The British Isles were unknown to the Jews until a late date, and the settlement of the Jews in medieval England was among the latest in Europe. It is possible that a small nucleus was to be found there under the Romans and that in the Saxon period, isolated Jews extended their commercial activities as far as the British Isles. But the slender evidence formerly adduced in support of this (e.g., the references in the Liber Poenitentialis ascribed to Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury, 669) has no validity.
The Medieval Period
Jews were settled in some numbers in the continental possessions of William the Conqueror. With the Norman Conquest in 1066, it was inevitable that some should follow him to England, even if (as sometimes reported) he did not specifically invite them. The new community thus had a comparatively artificial origin, and possessed a remarkable homogeneity, being composed almost entirely of financiers and their dependents. It may thus be regarded as a type of late medieval Jewry in composition and in occupation as well as in its close subjection to royal control.
The community originated in the main in northern France, of which it was to some extent a cultural, linguistic, and economic offshoot. A minority came from Germany, Italy, and Spain, while one or two came even from Russia and the Muslim countries. By the mid-12th century, communities were to be found in most of the greater cities of the country, in *Lincoln, *Winchester, *York, *Oxford, *Norwich, and *Bristol. However, the *London community was always the most important. Until 1177 the only cemetery allowed was in London. No communities were found west of *Exeter or north of York. The Jews were treated tolerantly by the Norman monarchs. William Rufus (1087–1100) is even said to have encouraged them to enter into disputations with Christian clerics. Under Henry i (1100–35), an exemplary charter of liberties, the text of which is no longer preserved, was probably granted to the Jews.
In the course of the 12th century, anti-Jewish feeling began to manifest itself. In 1130 the Jews of London were fined the then enormous sum of £2,000 on the charge that one of their number had killed a sick man. The first recorded *blood libel took place at Norwich in 1144 and was imitated at *Gloucester in 1168, before the precedent came to be followed outside England. Similar accusations were made before the end of the century at *Bury St. Edmunds (1181), Bristol (before 1183), and Winchester (1192). Nevertheless, the community grew in wealth and numbers, and its financial importance became increasingly recognized and exploited by the Crown. In 1168 a tallage (an arbitrary tax, theoretically levied only in emergency) of 5,000 marks (a mark was two-thirds of a £) was imposed by Henry ii. In 1188 a tax of one-fourth of the value of their movable property was levied upon London Jewry. The amount raised, according to the rough contemporary estimate, was £60,000, as against only £70,000 raised from the general population. The annual revenue obtained by the state from the Jews is conjectured to have averaged at this time £3,000. *Aaron of Lincoln (c. 1125–1186) was the greatest English capitalist of his day. His financial aid made possible the completion of several English monasteries and abbeys, besides secular buildings. On his death, his property and credits were claimed by the Exchequer, where a special department was set up to deal with them.
The period of relative tranquility ended with the spread of crusading enthusiasm under Richard i. At his coronation, a riot began at the doors of Westminster Hall, which ended in the sack of London's Jewry and the murder of many of its inhabitants (September 1189). The example spread throughout the country in the following spring. The leaders were in many cases members of the lesser baronage whose religious ardor was heightened by their financial indebtedness to the Jews. At Dunstable, the handful of Jews saved themselves by accepting Christianity. At Lynn (later *King's Lynn), foreign sailors exterminated the entire little community. At *Stamford and Norwich, all who did not take refuge in the royal castle perished. The most tragic episode occurred in York. There, the community, headed by R. *Yom-Tov b. Isaac of Joigny, escaped massacre by voluntary death (March 16–17, 1190).
These outrages had been accompanied everywhere by the burning of the deeds of debts due to the Jews. The Crown, which derived much revenue from the profits of the moneylenders, thus suffered considerable loss. Accordingly, after his return from captivity (to supply ransom the Jews of the country had been made to contribute three times as much as the citizens of London) Richard, by his "Ordinance of the Jewry" (1194), ordered the establishment of an *archa or chirograph chest in principal cities, under the charge of Jewish and Christian "chirographers," in which duplicate records of all debts contracted with the Jews were to be deposited. Thus, whatever disorders might occur, the Crown's dues were henceforth secure. As coordinating authority over these provincial centers, ultimately some 26 in number, there came into being the Scaccarium Judaeorum or "*Exchequer of the Jews" – an institution with both judicial and financial functions. Closely connected with it was the office of Presbyter Judaeorum or *archpresbyter – not a chief rabbi, as once believed, but official representative and expert on Jewish matters appointed by the Crown. Of the occupants of this post, the names of Jacob of London (appointed 1199), Josce (1207), *Aaron (fil' (i.e., son of) Josce) of York (1236), *Elias le Eveske (1243), Hagin (Ḥayyim) fil' Moses of Lincoln (1258), and Cok Hagin fil' Deulecresse (1281) are known. In the Exchequer, the Jews of England had an organization acting in the royal interest equaled in no other European country. Its records, preserved in unparalleled completeness, yield minute information as to their condition.
The English communities never fully recovered from the blow they received at the time of the accession of Richard i. John indeed favored them at first and in 1201 confirmed their charter of liberties. However, later in his reign he began to squeeze money out of them by a succession of desperate expedients culminating in 1210 in the harshly-exacted Bristol Tallage of 60,000 or 66,000 marks (though this figure may have been used merely to describe a vast sum) which reduced them to the verge of ruin. Nevertheless, the barons viewed the Jews with aversion, as instruments of royal oppression; in the course of armed baronial resistance to the Crown, the Jewry of London was sacked. A clause in the Magna Carta (omitted in subsequent reconfirmations) restricted the claims of Jewish creditors against the estates of landowners who had died in their debt.
During the minority of Henry iii, the Jews recovered some degree of prosperity. This was, however, counterbalanced by the introduction at the Council of Oxford (1222) of the discriminatory legislation of the Fourth *Lateran Council of 1215, which was enforced in England earlier and more consistently than in any other part of Europe. The most important of these provisions was the wearing of the Jewish *Badge which here took the form of the two tablets of stone.
From the beginning of the personal rule of Henry iii in 1232, the condition of the Jews rapidly deteriorated. Tallage succeeded tallage with disastrous regularity. A "Parliament of Jews," consisting of six representatives from each of the major communities and two from the smaller centers, was held at *Worcester in 1241 in order to apportion one such levy. When nothing further could be extorted from the Jews directly, Henry exercised his rights as suzerain by mortgaging them to his brother, Richard of Cornwall. They were subsequently made over to Edward, the heir to the throne, who in turn consigned them to their competitors, the Cahorsins. The Crown, however, resumed its rights before the expiration of the period.
Meanwhile, ecclesiastical enactments against the Jews were enforced with unprecedented severity. A new synagogue built at London was confiscated on a frivolous pretext (1232). There was a whole series of ritual murder accusations, culminating in the classical case of Hugh of *Lincoln in 1255. In 1253 a decree was issued forbidding the Jews to live henceforward except in towns with established communities. With the outbreak of the Barons' Wars in 1263, the Jews found themselves exposed to the animosity of the insurgents who regarded them as the instruments of royal oppression. From 1263 to 1266, one Jewish community after another was sacked, with considerable loss of life, including those of London (which suffered twice, in 1263 and 1264), *Cambridge, *Canterbury, Worcester, and Lincoln.
On his accession in 1272, Edward I found the Jews so impoverished that their importance to the treasury had become negligible. Moreover, foreign bankers who enjoyed a higher patronage had begun to render the services for which the Jews had formerly been indispensable. By the Statutum de Judaismo of 1275, the king endeavored to effect a radical change in the occupations and mode of life of his Jewish subjects. The practice of usury was forbidden. On the other hand, they were empowered to engage in commerce and (for an experimental period) to rent farms on short leases. They were not, however, permitted to enter the Gild Merchant, without which the privilege to engage in trade was virtually useless; nor were they given the security of tenure necessary for agricultural pursuits. The Statutum failed in its purpose. A few of the wealthier began to trade in wool and corn (though this was in many cases a mask for moneylending) but others continued to carry on clandestinely the petty usury now prohibited by law; while some eked out a living from their capital by clipping the coinage. This led
in 1278 to widespread arrests and hangings, in many cases on the flimsiest pretexts.
Edward may have contemplated a relaxation of the situation by permitting a resumption of usury but for a variety of economic and political reasons, and from sheer rapacity, he finally decided to resolve the problem drastically. On July 18, 1290, he issued an edict for the banishment of the Jews from England – the first of the great general expulsions of the Middle Ages – by All Saints' Day (November 1). Most of the refugees made their way to France, Flanders, and Germany.
The English Jews of the Middle Ages perhaps numbered fewer than 4,000, though contemporary chroniclers put the figure far higher. They formed, intellectually as well as politically, an offshoot of the neighboring Franco-German center, even speaking French among themselves. Their interests were accordingly halakhic rather than literary, though no name of the first importance figures among them. Outstanding scholars included *Jacob b. Judah of London, author of the ritual compendium Eẓ Ḥayyim; the grammarian Benjamin of *Cambridge; Isaac b. Perez of Northampton; *Moses b. Ha-Nesi'ah of London who wrote the grammatical work Sefer ha-Shoham; *Meir of Norwich, a liturgical poet; *Moses b. Yom-Tov of London, halakhist and grammarian; and his sons *Benedict of Lincoln (Berechiah of Nicole) and *Elijah Menahem of London, physician, scholar, and financier, the greatest luminary of medieval English Jewry.
Their expulsion in 1290 cleared England of the Jews more completely than was the case in any other European country. The *Domus Conversorum founded by Henry iii in London in 1232 continued indeed to function until the beginning of the 17th century, but ultimately its few inmates were in every case foreigners. The only professing Jews known to have come to the country were half a dozen individuals in 1310 (perhaps to negotiate conditions for readmission), one or two physicians who were invited professionally, and occasional wandering adventurers.
The Resettlement Period
This almost absolute isolation was broken by the repercussions of the expulsions from Spain and Portugal and of the activities of the Inquisition in the Iberian Peninsula, which drove refugees throughout Western Europe. A small *Marrano settlement was established in London in the reigns of Henry viii and Edward vi but broke up on the accession of Mary in 1553 and the Catholic reaction which ensued. In the reign of Elizabeth, a semi-overt congregation existed for some years in London and Bristol, comprising among others Dr. Hector *Nunez whose commercial connections were found useful by the government in Spanish affairs, and Roderigo *Lopez, the queen's physician, who was executed in 1594 on a charge of having plotted against her life. The latter was connected by marriage with Alvaro Mendes (Solomon *Abenaes), duke of Mytilene, who sent diplomatic missions to the English court on more than one occasion. Although this Marrano community at one time numbered approximately 100 persons, it had no legal guarantee of existence. With a change in political and economic conditions in 1609, it disappeared.
Toward the middle of the 17th century, a new Marrano colony grew up in London, partly of refugees who had been settled for a time at Rouen and the Canary Islands. The revolution and the spread of extreme Puritan doctrine among the English people led to the development of a spirit more favorable to the Jews, which increased proportionately with the importance attached to the Old Testament. Sir Henry *Finch, Roger Williams, Edward *Nicholas, and John Sadler were among the notables who joined in the agitation for the formal readmission of the Jews into England, whether as a measure of humanity or in the hopes of securing their conversion. The economic revival under *Cromwell, coupled with his anti-Spanish policy, combined to create an atmosphere more and more favorable to the Marrano merchants, some of whom, such as Antonio Fernandez *Carvajal, rendered the government valuable service in obtaining intelligence from the continent.
Meanwhile, the reported discovery of Jews in America by Antonio (Aaron) de *Montezinos had led *Manasseh Ben Israel, the Amsterdam rabbi and mystic, to look forward to the millennium which would be ushered in by the completion of the dispersion through the official introduction of the Jews to the "end of the earth" (Keẓeh ha-Areẓ = Angle-Terre). Negotiations with him, which had been going on fitfully since 1650, came to a head with his arrival in England in the autumn of 1655. A petition presented on behalf of the Jews was backed up by his eloquent plea in the "Humble Addresses" (Amsterdam, 1655), presented to the Lord Protector. On December 4, 1655, a conference of notables met at Whitehall to consider the whole question. The judges present decided that there was no statute which excluded the Jews from the country. On the other hand, a large body of theological and mercantile opinion manifested itself, which would consent to readmission only on the severest terms. After four sessions, Cromwell dissolved the conference before it arrived at a positive conclusion. In the following March, the London Marranos presented a fresh petition, merely asking for permission to have their own burial ground and to be protected from disturbance in the performance of their religious ceremonies. Their position was meanwhile strengthened by a judicial ruling which restored the property of Antonio *Robles (seized on the outbreak of war with Spain because of his Spanish nationality), mainly on the grounds that he was a Jew. In July, as it seems, the petition of the previous March was at last taken into consideration and assented to by the Council of State. Although the relevant pages were subsequently torn out of the minute book, the settlement of the Jews in England was never thereafter seriously questioned. This was far from the formal recall for which Manasseh Ben Israel had hoped, but its very informality secured its continuance even after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and saved English Jewry from that special and inferior status which was the rule elsewhere in Europe.
The easygoing King Charles ii was indeed little disposed, on his return to England, to reverse the arrangement which had become established under the Protectorate, in spite of anti-Jewish agitation fostered by Thomas Violet and embodied in a petition by the City of London. In 1664, in consequence of an attempt at blackmail made by the Earl of Berkshire and Paul Ricaut, the community received from the Crown a formal promise of protection, and in 1673, after another petty persecution, a guarantee of freedom of worship, which was confirmed in similar circumstances in 1685. This pragmatic policy of protection for the Jews was continued throughout the reigns of the later Stuarts. Suggestions for special taxation (which must inevitably have led to special status) were not implemented. The legality of the practice of Judaism in England at last received indirect parliamentary recognition in the Act for Suppressing Blasphemy of 1698.
The community henceforth grew in wealth and in importance. Its numbers were increased by immigrants, principally from Amsterdam, or else directly from Spain and Portugal. Its position was consistently favorable, despite certain vexatious restrictions – e.g., the obligation to support their children even after conversion to Christianity and the limitation of the number of "Jew Brokers" in the City of London to 12. The only other community in the British Isles was a small Sephardi group in *Dublin. Nevertheless Jews figured in an increasing proportion in the growing colonial empire – at *Tangier, *New York, *Bombay, and in the West Indies – especially *Jamaica and *Barbados. Numbers rapidly grew in the final years of the 17th century, particularly during the period of the close connection with Holland under William of Orange, when several families came over from Amsterdam. A new synagogue, now classified as an historic monument, was erected in Bevis Marks in London in 1701. The upper class of the community was composed of brokers and foreign traders; the lucrative coral trade, for example, was almost entirely in their hands. Jews entered gradually into various aspects of the country's life. Mention may be made of city magnates, such as Samson *Gideon and Joseph *Salvador, whose financial advice was sought by successive ministries, and of Jacob de *Castro Sarmento, a notable physician and scientist, of Moses *Mendes, the poet, and of Emanuel *Mendes da Costa, clerk and librarian of the Royal Society and a prolific writer.
