The king, impelled more by the love of military glory than by superstition, acted, from the beginning of his reign, as if the sole purpose of his government had been the relief of the Holy Land, and the recovery of Jerusalem from the Saracens. This zeal against infidels, being communicated to his subjects, broke out in London on the day of his coronation, and made them find a Crusade less dangerous, and attended with more immediate profit. The prejudices of the age had made the lending of money on interest pass by the insidious name of usury: yet the necessity of the practice had still continued it, and the greater part of that kind of dealing fell everywhere into the hands of the Jews; who, being already infamous on account of their religion, had no honour to lose, and were apt to exercise a profession, odious in itself, by every kind of rigour, and even sometimes by rapine and extortion. The industry and frugality of this people had put them in possession of all the ready money, which the idleness and profusion common to the English with other European nations, enabled them to lend at exorbitant and unequal interest. The monkish writers represent it as a great stain on the wise and equitable government of Henry, that he had carefully protected this infidel race from all injuries and insults; but the zeal of Richard afforded the populace a pretence for venting their animosity against them. The king had issued an edict prohibiting their appearance at his coronation; but some of them bringing him large presents from their nation, presumed, in confidence of that merit, to approach the hall in which he dined. Being discovered, they were exposed to the insults of the bystanders; they took to flight; the people pursued them; the rumour was spread, that the king had issued orders to massacre all the Jews; a command so agreeable was executed in an instant on such as fell into the hands of the populace; those who had kept at home were exposed to equal danger; the people, moved by rapacity and zeal, broke into their houses, which they plundered, after having murdered the owners; where the Jews barricaded their doors, and defended themselves with vigour, the rabble set fire to the houses, and made way through the flames to exercise their pillage and violence; the usual licentiousness of London, which the sovereign power with difficulty restrained, broke out with fury, and continued these outrages; the houses of the rich citizens, though Christians, were next attacked and plundered; and weariness and satiety at last put an end to the disorder. Yet, when the king empowered Glanville, the justiciary, to inquire into the authors of these crimes, the guilt was found to involve so many of the most considerable citizens, that it was deemed more prudent to drop the prosecution; and very few suffered the punishment due to this enormity. But the disorder stopped not at London. The inhabitants of the other cities of England, hearing of this slaughter of the Jews imitated the example. In York five hundred of that nation who had retired into the castle for safety, and found themselves unable to defend the place, murdered their own wives and children, threw the dead bodies over the walls upon the populace, and then setting fire to the houses, perished in the flames. The gentry of the neighbourhood, who were all indebted to the Jews, ran to the cathedral, where their bonds were kept, and made a solemn bonfire of the papers before the altar. The compiler of the Annals of Waverley, in relating these events, blesses the Almighty for delivering over this impious race to destruction.
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