Discrimination In The Elizabethan Era

793 Words4 Pages
In Middle Aged England, Jews had come to England following the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of 1066, but were heavily oppressed and targeted by the Christian society. Jews were constantly victimized for their practices and beliefs . They were isolated from everyone else, only allowed to have certain jobs, publicly shamed, discriminated against, dehumanized for their religion, and eventually exiled for four-hundred years from England. Since the majority of the society was Christian they harbored a passionate hatred for anyone who practiced Judaism. Anti-Semitism was rampant in England around the Middle Ages. In England, Jews were not allowed to live in places where Christians lived. They lived in places away from the Christians,…show more content…
“During Elizabethan era, Jews were allowed few roles in society, one of them being a moneylender” (Mahabal,1). This was reflected in the play written by Shakespeare known as The Merchant of Venice, where Shylock is a Jewish moneylender. He is also portrayed as a greedy and spiteful human being. The reason they were only allowed to be moneylenders and coin dealers was because it was seen as the Devil’s work to lend out money with interest. People of Christian faith were expected to lend money out of the kindness of their own heart and expect the money within a reasonable amount of time. This did however allow Jews to become wealthy because they would often have high interest rates along with the cash back. Although most would be accused of usury, which is as an illegal act of lending out money at an unreasonably high percentage of interest, this is one way that society kept the Jewish community “under control” and not allow them to…show more content…
In 1255 a number of Jews were imprisoned in the Tower of London awaiting execution for the alleged murder of Hugh of Lincoln. Eighteen Jews were hanged. In 1270, anti-semitic feelings grew until King Edward I decided that the Jews were a threat to the country, and he declared that all Jews must wear a yellow star to identify themselves in public. All the heads of Jewish households were arrested and taken to the Tower and killed while some were killed in their home. Finally, on July 18, 1290 shortly after money lending was deemed illegal in England, King Edward I expelled the Jews from England, making England the first European country to do so. Most Jews fled to Western Europe, settling mainly in France and Germany, while some managed to remain in England by hiding their identity and religion. This exile lasted until 1655 when Jewish scholar Manasseh ben Israel obtained Oliver Cromwell’s approval for Jews to return to
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