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The study of medieval law occupies a unique niche within traditional academic discourse. A concentration on philological precision, challenges pertaining to manuscript study, and the ‘internal language’ of jurisprudence have at times over-shadowed the consideration of the wider societal implications of medieval law and curtailed its use in the investigation of broad themes of social and cultural history. This is particularly true of the thirteenth-century Anglo-Jewish legal corpus, the study of which has been relegated to a select few articles and studies.
Law can, however, serve as an important medium for understanding the social fabric and communal identity of a particular group. Numerous studies have utilized legal texts to explicate the wider terms of medieval European social and cultural history. By studying the law and legal culture of the Anglo Jewish community, particularly the legal corpus of the thirteenth-century figure Elijah Menahem of London, this chapter aims to further expand our understanding of the already nuanced picture of the medieval English community. It explores the thirteenth-century Anglo-Jewish intellectual world as a localized domain with distinct regional identities, features, and mentalities that was in debt to and negotiated with the reigning Tosafist culture of northern France and the continental mainland.