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In my last lecture I brought down the history of the Jews in this country, to the death of Henry the Second. The reign of that monarch seems, upon the whole, especially when compared with subsequent reigns, not to have been very unfavourable to the prosperity of the Jews. They experienced the usual share of imprisonment, fine, and banishment, which does not seem to have much depressed their general state. From the nature of some of the fines, which I described to you on Friday evening last, we may infer the wealth and power of individuals amongst them. One Josce, it seems, was fined by the king for supplying the rebels in Ireland with large sums of money ;
A BRIEF RETROSPECT
another Jew was fined for taking in pawn the abbey plate of St. Edmundsbury. When the king intended to proceed to the Holy Land, after having made an agreement to the same effect with Philip Augustus, King of France, at the parliament held at Northampton in the year 1188, the Jews were commanded to supply nearly half the subsidy requisite for the undertaking—the Christians being taxed at £70,000, and the Jews at £60,000; and though this money was never levied, in consequence of a disagreement between the two kings, and Henry's subsequent death, as I have already stated, * yet these are facts which clearly prove the flourishing state of the Jewish finances in England during this reign ; and although the Jews had been frequently subjected to heavy pecuniary exactions under the reign of Henry the Second, still the vigorous admi
* From Henry's History of Great Britain, one would be led to believe that the “one hundred and thirty thousand pounds were raised.”— Vol. v. p. 182.
OF THE LAST LECTURE.
nistration of that prince had shielded them from popular violence. They were still able to carry on their trades and their professions. In spite of the reports circulated by the monks, that the Jews were sorcerers (in consequence of their superior medical skill), Christian patients would frequent the houses of the Jewish physicians in preference to the monasteries, where cures were pretended to have been effected by some extraordinary relics, such as the nails of St. Augustine, the extremity of St. Peter's second toe, the breath of our Lord, which Nicodemus secured in a glove, the feathers of the wings of the archangel Michael, and more such-like relics. I need hardly add that the cures effected by the Jewish physicians were more numerous than those by the monkish impostors.
Andrews—who was evidently no friend to the Jews-in his continuation of Henry's Britain, observes—“ The partiality in favour of Jewish physicians was unaccountable, and probably ill-founded; yet Elizabeth chose to trust her health in the hands of the Hebrew,
JEWISH PHYSICIANS PREFERRED.
Rodrigo Lopez, rather than have recourse to many English students in medicine, of considerable abilities, who attended her court.” And in a note he adds—“The same fantastic preference had made Francis I., when indisposed with a tedious complaint, apply to Charles V. for an Israelite, who was the imperial physician. Accordingly, the person whom he sought for visited Paris ; but the king, finding that he had been converted to Christianity, lost all confidence in his advice, and applied to his good ally, Soliman II., who sending him a true, hardened Jew, the monarch took his counsel, drank asses' milk, and recovered."*
When King Henry died, the Jews began to hope for better days. They were encouraged in their hopes by Richard's conduct, who, after his return from Normandy-where he had been as prince-proclaimed liberty to all prisoners and captives, even to the greatest criminals. The coronation day,
* Vol. ii. p. 63.