The Duke of Normandy was formally crowned King Richard I at Westminster Abbey on this day in 1189. According to one account, which now resides in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the coronation ceremony was accompanied by “evil omens”, including the presence of a bat fluttering around the king’s head during the crowning, and the mysterious pealing of bells. Shortly afterwards, representatives of the Jewish community, who had been barred from the ceremony, arrived at the abbey to present gifts and their respects to the newly-crowned king, only to beaten and stripped by the king’s men, and thrown out onto the street. Sadly, this came to be taken as a licence to attack the entire – sizeable – Jewish population of London. According to Roger of Howden, in his Gesta Regis Ricardi, the “jealous and bigoted” citizens went on to kill many, including Jacob of Orleans, a respected scholar, to burn the houses of many others, and to force the remainder to seek sanctuary in the Tower of London, or to flee the city altogether, until it was safe to return (*). A horrified Richard was forced to issue a writ ordering the cessation of the persecution of the Jews (he also allowed those who had been forcibly converted to Christianity to revert to Judaism). Those guilty of the most egregious offences against them were executed.
The history of the Jewish community in London is discussed on various of our walks, including the “Historic Shoreditch and Spitalfields” standard walk, and the “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights”, “Tudor and Stuart London” and “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights” themed specials.
Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of this web-site.
Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (email@example.com).
(*) According to another chronicler of the event, Richard of Devizes:
“On the very day of the coronation, about that solemn hour in which the Son was immolated to the Father, a sacrifice of the Jews … was commenced in the city of London, and so long was the duration … that the holocaust could scarcely be accomplished the ensuing day … ”.