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1180 - 1240 ISAAC BEN MOSHE OF VIENNA (Italy)

A great halachist who linked the various schools of learning with his ritual-legal code called Or Zarua (Light is Sown). Living during the forced conversions and massacres in Germany (1230-50), he decided that baptism, even if forced, prohibited a woman from marrying a Jew.

1180 - 1223 REIGN OF PHILIP AUGUSTUS (France)

Nurtured on anti-Semitism and blood libels, he became the king at age 25. Encouraged by the Hermit of Vincennes, he decided to use the Jews for his own purposes. Badly in need of money both for his own use and to acquire new estates so he could gain greater control over his barons, he first impoverished the few wealthy Jews and then cancelled all Christian debts to Jews for a percentage. This way of generating quick revenue was known as "totbrief". It was widely used.


Completed his Mishna Torah. a guide in fourteen sections to Jewish traditions and practices, which was based on the entire Talmud (both the Babylonian and Jerusalem versions). It is written in the purest Hebrew and is referred to simply as the Rambam (his acronym). There was much criticism at the time; some for his lack of citing sources, which he believed would have made his work too heavy, and others who thought that it may supplant the study of the Talmud. Abraham Ben David Of Posquiures (see 1125) , while a major critic, also praised him and his work. In his chapter Sefer Mada (Hilchot Daiot) he appears to be the first Jewish source to mention chicken soup for its medical properties.

1180 January 9, PHILIP AUGUSTUS (France)

(The new king of France) arrested large numbers of Jews while his father, Louis VII, who tried to protect the Jews (though not always successfully) was still alive. All the Jews found in synagogues on the Sabbath were arrested. Philip agreed to free them for 15,000 silver marks.


King Henry II enacted the "Assize of Arms", ordering that all weapons in possession of Jews be confiscated on the grounds that Jews, who were supposedly protected by the King, would not have any reason for owning arms. The weapons were turned over to the King's forces. A direct result of this was that there was little they could do to protect themselves when riots broke out less then ten years later.


From "France", after which Philip confiscated their land and cancelled the debts owed them. Since Philip did not control the whole of France, many Jews moved to other areas. In 1192, after expanding his kingdom to areas which still had Jews, he decided to allow them to return to his whole kingdom - for a fee and under strict conditions.

1181 ABBEY OF ST. EDMUNDS (England)

A dispute broke out between William the Sacristan (Sexton) of the Abbey and his associate Samson. The Jews and the local townspeople sided with William. Unfortunately, it was Samson who came to power the next year as Abbot. In 1190, after the Coronation riots, Samson demanded that the Jews should be placed under his authority rather than the Kings. When they refused, they were expelled under guard.


Reissued the "privileges"/charter for the Jews of Ratushon. For the first time he stated his intention of providing for the "well being" of the Jews. In return for "Imperial protection," the Jews of Germany would make contributions to the court.

1182 June 24, PHILIP II (France)

The 17 year old King decreed the total expulsion of Jews from all royal possessions within two months. This was due in part to debts owed to Jewish moneylenders. The debtors were exempted from all payment to the Jews but had to pay a tax of 20% of their debt to the Treasury. This only served to force those Jews who were considered an asset into other French provinces not directly under the King's control. The Synagogue in Paris was converted into the Church of St. Madeleine, while the one in Orleans was changed into the Chapel of St. Sauveur. This expulsion - with the confiscation of land and property - was a strong factor in Jews leaving agriculture as a profession in favor of moveable property and trade.

1183 MAGDEBURG (Germany)

The guild of clothing merchants was granted the privilege of cutting and selling cloth. This was the start of the stranglehold the guilds held over most of the crafts. Jews were, of course, excluded from the guilds. The guilds were exclusive organizations which were created mostly to preserve the rights and privileges of their members.

1184 RUMERAU (France)

Elchanan, the son of the Ri and a noted (if young) Tosafist, was murdered for refusing to convert. The school in Rumerau had been the center of Tosafist learning since the days of Rabbenu Jacob Tam. Many scholars fled after Elchanan's death.

