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“To Give Counsel and to Consent”: Why the King (Edward I) Expelled His Jews (in 1290)

“To Give Counsel and to Consent”: Why the King (Edward I) Expelled His Jews (in 1290)

By Ira Katznelson

Preferences and Situations : Points of Intersections Between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalism, edited by Ira Katznelson (Russel Sage Foundation, 2005)

Introduction: Edward I resolved to expel his kingdom’s in the early summer of 1290 when parliament was in session. His expulsion order was promulgated on July 18. The exodus began on October 12 and was completed, as the kind had ordered, by the end of the month. Disturbed only by minor violence, the Jews set out from England’s southern ports for France, Spain of Germany. By the best estimate, they numbered two to three thousand, down from a peak of five thousand, in a population variously estimated in the range of two to three million. During the two centuries of their presence, Jews had settled in more than eighty locations, ranging from hundreds living in London, their initial place of residence and sole burial site until 1177, to isolated individual persons or single families living peasant villages and some towns. The majority lived in small communities numbering in the tens, rarely more than one hundred, that sustained a synagogue and a cemetery. Once ejected, Jews remained absent for nearly four centuries until they were invited back by Cromwell in December 1655.

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