The Jews in Medieval Britain: Historical, Literary, and Archaeological Perspectives

The Jews in Medieval Britain: Historical, Literary, and Archaeological Perspectives

The Jews in Medieval Britain: Historical, Literary, and Archaeological Perspectives

The Jews in Medieval Britain: Historical, Literary, and Archaeological Perspectives

Synopsis

Britain's medieval Jewish community arrived with the Normans in 1066 and was expelled from the country in 1290. This is the first time in forty years that its life has been comprehensively examined for a student and general readership. Beginning with an introduction setting the medieval British experience into its European context, the book continues with three chapters outlining the history of the Jews' presence and a discussion of where they settled. Further chapters then explore themes such as their relationship with the Christian church, Jewish women's lives, the major types of evidence used by historians, the latest evidence emerging from archaeological exploration, and new approaches from literary studies. The book closes with a reappraisal of one of the best-known communities, that at York. Drawing together the work of experts in the field, and supported by an extensive bibliographical guide, this is a valuable and revealing account of medieval Jewish history in Britain.Contributors: ANTHONY BALE, SUZANNE BARTLETT, PAUL BRAND, BARRIE DOBSON, JOHN EDWARDS, JOSEPH HILLABY, D.A. HINTON, ROBIN MUNDILL, ROBERT C. STACEY.PATRICIA SKINNER is senior lecturer in medieval history, University of Southampton.

Excerpt

This book arose from a meeting held at the University of Southampton in December 2000, co-hosted by the Wessex Medieval Centre and the Parkes Centre for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations. Some of the papers given that day were published in a special issue of the journal Jewish Culture and History, 3 (2000); they included Barrie Dobson's chapter in this volume, which is reprinted by kind permission of the journal's editor, Dr Nadia Valman, and publisher, Frank Cass. However, the vibrancy of the day demanded publication of its remaining papers, within a volume that would both provide an introduction to the history of the Jews in medieval Britain, and reflect upon recent research in the field. It is testimony to the enthusiasm that the subject provokes that three of those whose papers had appeared in JCH wrote further chapters for this book, and that three other invited contributors agreed to write new chapters covering areas not addressed by the colloquium. The result is a book that we all hope will provide a guide for the reader to work already done, and encourage new research into the social life of Britain's Jews during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The editorial process has been a genuine pleasure, and I thank all of the contributors for their good-natured co-operation, and Caroline Palmer and the staff at Boydell & Brewer for seeing it into print. The support of the Director of the Wessex Medieval Centre, Professor Tim Reuter, led to this project coming to fruition. I was financially aided by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship. A final editorial note: much previous work on the British Jewish community appeared in the Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England; this became Jewish Historical Studies from volume 29 (1982-6). In all cases, volumes are cited by the date of the transactions: the date of publication is usually one or two years later.

Patricia Skinner, University of Southampton . . .

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