Jews were invited to England by the Norman conquerors in order to introduce a credit economy or at least to help solidify it. Their number never surpassed that of several thousand and by the year 1290 they were all expelled from the country. This is the brief history outlined in Mundill’s new book, which is based upon very deep study of the multitude of extant documentary evidence of Jewish financial activities and other related economic transactions. The number of these documents is more than any one scholar could hope to decipher and analyse in a lifetime, but Mundill is one of the few scholars in this area who knows where to look for information, how to focus appropriately on a few events, personalities, and institutions, and above all has the capacity to range widely through politics, jurisprudence, social relations, and manifestations of hatred as well as economics. Mundill advances his study on the solid foundations laid by his predecessors, especially Joseph Jacobs and Cecil Roth of an earlier generation and more recent scholars such as Zefira Rokeah, John Hillaby, and Robert C. Stacy. A particular debt is also owed to Vivian D. Lipman’s The Jews of medieval Norwich (1967), one of the most outstanding monographs ever written about a medieval Jewish community.
|Economic History Review
|Published - 2011