When the Jews left England in 1290 by edict of Edward 1, who took over the role of Jews? My understanding is that the primary economic function was loaning money against future sales of farm produce -- liquidity before the grain was actually grown or sold. Was this their role and if so, who moved into this role given religious laws against "usury"? Also, were Jews supported by force of law in collecting debts?

  • I'd guess that the answer is pawnbrokers in general (see here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), who were not all Jews prior to the expulsion either. Acc. to Prof. Haym Soloveitchik, the Catholic Church also loaned money at interest, but I don't have his article in front of me and cannot provide a reference. Jews were supported in their collection of debts - hence the Jewish paragraph in the Magna Carta.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 5:55
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    Pawnbrokers loan against items, not against crops that have yet to come in. If Jews did this and there was no one to replace them, I suspect there was some major economic disruption which is why Cromwell invited the Jews back. It is not a field that just anyone can get into -- you have to know what you are doing.
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 6:22
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    Whatever big the economic disruption was, I would say that it was not big enough to be a reason for Cromwell's reversal more than three centuries later. In other words, if the economic disruption was the reason for the reversal of the expulsion edict, it would have been reversed way sooner. The more time had passed since the expulsion edict, the less its economic effects would be noted (people would move into the economic niches left by the Jews/the way of doing business would change/people would become used to the new standard of life/etc.)
    – SJuan76
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 7:21
  • Cromwell did it for economic reasons, so apparently Jews provided some service.
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 7:26
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    But that does not mean that the economic issues Cromwell wanted to solve with the edict were the same economic issues created by the expulsion edict. More than three centuries later, these would have probably been solved or replaced by another issues.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Aug 30, 2017 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


The 1290 Expulsion of the Jews involved a fairly small number of people, about 2,000. only some of which were moneylenders.

Their places were easily taken up by the Lombards, whose laws allowed moneylending. By the mid 14th century, there were complaints or at least suspicions that some of the "Lombards" were actually returned Jews.

  • But weren't all money lenders pretty much Jews so that this function left with them? There must have been a period during which the economy suffered unless the king with Jewish assets was buying up crops ahead of time. Is it in fact possible that the king replaced Jews temporarily until he realized how tricky loaning money really is?
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 3:36
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    @Jeff: Jews had been in England only about 200 years when they were expelled. (They came with William the Conqueror.) Prior to that, England had experience with Dutch and Lombard lenders. While Jews played an important part in England, I doubt that they filled the whole "space." The fact that there were only 2000 in total, not just 2,000 moneylenders, suggest that they did not.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 3:40
  • I wonder if the space was partitioned in some way between Jews and non-Jews. Did Jew exclusively, perhaps, act as tax intermediaries?
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 3:42
  • @Jeff: I would doubt that as well. The link says that expelling Jews was the quid pro quo that the king offered the nobles for raising taxes. If Jews were tax intermediaries, expelling them would defeat the purpose.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 3:44
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    Side note: 2000 Jews in whole kingdom so the York massacre in 1190 killed something like 5 percent overnight practically. What an economic opportunity England must have represented for the balance of Jews to stay.
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 3:51

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