judaism in the Osney annals where the event took place, may suggest an embarrassment of the incident and attempt to cover up the event in the records. The insignificance of the event can hardly be a reason, as it was recorded in the annals of other Abbeys further away. English historian and jurist Frederic Maitland FBA[8] writes this was the only recorded death by burning in nearly two hundred years in England, until the death of William Sautre in 1402, after the authorisation of the Statute of Heresy.[9]


Council of Oxford


The martyrdom of the deacon who converted to Judaism may be seen in the context of harsh reality of the Jews of England in the 13th century, when the church had power and dictated policy, upheld to varying degrees, over affairs of the countries of Europe. The decree to have the deacon convert to death by burning took place at the Council of Oxford, under Stephen Archbishop of Canterbury. At the same Synod, a number of anti-Jewish laws were enacted, restricting life for the Jews of England. This included prohibiting social relations between Jews and Christians, church tithes were levied against Jews, and the wearing of a Jewish badge.[10] The construction of new synagogues was also prohibited. In addition, earlier rules set out at the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 were enforced.[11] In the Fourth Lateran Council, seventy Canons were decreed, four (67-70) of which consisted of rules in relation to Jews. This included: 1. Jews should be compelled to make satisfaction for the tithes and offerings to the churches, and refrain from immoderate interest on loans. 2. Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province must be distinguished from the Christian by a difference of dress. On Passion Sunday and the last three days of Holy Week they may not appear in public.[12] 3. Jews are not to be given public offices. Anyone instrumental in doing this is to be punished. A Jewish official is to be denied all intercourse with Christians. 4. Jews who have received baptism are to be restrained by the prelates from returning to their former rite.[13]


Robert of Reading – Haggai of Oxford 1275


A second story of a Christian convert to Judaism in England in the 13th century occurred in 1275, by a Dominican preacher, Robert of Reading, who studied Hebrew, at the initiative of Catalan Dominican friar, Raymond de Penyaforte (1175-1275), in order to convert Jews to Christianity through their own writings, but instead became inspired by Judaism, converted, chose the name Haggai, and married a Jewish woman in the summer of 1275. This story is recorded by Professor Heinrich Gratez (1817-1891) in History of the Jews,[14]concluding that despite Haggai defending his new faith after being summoned to answer for his apostasy, and Edward I handing him over for punishment to the archbishop of Canterbury, it appears he was left unharmed. While Christian conversion to Judaism appear to be rare, the conversions of 1222 and 1275 were not the first cases of Christian clergy converting to other religions in Europe, as Vecelin, chaplain of Duke Konrad, a relative of the Holy Emperor Henri II (973-1024) converted to Judaism in 1005,[15] and Renant, Duke of Sens, in 1015.[16] In addition, Pope Gregory IX, on March 3, 1231 addressed the issue of poor Christians converting to Islam.[17] The story of Robert of Reading is also found in Shevet Yehudah, written by Solomon ibn Verga (b. 1460).


1275 conversion and the expulsion



According to Heinrich Gratez, there is a direct line from the conversion of 1275 to the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. Incited by the Dominicans and the queen-mother, Eleanor, the House of Commons passed a statute called the Statute of Judaism (Statutum de Judeismo), in 1275, prohibiting usury, allowed to reside only in royal cities and boroughs, limited ability to collect full loans, beyond their property, Easter tax of three pence to the king for every Jew above twelve years of age, the enforcement of the wearing of badges and forbade all interaction with Christians. This was followed in 1278 by the false counterfeit and coin clipping allegations, which led to the imprisonment of all the Jews of England, together with their wives and children, on Friday, 17th November, 1278. In total, 293 Jews were hanged, and others imprisoned and expelled. In 1279, a massacre of the Jews of London took place on 2 April, in response to the allegation of the crucifixion of a Christian child by the Jews of Northampton. In 1280, in response to allegation of Jews disrespecting Christian emblems, Jews were forced to attend sermons by Dominicans without contradiction, and in May, 1281, the king bestowed the chief rabbinate on Eleanor’s favoured choice for the position, Hagin (Chaim) Denlacres, and his heirs. On the 16th of April, 1287, after a Church assembly in Exeter, all the canonical resolutions against the Jews were renewed, and all the Jews of England, including women and children were arrested and not released until 2 May for a large ransom. Incited further by the Dominicans and the queen mother, due to allegations before Pope Honorius IV that baptized Jews were being encouraged to return to Judaism, and Christians were being invited on Shabbat and festivals to the synagogue, enticing them to adopt Jewish custom, Edward I issued an edict on 18 July, 1290, without consent of parliament, for expulsion of all the Jews from England by 1st November. By 9th of October, 16,511 Jews left the country, not to return for hundreds of years.


