C. 1210 - 1280 (28 Iyar 5040) ISAAC BEN JOSEPH OF CORBEIL (the Semak) (France)
Rabbi, codifier. His Sefer Mitzvot Katan (Se-Ma-K) "Small" Book of Commandments, was divided into 7 pillars and included contemporary Halacha along with Aggadic stories and Ethics. He based his concept on the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol of Moses of Coucy, but did not delve into the argument behind the decisions.
1210 November 1, KING JOHN (England)
The brother of Richard the Lionhearted. He imprisoned much of the Jewish population until they paid the enormous sum of 66,000 marks as a tax called a "tallage". This tax could be imposed by any lord on his serfs without special permission, or the king on his Jews as well as the serfs on crown lands. Abraham of Bristol, who refused to pay his "share" (10,000 silver marks) had a tooth pulled every day until he agreed to pay. He lost seven teeth before he was able to raise the funds.
1211 THREE HUNDRED RABBIS (Eretz Israel)
Set sail to Eretz Israel from England and France, many of them compelled by persecutions in both countries. Included among them were Jonathan Cohen of Lunel and Samson ben Abraham of Sens, both leaders of their communities. They succeeded in bringing the Tosafists' method of learning to the Holy Land.
1212 BATTLE OF LAS NAVAS DE TOLOSA (Spain)
Crusaders crushed the Moslems. Although pockets of Moslems still existed in Spain, for all practical purposes Spain had become completely Christian and the situation of the Jews in Spain began to deteriorate.
1215 KING JOHN SIGNED THE MAGNA CARTA (Runnymede, England)
It included provisions (chapters 10-11) preventing debts owed to Jews by minor heirs from earning interest while the heir was a minor, also declaring that a widow dowry should not be used to pay for her husband's debt. In later reissues, these chapters were dropped.
1215 - 1293 (19 Iyar 5053) RABBI MEIR BEN BARUCH OF ROTHENBURG (Maharam) (Germany)
The last of the Tosafists, he was the leading rabbi in Germany. Convinced that there was no future in Germany, he agreed to lead a large contingent of families to Eretz Israel. While waiting for the other families, he was seized by the Bishop of Basel. The emperor ordered him held in prison as a lesson to any of "his Jews" who might want to leave Germany (thereby causing him a financial loss). He refused to be ransomed, saying that to do so would serve as an impetus for further extortions. He died in a prison near Colmar, and his body was held there until it was ransomed some years later (see 1307).
1215 November 11, FOURTH LATERAN COUNCIL (Pope Innocent III, 1161-1216)
His papacy marked the zenith of papal power. Old anti-Jewish decrees were expanded and Jews were compelled to wear the Yellow Patch - the "Badge of Shame" - to distinguish them from Christians. These decrees were enforced in France, England, Germany and later in Hungary. Jews were also prohibited from holding public office and were prohibited from appearing in public on Easter Sunday and the last three days of Holy Week. The Pope also originated the Doctrine of Transubstantion, in which the wafer (Host) and wine in the Eucharist were believed to become the blood and flesh of Jesus. This led to the infamous Host Desecration libels of the next few centuries.
1216 JEWISH SYNOD AT ST. GILLES (France)
Representatives of the Jewish communities in Marseilles and Narbonne convened the synod in order to prevent the implementation of some of the decisions of the Fourth Lateran Council. The synod did not have a major impact except on some local levels. Its importance was rather in the fact that different communities united in an effort to defend their position vis a vis the Church.
1216 - 1272 HENRY III OF ENGLAND
Was raised by the papal legate and influenced by the Church. While still a minor (until 1232) his affairs were handled by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, whose policy was favorable to the Jews. Henry III squeezed English Jews financially, leaving them practically penniless. Henry considered Jews his private property to do with as he pleased. Earlier English kings borrowed from Jews and sometimes even repaid those loans. Henry III, however, began the policy of imposing tallage (arbitrary taxation in the Jews) and gradually impoverished them. When the Jews requested permission to leave England, Henry refused so as not to endanger his financial reserves.
1218 JERUSALEM (Eretz Israel)
Thirty-one years after Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem there were still few Jews there. Jerusalem did have three synagogues though. One was for Jews from Ashkelon which included the refugees from Jerusalem, one for Jews from North Africa and one for Jews from France. Most of the Jews remained on the coast, especially in Acco (Acre).
1218 March 30, HENRY III (England)
The men administering England for the minor king, enforced the anti-Jewish canons of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) including that Jews wear a distinctive dress to prevent Jews from socializing with Christians - in this case a white linen cloth in the shape of the Tablets of the Law which had to be worn above the heart by all Jews. Many paid for the privilege of not wearing it.
1219 THE ALJAMA (Toledo)
The governing board of the local Jewish communities was first mentioned. Since the population was taxed per community, the Aljama was set up to organized individual taxes as well as those on goods and services within the Jewish community. Eventually they were given wide ranging authority which included; the election of judges and court Rabbis, the establishment of schools, and management of communal property. There was even a committee for Berurei Aveirot which was empowered to enforce moral behavior. The Aljama also served as the intermediary between the community and the crown. Often they were headed by a just few families, which led to tension, resentment, and strife within the community, especially in the later years.