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Medieval Sourcebook:
Contact between English Jews and Christians:
Two Twelfth-century Views

(1) English Jews drink with Gentiles (Bef. 1184)

It is surprising that in the land of the Isle [England] they are lenient in the matter of drinking strong drinks of the Gentiles and along with them.  For the Law is distinctly according to those Doctors who forbid it on the ground that it leads to intermarriage. But perhaps, as there would be great ill feeling if they were to refrain from this, one not be severe upon them.

Source: Tosafoth R. Elchanan (Heb.), Halberstamm  MS. f.  48b, ed. Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England: Documents and Records (London, 1893), p. 269. Jacobs notes: "This is from an inedited MS. from the Halberstamm Collection, now at the Judith Montefiore College, Ramsgate, kindly examined and translated by Mr. I. Abrahams for this work. . . "

(2) The result of entering a Jewish House (Bef. 1193)

By a similar piety we know Godeliva of Canterbury to have been seized, who taking some water [sanctified by St. Thomas] in a wooden bucket, was passing through the inn (hospitium) of a certain Jew and entered it at the invitation of a Jewish woman.  For being skilled in charms and incantations she was accustomed to charm the weak foot of the Jewess.  But scarcely had her foot entered the abominate house when the bucket flew into three pieces and by the loss of the water she learned the wicked intuitions of her own mind, and understanding that she had committed a fault she returned no more to that Jewess.


J.C. Robertson, Materials for History of  Thomas Becket, ii. 7., ed. Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England: Documents and Records (London, 1893), p. 153.

Scanned by Elka Klein.

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© Paul Halsall, January 1999