On 31 January 1253, the king promulgated an ordinance against the Jews. Unlike previous royal measures, which had been largely concerned with Jewish financial dealings, this one was strongly influenced by religious considerations.
The main aim was to remove threats to the faith produced by contact between Christians and Jews. Although, in part, simply giving royal sanction to previous ecclesiastical regulations, the measure was very personal to Henry. It was described as ‘a provision made by the king’ and was authorized by him and his council. In other words it had not been promulgated by the common counsel of the realm. With his religious feelings heightened by his crusader status, Henry was naturally sensitive to the dangers posed by the Jews. His statute against them stemmed from such feelings, and also, timed as it was, tried to prove to the bishops that he was indeed a ‘most Christian king’.
Henry ordered Jewish worship in Synagogues be held quietly so that Christians should not have to hear it when passing by. In addition, he forbade Jews from employing Christian nurses or maids, and prevented other Jews from converting to Christianity.
To be continued
Magna Carta 1253: the ambitions of the church and the divisions within the realm – David A. Carpenter
Close Rolls 1251–3, pp. 312–13 and Councils and Synods, i. 472–3, with comment by Cheney C. R. Cheney (see Councils and Synods with other Documents Relating to the English Church, ii: A.D. 1205–1313, ed. F. M. Powicke and C. R. Cheney (1 vol. in 2, Oxford, 1964) (hereafter Councils and Synods), i. 474).