1185 RABBI ISAAC BEN SAMUEL (The Elder, aka the Ri) (France)

Dampierre, France. A nephew of both Rabbenu Tam and the Rashbam and a great-grandson of Rashi. He was appointed head of the school at Rumerau after the death of Rabbenu Tam, where 60 of the most renowned scholars studied. The Ri became one of the greatest Tosafists, renowned for his commentary on the Rif. He ruled that since the penalty for emigration was confiscation of property, no Jew had the right to buy confiscated goods. If such goods were purchased, they had to be returned to their owner.

1186 AARON OF LINCOLN (born c.1123) (England)

The richest man in England died. King Henry II immediately seized his estate when he died worth over 15,000 pounds. Aaron had such vast sums owed to him that the royal officials set up a special branch of the exchequer called the "exchequer of Aaron" (Scaccarium Aaronis) to deal with it. After 16 years they only succeeded in recovering about half of the debts owed him. Some of his debtors included the King of Scotland, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Count of Brittany and many other nobles. It was the forerunner of the system of debt registries for Jewish loans (the archae), in selected cities established by Richard's administration in 1194; these registries enabled the king's men to keep their finger on the pulse of Jewish lending (and allowed easier raising of money from the Jews).


Rabbinical leader, scholar and physician (aka Avraham Maimuni). He defended his father Maimonides, with his work Milhamot ha-Shem "The Book of the Wars for God") . Maimuni wrote a commentary of the Torah and parts of the Talmud as well as a Responsa Sefer Birkat Avraham.

1186 SALADIN TAX (England)

A tithe for the Third Crusade. Jews were taxed 10,000 marks or 25% of their income and personal property worth, while Christian (non-Crusaders) were taxed 10% of their property alone.

1187 July 3, GUY DE LUSIGNAN (King of Jerusalem) (Eretz Israel)

Against the advice of Raymond III of Tripoli and others, he force-marched his troops through the dry, hot Galilee. He was defeated by the Moslems near the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) at a site known as the Horns of Hittim.

1187 October 2, SALADIN (Eretz Israel)

Recaptured Jerusalem after 88 years and granted Jews permission to re-enter it.

1188 March 29, FREDERICK BARBAROSSA (Germany)

Was convinced diplomatically and financially by Moses bar Joseph Hakohen of Mayence, to issue a decree declaring "that anyone who wounds a Jew shall have his arm cut off, he who slays a Jew shall die." This decree succeeded in preventing most of the excesses of the previous crusades in the Third Crusade that was soon to follow.

1189 September 3, RICHARD THE LIONHEARTED (England)

Was crowned at Westminster. During Richard's coronation (from which Jews and women, seen as possible sorcerers, were banned), Baldwin, the archbishop of Canterbury, convinced Richard not to accept presents from Jewish dignitaries but to turn them out of the palace. The crowds took this to mean that the king favored persecution of the Jews; a pogrom against the Jews in London took place the same day and the following day. Richard was reluctant to begin his reign by overtly protecting the Jews and therefore did not punish the rioters too severely - which encouraged more riots. The rioting soon spread to such commercial centers as Norwich, (Kings) Lynn, Stamford, Lincoln, Bury St Edmunds, and York, as well as to smaller communities throughout the land. In London, 30 Jews were killed including Rabbi Jacob of Orleans, a pupil of Rabbenu Tam.

1189 September 3, THIRD CRUSADE (England)

Began in England under the patronage of King Richard. England, which had taken no real part in the first two Crusades, decided to sponsor a crusade that was joined by France and Germany. Its goal was to recapture Jerusalem (taken in 1187). However, Frederick Barbarossa was accidentally drowned, Philip II of France gave up, and Richard succeeded only in capturing Acre and Jaffa. The Jews of England were the Crusade's chief victims.

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