Cecil Roth argues, however, the reason for the expulsion had more to do with economics: the failure of the aims of the Statute of Judaism, prohibiting usury[18] and for Jews to work in more conventional occupations. This effort was in fact defeated by oppressive decrees of the Lateran Councils that prohibited interaction between Jews and Christians, and an impoverished community no longer useful, led to their expulsion.[19]


H.H. Ben-Sasson in A History of the Jewish People,[20] argues further that the Statute of Judaism, prohibiting Jews from practising usury was a response, not to the conversion of the deacon, but in response to a ban on usury inspired by a will left by Prince Brabant in 1261, expelling all Jews and Christian money lenders, except those who give up usury and turn to commerce. Thomas Aquinas wrote in response to the widow in March 1274 that Jews may not be deprived of all that is necessary to sustain life, but one may also not benefit from Jewish property, as this is benefiting from usury. They would do better to compel the Jews to work for their living, as is done in parts of Italy, rather than to allow them to live in idleness and grow rich from usury. It was a year after this theologically based decision that Edward I put this in practice with the Statute of Judaism, which categorically prohibited the practise of usury, while expressly permitting them to be merchants and craftsmen and lease land for the purpose of cultivation for up to ten years. However, this was not for the benefit of the Jews, and led to a worsening of their situation, since they still had to wear badges of infamy and restriction on where they may live. This led to a proposal to reverse the probation on usury in 1290, as long as interest did not accrue more than three years. However, the expulsion brought this to a close without it ever having reached the law books.[21]






 Discrepancy in the 1222 martyrdom


Despite the reliability of the main facts of what happened in 1222, there are significant discrepancies between the accounts in the 13th century. The five 13th century accounts of the event are as follows:


1. Walter of Coventry


In Memoriale of Walter of Coventry, the account is recorded by a canon of Barnwell, as follows:[22] ‘But another deacon had sinned enormously; he had renounced the Christian faith; blaspheming and apostatising, he had caused himself to be circumcised in imitation of the Jewish rite. He was degraded by the lord of Canterbury outside the church and before the people. Relinquished by the clergy, he was as a layman and captured apostate delivered over to be condemned by the judgment of the lay court, and being at once (statim) delivered to the flames he died a miserable death.’


2. Ralph of Coggeshall 


English chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall (died after 1227) writes:[23]degraded an apostate deacon, who for the love of a Jewess had circumcised himself. When he had been degraded he was burnt by the servants of the lord Fawkes.


3. Henry of Bracton


Jurist and cleric Harry of Bracton (c. 1210 – c. 1268), author of De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliæ[24] (On the Laws and Customs of England) records the event: ‘Unless indeed he is convicted of apostasy, for then he is to be first degraded and then burnt by the lay power (per manum laicalem), as happened at the Oxford Council holden by Stephen Archbishop of Canterbury of happy memory, touching a deacon who apostatised for a Jewess, and who, when he had been degraded by the bishop, was at once (statim) delivered to the fire by the lay power.’


4. Cistercian house of Waverley


In the annals of England’s oldest Abbey, Cistercian house of Waverley in Surrey, it states:[25] ‘In this council an apostate deacon who had married (duxerat) a Jewess was degraded and afterwards burnt.’


5. Prior Richard Morins of Dunstable priory


Prior of the Dunstable priory, Richard de Morins, also known as Richard of Mores (c. 1161–1242), records the event in the Dunstable Annals, as a possible eyewitness: ‘In this council there was condemned to the flames, after his degradation, a deacon who for the love of a Jewess had been circumcised; and he was burnt with fire outside the town by the king’s bailiffs who were present on the spot (ibidem praesentes).’


a. Apostasy / blaspheming


The common facts of the story are pertaining to three of the details: the episode happened with a deacon, as recorded by all five accounts, and that he was burnt alive. The reasons for this punishment is however unclear. In four of the above sources, it says he was an apostate. In one source, the Prior of the Dunstable priory, by Richard de Morins, a possible eyewitness, it writes: ‘for the love of a Jewess had been circumcised,’ with no mention of apostasy. Only in one source, in the annals of Walter of Coventry, does it say the deacon was guilty of blaspheming, while the other four sources does not mention this allegation.


