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18 June 2014
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Legacies - North Yorkshire

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Immigration and Emigration
York's blackest day

Tainted city

In the century following the massacre, York's Jewish community reformed and became more wealthy, populous and active than ever before. Between 1210 and 1250, York's Jews sometimes contributed more in taxation than London! However, all of England's Jews were expelled by Edward II in 1290, during their years in exile accounts of the massacre in York established the city's notorious reputation.

Other massacres of Jews did take place in medieval England; the London massacre of 1263 is just one example. However, the only surviving contemporary Hebrew accounts of English medieval anti-Semitism are all descriptions of the York massacre. The 13th Century accounts of Ephraim of Bonn and Joseph of Chartres both focus on the mass suicide and subsequent martyrdom of York's Jews. These accounts suggest the massacre was picked up on by continental Jewry. By the time Jews began moving to England again in the 1600s, these tales would have become well-known - irrevocably associating York with the massacre of 1190. The city was avoided by Jews, never again regaining its status as a Jewish centre.
York Minster
The city's Jews kept their bonds and records at York Minster

In his Borthwick Paper on the subject, Professor Dobson identifies three aspects which secured the survival of the story of the Jewish massacre. The "remarkable savagery", the unusual detail with which it was recorded and the allegation that the massacre was a "calculated conspiracy" on the part of York's nobles to avoid repaying their loans secured the 1190 massacre's place in history.

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