Meanwhile, an influx of Ashkenazim had followed upon the Sephardi pioneers. The forerunners came principally from Amsterdam and Hamburg, but they were followed by others from other parts of Germany and elsewhere, and later in increasing numbers from Eastern Europe. About 1690, a small Ashkenazi community was formed in London. In 1706, as the result of a communal dispute, a second was formed, and in 1761, a third. The newcomers were, for the most part, distinctly lower in social and commercial status than their Sephardi precursors. A large number of them were occupied in itinerant trading in country areas where the Jewish peddler became a familiar figure. They generally returned to pass the Sabbath in some provincial center. Thus congregations, several of which have since disappeared, grew up in the course of the second half of the 18th century in many country towns – Canterbury, Norwich, Exeter, and others, as well as ports such as *Portsmouth, *Liverpool, Bristol, *Plymouth, King's Lynn, *Penzance, and Falmouth, and manufacturing centers such as *Birmingham and *Manchester. London remained, however, the only considerable center.
The external history of the Jews in England was meanwhile tranquil. In 1753 the introduction to Parliament of the Jewish Naturalization Bill ("The Jew Bill"), giving foreign-born Jews facilities for acquiring the privileges enjoyed by their native-born children, resulted in an anti-Jewish agitation so virulent that the government withdrew the measure; but it was not accompanied by physical violence. Political opposition, on the other hand, led to greater solidarity among the various sections of the community. From 1760 representatives of the Ashkenazi congregations began to act intermittently with the deputados of the Sephardim as a watch-committee in matters of common interest. This gradually developed into the London Committee of Deputies of British Jews (usually known as the *Board of Deputies), ultimately comprising representatives also of provincial and (in a minor degree) "colonial" congregations, which assumed its present form in the middle of the 19th century.
The 19th Century
The Napoleonic Wars marked an epoch in the history of the Jews in England. Ashkenazi families, notably the *Goldsmids and *Rothschilds, began to occupy an increasingly important place in English finance and society. A generation of native-born Jews had meanwhile grown up, who were stimulated by the example of Jewish emancipation in France and elsewhere to desire similar rights for themselves. The civic and political disabilities from which they suffered did not in fact amount to very much, for they had enjoyed a great measure of social emancipation almost from the beginning, and commercial restrictions were confined to a few galling limitations in the city of London. In 1829, on the triumph of the movement for Catholic emancipation, agitation began for similar legislation on behalf of the Jews. It was championed in the Commons by Robert Grant and Thomas Babington *Macaulay, the great Whig historian, and in the Lords by the Duke of Sussex, son of George iii, a keen Hebraist. On its second introduction in 1833, the Jewish Emancipation Bill was passed by the recently reformed House of Commons, but it was consistently rejected by the Lords in one session after the other. Meanwhile, the Jews were admitted to the office of sheriff (1835) and other municipal offices (1845). Minor disabilities were removed by the Religious Opinions Relief Bill (1846), which left their exclusion from Parliament the only serious grievance of which the English Jews could complain. Lionel de *Rothschild was elected by the city of London as its parliamentary representative time after time from 1847, but the continued opposition of the Lords blocked the legislation which could have enabled him to take the required oaths. In 1858, however, a compromise was reached, and each house of Parliament was allowed to settle its own form of oath. In 1885 Nathaniel de *Rothschild (Lionel's son) was raised to the peerage – the first professing Jew to receive that honor. The example of Benjamin *Disraeli, one of the most brilliant of modern English statesmen, who made no effort to disguise his Jewish origin and sympathies, did much to improve the general social and political position of the Jews. Sir George *Jessel was made solicitor general in 1871, and several Jews subsequently received government appointments. Herbert (later Viscount) *Samuel became a cabinet minister in 1909. Sir David *Salomons, who had been the first Jewish sheriff in 1835 and the first Jewish alderman in 1847, became lord mayor of London in 1855 – a position in which several Jews have since followed him. In 1890 religious restrictions on virtually every political position and dignity were removed and Jewish emancipation became complete.
Considerable changes had meanwhile been taking place within the community. There was a gradual movement toward greater cohesion. The Sephardi community had to yield pride of place to the Ashkenazim before the end of the 18th century. Solomon *Hirschel, son of R. Hirschel *Levin (Hart Lyon), was appointed rabbi of the Great Synagogue in London in 1802, in succession to David Tevele *Schiff of Frankfurt. His authority was recognized by the other Ashkenazi congregations in London, who were induced by him to enter into a closer union. His successor, Nathan Marcus *Adler, who was elected to office by the delegates of the London congregations in association with those of the major provincial communities, may be considered the first chief rabbi. The extension of his authority is indicated in the Laws and Regulations for all the Synagogues in the British Empire which he issued in 1847. He was followed as chief rabbi in 1891 by his son, Hermann *Adler, who had been acting as his father's delegate for some years. He was succeeded by Joseph Herman *Hertz.
During the 19th century Anglo-Jewry took the lead in measures for the protection of the Jews and the amelioration of their position in every part of the world. In this they were assured of the assistance of the British government, which was now identified with a strikingly protective policy toward the Jews, especially of Palestine and the Muslim countries of the Middle East – partly because of the absence of closely allied Christian bodies on whose behalf the exertion of political influence could ostensibly be based, as was the case with the rival Russian and French governments. The Board of Deputies increased in scope of activity and in importance. Sir Moses *Montefiore, backed up by the British government, acted as the ambassador for the whole of Jewry, in the event of persecution, from the *Damascus Affair of 1840 onward. In 1871 the *Anglo-Jewish Association was founded to collaborate in the work of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle, prejudiced by the enmities aroused through the Franco-Prussian War; and in 1878 the Joint (Conjoint) Foreign Committee, which it formed in conjunction with the Board of Deputies, came into being as an agency for safeguarding Jewish interests abroad. The *Jewish Chronicle, the first permanent Anglo-Jewish periodical (now the oldest continuing Jewish publication in the world), was established in 1841. In 1855 *Jews' College was founded in London – the first theological seminary for the training of Anglo-Jewish ministers of religion. It was followed four years later by the Jewish Board of Guardians (since 1964 known as the Jewish Welfare Board), a model London organization for the relief of the poor, which was widely imitated in provincial centers. The loose union for certain charitable and other purposes of the Ashkenazi synagogues in London, which had been in existence since the beginning of the century, became consolidated in 1870 by the establishment, under authority of an act of Parliament, of the United Synagogue which is today one of the most powerful Jewish religious organizations of its sort in the world.
The basis of the community had meanwhile been broadening, though it remained overwhelmingly centered in London. The industrial developments of the 19th century led to a widening of the area of Jewish settlement, important communities based largely on German immigration being formed or expanded in provincial centers such as Manchester, *Bradford, etc. All were Ashkenazi, except at Manchester, where a Sephardi community was also organized in the second half of the century, mostly composed of newcomers from the Levant. With the recrudescence of persecution in Russia in 1881, immigration increased immensely. A majority of the refugees settled in London; the communities of Manchester, Birmingham, and other places were similarly reinforced while that of *Leeds, wholly based on the tailoring industry, proportionately attracted the greatest number of all. The congregations in all the more important industrial towns and seaports throughout the country – including *Scotland, *Wales, and *Ireland – now grew to important dimensions. However, at the same time, some of the older country centers, such as Canterbury or Penzance, were decaying. The newcomers largely settled in urban districts and entered one or two specific trades; the ready-made clothing industry was virtually created as a result of their efforts. The characteristically English Trade Union and Friendly Society movements rapidly acquired a stronghold. The tide of immigration was, however, checked by the Aliens Immigration Act of 1905, passed after a long agitation which at one time assumed something of an antisemitic complexion.
The Federation of Synagogues was established in London by the first Lord *Swaythling in 1887 to coordinate the many small congregations set up by the Russian-Polish immigrant elements – partly in rivalry with the "aristocratic" United Synagogue. The Reform movement had been introduced into England, in spite of strenuous opposition, in 1840, when the West London Synagogue of British Jews was founded. It was long confined almost entirely to the capital. Branch congregations were set up before the end of the 19th century only in Manchester and in Bradford. A more radical movement was begun by the foundation at the beginning of the 20th century, under the auspices of C.G. *Montefiore, of the Jewish Religious Union, which in 1910 established the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. This also showed in the mid-century a considerable measure of expansion. The vast mass of English Jewry, however, remained attached to the compromising Orthodoxy represented by the United Synagogue.
scholarship and culture
The most eminent Jewish scholars associated with England have been immigrants from abroad, such as David *Nieto, Ephraim *Luzzatto, Michael *Friedlaender, Solomon *Schechter, and Adolf *Buechler. The most eminent native-born scholars have been humanists rather than talmudists, such as David *Levi, an able polemicist and translator of the liturgy, and (in more recent years)Israel *Abrahams, H.M.J. *Loewe, and C.G. Montefiore. On the other hand, through the building up of the superb collections of Hebrew printed books and manuscripts at the British Museum, the *Bodleian Library at Oxford, and the Library of the University of Cambridge (the last predominating in the *Genizah Mss.), England has become in many ways the Mecca of the Jewish student throughout the world.
The *Disraelis, father and son, are noteworthy figures in the English literature of the 19th century. Grace *Aguilar and Amy *Levy are among the earliest names in a series of Anglo-Jewish novelists which culminated with Israel *Zangwill, Louis *Golding, etc. Joseph *Jacobs was an eminent figure in English as well as in Jewish letters. Sir Sidney *Lee, editor of the Dictionary of National Biography and the foremost Shakespearian scholar of his day, and Sir Israel *Gollancz, secretary of the British Academy, illustrated the Jewish contribution to English literary studies. In art, Simeon *Solomon, Solomon J. *Solomon, Sir Jacob *Epstein, and Sir William *Rothenstein were notable figures. Sir Landon Ronald occupied an important position in the world of music. Alfred *Sutro was among the most popular English dramatists of the Edwardian era, while in the middle of the 20th century Arnold *Wesker, Harold *Pinter, Wolf *Mankowitz, Peter *Shaffer and others have attracted considerable attention. In politics, the Jewish representation in Parliament is considerable. Jews have been identified with all parties (since World War ii, especially the Labour Party), and individuals have risen to high rank under governments of every complexion.
The mass immigration from Eastern Europe that began in 1881 opened a new epoch in Anglo-Jewish history. The Anglo-Jewish community was affected not only by the sheer size of the migration, which increased the population of the community from 65,000 in 1880 to 300,000 in 1914, but also by the differences it imposed on the character of the community. The immigration injected into what was by then an increasingly middle-class, anglicized, mainly latitudinarian body, a mass of proletarian, Yiddish-speaking, predominantly Orthodox immigrants. Whereas the existing community had begun to disperse from the old Jewish quarters into the suburbs, the immigrants formed compact, overcrowded ghettos in East London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Furthermore, while the earlier English Jews had tended to seek an increasing diversity of occupations in the 19th century, the immigrants were concentrated in a limited number of trades: in 1901, about 40% of the gainfully employed Russo-Polish immigrant males were tailors, about 12–13% were in the boot and shoe trade, and about 10% were in the furniture trade, mainly as cabinetmakers. The immigrants created a network of institutions such as Yiddish and a few Hebrew newspapers and fraternal societies and trade unions, although the Jewish trade-union movement had no lasting history in Britain. They also created many small synagogues (ḥevrot) and joined in the London Federation of Synagogues – albeit under the leadership of English Jews – headed by Sir Samuel Montagu, later Lord Swaythling.
The communal leadership sought to "anglicize" the immigrants by encouraging their participation in classes in English, the state-aided Jewish schools, such as the Jews' Free School, and clubs and youth movements, like the *Jewish Lads Brigade. The London *United Synagogue tried to found a large synagogue in the Jewish quarter with associated community services (the "East End Scheme"), but this plan was frustrated largely by opposition from the ḥevrot it was intended to replace. The immigrants themselves generally sought anglicization, as British prestige was high in the world and the British libertarian tradition was appreciated among Jews. While some stalwarts, such as the Machzike Hadath community, remained aloof, many immigrants joined the United Synagogue, since its rite was broadly traditional. The instance of social mobility was high among the immigrants: they sought economic independence, moved to the suburbs, and joined the Anglo-Jewish middle class. Leaving aside minorities of Orthodox, secularists, Yiddishists, socialists, and anarchists, the Anglo-Jewish community that evolved was probably more integrated than any other in the western lands of immigration.
The influx of so many aliens, at a time when there was no effective control over immigration, produced considerable reaction among the native population. Charges were made that aliens working for low wages on piecework in small workshops would depress wages generally and cause unemployment; pressure on housing accommodation would cause overcrowding, raise rents, and introduce "key money" (premiums for grant of tenancies); the English or "Christian" character of whole neighborhoods would be altered, and immigrants would bring disease and crime. Strong sections of the trade unions were hostile to immigration. Organizations such as the British Brothers' League were formed to combat it, and, unfortunately, the peak years of immigration occurred during a period of economic depression.
