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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 152



servants, nor harbour them in their houses ; and they were compelled to wear a tablet on then- breasts to denote they were usurers—lending money, for which they uffrn extracted most exorbitant interest, being their only occupation. It was unlawful for any one to molest the Jews without the consent of the King ; but for this inadequate protection—the loan being frequently violated with impunity—they paid dearly, as by fines, forfeitures, tallages, relief, and other means, the monarch contrived to extract from them the greater part of their easily-gotten gains. Whilst the people, viewing them as foreigners and infidels, living by usurious extortion, and receiving protection from the crown often denied to the Christian subject, treated them as a race offiends and robbers, and, in times of riot and sedition, murdered them with savage barbarity. The hostility of the clergy aided the deadly hatred of the laity. Reports were ever and anon circulated, falsely accusing the despised Israelites of uttering blasphemies, conniving at the overthrow of Christianity, secretly aiding the Mahometans in retaining possession of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, and even of crucifying children, and other diabolical enormities. From the commencement of bis reign, Edward had endeavoured to stifle this hatred of the people against a race whom he felt certain were of infinite service both to himself and to the trading community: but all efforts to this end proved futile. In 1280, he assigned to the Friar Preachers the task of converting the Jews to Christianity ; but although marked favour was shown to every proselyte, and tempting boons offered to all who would embrace the Christian faith, the King promised, and the Friars preached, in vain, for neither by kindness nor harshness could the Hebrew race be weaned from their attachment to the law of Moses. In 1286, they so greatly offended Edward—probablv by attempting to evade the payment of'a tallage—that all in the kingdom were apprehended in one day —the second of May—and, without ex ception of age or sex, thrown into prison, where they remained till they had appeased the royal wrath by a fee of twelve thousand pounds of silver. They, however, were not long suffered to remain in peace. The bitter jealousy and hatred of the people left Edward no alternative but to banish them from the land. Accordingly, on the twenty-seventh of July, 1290, they were ordered, on pain of death, to quit the country by the tenth of the following November. Their immoveable property was confiscated to the crown ; but that the demands of justice might not be entirely disregarded, they were permitted to carry with them all their money and jewels. At the appointed time, they, to the number of sixteen thousandfive hundred and eleven, proceeded to embark at the Cinque Ports, where the royal officers treated them with kindness, afforded them all possible shelter and protection, and provided the poor with a gratuitous passage. The seamen, however, in too many cases, acted towards them most harshly and cruelly. One captain put a number of Israelites on the sand at low water, and th en refusing them to re-enter his ship, drowned them ; whilst other mariners, when at sea, plundered the unfortunate passengers, and, after maltreating the men and grossly ill-using the women, threw them overboard. These wretches, however, did not escape with impunity, for, by the King's orders, they were apprehended and hanged. Thus terminated the first sojourn of the Jews in England. The whole nation rejoiced at their expulsion as a public benefit, and, in gratitude to the King, the clergy granted him a tenth of their revenues, and the laity a fifteenth of their moveables. Returning to the subject of these memoirs, we find that Eleanora accompanied her royal lord on his voyage home from his protracted visit to France. At the commencement of autumn, in 1289, the royal pair, after a prosperous voyage, landed at Lover, where their family, arrayed in garments of the richest baudekin, anxiously awaited their arrival ; and where, on beholding their daughters in the bloom and beauty of


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