An Israelite Bishop without Guile (ca. 1168)
The easy terms on which English Jews and Christian mingled gave rise to this
anecdote. Jacobs noted: Bishop was the term applied in
England to each of the three Dayanim or judges who constituted the Beth Din or
ecclesiastical tribunal which decided cases between Jews.
And so too that well-known saying of Henry of London was heard by many. For there
were one day in the Church of St. Paul at London many bishops and abbots taking cognizance
of certain ecclesiastical cases by order of our lord the Pope, and with them a great
multitude of clergy, citizens, soldiers, and others. There chanced to enter certain
Jews of London, who mixed with these and others in seeking for their debtors if they might
see them. And among them comes a certain Bishop of the Jews. And to him Henry said
in joke: " Welcome, Bishop of the Jews! Receive him among ye, for there is
scarcely any of the Bishops of England that has not betrayed his lord the Archbishop
of Canterbury, except this one. In this Israelite Bishop there is no guile."
Source: J. C. Robertson, Materials for History of Thomas Becket, iv., 151; ed.
Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England: Documents and Records (London, 1893),
Scanned by Elka Klein
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and
copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright.
Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational
purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No
permission is granted for commercial use.
© Paul Halsall, November 1998