The charges against the aliens were investigated by several official inquiries, culminating in the Royal Commission on Aliens in 1903, which declared all the charges unfounded, except, in part, that relating to overcrowded housing conditions. A majority of the commission recommended measures to prevent the concentration of immigrants in particular areas. This move proved impracticable, but the government reacted by introducing the 1905 Aliens Act to restrict immigration. The act had some effect at first, but, since it contained appeal provisions for genuine refugees from racial or religious persecution, the number of immigrants increased again to the former annual average. Many opponents of immigration sought to distinguish between the immigrant population and the established Jewish community. The latter had at first displayed an ambivalent attitude toward the immigrants. Although they recognized the humanitarian problem, some leaders feared that the communal institutions would be swamped by the helpless, and at first it was not generally appreciated that Russian persecution was more than a temporary check on the progress of liberalization. In the earlier years, therefore, attempts were made to dissuade immigrants from coming to England and even to "repatriate" them to Eastern Europe. After the 1903–04 pogroms, however, there was no longer any doubt about the nature of the situation in Eastern Europe and the support of the Jewish communal leadership for immigration was unquestioned.
participation in public life
Meanwhile, political emancipation for British Jews reached its climax when the first peerage was conferred upon a Jew, Lord *Rothschild (1885). The attainment of social acceptance was expressed by the presence of a number of Jews in the "Marlborough House set" centered around the Prince of Wales (later Edward vii); Lord Rothschild and his brothers, Alfred and Leopold, the Reuben brothers, Arthur and Albert *Sassoon, Sir Ernest *Cassel, Baron de *Hirsch, and others, were members of this group. Jews had also become prominent in politics as Conservative members of Parliament (such as the communal leaders Lionel Louis and Benjamin *Cohen), although as a group they still belonged primarily to the Liberal Party which had fostered Jewish emancipation. Notable in the Asquith administration, which began in 1906, were Sir Rufus Isaacs (who became lord chief justice as Lord *Reading in 1913) and the young Herbert Samuel. The prominence of Jews in Liberal politics, the Marconi case (in which both Isaacs and Samuel were, however unfairly, involved), the wealth of Jewish financiers, and even the friendship of Jews with royalty were all ingredients in the literary antisemitism of the Edwardian period, in which Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, and Rudyard Kipling all attacked the allegedly alien influences in high places.
world war i
The outbreak of World War i (1914) ended the great immigration, although the refugees from Belgium included a considerable number of Jews of East European origin. The high-strung xenophobia of the early war years, in which everything related to Germany was attacked, created some antisemitism and some curious anti-German reactions in the Anglo-Jewish community. The demand for uniform clothing produced an economic boom which benefited small Jewish entrepreneurs. On the other hand, because their civilian occupations were generally not essential enough to defer them from military service in the national interest, the proportion of Jews in the armed forces was higher than in the general population. Genuine loyalty, however, was also responsible for this factor: there were 10,000 casualties among the 50,000 Jews serving, and 1,596 were decorated (including six recipients of the highest award, the Victoria Cross), which was also probably above the general average. Of special significance was the raising of Jewish battalions of the Royal Fusiliers to serve in the campaign to liberate Palestine from the Turks.
The outstanding event of the war, however, was the attainment of the *Balfour Declaration in 1917. Zionism in England originated with the *Ḥovevei Zion in 1887, led by Elim d'Avigdor and Colonel Albert *Goldsmid. Although some of the older members of Anglo-Jewry were interested in the Jewish national movement, the recent immigrants provided the mass of support, particularly after the development of political Zionism in 1897. *Herzl visited England on a number of occasions and the offer of *Uganda was made to him by Joseph *Chamberlain, then colonial secretary. Although Sir Francis Montefiore became president of the English Zionist Federation, formed in 1899, many leading figures of the established community, notably the first Lord Rothschild, Sir Samuel *Montagu (Lord Swaythling), and Hermann *Adler, the chief rabbi, opposed it. The turmoil World War i brought to the Middle East and the desire to influence American Jewry on behalf of the Western allies provided Chaim *Weizmann with the opportunity to persuade the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration. To some extent, Weizmann had been anticipated by Herbert Samuel, a member of the government until 1916, in a pro-Zionist memorandum to the prime minister. The official leadership of the community was now much more disposed to Zionism: the new chief rabbi, Joseph Hertz, the Haham of the Sephardim, Moses *Gaster, and the second Lord Rothschild (who succeeded his father in 1915) were all actively associated with Zionism. The issue of the declaration had been preceded by a letter to the Times from the presidents of the Board of Deputies (D.L. Alexander) and the Anglo-Jewish Association (Claude Montefiore) dissociating themselves from Jewish nationalism. The declaration precipitated the resignation of Alexander and the victory of the pro-Zionists, whose views were henceforth the official policy of the Anglo-Jewish establishment. The events of 1917 thus served as a catalyst within the Anglo-Jewish community and promoted it into a new role in world Jewry, since Britain was to become the administering power for the Jewish National Home.
religious and social trends
Although Russo-Jewish immigrants had exercised a decisive influence in the religious and intellectual spheres, they were not alone. A group of British- or Empire-born scholars and writers grew up in the 1880s with the Romanian-born Solomon *Schechter as their mentor. The Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition of 1887 (with whose organization the art connoisseur Sir Isidore Spielmann was associated) was visited by Heinrich *Graetz, who urged the formation of a body to study Anglo-Jewish history. This suggestion was implemented in 1893 by the foundation of the *Jewish Historical Society of England, with whose work Lucien *Wolf, equally celebrated as an expert on international affairs, was associated for over 35 years. Apart from the continuation of historical studies, the specifically Anglo-Jewish renaissance was short; Schechter and Jacobs moved to America, as did the *Jewish Quarterly Review (begun by Claude Montefiore and Israel Abrahams in 1888).
The main body of religious Anglo-Jewry continued its latitudinarian way. While small congregations of German or East European origin maintained a separate existence on the extreme right of the religious spectrum, the immigrants increasingly joined the United Synagogue in London and its provincial counterparts. Some changes in liturgical usage had been sanctioned by the aged chief rabbi, Nathan Marcus Adler, in 1880 and may have led to his retirement from active office. His son, Hermann, who succeeded him sanctioned further changes in 1892. But these changes were in detail rather than substance and followed what the United Synagogue then described as its principle of progressive Conservatism, an attitude confirmed by the next chief rabbi, Hertz.
In contrast to this trend was a movement in the 1890s for more radical change that soon broke from the Orthodox ranks, although several of those originally concerned, such as Simeon *Singer, the translator of the prayer book, remained in the Orthodox community. As a result, in 1902, Claude Montefiore formed the Jewish Religious Union, which soon developed into the Liberal Jewish Synagogue.
The 1920s was a period of deceptive political calm and relative intellectual stagnation for Anglo-Jewry. Socially, the decade saw the progressive anglicization of the community and its increasing upward mobility from the working to the middle class. Small businesses prospered; the new generation turned to professional callings as lawyers, doctors, dentists, and accountants; and university education, even in the established institutions, began to be the practice for the middle class, instead of the prerogative of virtually the upper class alone. Social change was reflected in the steady exodus from the crowded Jewish quarters in London and the main provincial centers as middle-class families acquired a house and garden in the expanding residential suburbs. A distinctively Anglo-Jewish, middle-class way of life began to develop there, and Golders Green became as characteristic a milieu of interwar Anglo-Jewry as Maida Vale had been in the 1880s.
An attempt to finance a massive education renaissance as the Jewish memorial to World War i fell far short of achievement, but the United Synagogue, under the effective paternalism of the industrialist Sir Robert Waley-*Cohen, continued to expand as an efficiently run religious organization and founded new synagogues in the developing districts of London. During this period, the Board of Deputies was led by Sir Osmond d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, a founder of the "mixed" *Jewish Agency, on which both Zionists and non-Zionists served. Although the Zionist victory of 1917 had changed the community's political trend, it had not yet effected a social revolution and removed control from members of the older establishment.
the shadow of nazism
The 1930s were overshadowed by the rise of fascism, which produced an immigration of 90,000 refugees (73,000 from Germany and Austria, 10,000 from Czechoslovakia, 4,000–5,000 from Poland, and 2,000 from Italy and elsewhere). Of this number, 10,000–12,000 left Britain in 1940, 2,000–2,500 were transferred as internees to Australia and Canada and did not return, and 15,000–20,000 left after 1945 or died during the period, so that some 40,000–55,000 prewar refugees, mostly but not exclusively Jewish, were counted in Britain by 1950. Quantitatively, this was a substantial intake for a community of between 300,000 and 400,000, though a much smaller one than the Russo-Jewish immigration of 1881–1914. Qualitatively, its impact was almost as great. The Central European immigrants were essentially from the middle class, unlike the originally proletarian Russo-Jewish ones. Before drastic restrictions were imposed on the export of property from Germany, the refugees of the 1930s brought considerable capital: it is estimated that up to mid-1938, £12,000,000 were transferred from Germany to Britain. The immigrants created or transplanted many businesses, particularly in the fashion trades, pharmaceutical production, and light engineering, and made London the European center of the fur trade in place of Leipzig. Equally important was the influence of the many professionals, intellectuals, and artists upon British scientific, literary, and cultural life.
The effect of this immigration upon Anglo-Jewry was even more dramatic. Both branches of religious life were strengthened. Ministers and scholars trained in the German Reform movement revitalized progressive Judaism; the Frankfurt-inspired Orthodox expanded the separatist Orthodox movement in England and also produced a shift to the right in the United Synagogue. The Jewish day-school movement, the *Gateshead yeshivah (founded in 1927) and associated institutions and, after 1945, a number of other educational institutions (especially in North and North-West London) were strengthened by German and Hungarian Jews. The Central European immigrants virtually created a cultural revival in the academic sphere. They took part in every aspect of activity from rabbinic studies to Anglo-Jewish historiography, and postwar institutions like the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College, London, would have been unthinkable without them.
Continental fascism was imitated in England on a smaller scale and fostered by the economic depression of the early 1930s. Attacks on Jews and Jewish property by the "black-shirts" led by the English fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, provocative processions through the Jewish areas, and street clashes with left-wing elements followed, but were checked by the 1936 Public Order Act, which, inter alia, banned the wearing of political uniforms. The need to defend the community against these attacks induced a feeling of solidarity that was intensified by the need to raise funds for the relief of refugees and the work of settlement in Palestine. Fund raising again became a primary communal commitment that served as a unifying force as well as an engrossing organizational and social activity.
world war ii
The outbreak of war in 1939 had a centrifugal effect on Anglo-Jewry. At first schoolchildren and some mothers were evacuated from London and other large centers of population; the heavy bombing which began in the autumn of 1940 brought about a more general dispersal. Service in the armed forces took away women as well as men, and in 1940 refugees were subjected to large-scale, though temporary, internment. Religious and communal life in London continued on a smaller scale, and the dispersal of the population was followed by a regrouping in new communities in the evacuation areas. The countryside and small towns, which had hardly known a Jew, became the homes of thriving communities for the duration of the war, and some of these new communities maintained their existence even after the war. The main effect of the war on the distribution of the Jewish population, however, is seen in the East End of London and in some of the other Jewish quarters in the main provincial cities, where the bombing destroyed the physical environment. The Ashkenazi Great Synagogue in Duke's Place, London, was only one of the Jewish monuments and institutions that was lost. In the East End of London, the old Jewish residential area was never rebuilt though some of the older people remained or returned and many others continued to come in daily to work.
england and palestine
The relations of the developing Jewish community in Palestine with the British government as a mandatory power increasingly concerned the Anglo-Jewish community, which expressed opposition to the policy set down in the White Paper of 1939, limiting Jewish immigration to Palestine. Support for a Jewish state was the policy of the Zionist bodies and the *World Jewish Congress, but not of the *Anglo-Jewish Association nor of its splinter group, the anti-Zionist Jewish Fellowship, headed by Sir Basil *Henriques (which dissolved in 1948). The Anglo-Jewish Association enjoyed great prestige for its distinguished membership and 70 years of concern with foreign affairs. The wish to mobilize the support in the representative body of Anglo-Jewry for Zionist policies was combined with a desire to make its leadership reflect the changing character of the community as a whole. These aspirations were symbolized by the 1939 election of Selig *Brodetsky, a first generation Russo-Jewish immigrant, educated in Britain, as president of the Board of Deputies. They were realized in 1943 by a carefully planned campaign to secure the election to the board of a majority committed to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The newly elected board dissolved its joint Foreign Committee with the Anglo-Jewish Association. As in World War i, the problems of Palestine effected a polarization in the Anglo-Jewish community between those who put primary emphasis on Jewish national ideals and those who stressed the overriding claims of British citizenship.
Although this dichotomy was unrealistic in many respects, it sharpened communal tensions. After the creation of the State of Israel, the Anglo-Jewish Association adopted a policy of goodwill toward the new state, but stressed the responsibilities of Anglo-Jews as citizens of Britain who were identified with its national life. Communal tensions were also heightened by some antisemitism, which resulted from the conflict between the mandatory administration and the yishuv, beginning with the assassination of Lord Moyne in 1944 and culminating in the hanging of two British army sergeants in August 1947. The latter was followed by minor disorders in some provincial cities and some attacks on Jewish property. Normalcy was restored after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the British government and the new state.
The need to provide for the education of children dispersed in the 1939–45 evacuation led to the formation of a joint emergency organization. In 1945 Jewish education was substantially reorganized on this basis with a central council for the whole country and an executive board for London, representing the United Synagogue and other Orthodox institutions. Jewish education during the evacuation had been limited to an average of one hour a week, and improvement of standards after the war was slow. The new organization was responsible for the reconstitution of the Jews' Free School and two other of the prewar private schools that were closed during the war, one of which was a secondary comprehensive school in a central location with a planned complement of 1,500 pupils. As Jewish education regained importance, the schools took various forms: the Jewish secondary schools movement, begun in 1929 by Victor Schonfeld; the day schools begun in the 1950s under Zionist auspices; independent Orthodox day schools with Yiddish as a language of instruction; the long-standing provincial day schools; and Carmel College, a private school in the country, founded by Kopul Rosen.
Early Postwar Period
Chief Rabbi Hertz died in January 1946 and Israel *Brodie succeeded him in May 1948. The first chief rabbi to be both born and educated in Britain, Brodie found the religious spectrum of Anglo-Jewry not only growing stronger at either end but also tending to disintegrate in the middle. Orthodoxy, combining strict observance and exact learning with secular culture, had been strengthened by the Central European refugees of the Frankfurt school and, particularly after 1945, was also increased by refugees from Poland and Hungary, many of whom were Hasidim. The Reform and Liberal congregations, while still a minority, probably increased their membership at a greater rate than the United Synagogue, opening numerous new congregations and founding the Leo Baeck College to train their own ministers. Although their leadership was clearly strengthened by the Central European immigration of 1933–39, much of their postwar membership could only have come from the ranks of the nominally Orthodox. The Spanish and Portuguese Congregation also increased with the immigration of Jews from Egypt, Iraq, and Aden.
