Licoricia of Winchester: Marriage, Motherhood and Murder in the Medieval Anglo-Jewish Community

Licoricia of Winchester: Marriage, Motherhood and Murder in the Medieval Anglo-Jewish Community

By Suzanne Bartlet

Vallentine Mithcell, 2009
ISBN:  978-05-85303-822-1

On a spring day in 1277, the prominent Jewish businesswoman Licoricia of Winchester was found by her daughter murdered, stabbed to death in her own house. Alongside Licoricia’s body was that of her Christian maid, Alice. Why was Licoricia killed? And why was her death reported as far away as Germany? In this ground-breaking new book, Suzanne Bartlet draws on extensive research in the fiscal archives of medieval England, most notably those of the Jewish Exchequer, to examine the family history behind the famous murder. This is the story of Licoricia’s route to wealth through advantageous marriages (her second amidst a divorce scandal which was referred to the Beth Din in Paris) and business acumen, the business contacts she made, the close relationship she appears to have had with King Henry III, and the altogether more mixed fortunes of her sons. By using Licoricia’s family as an example, Bartlet demonstrates the gradual deterioration in the conditions of even the wealthiest Jews in England in the run up to the Expulsion of 1290, as well as drawing together the fragments of a medieval life which has long fascinated historians, but has never been fully investigated.

Suzanne Bartlet was a visiting Research Fellow at Southampton University, until her death in June 2008. Because of the effects of cancer, Suzanne asked her colleague Patricia Skinner to complete the book – Patricia Skinner notes in the Introduction that “I have simply restored the clutter, so that academic readers will know where she found information, whilst retaining Sue’s text, which was always admirably clear and has moments of Sue’s own mischievous sense of humour.”


Introduction: The Jews in England and Europe

Chapter 1: Licoricia of Winchester

Chapter 2: Winchester: “The Jerusalem of the Jews”

Chapter 3: David of Oxford and Marriage in the Jewish Community

Chapter 4: Licoricia the Widow

Chapter 5: Licoricia’s Family

Chapter 6: The Baron’s War

Chapter 7: Benedict the Guildsman

Chapter 8: After the Wars

Chapter 9: The Coin-Clipping Pogrom

Chapter 10: The Final Decade and the Expulsion of the Jews

Epilogue: Looking for Licoricia


Click here to go to the Publisher’s website

Click here to read the entry on Licoricia of Winchester from the Jewish Women’s Archive, written in part by Suzanne Bartlet

Three Jewish Businesswomen in Thirteenth Century Winchester by Sue Bartlet – article abstract from the journal Jewish Culture and History, Vol.3:2 (2000)

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