Pope Innocent III:
The Keeping of Slaves by the Jews, 1204
Despite the opposition of the Church, the Jews, under the protection of western
monarchs, still possessed Christian serfs in the thirteenth century.
Letter of the Pope to King Philip Augustus of France:
Moreover, although it has been decreed by the Lateran Council that Jews should not
be allowed to have Christian slaves in their houses, either under pretext of nursing their
children, or as servants, or for any other reason whatsoever, but that those who presume
to live with them should be excommunicated, yet they do not hesitate to have Christian
servants and nurses, upon whom they sometimes practice abominations such as it rather
becomes you to punish than us to point out.
J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1855), Vol. CCXV, pp.
501-503; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval
Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York:
Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 301-302.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998