b. Circumcision


In three of the sources, it states as a reason for his punishment was the fact that he had himself circumcised. This is found in the account of Walter of Coventry, and Ralph of Coggeshall andDunstable priory. The other two accounts, by Cistercian house of Waverley and Henry of Bracton, there is no mention of circumcision.


c. Reason for circumcision


Among the three accounts that mentions circumcision, there is difference of opinion what the motive for circumcision was. In the account of Walter of Coventry, it states: in imitation of the Jewish rite, while Ralph of Coggeshall andRichard de Morins write: for the love of a Jewess.


d. For the love of a Jewess


The involvement of a Jewish woman as a motive for the conversion is itself contested in the versions of the accounts. In Memoriale of Walter of Coventry, it omits any mention of a motive or involvement of a Jewish woman in the conversion of circumcision of the deacon. On the contrary, it offers an account that suggests no ulterior motive, other than ‘in imitation of the Jewish rite.’ In the four other accounts, however, mention is made of a Jewish woman, as part of the narrative.


e. Role of the Jewess


Amongst the four accounts that does mentioned the involvement of a woman, there is significant difference amongst the sources, what precise role the Jewish woman played in the narrative of the deacon’s conversion: In the account of Ralph of Coggeshall, the deacon was already an apostate, but circumcised himself for love of a Jewess. The Jewish woman, according to this account, was not the cause for his apostasy, suggesting he had already apostatised on his own accord from Christianity, followed by which he met a Jewish woman, whom he wished to marry. This would mean his conversion to Judaism was not necessarily motivated by the love for the Jewess but had his own prior motives. The same is the case regarding the account of Cistercian house of Waverley, where it states: ‘an apostate deacon who had married (duxerat) a Jew,’ suggesting he may have been already an apostate deacon, who later married a Jew. According to these two sources, then, the unusually harsh punishment was not for the fact that he was an apostate per se, but that he married a Jewish woman, and converted to Judaism. In just one source, in the account of possibly eyewitness, Richard de Morins, Prior of the Dunstable priory, it suggests that the deacon was not an apostate prior to having met the Jewess, and the deacon’s conversion to Judaism, including having himself circumcised was for the love of a Jewess. This latter account – the deacon was wholly motivated to convert and circumcise for love of a Jewess - is reflected in the statement by Frederic Maitland, who unquestioningly accepts the narrative, twice using the word ‘pervert’ in relation to the deacon,[26] despite four accounts suggesting otherwise.


Converting for love


This question about the authenticity of the account that the deacon converted to ‘Judaism for love of the Jewess’ is an issue also in Jewish law: is ulterior motive for conversion to Judaism valid? The primary text that deals with conversion in Jewish law is the Talmud in ‘tractate gerim’ (converts), where it precludes one who converts for marriage. It states (1:7):


Anyone who becomes a proselyte for the sake of [marrying a Jewish] woman, or out of fear, or love is not a proselyte. Similarly R. Judah and R. Nehemiah said: All [the Gentiles] who were converted in the days of Mordecai and Esther were not genuine proselytes, as it is stated, ‘And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them.’ Anyone who is not converted from purely religious motives is not a proselyte.


Maimonides codifies this in Mishneh Torah, laws of forbidden relations (13:14):


The proper way of performing the mitzvah is when a male or a female prospective convert comes, we inspect his motives for conversion. Perhaps he is coming for the sake of financial gain, in order to receive a position of authority, or he desires to enter our faith because of fear. For a man, we check whether he focused his attention on a Jewish woman. For a woman, we check whether she focused her attention on a Jewish youth. If we find no ulterior motive, we inform them of the heaviness of the yoke of the Torah and the difficulty the common people have in observing it so that they will abandon [their desire]. If they accept [this introduction] and do not abandon their resolve and thus we see that they are motivated by love, we accept them, as [indicated by Ruth 1:18]: "And she saw that she was exerting herself to continue with her and she ceased speaking with her."