In 1956, Anglo-Jewry celebrated the tercentenary of the resettlement, with a more or less united service at the historic Bevis Marks Synagogue and a dinner at London's Guildhall, in the presence of the Duke of Edinburgh. But the sentiments of communal solidarity – and of self-congratulation on communal self-discipline – engendered by these celebrations were short-lived. There had already been considerable changes within the main synagogal bodies. The character of the Federation of Synagogues changed as its membership, while hardly increasing, moved from the small ḥevrot of the East End to live in the suburbs. There they often attended local synagogues but retained membership in the federation for sentiment and burial rights. The old-fashioned minister (and even his clerical collar) had disappeared in the United Synagogue in favor of younger rabbis, often pupils of Jews' College under the direction of Isidore *Epstein, who strove to remodel it as a rabbinical seminary. The bet din, under the influence above all of the great scholar Yehezkel *Abramsky, steadily kept the religious orientation of the United Synagogue to the right; at the same time, however, the old lay leadership, under the presidency of Frank Samuel and Ewen Montagu, tended toward religious flexibility. The influence of members of the older families must not be exaggerated, however. As early as the 1950s, a new generation of laymen – second-generation citizens, Zionist, and traditionally Orthodox – was maturing in the United Synagogue.
In all these changes lay the seeds of conflict, which crystallized around Louis *Jacobs, a rabbi of Orthodox practice who held certain modernist views. Minister of the fashionable New West End Synagogue (London), Jacobs was appointed tutor of Jews' College in 1959 with the consent of the chief rabbi. The latter, however, vetoed Jacobs' appointment as college principal and then in 1964 his reappointment to his former synagogue, because he held that Jacobs maintained parts of the Torah were not of divine origin and human reason should select which parts were divine. The local management of the synagogue persisted in their desire to have Jacobs as minister and permitted him to preach, although the requisite certificate or special sanction had not been issued by the chief rabbi. The central body of the United Synagogue then constitutionally deposed Jacobs' supporters, who founded a new congregation in another area with Jacobs as minister. The "Jacobs Affair" received wide publicity in the non-Jewish press, but its significance may have been exaggerated. Since the formation of the Reform Synagogue in 1840, Anglo-Jewry has not been very interested in theology or biblical criticism, as distinct from ritual or liturgy. There were personal and social factors underlying the controversy, and a shift took place in the leadership of the United Synagogue in 1962, when the presidency was first filled from outside the circle of older families by the financier and industrialist Sir Isaac *Wolfson. The incident that led to the formation of a new synagogue was over a disciplinary issue, not a theological one (preaching without the chief rabbi's certificate), and the new congregation has not yet inspired a wider movement. The issues involved in the "Jacobs Affair" and its consequences could, however, be regarded as marginal to the much more important problem of Jewish religious life, i.e., the progressive alienation of growing sections of the Anglo-Jewish community from Jewish religious affiliation of any kind.
The main countervailing factor to the trend away from Jewish identification was the influence of the State of Israel. Mobilizing support for Israel was a major communal and social activity and, to some extent, a substitute for the organized religious life of earlier times. But it actively affected only a minority of the community until the *Six-Day War (1967), when the danger to and triumph of Israel produced an emotional reaction unprecedented in intensity and affecting even many who were previously estranged from Jewish life. It was not clear, however, how lasting the effect would be or whether it might weaken Anglo-Jewry still further by adding to those numbers, previously inconsiderable, who have gone to settle in Israel. Anglo-Jewry made little impact on world scholarship in the second third of the 20th century.
[Vivian David Lipman]
The number of Jews in Britain, which was estimated to be 410,000 in 1967, is declining in absolute terms. World Jewish population figures show that during the 1960s Britain's Jewish community has slipped numerically from fourth to sixth place. This decline is being felt acutely in the provinces, in both very small communities and larger centers. Greater London, on the other hand, has maintained its level of 280,000 Jewish inhabitants (61% of the total Jewish population of the country). Close to 75% of the Jewish population of Britain is concentrated in the country's five largest cities. The most significant trend in the last two decades has been the migration of the Jewish population from the urban central areas – the old ghetto quarters – to the new suburban districts surrounding big conurbations. The exodus from the older districts has not, however, been characterized as a transplantation of old communities in new areas. A concomitant phenomenon has been the wider distribution of the Jewish population in places more distant from urban centers and settlement in a more scattered fashion among a predominantly non-Jewish population. In these areas Jews lack effective community organization and are isolated from the more developed forms of Jewish life found nearer the cities, exposing them to the potent forces of assimilation. The influence of assimilation must be regarded as one of the factors contributing to the numerical decline of the community. In purely demographic terms, the most visible symptom of this decline, and one reflecting the speed with which it is taking place, is the drop in Jewish marriages, and the intermarriage rate has been estimated to be between 12% and 25%. The drastic change can be seen when the synagogue marriage rate of 4.0 per thousand in the period 1961–65 is compared with the marriage rate in the general population, which was 7.5 in the same period. This very substantial difference may be attributed to two main causes:
(a) the rise in the number of Jews who marry by civil ceremony only, a phenomenon which might also signify a rise in the rate of intermarriage;
(b) the decline in the Jewish birthrate over the last few decades. In the second half of the 20th century a strong tendency had set in among Jews in Britain not to go through a religious ceremony in the synagogue, the causal factor for which might be the increase in the intermarriage rate.
The occupational trends in the second quarter of the 20th century (up to the 1960s) have been as follows: large numbers have abandoned the semi-skilled and manual occupations; increasing proportions have entered occupations with opportunities for self-employment, such as shopkeeping, hairdressing, and taxi driving; and there has been a continuous rise in the number of Jews entering the professions. The number of economically active persons in the community has declined, but one explanation for this turn is the greater number of Jewish students who remain in school after age 15 and proceed into the professions. The disproportionate Jewish interest in finance has drastically decreased and preoccupation with manufacturing has increased substantially. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the predominance of Jewish-owned merchant banks has declined, while Jews have become more prominent in enterprises of large-scale production, particularly of consumer goods. On the whole, information concerning industrial distribution shows that remarkable similarities exist between Jews in Britain, the United States, Canada, and continental Europe. In all cases large concentrations of Jews are found in the clothing and textile trades, distributive trades, and light industries, and to an increasing degree in professional and administrative services. There is an under-representation of Jews, however, in agriculture and heavy industries. The fact that the younger generation has largely avoided the traditional Jewish industrial setting of tailoring and furniture making in the last three decades has resulted in a decline of the Jewish labor and trade-union movements that flourished at the turn of the century. The Jewish worker in the 1950s exhibited a strong tendency to leave the ranks of the working class and become self-employed. It has been estimated that Jewish students compose 3% of the total student population of Britain, whereas Jews account for less than 1% of the population of the country. In addition, only 11.4% of the Jewish women were economically active, compared to 33.9% in the general population.
Organization life in Britain boasts a wide array of charitable, religious, educational, recreational, and political groups. These often overlap both in function and membership, which makes it difficult to estimate the proportions of Jews associated with particular types of organizations. Some figures are available, however; in London 61% of the Jews are members of synagogues, as are 75% in Liverpool; in Leeds more than 43% contribute to charitable organizations, and over 63% contribute to the *Jewish National Fund; in the Willesden district of London, 72% of the boys and 53% of the girls are members of Jewish youth groups. Youth organizations are divided into the following categories: various clubs offering social and sports activities, the best example of which is *Maccabi; Zionist organizations offering educational and recreational programs and strengthening cultural and personal ties with Israel, such as *Habonim and *Bnei Akiva; organizations providing study courses and the Jewish Youth Study Group movement; and societies for Jewish students at universities and colleges. The larger representative youth organizations are the Jewish Youth Council, on which nearly 40 organizations are represented; the Association of Jewish Youth, with some 15,000 members; and the Inter-University Jewish Federation, with some 30 affiliated societies in most universities and in many other higher educational establishments.
Some of the basic constituents of religious identification seem to have remained stable since the 1930s. Thus, in 1934 there were 310 registered synagogues in England and Wales and 400 in 1962; however, considering that there were fewer than 300,000 Jews in the country in 1934, the number of synagogues per thousand Jews had not changed. In London more than a third of the Jewish population is not affiliated with any synagogue, while in Leeds and Liverpool less than a quarter of the Jews were found to be similarly unaffiliated. All the surveys taken in this area point to the fact that the vast majority of Jews still ascribe to religious burial. Synagogue attendance compared with prewar years has been low, except for the High Holidays; however, fragmentary statistics on this point suggest that attendance runs parallel to church attendance among the general population, i.e., between 13–15% of the population attend services weekly. Some religious practices, such as bar-mitzvahs, are observed by a substantial majority, and other practices, such as circumcision, are almost universally maintained. There can be no doubt, however, that on the whole the influence of religion on Anglo-Jewry has declined. Immanuel *Jakobovits, who was elected chief rabbi in 1966, declared after taking office in 1967 that the survival of Judaism was the primary challenge, in view of "staggering losses by defections, assimilation and intermarriage." He drew particular attention to the estimate that 85% of the students and 90% of the 2,000 academics were outside organized Jewish religious life.
education and culture
The leadership of the community agrees that the key to the preservation of Jewish identification in general, and religious practice in particular, is education, although Jewish education in and of itself will not insure identification without the maintenance of a Jewish atmosphere in the home. Statistics also reveal a continuing desire on the part of Jews to associate mainly with fellow-Jews. Education has been constantly highlighted, therefore, and in the past 15 years much effort has gone into the establishment of Jewish day schools, especially after it became evident that Jewish education imparted through talmud torah classes after school hours was becoming less and less satisfactory. In 1962 it was estimated that in London and the provinces, at any one time, only about 57% of Jewish children of school age were receiving Jewish instruction. Despite the efforts to extend day-school programs to larger numbers, the achievement is less impressive than it might at first appear. In the whole of Britain in 1963 there were some 8,800 children in the 48 Jewish day schools (of which only 12 were secondary schools), a figure that represented a doubling of students compared with the situation ten years before. Progress since 1963 has been rather slow, although a certain amount of consolidation in the day-school movement has taken place. (See also *Education, Great Britain.)
Higher Jewish and Hebrew *education can be obtained in yeshivot and colleges with specialized departments in these fields. A survey published in 1962 showed that in the eight yeshivot in Britain, there were 392 full-time students (many of whom were from overseas). Jews' College had 31 students in its combined degree and minister's-diploma course during the 1959–60 session. Similarly, the numbers associated with cultural bodies such as the Jewish Historical Society or the Friends of Yiddish are relatively small. The larger Jewish public is reached, however, by the Jewish press, which has a strong influence on the measure of individual identification. The leading position is taken by the Jewish Chronicle, which has the widest circulation in the community. A number of smaller newspapers also cater to some of the provincial towns and to some sections of the community more actively connected with Israel and its specific political parties. Two leading academic journals, The Jewish Journal of Sociology (1959– ) and The Journal of Jewish Studies (1949– ), are published, and two social science units, one at the Board of Deputies and the other at the Institute of Jewish Affairs, are specifically engaged in research on Jews. There is no regular Hebrew publication in the form of a journal or a newspaper, and the almost total decline of Yiddish is reflected in the closing of the last weekly Yiddish newspaper in 1967. The trend in Britain toward an open society and the existence of equal citizenship rights has closed the social distance between the Jewish minority and British society, and in turn has been eroding Jewish identification. There can be no doubt that progressive emancipation has been leading to a greater degree of assimilation. The persistence of prejudice and some degree of discrimination against Jews has worked, however, in the opposite direction. During the 1950s and 1960s Britain was not free of such anti-Jewish prejudices. They have been promoted by tiny antisemitic groups, who in 1959 and again in 1965 engaged in desecration and arson against synagogues and have spasmodically disseminated virulent antisemitic literature. Less extreme or overt prejudice has also been evident in the business world; for example, in some insurance firms and other commercial enterprises. Quotas exist for Jewish pupils in some elite schools, and Jews have been excluded from the membership of some recreational clubs. At the same time forces more favorable to gentile-Jewish relations have been growing in the postwar period. Special efforts made by the Council of Christians and Jews, established in 1942 and functioning through its 20 branches, have succeeded in fostering better Jewish-gentile relations in the 1960s.
A conference in March 1977, organized by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Institute of Jewish Affairs, surveyed Jewish life in modern Britain and reviewed trends since a previous conference in 1962, basing itself on the social and demographic data produced by the Board's Research Unit, established in 1965. Generally, the conference found a trend towards polarization in Anglo-Jewry: a growing minority were intensifying their commitment to Jewish religion and education, but there was also an increasing general drift towards intermarriage and assimilation. No official estimates of the Jewish population had been published since the estimate of the Research Unit in 1965 of 410,000, but informed observers now put the number of those identified with the Anglo-Jewish community at considerably below 400,000. While between 1960 and 1979 the annual number of burials (and cremations) under Jewish auspices remained in the range between 4,600 and 4,900, the number of persons married under Jewish religious auspices fell from an annual average of 3,664 for 1960–65 to 2,782 for 1975–79 and 2,606 in 1979. Local community surveys carried out indicated households of sizes varying from 2.4 to 2.98 according to the age structure and character of the local Jewish community, and data on children per marriage in the 1970s reinforced the conclusion that Anglo-Jewry was not replacing itself by natural increase: nor was this deficiency being made up by net immigration.
The surveys confirmed the picture of organized Anglo-Jewry as consisting of increasingly middle class, and increasingly aging, communities; with a high proportion of home- and car-ownership, and a wide range of occupations; and with a tendency well above the national average towards self-employment. Geographically, there remained pockets of elderly and often poorer residents in the inner cities but the trends were towards dispersal from the larger conurbations into the suburbs and countryside, combined with the decline or extinction of established smaller provincial communities.
Synagogue affiliation showed 110,000 members of synagogues in 1977, a decline of 6% since 1970; the Central Orthodox (e.g., United Synagogue and Federation of Synagogues) appeared to be losing ground to the Progressives (Reform and Liberal) with over 20% of the membership and to the small but growing right-wing Orthodox (3.5%). This apparent trend towards religious polarization was also found in the marriage figures for 1979, with the Progressives responsible for 22.5% (compared with 18.6% in 1960–65) and the right-wing Orthodox for 8.4% of the total number of synagogue marriages. The overall decline in synagogue affiliation continued into the 21st century, dropping to a membership of 88,000 in 362 congregations in 2001. The United Synagogue and Federation of Synagogues accounted for half the congregations, with the United Synagogue accounting for 57 percent of overall membership, the Progressives next with 25,000 members (28 percent), and the Ḥaredim with 7,500 (8.5 percent).
