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England’s Jewish Community in the Royal Courts, c. 1216–1235

Searby, Rebecca Elizabeth (2019) England’s Jewish Community in the Royal Courts, c. 1216–1235. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis offers the first dedicated study of Jews within and across England’s royal court system in the period c. 1216 to 1235. At its heart lie the records (more precisely the plea rolls) produced by four courts—the Exchequer of the Jews, the court coram rege, the common bench, and the eyre courts—which together represent the crown’s increasingly systematic efforts to document the actions and proceedings of the common law. This thesis has found, identified and analysed all pleas involving Jews as plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses and officers of the court and uses this material to investigate the place of England’s Jewish community within the crown’s developing court structures. These cases are brought together, for the first time, in a series of supplementary appendices. This research investigates the extent to which the establishment and jurisdiction of the Exchequer of the Jews excluded Jewish access from royal courts elsewhere. It highlights that the current emphasis on the contractual relationship between Jews and the English crown, whereby the protection of a Jewish community in England was dependent upon their ability to serve and line the pockets of English kings, has distorted our understanding of Jewish legal status and the experience of Jews in court. The first chapter raises the question of Jews and jurisdiction and explores how quantitative assessments of Jews in plea roll material shed new light on the place of Jews in the royal court system, before chapters two and three examine the activities of Jewish individuals in court: firstly, as plaintiffs and defendants, and secondly, as officers and royal agents. Chapters four and five then address how far the Jewish legal experience was systematised in the developing framework of English law and questions what court material reveals about the power dynamics between the crown and the Jewish minority.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Centre for Medieval Studies (York)
Depositing User: Rebecca E. Searby
Date Deposited: 22 May 2020 15:15
Last Modified: 22 May 2020 15:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26226

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