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.
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.
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
Purchase Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s Books from:
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.
Launching a book?
If you are a writer, artist or photographer…If you have a poem, story or memoirs to share… If you have a book to promote, a character to introduce, an exhibition or event to publicise… If you have advice for writers, artists or bloggers…
If you would like to be my guest, please read the guidelines and get in touch!