26 September '10
It’s not easy to perceive or to portray the well-integrated Jews of Britain as “The Other”. The expulsion of all the Jews in medieval England by King Edward I in 1290 meant that, in contrast to the European Continent, no compulsory gated ghettos with strictly imposed curfews developed in Britain. By the time Jews were formally readmitted in 1656 a Protestant Reformation had taken place which swept away the old “Papist” superstitions and doctrines that had proved so deleterious to Jews – the cult of Little St Hugh of Lincoln, for example, the child who was said to have been ritually murdered by Jews in 1255 and who was venerated as a martyr with a shrine at Lincoln Cathedral. No less than Cromwell, King Charles II, who came to the throne in 1660, valued Jews for their beneficial services to this country’s commerce, and permitted the little mercantile community, which at that time consisted entirely of Sephardim, to remain.
On the European Continent, Jews, very often in distinctive garb, were widely perceived – and despised – as medieval people, relics of the Middle Ages and followers of an archaic religion. Owing to their long absence from this country, in Britain there were no compulsory ghettos, as there were on the Continent, and the “Jew badge” was a thing of the past. Jews were not obliged to dress differently from Christians, and there was little in outward appearance to distinguish them from Christians. There was no need for the kind of “Emancipation” which was played out (frequently in fits and starts) on the Continent during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and even early twentieth centuries. For Anglo-Jewry after 1656 “Emancipation” revolved centrally and almost exclusively around the struggle for the right of professing Jews to sit in Parliament, a campaign stepped up in the 1830s following the emancipation of Nonconformists and Roman Catholics, and finally proving victorious in 1858.
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England....So many thoughts
2 days ago