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Muriel, a Jew of Oxford: Using the Dramatic to Understand the Mundane in Anglo-Norman Towns

  • Charlotte Newman Goldy
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

These 1242 royal orders1 are stunning. In an unprecedented move, the royal court of a Christian king, led by the archbishop of York, reached into a Jewish marriage dispute, supported a divorce, and then gave this personal situation national significance by using it as an opportunity to withdraw the long-standing acceptance of Jews holding “chapters” (i.e., courts, betai din) to settle their own religious disputes. My interest was captured when I read the orders about a decade ago. Quickly, I found that they had been woven into the narrative of Jews experiencing the deteriorating conditions of England, once a haven for them, but that little focused on Muriel and it was she—labeled “who was wife”—who intrigued me. At the moment that the orders were issued, Muriel had been fighting against a divorce and would have to face the royal curia perhaps to answer charges of treason. Certainly there was a story and I wanted to find it. Unfortunately, as all historians know, research is full of dead ends and Muriel’s otherwise poorly documented life made a traditional biography impossible. Sometimes, however, dead ends present new vistas. Searching for Muriel led me to think differently about how to write about the most gendered parts of life. Using this “non-great” woman caught in an unusual crisis to drive a narrative showed me much about the normative and the mundane of the place it occurred.

Keywords

Jewish Community Jewish Woman Jewish Family Christian Woman Royal Court 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Charlotte Newman Goldy and Amy Livingstone 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Newman Goldy

There are no affiliations available

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