Based on Maimonides’ code of Jewish law, Mishneh Torah, R. Jacob ben Judah Chazan of London in 1279 compiled a similar compendium of Jewish law, Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) for England, with rulings and customs that reflect Ashkenazic customs and traditions. In this work he gathered Maimonides’ writing on conversion spread in three places throughout his work (Avodah Zara ch. 10, Issurei Biah ch. 13-14, Melachim ch. 5, 8 & 10) and revised them to be a stand alone section entitled: ‘laws of converts’ (hilchot gerim). In this section, he writes: ‘The order of accepting righteous converts is when he comes to convert, one should check if it is because of fear or lust for a Jewish woman. He concludes, however, as Maimonides does: ‘When a court did not check a [potential] converts background and did not inform him of the mitzvot and the punishment for [the failure to observe] the mitzvot and he circumcised himself and immersed in the presence of three ordinary people, he is a convert. Even if it is discovered that he converted for an ulterior motive, since he circumcised himself and converted, he has departed from the category of gentiles and we view him with skepticism until his righteousness is revealed.’[27]





Based on the above five variants in the accounts of this event, beyond the two details that are found in all the narratives, that the episode occurred with a deacon, who converted to Judaism and that he was burnt, there is lack of certainty what exactly occurred, the sequence and for what justification. This has considerable implications for the nature of the event and justification for the unusual punishment, as Maitland point out, even for 13th century England. This unusual and perhaps unjustified punishment, even in the law of 13th century England, may explain perhaps why the whole event was not recorded in the annals of Osney Abbey, where the event took place.


For this reason,it seems,American historian Solomon Grayzel (1896-1980), author of A History of the Jews, limits the description of the event to a bear minimum, in his book, ‘The Church and the Jews in the 13th century’ (1933), he cites Walter of Coventry’s account, but omits much of the unsubstantiated details recorded there. He writes:[28] ‘According to Walter of Coventry, a deacon who had converted to Judaism was at this Council (The Council of Oxford, April 17, 1222) condemned to be burned.’[29]


Agreement – date and unnamed


As mentioned, despite the above discrepancies in the 13th century accounts, there is agreement that the event took place concerning a certain deacon, who converted to Judaism and was subsequently burnt. The date of the Council of Oxford and thus when the martyrdom took place is also agreed, as the accounts state that the deacon was degraded and then burnt. In some of the accounts, in states: ‘on the spot’ (ibidem praesentes) or ‘at once’ (statim), clarifying the punishment took place the same day as the Council of Oxford convened: 17 April, 1222. There is also agreement in all the five sources that the name of the deacon is unknown, and certainly the name of the Jewess is unknown.


Osney Abbey plaque


Based on the above study, we may analyse the modern plaque, set up in 1931 by Hebrert Loewe, commemorating the martyrdom on the former site of Osney Abbey. It states:[30]


Near this stone in Osney Abbey,
Robert of Reading,
Otherwise Haggai of Oxford,
Suffered for his faith
On Sunday 17 April 1222 A.D.
Corresponding to 4 Iyyar 4982 A.M


The date and location is indeed correct since the event took place immediately after the degrading of the deacon, undertaken at the Council of Oxford on 17 April, 1222, corresponding to 4 Iyyar 4982. The ambiguity of the reason for the martyrdom - ‘Suffered for his faith’ - is deliberate, as explained above, since there is lack of clarity whether he suffered because of his Jewish faith, having performed circumcision and converted to Judaism, or his apostasy and blasphemy against Christianity, which took place independently of and prior to converting to Judaism. Certainly, however, at the time of his death, he had converted to Judaism, and is thus considered a martyr in the Jewish tradition. Reflecting, however, the minimalist interpretation of the sequence of what transpired, the author of the plaque decided on the non-descript line: ‘suffered for his faith.’


There seems to be however difficulty in the decision of the author of the plaque to give a name to the deacon, not mentioned in any of the five 13th century accounts. The plaque names the deacon: ‘Robert of Reading, otherwise known as Haggai of Oxford.’ This is not necessarily contradictory to the five 13th accounts, since they in fact give no name to the deacon, it is inconsistent with the mention by Graetz, that Robert of Reading, known as Haggai, converted without any punishment in 1275, 15 years prior to the expulsion. Loewe combines two distinct episodes into a single event. A reason for this mistake may be from the fact that Herbert Loewe may have used the book, The Church and the Jews in the 13th century’ by Solomon Grayzel, found in his personal library, containing his name and address as Queens’ College, Cambridge on the inside front cover.[31] Since the book states: ‘According to Walter of Coventry, a deacon who had converted to Judaism was at this Council (The Council of Oxford, April 17, 1222) condemned to be burned,’ without a name, he confused the name of the deacon who converted in 1275 with the deacon of 1222. Alternatively, the name Haggai was also the name the deacon assumed in 1222.[32]