The Jewish population continued to decline in the 1980s, from 336,000 (plus or minus 10%) in 1983 to around 300,000 in 1990, a level which it maintained into the 21st century, making it the fifth largest Jewish community in the world. The percentage of Jews who were members of synagogues in the central Orthodox stream fell from 70.5% in 1983 to 64% in 1990. The percentage of those affiliated to the right-wing Orthodox community increased from 4.4% in 1983 to 10% in 1984, falling to 6.9% in 1990. Only the Progressive movements showed signs of consistent growth. In 1983, 22.4% of Jews affiliated to synagogues belonged to Reform and Liberal congregations. According to 1990 figures, the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain accounted for 17%, the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues claimed 7%, with the Masorti movement taking a small, but growing share. The Sephardi community held steady at just under 3% of the total.
The geographical and social distribution of British Jews barely altered. Two-thirds continued to inhabit the capital. The only growth areas were the "sun-belt" towns on the South Coast such as Brighton, the largest with 10,000. Manchester Jewry maintained its numbers at around 30,000, but Leeds had seen a fall from around 14,000 to about 11,000. A similar drop was estimated for Glasgow. Within each metropolitan center, Jews remain concentrated in a small number of prosperous, suburban, middle-class districts: Bury in Manchester, Moor-town in Leeds, northwest London and Redbridge, an eastern suburb of the capital. The first centers of settlement are now almost bereft of Jewish residents or institutions.
In the mid-1990s the Board of Deputies Community Research Unit estimated the total number of Israelis in the UK to be at least 27,000. Their distribution reflected that of the Jewish population. Over two-thirds live in Greater London, with the majority concentrated in the northwestern boroughs. The highest concentration of Israelis outside London, 7% of the total, is in the northwest of England. The Israelis had a different age profile than British Jews. Over 25% were aged under 16 and only 2% were over 65 years, as compared to 17% and 25% respectively for British Jews. There have been no significant changes in the geographical or occupational distribution of British Jews.
The General Election of 1979 returned to the new House of Commons 21 Labour and 11 Conservative Jewish members. The new Conservative Government included one Jewish cabinet minister, Sir Keith Joseph, responsible for industry and regarded as a strong influence on the economic thinking of Prime Minister Thatcher, and senior ministers outside the cabinet including Nigel Lawson (Financial Secretary, Treasury), Leon Brittan (Home Office), Mrs. Sally Oppenheim (Consumer Affairs), as well as junior ministers such as Malcolm Rifkind (Scotland) and Geoffrey Finsberg and Lord Bellwin (Environment). In spite of the prime minister's personal commitment to Israel and the strong Jewish vote in her constituency (Finchley), concern was expressed at the pro-Arab record of influential Foreign Office ministers and some evidence of Britain modifying her attitude towards Israel in line with developing eec policies on the Middle East.
In 1980, earlier discussion of the question whether there was a specifically Jewish pattern of voting crystallized in a debate between the political scientist, Dr. Geoffrey Alderman, who maintained that Jews voted according to their communal interests and could exercise a key influence in important marginal constituencies, and Dr. Barry Kosmin, director of the Board of Deputies' Research Unit, who showed that the trend of Jewish voters to support the Conservative Party merely reflected their increasingly middle class status; and even if Jews did vote to support a particular policy, they could not affect the outcome in more than a very few constituencies.
A disturbing change during the later 1970s was that of the extreme right-wing National Front from latent to overt antisemitism; and their obtaining 75,000 votes, with some high percentages locally, in the 1976 district council elections. In the 1979 general election, however, when the turnout was much higher, their 301 candidates polled a total of only 191,000 votes with the highest vote for any of their candidates just over 2000; nor did any National Front candidate win even one local council seat. However, in late 1980 Anglo-Jewry shared the unease caused in European Jewry generally by the violence of right-wing movements, notably the Paris synagogue bombing; and the recurrence of anti-Jewish incidents, albeit scattered and unpublicized, combined with deepening economic recession, gave cause for concern.
The principal manifestation of anti-Jewish activity was however associated with the Arab and overwhelmingly left-wing propaganda against Israel, particularly on university campuses. With some 12,000 Arab students in British universities and higher technical institutions, outnumbering Jewish students, especially in engineering and other vocational faculties, anti-Israel propaganda in student organizations had been rife for some years, and it developed into overt anti-Jewish discrimination in 1977. The (British) National Union of Students had voted in 1974 to "refuse any assistance (financial or otherwise) to openly racist and fascist organizations … and to prevent, by whatever means are necessary," any members of these organizations from speaking in colleges. The resolution of the un Assembly in November 1975, equating Zionism with racism, thus gave a welcome opportunity to the Socialist Workers Party and the General Union of Palestinian Students. Student unions at some eight universities and five polytechnics voted to withdraw recognition from local university Jewish societies. Decisions at such meetings are usually taken by a small minority of the total number of students in the institution, and several were subsequently reversed. In 1980, however, the exclusion of Israeli scholars from an Arab-sponsored colloquium at Exeter University was widely criticized as an infringement of academic (and tax-payer supported) freedom of discussion.
Support for Israel continued to be possibly the most socially unifying factor in Anglo-Jewry with the organizational framework complementing, even to some extent replacing, more traditional patterns of organization. The advent of the Begin Likud government in 1977 evoked at first a detached, even critical, attitude, from personalities accustomed to dealing with the previous governments in Israel. The peace initiative of Prime Minister Begin and the Camp David agreement which followed, however, produced a much more sympathetic attitude within Anglo-Jewry. The Likud government's settlement policy in the administered territories, however, evoked controversy within Anglo-Jewry, in which Chief Rabbi Jakobovits became involved, when he argued that the retention of occupied territory in the Holy Land had to be considered in the light of the possibility of advancing the cause of peace and the saving of life. While there was not unqualified support for his views within Anglo-Jewry, there was condemnation of attempts to impugn the integrity of his commitment to the cause of Israel. Organizationally, the union of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain with the Mizrachi as the United Zionists was announced but not consummated as of 1981.
The 1980s saw a shift of political allegiances among British Jews from the left to the right. Affluence and self-interest have underpinned the trend, but it was abetted by the perceived anti-Zionism of the Labour Party and the appeal of Mrs. Thatcher, prime minister for most of the period, who was seen as "strong" on Jewish issues. Yet the same period saw manifestations of a stubborn prejudice against Jews within Conservative political circles.
In the June 1983 General Election, 28 Jewish mps were elected of whom 17 were Conservative and 11 Labour. Three Jews were appointed to serve in the new cabinet, rising to four in 1984 and briefly five in 1986. The General Election of June 1987 saw 63 Jewish candidates. Of these, 16 Conservative and 7 Labour candidates were elected. This marked the second highest ever number of Jewish Tory mps and a big fall in the number of Jewish Labourites. In the June 1992 General Election out of 43 Jewish Parliamentary candidates, 11 Tory, 8 Labour, and 1 Liberal Democrat were successful. The unsuccessful candidates included 4 Jewish Greens, a new phenomenon. Three Jewish Conservative mps retired and two others were defeated. Among the appointments to the new cabinet made by the prime minister, John Major, were two Jews: Michael Howard, secretary of state for the environment (home secretary in 1993) and Malcolm Rifkind, secretary of state for defense.
Unlike the rest of Europe, the far-right has been conspicuously unsuccessful in British electoral politics at either a local or national level. In April 1992, the British National Party obtained a mere 7,000 votes for the 13 candidates it fielded. The National Front did even worse, winning under 5,000 votes in 13 constituencies. A visit to Britain by M. Le Pen in December 1991 was met by Jewish protests and anti-fascist demonstrations.
The government's stand on immigration and asylum issues throughout the decade has aroused disquiet among sections of the Jewish population. In February 1992, a delegation from the Jewish Council for Community Relations saw the then home secretary, Kenneth Baker, to protest against the Asylum Bill. The Board of Deputies also expressed its concern. The Jewish historical experience was alluded to several times by Jewish speakers in the debates accompanying the Asylum Bill's passage through Parliament during 1991–93.
Another long-running Parliamentary issue of Jewish concern was the punishment of alleged Nazi war criminals and collaborators domiciled in the United Kingdom. An All Party Parliamentary War Crimes Group was formed in November 1986 to press first for a government investigation and, subsequently, for action against suspected war criminals. Intense lobbying and media revelations caused the government to announce an inquiry in February 1988. Its report in July 1989 called for legislation to enable the trial in Britain of men suspected of committing war crimes in Nazi-occupied Europe at a time when they were not of British nationality. Legislation was introduced into Parliament in November 1989, but opposition by a minority of mps and a majority of Peers delayed its passage into law until May 1991. The debates about the bill exposed the persistence of many negative stereotypes about the Jews. By April 1992, around £10 million had been spent on the investigations being conducted by the Metropolitan War Crimes Unit and its Scottish counterpart. Over 90 cases were being looked into, but there was still no indication of any case coming to trial.
In July 1992, Antony Gecas, a former member of the 11th Lithuanian Police Battalion who had lived in Scotland since 1946, lost his libel case against Scottish tv for a program which had accused him of being a war criminal. The hearing lasted four months and cost £650,000. In his ruling, the presiding judge, Lord Milligan, concluded that Gecas had "participated in many operations involving the killing of innocent Soviet citizens including Jews in particular." Despite this, Gecas has not been charged with war crimes under the 1991 Act.
Anti-Jewish prejudice surfaced in politics and society. Leon Brittan, the trade and industry secretary who resigned from the cabinet over the "Westland Affair" in 1986, Lord Young, secretary of state for trade and industry who Mrs. Thatcher wanted to take over the chairmanship of the Conservative Party, and Edwina Currie (née Cohen), a junior health minister who resigned in December 1988 over her pronouncements on salmonella in eggs, were all thought to have been victims of a "whispering campaign" among Tory backbenchers.
A series of criminal cases involving Jews attracted much attention and discussion during the late 1980s. The Jewishness of those involved was mentioned sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely, and efforts were made to find a link between this and the malfeasance in question. Such commentary could be open and well-intentioned, but at other times it was insidious and malevolent.
In August 1990, the first trial in the Guinness fraud case, which had lasted 113 days, resulted in the conviction of Gerald Ronson, Sir Jack Lyons, Anthony Parnes, and Ernest Saunders. Parnes, Ronson, and Lyons were Jews, the last two being notable donors to Jewish causes. Saunders was Viennese-born of Jewish parents, but raised as a Christian. In the two subsequent trials connected with the Guinness affair, none of the defendants was Jewish and none was convicted. This fostered the sense that the defendants in the first case had been at best "fall-guys" or, at worst, victimized.
The sensational death of Robert Maxwell in November 1991 was followed rapidly by the collapse of his business empire and the revelation that he had stolen hundreds of millions of pounds from his employees' pension fund in order to prop up the share value of his companies. His sons were subsequently arrested for abetting this fraud and await trial. Although Maxwell's ostentatious burial on the Mount of Olives could not help but draw attention to his Jewish roots, media commentary was relatively restrained. However, it was widely considered that Maxwell and the Jewish entrepreneurs in the Guinness case were outsiders in the City. This denied them protection by the "old boys" network when their schemes, in no way unique, ran foul of the law.
British Jews were, on the whole, spared violent forms of antisemitism. The exception was 1990 when, over a 12-month period there were 29 cases of vandalism against Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and Holocaust memorials in the London area alone and seven reported cases of physical assault on Jewish persons. This violence is miniscule compared to the assault on non-white minorities, but the attacks provoked media comment and provoked reassuring statements from the prime minister in May 1990.
The most prevalent form of anti-Jewish action in Britain has been the distribution of antisemitic literature. In November 1990, Greville Janner, mp, sponsored an early day motion in the House of Commons which attracted the names of 100 mps in support of suppressing the circulation of Holocaust Denial material. In March 1991, Dowager Lady Birdwood was charged under the Public Order Act (1986) for distributing the ritual murder accusation against the Jews. She was subsequently found guilty and given a two-year unconditional discharge. In December 1992, glossily produced pseudo-Ḥanukkah cards containing doggerel that embraced antisemitic libels were sent to hundreds of Jewish organizations and prominent individuals. Police investigations failed to identify the source of this "hate mail" and the Government has consistently rebuffed pleas by the Board of Deputies, most recently in October 1992, for a community libel law.
The announcement that a gathering of Holocaust Denial practitioners would be held in London in November 1991 led to demands that the home secretary ban the entry of Robert Faurrison and Fred Leuchter. Leuchter actually entered the country illegally and was deported after showing up at a "conference" that was heavily-picketed by anti-fascist groups. David *Irving, sometime British historian and now a propagandist well known for addressing neo-Nazi rallies in Germany, had become a linchpin in this shadowy global network.
Jews and the Holocaust figured in several historical controversies. In 1987 Jim Allen's anti-Zionist play Perdition deployed the canard that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. Production was canceled after expressions of outrage from the Jewish community and intense media scrutiny, but this only inflamed the debate. The War Crimes Bill occasioned many reflections on the Holocaust, often yoked disturbingly to Jewish terrorism in Palestine in 1946–47. In January 1992, when Irving claimed to have discovered new Eichmann papers the press treated him as a right-wing historian whose views merited serious reportage. In July 1992, the Sunday Times caused a storm of controversy by employing him to transcribe and comment on newly revealed portions of Goebbels' diary.
Alan Clark, junior defense minister, was widely condemned in December 1991 for attending a party to launch the revised version of Irving's book Hitler's War in which Irving states that Hitler was innocent of the Final Solution and denies the existence of gas chambers for killing Jews. Clark later endorsed a political biography of Churchill by John Charmley, which appeared in January 1993, that suggested Britain should have made peace with Hitler in 1940 or 1941. Clark and Charmley agreed that there was little to choose between Stalinism and Nazism, and that the plight of the Jews under Nazism was a marginal issue. The exposure in the Guardian newspaper in May and December 1992 of war crimes in the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, and the concurrence of the local authorities in the deportation of Jews, shed a different light on the matter. The Irving affair reached a head when Irving filed a libel suit in 1996 against Deborah Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin Books, claiming that Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust had accused him of being a Nazi apologist, Holocaust denier, racist, and antisemite. Lipstadt contended that this was precisely what he was, and the Court agreed in its 2001 verdict denying his suit.
Controversy also surrounded efforts to set up an eruv in the London borough of Barnet. The project was launched by the United Synagogue "Eruv Committee" in 1987. In June 1992 it was passed by the Public Works Committee of Barnet Council. It was then considered by the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, which manages this architecturally unique suburban area. At a stormy meeting in September 1992, the Trust's chairman, Lord MacGregor, was censured for approving a letter to Barnet Council advising it to reject the plan and calling the eruv "a very unpleasant exhibition of fundamentalism." He subsequently resigned. This fracas made the eruv into a heated issue locally and in the national newspapers. On February 24, 1993, the council's planning committee defeated the eruv proposal by 11 to 7 votes. Jewish councilors were split and it generated fierce opposition from both Orthodox and "assimilationist" Jews. It was also attacked by non-Jews unable to accept the public expression of Jewish difference.
