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Jews Expelled from France

In 1181, one year after coming to power at age fifteen, King Philip Augustus (Philip II) of France imprisoned the wealthiest Jews of Paris and released them only when paid a huge ransom. The following year he expelled all Jews from his domains and confiscated their property. This document is a contemporary account of his actions.

In 1198, in the midst of a war against Richard the Lion-Heart, and finding himself in need of funds, Philip once again allowed Jews to settle in his kingdom, but he extorted from them all the money he could.

 


In the year of our Lord's incarnation 1182, in the month of April, which is called by the Jews Nisan, an edict went forth from the most serene king, Philip Augustus, that all the Jews of his kingdom should be prepared to go forth by the coming Feast of Saint John the Baptist [June 24]. And then the king gave them leave to sell each his movable goods before the time fixed, that is, the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. But their real estate, that is house, fields, vineyards, barns, wine presses, and such like, he reserved for himself and his successors, the kings of France.

When the faithless Jews heard this edict, some of them were born again of water and the Holy Spirit and converted to the Lord . . . Others were blinded by their ancient error and persisted in their perfidy. They sought to win with gifts and golden promises the great of the land, counts, barons, archbishops, bishops, that through their influence and advice, and through the promise of infinite wealth, they might turn the king's mind from his firm intention.

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