The future of the Jews of York

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


William of Newburgh's History of English Affairs grants an access to the troubling events of 1190 unmatched by other sources. It is difficult to resist portal analogies when speaking of the world we glimpse in his vigorous Latin prose. Detailed and wide-ranging, Newburgh's narrative enables the reader to feel a witness to unfolding incidents. He creates a sense of privileged access to a vivacious world of complicated human actors, of local and national forces on the move. Yet the story Newburgh tells is partial, framed by the doorway he constructs around its contours to give the tale coherence. His narrative is shaped by his reading, his desires. Sometimes, moreover, within this metaphorical ingress into English history a literal door will swing open, proffering an unexpected invitation to consider the stories Newburgh does not recount. Towards the close of the first book of the History, such a gateway suddenly appears in rural Yorkshire. A drunken traveller is returning home late at night when the noise of revelry issues from what had been a familiar landmark, a roadside tumulus: ‘He heard voices singing, as though people were feasting in celebration (‘quasi festive convivantium’).’ Newburgh assures us that he knows this mound himself, having viewed its topographical ordinariness numerous times. Though the hill has never before offered anything other than a grassy slope, this evening a doorway has opened into its side, revealing ‘a large, well-lit dwelling (‘domum amplam et luminosam’) crowded with men and women reclining at table as at a formal feast’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChristians and Jews in Angevin England
Subtitle of host publicationThe York Massacre of 1190, Narratives and Contexts
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781782040774
ISBN (Print)9781903153444
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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