In June 1992 the prime minister, John Major, appointed two Jews to his new government: Michael Howard became secretary of state for the environment and Malcolm Rifkind was appointed secretary of state for defense. After a cabinet reshuffle in March 1993, Howard was made home secretary. In November 2003, however, Howard was elected leader of the British Conservative Party, the first Jewish leader of a government or opposition party in Britain in the 20th century. Howard stepped down after the 2005 elections. Another reshuffle in September 1995 led to Rifkind's appointment as foreign secretary. He was the first Jew to hold this office since the brief tenure of Rufus Isaacs, the Marquess of Reading, in 1931.
After the death of John Smith mp, in April 1994 the Labour Party chose Tony Blair mp, as its new leader. He actively sought to heal the breach between British Jews and the Labour Party so marked in the 1980s. Blair promoted a number of Jewish mps and political activists. Blair's closest advisers include Peter Mandelson mp, and David Miliband. In October 1995, Barbara Roche mp, a former headgirl of the Jews' Free School, was elevated to the ranks of the Labour shadow government. The veteran Jewish Labour mp, Greville Janner, former president of the Board of Deputies and chairman of the House of Commons Employment Select Committee, announced that he would not stand again for Parliament at the next general election.
The far-Right enjoyed a modest revival in September 1993, when Derek Beackon, an unemployed 47-year-old former steward for the neo-Nazi British National Party (bnp), won a local council by-election in the Milwall ward of the Isle of Dogs in London's docklands. However, the election of the first bnp councilor proved to be a local quirk. Beackon took 34% of the vote, winning by seven votes, in a contest with a disorganized Labour Party opposition. The vote was more of a protest gesture than an endorsement of neo-Nazi ideology. The bnp "triumph" was universally deplored by mainstream politicians and triggered the revival of a national anti-racism campaign. In the May 1994 local council elections, Beackon increased his vote by 500. But he polled only 30% of the total vote on a much higher turnout that resulted in a Labour victory. The bnp won over 25% in two other east London constituencies, but failed to elect a single councilor.
The Board of Deputies reported that antisemitic incidents numbered 346 in 1993 (as against 292 in 1992) and 327 in 1994. In 2000 the number was 405 and in 2002, 350. Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in Newport in May 1993; Southampton in August 1993; East Ham, London, in December 1993, January 1994 and June 1995; Bournemouth in July 1995. A Manchester synagogue was daubed with swastikas in August 1993 and the following month a Jewish nursery school in Stamford Hill, London, was destroyed in an arson attack. There were mailings of antisemitic literature in September and December 1993. In April 1994, 80-year-old Lady Birdwood was found guilty of distributing material liable to incite racial hatred. Upsurges in antisemitic incidents were generally related to events reflecting the conflict in the Middle East, like 9/11 or the 2002 Israeli military action against Jenin. In this context, in a particularly outrageous act, Britain's 48,000-member Association of University Teachers decided in April 2005 to boycott Israel's Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities. In the face of international pressure it rescinded its decision a month later.
Jewish leaders made numerous representations to the government for stronger legislation against racism. In December 1993, the Board of Deputies gave evidence of escalating anti-Jewish activity to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. The Board assisted the drafting of a private members bill, introduced into the House of Commons by the Conservative mp Hartley Booth, to impose tougher penalties on criminals convicted of racial crimes and outlaw group defamation. In January 1994 the Runnymede Trust published a report, "A Very Light Sleeper: The Persistence and Dangers of Anti-Semitism," charting the increase of anti-Jewish attacks and urging that religious discrimination be outlawed. The Home Affairs Select Committee report in April 1994 recommended making "racial harassment" an offense and tightening the penalties for racial crimes.
Michael Howard promised to clamp down on racial violence, but rebuffed calls for tougher legislative action made by a Board delegation in February 1994. The government refused to support Booth's widely backed bill, and in June 1994 rejected the recommendations of the Home Affairs Select Committee. However, in October 1995, the minister of state at the Home Office gave instructions to the police and the courts to be as harsh as possible within the existing legal framework when dealing with racial crimes. Meanwhile, Howard flagged new measures to reduce illegal immigration and curb the number of "bogus" asylum seekers. His proposals were regretted by Jewish representatives.
Following the Washington Peace Accords in September 1993, anxiety about communal security focused on militant Islamic groups allowed to operate in the uk. In February 1994 the Board complained to the Home Office about Hizb ut-Tahrir, an association of mainly overseas Muslim students attending British universities. After the March 1994 Hebron massacre, which was condemned by the chief rabbi and president of the Board of Deputies, there were attacks on Jewish targets in London, Birmingham, and Oxford. After the bombing of the Israeli Embassy and jia offices, in London on July 26–27, 1994 (see below), Jewish organizations reiterated their concern about radical Islamic groups. The Board unsuccessfully called on the Home Office to ban a rally organized by Hizb ut-Tahrir at Wembley Conference Centre in August 1994. After much prevarication, in November 1994, the governing body of the London School of Oriental and Asian Studies (soas) banned Hizb ut-Tahrir from holding meetings on soas premises. Hizb ut-Tahrir held a mass meeting in Trafalgar Square in August 1995 at which speakers called for the destruction of Israel and denied that the Holocaust had taken place. British Jews have also been concerned by the growing influence of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam among British blacks. In 2002 Sheik Abdullah al-Faisal was arrested for incitement to murder Jews.
War crimes cases continued to cause controversy. In February 1994 the Scottish police war crimes unit was wound up and the Crown Office later announced that there was insufficient evidence to charge Antony Gecas, the sole subject of investigations, under the 1991 War Crimes Act. In December 1994, Lord Campbell of Alloway introduced into the House of Lords a bill to stop war crimes trials in England, basing his case on the need to harmonize English with Scottish practice. It was opposed by the government. In July 1995, Simeon Serafimovicz, an 84-year-old former carpenter, was charged with the murder of four Jews in Belorussia in 1941–42. He is the first person in England ever to be charged with war crimes under the Act. However, British efforts to prosecute war criminals, from the passage of the Act through the early years of the 21st century, have been, on the whole, tepid.
The bid by the United Synagogue Eruv Committee, launched in 1987, to establish an eruv with a circumference of 6.5 miles in Golders Green, Hendon, and Hempstead Garden Suburb finally met with success. In February 1992, Barnet Council planning committee had rejected the proposal. An appeal was lodged with the Department of the Environment and a revised plan was put to the planning committee in October 1993. It was again rejected, but the Department of the Environment ordered a public inquiry which took evidence in December 1993. Much of the rhetoric at the inquiry by opponents of the eruv was lurid and inflammatory. In September 1994 the government inspector conducting the inquiry issued his report. It refuted the arguments of eruv protesters and the following month, during Sukkot, John Gummer, Secretary of State for the Environment, gave his sanction for its erection.
the anglo-jewish heritage
The introduction of government aid for historic places of worship in use assisted the restoration of the third oldest surviving synagogue, Exeter, established in 1763/4 and re-opened in October 1980, its use as a synagogue being combined with the provision of a center for Jewish students at Exeter University. This highlighted the problem of architecturally and historically important Jewish buildings no longer viable because of the movement of Jewish population from provincial towns or city centers, which was exemplified by the appeal to convert the former Sephardi synagogue in Manchester established in 1874 to a Jewish museum.
A unique commemoration took place on October 31, 1978 when on the initiative of the Jewish Historical Society of England, and in the presence of the chief rabbi and the archbishop of York, the massacre of the Jews of *York in 1190 was commemorated by the unveiling of a plaque at Clifford's Tower, the site of the massacre. The inscription in English reads: "On the night of Friday, 16 March 1190, some 150 Jews and Jewesses of York, having sought protection in the royal castle on this site from a mob incited by Richard Malebisse and others, chose to die at each other's hands rather than renounce their faith," and concludes with the verses in Hebrew: "They ascribe glory to the Lord and his praise in the isles" (Isaiah 42:12); the word ha-iy, "the island," being the name used for England in medieval Hebrew.
In mid-1979, Lord Fisher of Camden retired as president of the Board of Deputies. His six years of office saw the affiliation of the Board to the World Jewish Congress, changes in the organization and representational basis of the board, and the growth of a sense of communal purpose in support for Israel and Soviet Jewry, and in opposition to threats against civil liberties from extremes of the left and right. He was succeeded by Greville Janner, qc, mp, son of a former president (Lord Janner) and, at 50, the Board's youngest president. On taking office, he declared that his policy would be to emphasize working with youth and with provincial communities.
The 1980s also saw the first visit of a prime minister, Mr. James Callaghan, to the Board as well as that of the foreign secretary, Lord Carrington, at his own request, to explain British policy in relation to Israel.
The community was increasingly concerned with the problems of meeting the welfare needs of its increasingly aging membership. The London Jewish Welfare Board devoted the greater proportion of its expenditure to homes and flat-lets, day centers and home visits to the aged. Coordination of social work was advanced by cooperation between organizations and professional workers, and shared use of accommodation in buildings like the Golders Green Sobell House or the Redbridge Jewish Centre.
The Board of Deputies acquired a new chief executive in February 1991 when Neville Nagler, a senior civil servant, succeeded Hayyim Pinner, holder of the position for 14 years. In June 1991, Judge Israel Finestein, qc, won the election for the presidency of the Board of Deputies and succeeded the outgoing Dr. Lionel Kopelowitz who had held office since 1985. Rosalind Preston was elected the first woman vice president of the Board. Finestein announced that he intended to increase democracy in Anglo-Jewry and secure greater participation in communal governance by the young, women, regional communities, and academics.
Chief Rabbi Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits was elevated to the House of Lords in January 1988 and in March 1991 was awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize for progress in religion. In May 1991 he was criticized by figures in the Joint Israel Appeal because of an interview in the Evening Standard newspaper in which he expressed reservations concerning Israeli conduct in the Administered Territories. He was succeeded in September 1991 by Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks. As principal of Jews' College, in 1989 Sacks organized two important conferences on "traditional alternatives" in Judaism, one on general and another on specifically women's issues.
In February 1992, the new chief rabbi unveiled his review of women's role in Jewish life and named Rosalind Preston as its head. This followed a bitter struggle over women's services in Stanmore Synagogue. Although in April 1991 he resigned from a Jewish education "think tank" because it included a Reform rabbi, in April 1992 Chief Rabbi Dr. Sacks led a delegation that embraced Reform and Liberal rabbis (including a woman) to a major interfaith conference.
In September 1992 a report on the United Synagogue, conducted under the guidance of Stanley Kalms, found "mistakes, miscalculations, poor management, and financial errors" and revealed a debt of £9 million. The report also noted that a majority of members felt alienated by the rightward trend of the rabbinate and recommended an "inclusivist" position. It precipitated the resignation of Sidney Frosh, the president. In December 1992, the United Synagogue announced £0.8 million of cuts and a freeze on rabbis' salaries. It wound up its three-year old sheḥitah operation, established as a result of the bitter "sheḥitah wars" in the 1980s, with a loss of £0.7 million.
The search for economies underlay the amalgamation of the Jewish Blind Society and the Jewish Welfare Board to form Jewish Care in December 1988. In the recession of the early 1980s and again in the slump of 1990–92, Jewish welfare organizations had to cater for Jewish unemployed persons, too, despite a shrinking income base. The second recession saw many of the fortunes built up by Jewish entrepreneurs in the 1980s crumble. Grodzinski, the kasher baker, went into receivership in February 1991 after trading for 102 years. The famous kasher caterer Schaverin suffered a similar fate in November 1991. In June 1992, the Glasgow Jewish Echo closed down after 64 years of publication.
Nor was Anglo-Jewry immune to the social problems afflicting the rest of society. In July 1991 David Rubin, son of an eminent rabbi, absconded after allegedly defrauding fellow-Jews of millions of pounds. A few weeks later, a child-abuse case in the Orthodox community of Stamford Hill led to violent demonstrations by members of the community against the family that had taken the matter to the police.
Jewish communal institutions have been dogged by poor finances, while attempts at reorganization have had uneven success. In March 1993 the highly effective and inexpensive Association of Jewish 6th Formers (aj6), which prepares Jewish teenagers for university, faced closure due to lack of funds. aj6 received a last-minute reprieve, but the affair showed the need for a strategic funding policy. In April 1993, Lord Young, former Tory cabinet minister and businessman, initiated the Central Council of Jewish Social Services (ccjss) which he envisaged as a directorate for British Jewry. In July 1993 he was elected chairman of the ccjss, now embracing over 40 Jewish organizations.
Lord Young dismissed the Board of Deputies as inefficient and incapable of providing either policies or leadership. His view appeared to be confirmed when plans for its reform were stymied. In December 1993, the Board failed to give a two-thirds majority to measures to decrease the size of the executive, the number of Deputies, and the frequency of plenary meetings. The election of Eldred Tabachnik, qc, as president in June 1994 revived hopes of reform.
The United Synagogue (us), which announced that it had lost £1 million on a disastrous sheḥitah operation in June 1993, pulled itself back into the black by means of draconian economies. A series of institutional reforms failed to placate women who demanded a greater say in its affairs (see below). The Rix Report on Jewish youth in September 1994 called for greater investment in youth work which was met with alacrity by the cjcs and other funding bodies. After a series of poor appeal results, the jia was relaunched in October 1995.
The most important communal initiative was the inauguration of Jewish Continuity in April 1993. Jewish Continuity was intended to raise money to fund new and existing educational projects, invest in people to "champion" Judaism, and provide advice and guidance across the whole Jewish community. However, Continuity immediately aroused the suspicions of Progressive Jews because of the absence of any but Orthodox Jews from its directorate and staff. In May 1994 an allocations board was set up that included members of the Reform and Liberal movements. Continuity hoped to avoid Orthodox criticism of this move by making the allocations board semi-detached, dispensing moneys given it for the purpose by Continuity. In July 1994, Continuity reached an agreement with the jia that £12 million of the money raised by the jia in Britain would go to educational projects identified by Continuity. In September 1994 it announced its first grants, totaling £435,000. The largest number and amount of grants went to Orthodox causes.
