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Medieval Sourcebook:
Appointment of an Archpriest of the Jews in England, July 1199

(1) Confirmation of Jacob, Priest of the Jews of London.

The King to all his subjects and to all both Jews and English greeting.  Know that we have granted and by this present charter of ours have confirmed to Jacob, Jew of London, priest of the Jews, the presbyterate of all the Jews of the whole of England, to have and to hold as long as he lives freely and quietly, honourably and fully, so that no one thereon shall presume to offer him any hurt or hindrance.  Wherefore we will and firmly order that you shall guarantee and maintain and guard in peace the presbyterate of all the Jews throughout England to the same Jacob so long as he lives.  And if anyone shall presume to transgress against him in this you shall without delay see that he is compensated for the forfeit barring our own compensation, as he is our royal [dominico] Jew whom we retain specially in our service.  We also forbid that he be called upon to plead about anything relating to him except before us or before our Chief justice, as the charter of King Richard our brother testifies.

Witness, S. Bishop of Bath, &c.

Given by the hand of Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, our Chancellor, at Rouen   12  July, in the first year of our reign.

[Editor’s note: It seems therefore, that Richard had also appointed Jacob Arch-Presbyter.]

(2) Protection for the same:

John, by the grace of God, &c. To all his faithful ones to whom the present letters may come both beyond the sea and this side of it, greeting.  We command and order you that through whatever towns and places Jacob, presbyter of the Jews, our dear friend, may pass you shall cause him to pass through and be conducted safely and freely with all belonging to him, nor allow any hindrance, hurt, or injury to be done to him any more than to ourselves.  And if any presume to transgress in any point that you shall cause him to make up for it without delay.  Witness, William Marshall, &c. [31 July I Jo]

[Editor’s note: It is not yet ascertained what were the exact functions of the Archpresbyter of the Jews, of whom only six are known (Papers A. J.. Exch.  p.   178).  The title seems to imply that there were other Presbyters, and one Samuel le Prestre is mentioned at Norwich in the Nottingham Tallage Roll. Jacob was the first Archpresbyter, and lie seems to have been appointed in Henry II's time, for he is mentioned in the Pipe Roll of 29 Hen. II (supra p. 84), while the above appointment is only a confirmation of one held in Richard's time.


Rot.  Chart., i.  ed. Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England: Documents and Records (London, 1893), p. 202-3.

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.

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© Paul Halsall, January 1999