History KS3: Medieval Antisemitism

In this film, Dr Sam Caslin explores sources from The National Archives in Kew, that provide evidence that there were strong elements of antisemitism in 13th century England.

Her first source is a cartoon, which appears at the top of a Government Exchequer roll from 1233.

Normally these documents simply list the taxes paid, so the cartoon is unusual, and it also reveals attitudes at that time.

It depicts Jewish money-lenders in a stereotyped and prejudicial way.

Caslin then explores some further sources to determine how representative of medieval attitudes the cartoon was.

A second source shows that the financial penalties charged on Jewish people by the King at that time, Henry III, grew year on year and further sources showed that the Jewish people were petitioning the King to complain about their treatment.

Caslin explores two of these petitions: one in which Jewish people petitioned against being banished from the town of Northampton and another to complain that a Jewish child had been forcibly baptized against the wishes of the father.

This clip is from the series Hunting for History.

Teacher Notes

Pupils could be asked for modern examples of prejudice and discrimination that they know of or may have experienced.

They can then be asked whether they think the same prejudices were around in previous centuries and their reasons for their suggestions.

Then Source 1 will explain to them the nature and form of medieval antisemitism and they can compare past and present prejudice.

Pupils could then be asked whether they feel Source 1 alone is enough as evidence about antisemitism in the medieval period and suggest what other sources Sam might look at.

They can then decide whether they are more convinced after Source 2 and whether they agree with Sam’s conclusions.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching KS3 History in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 4th level People, past events and societies in Scotland.