Guest author: Roberta Eaton Cheadle ~ Clifford’s Tower, York

The original motte and bailey castle which was built on the site where Clifford’s Tower now stands was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. It was one of a series of castles he built in order to suppress rebellion against his rule in England.

During this period of history, the Jewish people were welcomed into England by William the Conqueror who invited them to live and work in his kingdom. Christians were forbidden from making a profit as moneylenders, but Jewish people were not. This profession made them wealthy, but they were heavily taxed by the crown in exchange for the king’s protection.

Photograph of Clifford’s Tower: Robbie Cheadle

Clifford’s Tower massacre

The massacre that took place at Clifford’s Tower on 16 March 1190 was one of the worst cases of anti-Semitic violence in British history.

Following the death of Henry II in 1189, Richard the Lionheart inherited the crown and crusade fever swept through England bring with it a rise in anti-Semitism.

Benedict of York, a moneylender and a leading member of York’s Jewish community, attempted, along with several other Jews, to attend Richard’s coronation. They were refused entry and attacked with Benedict being so badly wounded that he died in Northampton while trying to return home.

This incident sparked a rumour that Richard had ordered the expulsion of the Jews from England and resulted in mobs of Christians rioting against their Jewish neighbours.

In York, nobleman, Richard Malebisse, and some of his peers, saw an opportunity to get rid of the debts they owed to the Jewish moneylenders. They raised a mob to attack Jewish property in the city. It quickly grew out of control and Benedict’s widow and children were killed when their house was looted and burned.

Fearing for the lives of the Jewish community, Josce of York rounded up as many families as he could and led them to the castle where they secured themselves inside the wooden keep to wait out the wave of violence. Unfortunately, the violence did not end, and a mob surrounded the castle, demanding that they be forcibly baptized.

The sheriff’s troops were called out, but the Jews, who were running out of food and water, refused to stand down, not trusting the promises of the mob that they would be left unharmed if they left the keep and agreed to be baptized.

Rather than forsake their own religion, Josce and Rabbi Yombob of Joigny oversaw a mass suicide within the keep whereby the father of each family slit the throat of his wife and children before being killed by Yomtob. Yomtob then committed suicide and set fire to the keep so that the bodies could not be mutilated by the mob. A few Jews who had decided to trust the mob and agree to being baptized attempted to leave what remained of the keep at daybreak. They were attacked and murdered by the mob which then marched to York Minster, where the records of debt were kept, and forced the guards to hand them over so that they could be burned.

When King Richard learned of this matter, he held a royal inquest into it with the result that the city’s constable and sheriff were dismissed. Malebisse had some of his property confiscated and York was fined heavily for the massacre, but no individuals were ever prosecuted or punished for the murders of approximately 150 people.

Climbing the steps to Clifford’s Tower: Robbie Cheadle

About the author

I am an author who has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my young adult and adult writing, these will be published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first young adult supernatural novel, Through the Nethergate, has recently been published.

I have two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre as well as three short stories published in Death Among Us, a collection of murder mystery short stories by 10 different authors and edited by Stephen Bentley. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

Find and follow Roberta Cheadle Eaton

Twitter    Facebook    Blog    Goodreads    Website

Purchase Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s Books from:

TSL Books    Lulu     Amazon UK

Through the Nethergate

by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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46 Responses to Guest author: Roberta Eaton Cheadle ~ Clifford’s Tower, York

  1. tidalscribe says:

    It doesn’t take much for people to turn on each other, whatever race or religion, alas we can’t feel smug about things that happened way in the past because history alwasy repeats itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Patty says:

    Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    I never stop being amazed at the things I discover while reading blogs.
    Click over and read this whole post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Sue, for hosting me with this dreadfully sad story. We have to remember history to ensure it does not reoccur.


  4. Darlene says:

    I have visited Clifford’s Tower a number of times and always feel a chill while there. Such a sad story. I wrote a short story about this event you may be interested in reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Alli Templeton says:

    There’s an undoubted atmosphere in Clifford’s Tower and I pick up on it every time I go there. It’s one of the many highly haunting places in my favourite city, but its walls hold the memory one of the most tragic stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mary Smith says:

    I didn’t know anything about Clifford’s Tower, Robbie. What a horrific and heartbreaking story – though, sadly, just one of many which show how quickly people can turn against others considered different.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I didn’t know about this history either, Mary. We discovered it while we were in York in September. We visited the tower and purchased a “Horrible Histories” book which told all the stories about this unfortunate tower.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Another awesome history lesson! 🙂 Thanks, Robbie and Sue… Sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. trentpmcd says:

    Such a terrible story.Unfortunately we never seem to learn from history with hatreds and violence against those who are different rising again… Great telling of the history, Robbie 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. memadtwo says:

    Another sad tale of human behavior. You have to wonder if we will ever get off this violent wheel. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. dgkaye says:

    What a most awful story, well told by Robbie. Seems the Jews have been the chosen ones in varying degrees since the inception of time. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for another great history lesson, Robbie! You might wondering about, but i had never heared about Richard the Lionheart and the upcoming antisemitism. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is horrific. I have no words, really. Somehow didn’t know this history.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Pingback: Guest author: Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Clifford’s Tower, York – Roberta Writes

  14. johnrieber says:

    Powerful bit of history that hopefully shapes how we treat each other today….

    Liked by 2 people

  15. johnrieber says:

    Powerful bit of history that hopefully shapes how we treat each other today….

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Sounds like a fascinating place!! I love visiting historical places. And, I can’t wait to read “Through the Nethergate”!!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Vashti Q says:

    What a fascinating read, Robbie! I never knew this bit of history. Wow. That story will haunt me for a while. Your book’s blurb read extremely interesting also. Thanks for inviting Robbie to your fabulous blog, Sue!🥰

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Oh gosh I had no clue about this history.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Pingback: #Thursdaydoors – Clifford Tower

  20. Good Lord, have we no shame! I am always sobered to read of such occurrences. History, yes, but none the less, it gives me the chills.


  21. Really interesting. Which culture has not hurt the Jewish community?


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