1 November

It's All Saints Day, the last day by which all Jews were to leave England under Edward I's Edict of Expulsion in 1290.

November 1, 2009 · 2 min read

Raphael Holinshed, the 16th-century chronicler whose writings Shakespeare used as the main source for his historical plays, described how, even in leaving, the Jews’ persecution continued:

‘A sort of the richest of them being shipped with their treasure, in a mighty tall ship which they had hired, when the same was under sail, and got down the Thames, towards the mouth of the river, the master mariner bethought him of a wile, and caused his men to cast anchor, and so rode at the same, till the ship, by ebbing of the stream, remained on the dry sand.

‘The master herewith enticed the Jews to walk out with him on land, for recreation; and at length, when he understood the tide to be coming in, he got him back to the ship, whither he was drawn up by a cord.

‘The Jews made not so much haste as he did, because they were not aware of the danger; but when they perceived how the matter stood, they cried to him for help, howbeit he told them that they ought to cry rather unto Moses, by whose conduct their fathers passed through the Red Sea; and, therefore, if they would call to him for help, he was able to help them out of these raging floods, which now came in upon them.

‘They cried, indeed, but no succour appeared, and so they were swallowed up in the water. The master returned with his ship, and told the king how he had used the matter, and had both thanks and rewards, as some have written.’


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