Cecil Roth, in Encyclopedia Judaica, published in 1971, under the entry Robert of Reading, writes: ‘English convert to Judaism. A Dominican friar, he was stimulated by his study of the Bible to adopt the Jewish religion, under the name Haggai, and subsequently married a Jewess.’ Roth adds, however: ‘he is often confused with an anonymous Oxford deacon who converted to Judaism and was burned in 1222. So far as is known, he did not suffer in consequence, though some chroniclers seem to suggest that the episode was partly responsible for the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290.’[33] His use of the phrase ‘suffer’ is in reference to the wording in Loewe’s deemed inaccurate plaque: ‘Robert of Reading, otherwise Haggai of Oxford, suffered for his faith on Sunday 17 April 1222 A.D.’


In addition, it would seem implausible Robert of Reading took place in 1222, since, as Graetz mentions, the conversion of Robert of Reading was inspired by his study of Hebrew and, as Roth writes, ‘study of the Bible. This was an initiative of Catalan friar, Raymond de Penyaforte (1175-1275), to convert Jews to Christianity through their own writings, instituted in 1236 at the Provincial Chapter of the Dominican Order of Paris, to set up schools for the study of Oriental languages, including Hebrew (Studia Linguarum) for missionary purposes.[34] The date 1236 precludes the conversion of Robert of Reading to have taken place earlier in 1222.


In conclusion, we have presented the case of the deacons who converted to Judaism in the 13th century, one of whom was martyred at Osney Abbey on 17th April, 1222. We demonstrated that when looking closely at the records, the details of the actual event, including apostasy, blasphemy, circumcision and inauthentic conversion only for love of a Jewish women, are all uncertain and should be suspect. In addition, the plaque at Osney Mill Marina on the site of the former Osney Abbey is certainly inaccurate, as Cecil Roth points on in 1977. Nevertheless, the basic episode of a deacon who circumcised and converted to Judaism and married a Jewish woman, most likely after he had decided to leave his former faith, had a tragic end by becoming a martyr of the Jewish people, being burnt at the stake for his belief Sunday, 17 April 1222 A.D, corresponding to 4th Iyyar. With the detailed knowledge that is acknowledged as true, the anniversary of his passing should be commemorated, following Jewish tradition, as a day of memorial, known as a yahrtzeit, for the Jewish community of Oxford, allowing his memory to be a blessing.[35]






[1] Solomon Graysel, p. 50: Jews were not subjects of church government, only the state could rule them and responsible for them.Church had difficulty getting the nobility to follow its orders. It therefore resorted to threats of excommunication against Christians who did not follow the church’s Jewish policy. If the prelate was also civil head of a district, church regulations were easily enforceable. When not, the prelate would sometimes take authority in his own hands, without any objection. In the Council of Oxford, the clergy were urged to inflict upon the Jews not only regular punishment of the boycott, but also any extraordinary punishment the local church might devise. This seems to have been the case with the Deacon convert in 1222. In some cases, Solomon Graysel writes (p. 314), tension existed between the church and the civil powers, for example, Archbishop Stephen Langton and Hugo de Welles, Bishop of Lincoln, and also the Bishop of Norwich decreed not to sell food to Jews, but was defeated by the king by a counter letter to the Sheriff of Lincoln and Mayor of Canterbury.


[3] He probably belonged to a religious house in the diocese of York. Walter was not a historian or chronicler in his own right; he merely brought together the works of Marianus Scotus, Florence of Worcester, Henry of Huntingdon, Roger of Hoveden, and an anonymous annalist from the Augustinian priory of Barnwell, Cambridgeshire. The Barnwell chronicle, the most important part of Walter’s collection, covers the period 1201–25 and is the most valuable contemporary source for King John’s reign and especially for his struggle with the church and the English barons. The last date given in the Memoriale is 1293. See Historical Collections of Walter of Coventry. Preface by Dr Stubbs, vol. II., p. ix, cited by Frederic William Maitland, vol. 1.

[4] P. 314.

