Archibald Maule Ramsay
The Nameless War
Les Estatutz de la Jeuerie 1275 [A.D.]
From The Statutes of The Realm.
THE STATUTES OF JEWRY
Usury forbidden to the Jews.
Forasmuch as the King hath seen that divers evils and the disinheriting of good men of his land have happened by the usuries which the Jews have made in time past, and that divers sins have followed thereupon albeit that he and his ancestors have received much benefit from the Jewish people in all times past, nevertheless, for the honour of God and the common benefit of the people the King hath ordained and established, that from henceforth no Jew shall lend anything at usury either upon land, or upon rent or upon other thing.
And that no usuries shall run in time coming from the feast of St. Edward last past. Notwithstanding the covenants before made shall be observed, saving that the usuries shall cease. But all those who owe debts to Jews upon pledge of moveables shall acquit them between this and Easter; if not they shall be forfeited. And if any Jew shall lend at usury contrary to this Ordinance, the King will not lend his aid, neither by himself or his officers for the recovering of his loan; but will punish him at his discretion for the offence and will do justice to the Christian that he may obtain his pledges again..
Distress for Jews.
And that the distress for debts due unto the Jews from henceforth shall not be so grievous but that the moiety of lands and chattels of the Christians shall remain for their maintenance: and that no distress shall be made for a Jewry debt upon the heir of the debtor named in the Jew's deed, nor upon any other person holding the land that was the debtor's before that the debt be put in suit and allowed in court.
Valuing lands taken for a Jew's debt.
And if the sheriff or other bailiff by the King's command hath to give Saisin (possession) to a Jew be it one or more, for their debt, the chattels shall be valued by the oaths of good men and be delivered to the Jew or Jews or to their proxy to the amount of the debt; and if the chattels be not sufficient, the lands shalt be extended by the same oath before the delivery of Saisin to the Jew or Jews to each in his due proportion, so that it may be certainly known that the debt is quit, and the Christian may have his land again; saying always to the Christian the moiety of his land and chattels for the maintenance as aforesaid, and the chief mansion.
Warranty to Jews:
And if any moveable hereafter be found in possession of a Jew, and any man shall sue him the Jew shall be allowed his warranty if he may have it; and if not let him answer therefore so that he be not therein otherwise privileged than a Christian.
Abode of Jews.
And that all Jews shall dwell in the King's own cities and boroughs where the chests of the chirographs of Jews are wont to be.
And that each Jew after he shall be seven years old, shall wear a badge on his outer garment that is to say in the form of two tables joined of yellow felt of the length of six inches and of the breadth of three inches.
And that each one, after he shall be twelve years old pay three pence yearly at Easter of tax to the King whose bond-man he is; and this shall hold place as well for a woman as for a man.
Conveyance of land, etc., by Jews.
And that no Jew shall have the power to infeoff (take possession of) another whether Jew or Christian of houses, rents, or tenements, that he now hath, nor to alien in any other manner, nor to make acquittance to any Christian of his debt without the special license of the King, until the King shall have otherwise ordained therein.
Privileges of the Jews.
And forasmuch as it is the will and sufferance of Holy Church that they may live and be preserved, the King taketh them under his protection, and granteth them his peace; and willeth that they be safely preserved and defended by his sheriffs and other bailiffs and by his liege men, and commandeth that none shall do them harm or damage or wrong in their bodies or in their goods, moveable or immovable, and they shall neither plead nor be impleaded in any court nor be challenged or troubled in any court except in the court of the King whose bondmen they are; and that none shall owe obedience, or service or rent except to the King or his bailiffs in his name unless it be for their dwelling which they now hold by paying rent; saving the right of Holy church.
Intercourse between Jews and Christians.
And the King granteth unto them that they may gain their living by lawful merchandise and their labour, and they they may have intercourse with Christians in order to carry on lawful trade by selling and buying. But that no Christian for this cause or any other shall dwell among them. And the King willeth that they shall not by reason of their merchandise be put to lot and soot nor in taxes with the men of the cities and boroughs where they abide; for that they are taxable to the King as his bondmen and to none other but the King.
Holding houses and farms, etc.
Moreover the King granteth unto them that they may buy houses and castilages in the cities and boroughs where they abide, so that they hold them in chief of the King; saving unto the lords of the fee their services due and accustomed. And that they may take and buy farms or land for the term of ten years or less without taking homages or fealties or such sort of obedience from Christians and without having advowsons of churches, and that they may be able to gain their living in the world, if they have not the means of trading or cannot labour; and this licence to take land to farm shall endure to them for fifteen years from this time forward.
Note —The Parliament which passed this Statute included representatives of the Commons, and this was probably the first Statute in the enactment of which the Commons had any part. It is significant that the first evidence of the feelings and wishes of the commoners should have expressed itself in such a form as in these Statues of Jewry, in face of the fact, clearly evident in the script, that the Kings owed much to Jewish activities having demanded monies from the Jews regularly and permitted them in turn to recoup themselves from the people.
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