During 1995, critics continued to charge Jewish Continuity with bias and a lack of strategy. In October 1995 it announced a major review of its operations, to determine what its role should be and end the confusion between its functions as grant giver and service provider. The review would also deal with the antagonism which had built up between it and the jia and Progressive Jews in Britain.
The fortunes of Jewish Continuity were inextricably linked with those of its progenitor, Rabbi Dr. Sacks. He appeared increasingly beleaguered by an intractable rabbinate, an assertive Jewish women's movement and confident Masorti, Reform, and Progressive movements. In February 1993 a Jewish women's prayer group held the first women's Sabbath service in a manner authorized by Rabbi Dr. Sacks: in a private house and without use of a Sefer Torah or prayers requiring a male quorum. But there was pressure for more radical, and according to many authorities permissible, steps such as use of a Sefer Torah and praying in a synagogue. In March 1994, a women's prayer group defied Rabbi Dr. Sacks and held a service using a Sefer Torah on a Sunday at Yakar, an independent Orthodox study center in London.
In July 1993, Rabbi Dr. Sacks issued guidelines to the us on how to accommodate women's demands for greater involvement. He ruled that women could become members of the us council and sit on synagogue boards of management, but only by co-option not election. This did not satisfy the women of the US. In October 1993, Rabbi Dr. Sacks announced his solution to the problem of agunot. He recommended mandatory prenuptial contracts entitling the wife to support from her husband until divorced by a get, and mutual cooperation to achieve that end. Enforcement of this recommendation was stymied by members of his Beth Din.
The inquiry into women in the community, initiated by Rabbi Dr. Sacks and headed by Rosalind Preston, announced its findings in June 1994. It revealed that women wanted more spiritual involvement, more rituals in recognition of female life-cycle events, the right to say kaddish, greater recognition of the needs of single women and single mothers, urgent reform of the get system, and greater sensitivity by Batei Din to women's issues including domestic violence. Yet Sacks found it difficult to deliver anything meaningful and his hands were still tied even on prenuptial agreements. Acting out of frustration, on October 28, 1995, "chained" Jewish women demonstrated outside the office of the United Synagogue Chief Rabbinate. The debate about Jewish women's rights under halakhah has consistently attracted national press and television coverage.
In January 1995 Sacks launched an attack on the Masorti movement in England. The pretext was an article in the Masorti magazine insinuating that he had recognized marriages conducted by Masorti rabbis. He responded with an article in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Tribune in which he declared that the Masorti were guilty of "intellectual dishonesty"; using the term "ganavim" (thieves) to describe them. He stated that a follower of Masorti had "severed his links with the faith of his ancestors." Masorti, Reform, and Liberal rabbis, as well as lay leaders upbraided Sacks for the violence of his outburst. It put the future of Jewish Continuity into doubt since non-Orthodox Jews could not see how a body under Sacks' influence could fund their work or merit their support and Rabbi Dr. Sacks struggled to contain the damage.
The cultural agenda has been dominated by the anniversaries connected with World War ii and the Holocaust. The 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the liberation of Auschwitz, the liberation of Belsen, and the end of the war were all marked by commemorative events, academic conferences, and a spate of publications. Media coverage of these events was intense and raised public awareness of the Holocaust. In November 1994, the Imperial War Museum announced that it was considering the construction of a permanent exhibit on genocide in the 20th century, focused on the Holocaust. Plans for a Holocaust Museum were unveiled in Manchester, too. Beit Shalom, the first Holocaust Museum in Britain, a private initiative originated, funded, and developed by a non-Jewish family in rural Nottinghamshire, opened in September 1995.
The Board of Deputies considered legal action against the Jewish authors, producers, and director of a tv fictional film, "Wall of Silence," about murders in the hasidic community of North London. First screened at the 9th Jewish Film Festival and then transmitted on bbc on October 17, 1993, the film was widely criticized for presenting negative stereotypes of Orthodox Judaism.
A Center for Jewish Studies was inaugurated at soas in December 1993, for German-Jewish Studies at Sussex University, and Sephardi Studies in London, under the auspices of the Sephardi community, in 1994. In November 1994, Dr. Dovid Katz started the Oxford Institute for Yiddish Studies, incurring the wrath of the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, from which he subsequently resigned. New positions in Jewish studies were created at professorial level at Manchester University and at lecturer level at Bristol University. The Institute for Jewish Affairs transferred to a new home in April 1993 and broke away from the World Jewish Congress, forming instead close ties with the American Jewish Committee. Jewish Book Week moved to a new venue and attracted bigger literary figures and audiences than ever before. A specially designed building to house the London Jewish Museum was opened in Camden in 1995. In 1994 the Jewish Quarterly was invigorated by a new editor, Elena Lappin.
education and culture
While estimates of the Jewish child population (and of those receiving part-time Jewish education) fell with the decline of the general child population in Britain, the number enrolled in Jewish day schools reached some 13,000 at the end of the 1970s, representing over 20% of the estimated Jewish child population. New Jewish day schools continued to be founded and there were positive developments in Jewish adult education in various aspects involving synagogues of different religious affiliation, the Lubavitch movement, and courses for younger Jewish leaders. Enrollment continued to rise through the 1980s and 1990s reaching 30% in 1992 and 51% in 1999. The United Synagogue Agency for Jewish Education operated 14 primary and nursery schools and five secondary schools in the early 2000s and had trained over 150 teachers since 1997. The Leo Baeck College Center for Jewish Education offered an M.A. program in Jewish education from 2002.
In 1984, Jews' College moved to new accommodations and the Manor House Sternberg Center for Reform Judaism was set up. Jewish museums were founded in London and Manchester. In 1990–92 there were several conferences and publications on the preservation of the documents, artifacts, and buildings that constitute the Jewish heritage in Britain. Sadly, Bevis Marks synagogue suffered collateral damage from an ira bomb attack in London in August 1992. In 1991, Immanuel College was opened and the Jewish Chronicle Chair in Modern Jewish History was established at University College London to mark the paper's 150th anniversary and a chair in Modern Jewish Studies was dedicated at the University of Manchester. During 1992–93, lectureships in Modern Jewish History were established at Warwick and Leicester universities. In 1992, Dr. David Paterson was succeeded by Professor Phillip Alexander as head of the Oxford Center for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, having secured its future. Jewish schools topped the national league for the award of "A" Levels in August 1992. Less happy publicity was created by the decision of state-aided Jewish schools in Liverpool and Manchester in September 1991 not to admit Jewish children from a Reform Jewish background.
Jewish culture found diverse expression in the courses of the Spiro Institute throughout the decade. There were festivals of Yiddish culture on the South Bank, an annual Jewish Film Festival, and Jewish music festival. In December 1991, Leon the Pig Farmer, an independent film funded largely by Jews and on a Jewish subject, won awards at the Edinburgh and Venice Film Festivals. In 1988, the conference "Remembering for the Future" inquired into the Holocaust. The anniversary of the massacre at Clifford's Tower in York in 1090 occasioned several solemn events. The 50th anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee Conference was the subject of an international conference in London organized principally by the Wiener Library. During 1992 there were many celebrations of the Sephardi experience to mark the anniversary of the expulsion from Spain.
[Vivian David Lipman and
Britain's relations with Israel should be viewed in the perspective of half a century, beginning with the closing phases of World War i. In November 1917, with the war against Germany and her allies still at its height, the British government issued a statement of policy, the *Balfour Declaration, favoring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. The near euphoria and sense of gratitude to Britain that this announcement aroused among Jews everywhere was to give way a generation later to an atmosphere of bitterness and mutual recrimination, in which the British Mandate over Palestine finally came to an end (1948). But in the intervening years, despite all the frictions and difficulties, the foundations of Jewish statehood had in fact been laid. The period immediately following Israel's Declaration of Independence in May 1948 was a somber one in the relations between the new state and the former mandatory power. Unlike the United States and the Soviet Union, Britain refused to recognize the newly established state for many months. At the United Nations General Assembly in Paris in the latter part of 1948, the British delegation was the principal, though ultimately unsuccessful, protagonist of the so-called *Bernadotte Plan, a central feature of which was the proposal to transfer the Negev from Israel to the Arabs. Relations between Britain and what it termed "the Jewish authorities in Tel Aviv" reached an acute point when, on Jan. 7, 1949, in the course of renewed fighting between Israel and Egypt, the Israelis shot down five British planes that had been sent on a reconnaissance mission from the Suez Canal Zone. At this time, however, a strong reaction against the policy of Foreign Secretary Ernest *Bevin began to assert itself in Britain. The debate in the House of Commons on January 28 was a damaging one to the government. Three days later Bevin announced the de facto recognition of Israel and, shortly thereafter, the appointment of Britain's first diplomatic representative to Israel, Sir Knox Helm.
Gradually a new pattern of relations evolved between the two countries. The period of Bevin's influence had not been forgotten by the people of Israel, but Britain's initial role in having made the development of Jewish nationhood in Palestine politically and physically possible was increasingly recalled and recognized. Steady progress was made in day-today contacts through trade, tourism, and cultural relations. But despite these positive developments, British policy toward Israel continued to be markedly reserved, for reasons connected with Britain's interests and commitments in the Arab world. As late as 1955, the British government still harbored ideas about the transfer of at least a part of the Negev to Egypt. This attitude was reflected in Prime Minister Anthony Eden's speech at the Guildhall on Nov. 9, 1955, in which he suggested a compromise on the frontiers set by the Partition Resolution of 1947 and those established under the Armistice Agreements as a way out of the Arab-Israel impasse. This proposal was unequivocally rejected by Israel and eventually abandoned. Less than a year later, Britain and Israel found themselves in unlikely association in military action against Egypt–Israel in Sinai, Britain in Suez. The events leading to this development were President Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal on the one hand, and his active sponsorship of the fedayeen terror gangs, organized on Arab territory for acts of murder and sabotage within Israel, on the other.
For more than a century, the preservation of Britain's communications with India, the keystone of her empire, had been a dominant factor in Britain's interest in the Middle East. In 1947, India achieved independence almost contemporaneously with Israel. The strategic and political implications of this event for Britain's status in the world were not immediately obvious. Britain remained the paramount power in the Middle East with military bases in Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan, and with a vital financial stake in the ever-increasing oil wealth that was being uncovered not only in Iran but in the Arab lands bordering on the Gulf, including Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the sheikhdoms. In the mid-1950s a revolutionary change occurred: the collapse of British power and prestige that accompanied the Suez debacle of 1956 was followed two years later by the murder of the king of Iraq and the lynching of his premier, Nuri Said, Britain's faithful friend and ally. The last British base in the Arab Middle East other than one in Aden was now relinquished. By 1968, as Britain's policy of withdrawal from direct military commitment to areas east of Suez began to be extended even to the Persian Gulf; Aden too was abandoned. Middle East oil, so vital to the European economy, continued to flow more or less uninterruptedly because of the mutual interests of the Arab governments on the one hand and of Western purchasers on the other. But the old power relationship, including its implications for Israel, had dissolved.
Nevertheless, Britain's role in the area in the 1960s must not be underestimated. As a great world financial and trading community, with the support of experienced and effective diplomats, Britain continued to exert extensive influence. The decline of Britain's authority in the Arab world significantly affected British-Israel relations. Although the traditional sensitivity of the Foreign Office to possible Arab reactions persisted, a more relaxed, less inhibited attitude toward Israel began to assert itself. This was manifested not only in official contacts and public statements, but also in willingness to sell Israel such major items of military equipment as Centurion tanks, naval vessels, and submarines. Within the aggregate of Britain's overseas trade, Israel occupied a modest but increasingly significant place in 1968. The total bilateral trade between the two countries in 1967 amounted to about $215,000,000, an increase of nearly 75% compared with 1957. In fact, the value of Britain's exports to Israel exceeded that to any of the Arab countries. Britain constituted Israel's most important overseas market, with agricultural products (notably citrus) and polished diamonds predominating. Israel–British economic relations have long been a target of the Arab boycott offices, but, as trade figures reveal, their success has been marginal. The Suez Canal – blocked as a result of the *Six-Day War – remained closed. The resultant loss to British trade and shipping, although eventually much reduced, undoubtedly contributed to Britain's active interest in seeking a solution to the Middle East crisis. British diplomats at the United Nations thus took a leading part in sponsoring and securing the passage of the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22, 1967. The war brought about a rupture in relations between Britain and a number of Arab countries, but these were reestablished, and Britain's policy ostensibly aimed at seeking to maintain a balance of friendship with both the Arab states and Israel.
Although there is not always an identity of views between Israel and Britain on the problems of the Middle East, there was a broad base of common understanding in the late 1960s. The interest of the British people in Israel is not a passing phenomenon but rests on deep religious and spiritual foundations and was impressively demonstrated at the time of the Six-Day War. Attitudes and suspicions on the part of both countries survive from a more troubled period in their relationship. But the dominant motive was one of mutual regard that found its expression not only in political and economic spheres, but also in cultural relations and public opinion.
For most of the 1980s British foreign policy was conducted by Sir Geoffrey Howe. Britain urged the plo to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism, while calling on Israel to halt settlements in the occupied territories as a quid pro quo. Between 1984 and 1987 there were several friendly high-level exchange visits, but British unease about conditions in the Gaza Strip were forcefully expressed by junior Foreign Office Minister David Mellor during a visit in January 1988. After Yasser Arafat announced acceptance of un resolutions 242 and 338 and renounced the armed struggle, William Waldegrave, Mellor's successor, met with Abu Bassam Sharrif of the plo.
The outbreak of the intifada in 1989 led to the revival of the propaganda war in the media and in student politics. British Government officials repeatedly expressed concern at Israeli handling of the disturbances. In March 1990, the new foreign secretary, Douglas Hurd, met with Abu Bassam Sharrif, although the Palestinian terrorist attack on Israel in May 1990 led to demands to sever links with the plo. Hurd issued a call to the Palestinians to curb terrorism, but contacts with the plo continued. The situation was transformed by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The British Government deplored plo support for Saddam Hussein and rejected any "linkage" between Iraq's invasion and the Palestinian problem, although in October 1990 it said that Israeli policy towards the Palestinians could not go unchanged. In November 1991, Britain resumed diplomatic ties with Syria, severed after the 1988 Lockerbie disaster, which was now a member of the anti-Iraq coalition.