[5] Cf. Rigg and JHSE, 1. c. (Cf. H. Finke p. 50), and it is to this that Gratez (l. c.) thinks the Council here refers.

[6] Dr Luard’s Preface, p. x, cited by Maitland:



[9] Punishments for heresy was usually immurement, as evident from the punishment delivered to a priest at the same Council of Oxford.

[10] Shevet Yehudah, p. 77: Solomon Graysel, regarding badges, p. 68, p. 315 and regarding badge for women p. 314 footnote 3.


[12] Solomon Graysel, p. 34: Innocent III complained to the king of France that on Good Friday, Jews by their improprieties dissuade Christians from worshipping, and in IV Lateran council urged its repression and establishment of a Jewish badge. Local councils went furtherforbade appearance of Jews during holy week, forbade work on Sundays and holidays, closed Jewish owned markets and even within their homes not eat meat whenever Christians were forbidden. Pope Alexander III ordered on holy days Jews to keep their doors and windows closed. Avignon in 1243 also ordered Jews above nine must hide from view when meeting a host-bearing procession, or pay a fine of five soldi. In Pamiers, Jews were forbidden entering public squares on Sundays. By the end of the 14th century, Jews of Spain were ordered by civil constitution to kneel at the passage of the host. James I of Aragon in the 13th century already issued this decree. In the Aiete Partidas responsibility was declined for Jews who suffer harm on the streets between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.


[14] History of the Jews, H. Graetz, vol. 3, ch. 18, p. 640.

[15] Pertz, Monumenta, Vol. 2., p. 93, cited in The History of Anti-Semitism: Time of Christ to Court Jews, Poliakov, P. 36.

[16] Raoul Glaber, Les Histoires III, 6, cited in The History of Anti-Semitism: Time of Christ to Court Jews, Poliakov, P. 36.

[17] Solomon Graysel, p. 185.

[18] This reason: ‘because of their usuries’ was given for the expulsion of the Jews from Fribourg and Zurich in 1424. The history of Anti-Semitism, Leon Poliakov, p. 119.

[19] A sort history of the Jewish people, by Cecil Roth, p. 225.

[20] A History of the Jewish People, edited by H.H. Ben-Sasson, p. 474-5.

[21] Shevet Yehudah, Solomon ibn Verga (c. 1460 – 1554), p. 28-9, discusses the expulsion.

[22] Historical Collections of Walter of Coventry. Preface by Dr Stubbs, vol. II., p. ix, cited by Frederic William Maitland, vol. 1.

[23] Ralph of Coggeshall, p. 190. Cited by Frederic William Maitland, vol. 1.

[24] De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliæ (On the Laws and Customs of England), f. 123b.

[25] Ann. Monast., vol. II., p. 296, cited by Maitland:


[27] It continues stating furthermore: ‘Even if afterwards, [the convert] worships false deities, he is like an apostate Jew. [If he] consecrates [a woman,] the consecration is valid, and it is a mitzvah to return his lost object. For since he immersed himself he became a Jew. For this reason, Samson and Solomon maintained their wives even though their inner feelings were revealed.’ According to the Magid Mishneh, this is only if he reverts to worship false dieties for reasons of lust (le-te-a-von), not ideologically. Kesef Mishneh argues that it does not apply to a case of a convert who returns to serving idolatry.

[28] P. 314.

[29] Cf. Rigg and JHSE, 1. c. (Cf. H. Finke p. 50), and it is to this that Gratez (l. c.) thinks the Council here refers.


[31] After the passing of Herbert Loewe’s son Raphael Loewe, the book was given to the Cambridge Jewish community at the Chabad House of Cambridge, borrowed for the purpose of writing this essay.

[32] It’s highly unlikely that his name was also Robert of Reading.

[33] Biography: Abraham and Maitland, in JHSET, 16 (1908-10), 254-76l Roth, England, 76,83. (C.R.).

[34] David C. Lindberg, Science in the Middle Ages, p. 77.

[35] For Hebrew sources about Jewish experience of Christendom in the Middle Ages, see Shevet Yehuda, by Solomon ibn Virga, a Jewish chronicler who had been expelled from Spain. The historian Joseph Hacohen tells a similar tale in his Emek Habakha (‘Vale of Tears’), a chronicle of Jewish history traditionally read by some Italian Jews on Tisha B’Av. In that version, the priest even dresses up as a Jew in order to be able to speak with the woman of his desire.


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