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The four canons of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 regarding Jewish matters drew heavily on earlier ecclesiastical material and touched on fundamental issues concerning Christian-Jewish relations. Subsequently they were included in Gregory IX’s definitive collection of canonical material, the so-called Decretals, of 1234. As such they constitute an excellent platform from which to embark on an in-depth examination of medieval Christian policies and doctrines concerning Jews and Judaism. The topics covered by the canons included the complexities surrounding Jewish conversion to Christianity, the vexed problem of Jews having any kind of authority over Christians, Christian concerns about Jews and Judaism contaminating Christian society and mocking the Christian faith and as well as the fraught issue of Jewish usury (in the medieval sense of charging interest) and Jewish liability for tithes. The analysis of ecclesiastical rulings on these issues demonstrates how ambiguous ecclesiastical policies and doctrines on Jews were. Jews were excruciated for their lack of Christian belief; at the same time they were protected because they were deemed to play a theological role in Christian society by being Jewish. For lay rulers Jewish usefulness in providing linguistic, medical and administrative services and taxation on their economic activities often weighed more heavily than ambiguous theological considerations.
Thomas of Marlborough, abbot of Evesham (1229–1236), asserted that he had been taught canon law by three masters: Honorius, John of Tynemouth and Simon of Southwell. He himself had taught canon law in Oxford before becoming a monk at Evesham in 1199/1200. From the evidence adduced by Stephan Kuttner and Eleanor Rathbone it seems almost certain that he was taught canon law by the masters he named in Oxford as well. Honorius is likely to have taught there upon his return from Paris in 1192 until 1195, when he became one of the officials of the archbishop of York, Geoffrey Plantagenet. John of Tynemouth (d. c. 1221) would have left Oxford around 1198 when he was appointed by Hubert Walter to serve in his household as a legal expert. He ended his life as archdeacon of Oxford. Simon of Southwell entered Hubert's household around 1193. Unlike John he had taught in Bologna and Paris. Valuable evidence for the teaching of John of Tynemouth and Simon of Southwell comes from a unique manuscript in Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, MS 283/676, which contains a late twelfth-century Anglo- Norman gloss on Gratian. Many individual glosses are ascribed to John of Tynemouth and Simon of Southwell. Based on the analysis of Kuttner and Rathbone it is possible to say that the gloss provides us with a snapshot of how Gratian's Decretum was taught in Oxford in the final decade of the twelfth century.
The research of Kuttner and Rathbone and of Charles Duggan identified many of the continental canonists cited in the A-NG. They include Huguccio (d. 1210), the author of an immensely popular Summa decretorum; John Faventinus (fl. 1170s and 1180s), whose very widely disseminated Summa on the Decretum overtook the Summae of Rufinus and Simon of Tournai upon which he had largely built his own composition; and Gandulphus (fl. 1160–70), who produced glosses on the Decretum and who might have taught Huguccio. My own research has confirmed the connection Kuttner made between the A-NG and the so-called Summa Lipsiensis, an Anglo-Norman product which is now thought to have been composed by Rodoicus Modicipassus in Paris around 1186. The Summa Lipsiensis used the work of John Faventinus; it in turn was used by Huguccio.
‘The King has provided and ordained etc.: That no Jew remain in England unless he do the King service, and that from the hour of birth every Jew, whether male or female, serve Us in some way’, were the opening words of Henry III's Statute concerning the Jews of 1253. Less than twenty-five years later in 1275 Edward I had forbidden moneylending, the very form of service with which Jews had paid for the privilege of residing in the kingdom. In 1290 Edward expelled what was left of the rapidly depleting Jewish community in exchange for a magnificent sum from his Christian subjects to reward him for his action. Ironically, the last time the Jews served the king they did this through the cancellation of their very service and their expulsion from the land. Although Henry II had exploited them ruthlessly enough for much of his reign, the Jews of England had at least benefited from the way he had favoured their stake in the business of moneylending over that of their Christian competitors. How and why did the notion of Jewish service change from the time of Henry II to Edward I? How could the same notion lead to such different conclusions? And, crucially, what did the Jews themselves think about the serving role Christians had created for them?
The Jews arrived in England in 1066 and succeeded in building up a successful livelihood. By the end of Henry II's reign some two dozen Jewish communities had come into being. By the end of the twelfth century a Jewish financial network had spread from London, where the first Norman Jews had settled after the Conquest, to Norwich and Lincoln and reached into the developing areas around York. Jewish prosperity owed much to Henry II's actions against the English moneyers and foreign Christian moneylenders like William Cade. By 1180 moneylending, rather than money changing or business in plate, had become the main financial occupation of English Jews. They enjoyed the king's backing, for rather than seek credit from them, he targeted their profits as a ready source for royal taxation. The complexities and shortcomings of this backing would become obvious in the pogroms of 1189/90. Richard's 1194 Ordinance of the Jews began to put in place the stringent royal control of all aspects of Jewish business which was to become the peculiar characteristic of English Jewish life before their expulsion in 1290.
It is likely that William the Conqueror brought Jews from Rouen to London on account of their expertise in trade of luxury items and their experience in money changing and supplying moneyers with plate to mint coins. The Anglo-Saxon kings seem to have decided not to follow this route.