New Historical Association course on medieval Jews in 2023

Professor Miri Rubin and Dean Irwin will be running a course with the Historical Association in early 2023, entitled ‘The Jews of Medieval England: Murder, Money, and Expulsion’. It has been designed to reach lifelong learners (with a particular emphasis on teachers). They will focus on specific aspects of medieval Anglo-Jewish history, as well as providing a full introduction to the topic. Although the dates have yet to be finalised, registration is now open and we hope that it might be of interest to you and your networks.

The Jews of Medieval England: Murder, Money, and Expulsion

Delivered by Professor Miri Rubin and Dr Dean A. Irwin

Starting January 2023 – Dates TBC


A Jewish community was established in England shortly after the Norman Conquest. Initially confined to London, from the 1130s onwards Jews began to settle in other parts of the country, where they lived as English Jews for more than two centuries. Their life in England came to an end in 1290 with Edward I’s order of expulsion. As the only religious minority permitted to settle, the Jews occupied a unique legal position in under royal privilege and within English society. The Crown provided many protections and these allowed some Jews – especially before the 1250s – to become extremely wealthy. Equally, Jews were exposed to exploitation, most obviously through excessive taxation, and eventually though accusations of violent acts. In England around 1150 the child murder accusation – one of the most pernicious and enduring anti-Jewish slurs – alleged for the first time that Jews were obliged to murder a Christian child once a year in parody of the crucifixion of Christ.

What topics are covered in the course?

This course is designed to take participants through the spectacular highs and catastrophic lows of medieval Anglo-Jewish life. No prior knowledge is required. An introductory talk will familiarise participants with the historical context required. Thereafter, three discussion sessions will offer opportunities to consider the Jews through key themes that have dominated historical writing on the Jews: money, murder, and expulsion. As a conclusion to this course, a final talk will examine the daily lives of medieval Jews. Consequently, those undertaking this short course will be well equipped to understand various aspects of medieval Anglo-Jewish history, to impart it to others, and to pursue their own interests further.

When does the course take place?

This course will run from January to April 2023 and is free and open to all, subject to registration. You do not need to be a member to take part. 

Dates of the live sessions will be confirmed in due course, and will be structured as follows:

  • Session 1: Introduction – Medieval England and the Jews (1hr talk + 30 mins discussion) – Dr Dean A. Irwin
  • Session 2: Money (90 mins group discussion) – Dr Dean A. Irwin
  • Session 3: Murder (90 mins group discussion) – Professor Miri Rubin
  • Session 4: Expulsion (90 mins group discussion) – Professor Miri Rubin and Dr Dean A. Irwin
  • Session 5: Conclusion: Jewish Daily Life in the Middle Ages (1hr talk + 30 mins discussion) TBC

How is the course structured?

This course is 100% online and will include access to curated resources as well as live online lectures and discussion sessions. We encourage live participation in these lectures and workshops to make the most of the experience, however all the live events will be recorded and made available to listen to on the resource unit after they have taken place. 

Who can take part? 

The course is free and open to all, but the course is particularly designed for lifelong learners. It is available to anybody with an interest in the topic who wants to learn more while developing their historical skills, without the pressure of any form of assessment. You do not need any prior knowledge of the topic to take part. 

Who is leading the course? 

Dr Dean Irwin is an independent scholar who works on the Jews of medieval England. He is a board member of the medievalJewishStudiesNow! blog.

Professor Miri Rubin is Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at Queen Mary, University of London and President of the Jewish Historical Society of England. She has published extensively on medieval Europe, including an edition of The Life and Passion of William of Norwich for Penguin in 2014.

How do I take part? 

To register for the short course, please complete this short form and we will contact you with further details when they are confirmed. If you have questions, please contact us

Historical Association short courses

Following the successful pilot of a short course over the summer and autumn of 2022 the HA will be introducing two short courses a year.

These courses will bring together collated written resources, podcasts and films alongside interactive lecture sessions. Each course will have expert historians and lecturers as speakers and facilitators. The live sessions will be available as a recording for those registered on the course.

The content of the short courses aims to increase knowledge and understanding of a particular event, time or thematic and the courses should appeal to all adult learners with an interest in history.