When the war started, hundreds of British Jews, including the chief rabbi, went to Israel on solidarity missions. Prime Minister John Major congratulated Israel on its "admirable restraint" following Iraqi missile attacks. Popular attitudes towards Israel and the Palestinians changed radically, although British official policy soon reverted to type. In January 1992 Mr. Major addressed a letter to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain calling on Anglo-Jewish leaders to intervene with the Israel Government against the deportation of 12 Palestinian activists. On July 30, 1992, Mr. Major addressed the annual dinner of the Conservative Friends of Israel. He called the settlements "a major impediment to the peace process," denounced the Arab boycott as "iniquitous" and said it should be ended in return for freezing the settlements.
In March 1993, Douglas Hogg, the minister of state at the Foreign Office, met with Faisal Husseini and plo officials, thus ending the ban on official ministerial contacts with the plo. On July 2, 1993, the Foreign Secretary met Husseini along with Nabil Shaath and Afif Safieh, the plo's London representative. Following the White House Accords, which were welcomed by the government and opposition parties, Douglas Hogg visited Yasser Arafat in Tunisia and the status of the plo office in London was upgraded to a "delegation." The Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, visited Israel during a Middle East tour in December 1994. A visit to London by Israeli prime minister Yiẓḥak Rabin was curtailed by a terrorist bombing in Israel.
On October 30, 1994, Prince Philip made the first royal visit to Israel. During his 25-hour stay he attended a ceremony at Yad Vashem to honor his mother for rescuing Jews in Greece during the war, and dined with President Ezer Weizman. In March 1995, Prime Minister John Major became the second serving British premier to go to Israel. The accent of his visit was firmly on strengthening trade links between the two countries. However, British diplomats avoided the Jerusalem 3000 celebrations.
The peace accords divided British Jews. While welcomed by Israel Finestein, president of the Board of Deputies, and Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks, they were anathematized by British Mizrachi and Ḥerut, including many rabbis. On December 15, 1993, during an official visit to London, Yasser Arafat met British Jewish leaders including Israel Finestein, Lord Rothschild, Greville Janner mp, and Sir Sigmund Sternberg. But 60 rabbis and prominent dayyanim issued a statement condemning the meeting. On August 6, 1995, businessman and jia leader Cyril Stein and Rabbi Alan Kimche, the outreach director of Jewish Continuity (see below), joined a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London against the peace negotiations. It was organized by the New York Rabbi Avi Weiss. In October 1995, Rabbi Dr. Sacks was again attacked by his own rabbinate for endorsing the peace process and the principle of withdrawal from the West Bank.
The peace process had a more dangerous and tragic impact. On July 26–27, 1994 bombs exploded outside the Israeli Embassy at Palace Green, Kensington, and Balfour House in North Finchley, which houses the offices of the Joint Israel Appeal (jia) and the Zionist Federation. Nineteen people were injured in the first attack, none seriously, but the embassy was badly damaged. The Jewish community was aggrieved that its warnings to the authorities had been ignored. Armed police guards were subsequently posted at potential Jewish targets and communal security stepped up, but the government refused to help fund the installation of surveillance systems. In December 1994, Israeli police minister Moshe Shahal held talks with Scotland Yard in London to discuss measures to counter the threat posed by radical Islamic groups operating in London. On September 5, 1995, Danny Frei, a former pupil of Hasmonean school in London, was murdered in Israel on the West Bank where he lived.
During the Blair years, Israel's relations with England were fairly smooth. Blair himself exhibited warmth and support while maintaining what England considers an evenhanded approach to the Middle East conflict. In a meeting with Shimon Peres in October 2005 he called Israel's disengagement from Gaza a "crucial and courageous act," reaffirming his commitment to a secure Israel as well as a viable Palestinian state. The British media, on the other hand, and particularly the bbc, is perceived as hostile in Israel and in effect as encouraging terrorism through its biased reporting.
[Vivian David Lipman and
general: Roth, Mag Bibl; Lehmann, Nova Bibl (include detailed bibliography on Anglo-Jewish history up to 1961); Roth, England; J. Finestein, Short History of Anglo-Jewry (1957); A.M. Hyamson, History of the Jews in England (19282); D.S. Katz, The Jews in the History of England, 1485 – 1850 (1994); H.S.Q. Henriques, Jews and the English Law (1908). middle ages: M. Adler, Jews of Medieval England (1939); J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England (1893); H.G. Richardson, English Jewry under Angevin Kings (1960); B.L. Abrahams, Expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 (1895); G. Caro, Sozial-und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Juden, 1 (1909), 313–51; 2 (1920), 3–68; Rigg-Jenkinson, Exchequer; M.D. Davis, Hebrew Deeds of English Jews before 1290 (1888). modern period (from 17thcentury): V.D. Lipman, Social History of the Jews in England 1850 – 1950 (1954); idem (ed.), Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish History (1961); idem, A Century of Social Service 1859 – 1959 (1959); idem, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858 (1990); idem, in: jhset, 21 (1968), 78–103; T. Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714 – 1830: Tradition in a Liberal Society (1979); D. Englander (ed.), A Documentary History of the Jews in Britain, 1840 – 1920 (1993); G. Alderman, Modern British Jewry (1992); J. Gould and S. Esh (ed.), Jewish Life in Modern Britain (1964); M. Freedman (ed.), A Minority in Britain (1955); A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951); L.P. Gartner, The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870 – 1914 (1960); N. Bentwich, They Found Refuge (1956); C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950); idem, Life of Menasseh ben Israel (1934); idem, Essays and Portraits in Anglo-Jewish History (1962); idem, The Great Synagogue, London 1890 – 1940 (1950); J. Shaftesley (ed.), Remember the Days (1966); L. Wolf, Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell (1901); idem, Essays in Jewish History (1932); C.H.L. Emanuel, A Century and a Half of Jewish History, Extracted from the Minute Books of the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews (1910); S. Salomon, The Jews of Britain (1938); Gesher, 3 (Oct. 1961); P.H. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943); I. Finestein, A Short History of Anglo-Jewry (1957); E. Krausz, Leeds Jewry: Its History and Social Structure (1964); B. Litvinoff, A Peculiar People (1969), 168–70; Temkin, in: ajyb, 58 (1957), 3–63; Prais and Schmool, in: jjso, 10 (1968), 5–34; 9 (1967), 149–74; H. Brotz, ibid., 1 (1959), 94–113; Bentwich, ibid., 2 (1960), 16–24; Krausz, ibid., 4 (1962), 82–90; idem, in: In the Dispersion, no. 3 (1963–64), 80–89; N. Cohen, in: Tradition, 8 (1966), 40–57; C. Bermant, Troubled Eden (1969); B. Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939 – 1945 (1979); V.D. and S. Lipman (eds.), Jewish Life in Britain 1962 – 77 (1981); Jewish Journal of Sociology 19, 228; House of Commons Official Report (November 25, 1977), cols. 2058ff; ija Research Reports, Western Europe 2, 3 g.b. 7, 8, Western Europe 77/1, 2; August 1980, No. 10; Sunday Telegraph (December 3, 1977); "The Jews of Britain," Jewish Chronicle Supplement (November 24, 1978); Research Unit, Board of Deputies, Steel City Jews (1976); idem, Jews in an Inner London Borough (1975); Social Demography of Redbridge Jewry (1979). add. bibliography: T. Endelman, The Jews of Britain, 1656 – 2000 (2002); W.D. Rubinstein, A History of the Jews in the English-Speaking World: Great Britain (1996); ajyb 2003. relations with israel: W. Eytan, The First Ten Years (1958); E.H. Samuel, British Traditions in Administration of Israel (1957).
ENGLAND. At the level of world history, England between 1485 and 1789 is most important for the developments that helped usher in aspects of the modern world. Three, in particular, are worthy of note. First, the expansion of English power was such that, by 1700, England was the world's leading maritime power and the most important colonial power in North America; by the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763, England was the strongest state in the world. Second, the religious and political changes within England transformed the nature of its political culture and therefore ensured the character of the state that was to become the most important in the world, and, to a certain extent, contributed to that development. The most significant of these changes within England were the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century and the overthrow of Stuart authoritarianism in the seventeenth century and its replacement by a political system in which Parliament played a leading role. Third, the period saw the development of the English language. The vocabulary expanded, English replaced Latin and Norman French as the language of the Bible and the law respectively, and, with the plays of William Shakespeare (1564–1616), it reached new cultural heights.
CHRISTIANITY AND WITCHCRAFT
It is also important to draw attention to other aspects of the period that do not so readily accord with this account of modernization. In many profound ways, both the facts and details of life and the attitudes of the period were totally different from those today. This was a realm that was shadowed by a world of spirits, good and bad, and these spirits were seen and believed to intervene frequently in the life of humans. This belief brought together both Christian notions—in particular providentialism, a conviction of God's direct intervention in the life of individuals, the intercessory role of saints, sacraments, prayer and belief, the existence of heaven, purgatory, hell, and the devil, and a related and overlapping group of ideas, beliefs, and customs—that were partially Christianized but also testified to a mental world that was not explicable in terms of Christian theology. This was a world of good and evil, knowledge and magic, of fatalism, of the occult, and of astrology and alchemy. Such beliefs were widely held.
This fearful world could be only partially countered by Christianity, but the very sense of menace and danger helps to account for the energy devoted to religious issues in the sixteenth century and the fears encouraged by changes in church belief and practice, for example, the despoliation of shrines and the ending of pilgrimages. The true path of Christian virtue and salvation was challenged not only by false prophets laying claim to the word of Jesus, but also by a malevolent world presided over by the devil. Witches were prominent among the devil's followers, and concern about witches gained a new prominence in the sixteenth century. James I (reigned 1603–1625), for whose court Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, wrote against witches and was believed to be the target of their diabolical schemes, although he later recanted his opinions and, if anything, became a force for moderation in their treatment.
Witchcraft was not swept away by the Renaissance, the Reformation, or the supposed onset of the modern age. Indeed, belief in prediction, astrology, alchemy, and the occult was especially strong in the early seventeenth century. The last recorded witch trial in England occurred in 1717, and the Witchcraft Act of 1736 banned accusations of witchcraft and sorcery.
LIVING CONDITIONS IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND
The sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation with its emphasis on a vernacular Bible ensured that good and evil became more literary and less oral and visual than hitherto, but that did not diminish the need for people to understand their world in terms of the struggle between the two. Evil, malevolence, and the inscrutable workings of the divine will seemed the only way to explain the sudden pitfalls of the human condition.
The average experience of life for the people of the period necessarily came at a younger age than for the average person today, and was shaped within a context of the ever-present threat of death, disease, injury, and pain. There was still joy and pleasure, exultation and exhilaration, but the demographics were chilling. Alongside individuals who lived to old age, there were lives quickly cut short—in the case of women, especially in childbirth. Child mortality figures continued to be high. Thirty-eight percent of the children born in Penrith in the northwest of England between 1650 and 1700 died before reaching the age of six. Defenses against disease remained flimsy, not least because of the limited nature of medical knowledge. Treatments such as blistering and mercury were often painful, dangerous, or enervating. Surgery was primitive and was performed without anesthesia. There was nothing akin to the modern expectation that there should be a medical cure for everything; people were forced to resort to quack medicines, folk remedies, and prayer. Typhus, typhoid, influenza, dysentery, chicken pox, measles, scarlet fever, and syphilis were all serious threats. Other conditions that can now be cured or held at bay were debilitating.
Living conditions contributed to the problem. Crowded housing, especially the sharing of beds, helped spread diseases, particularly respiratory infections. Most dwellings were neither warm nor dry, and sanitary practices were a problem. There were few baths, washing in clean water was limited, and louse infestation was serious. Although outer clothes were worn for long periods and were not washable, those who could afford it wore linen or cotton shifts next to their skin, and these shifts could be regularly laundered. However, most people wore the same clothes for as long as they could. Bedbugs and rats were real horrors and, by modern standards, breath and skin must have been repellent. It is difficult to recreate an impression of the smell and dirt of the period. Ventilation was limited. Humans lived close to animals and dunghills, and this damaged health. Manure stored near buildings was hazardous and could contaminate the water supply, while effluent from undrained privies and animal pens came into houses through generally porous walls. Privies with open soil pits lay directly alongside dwellings and under bedrooms.
Poor nutrition lowered resistance to disease. Fruit and vegetables were expensive and played only a minor role in the diet of the urban poor, who were also generally ill clad. The poor ate less meat. Plant stocks had not been scientifically improved to resist disease and adverse weather conditions and to increase yields.
Agricultural labor was arduous, generally daylight to dusk in winter, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer. Industrial employment was also hard—up to sixteen hours daily in the Yorkshire alum houses—and often dangerous. Each occupation had its own hazards. Millers worked in dusty and noisy circumstances, frequently suffered from lice, and often developed asthma, hernias, and chronic back problems. Disorders could result from the strain of unusual physical demands or postures, such as those required of tailors and weavers. Many places of work were damp, badly ventilated, and poorly lit. Work frequently involved exposure to dangerous substances such as arsenic, lead, and mercury or was dangerous in itself, particularly construction, fishing, and mining. Many industrial processes were dangerous to others besides the workers: dressing and tanning leather polluted water supplies.
At a more mundane level, uncertainty was a matter not only of demographics but also an aspect of the contemporary world of space, not least of transport. This uncertainty, in comparison with modern life, was captured most vividly by the abrupt shift from light to darkness. The modern world can overcome the latter with electric lighting and, as far as travel and distance are concerned, navigation systems, but, in the early modern world, the dark was a world of uncertainty, danger, and menace. This was especially true for the traveler literally unable to see his routes.
In addition to the problems presented by the darkness, road surfaces were unreliable. They were greatly affected by rain, especially on clay soils. Travel through the heavily forested Weald in Kent, Surrey, and Sussex, in the southeast, posed particular problems, but heavy clays, for example in south Essex and the Vale of Berkeley (Gloucestershire), also created difficulties. Furthermore, standards of road maintenance were low. Upkeep was largely the responsibility of the local parish, and the resources for a speedy and effective response to deficiencies were lacking.
The situation did not improve greatly through the early modern period. Travel was not much easier in 1700 than it had been in 1500. Horses were the same, ships were still wooden and wind-powered, most roads were still dirt tracks, and the impact of the weather had not changed. The slowness of land travel, the difficulty of moving bulk goods on land, other than by river, and Britain's island character ensured that trade and travel by sea were more important than they are today. On land, a network of regular and reliable long-distance wagon services did not develop until the seventeenth century. The situation was worse at sea. Shipwreck and the problems of storm-tossed or, in contrast, becalmed journeys engaged the imagination of the age, as can be seen from the role of storms and shipwrecks in such Shakespeare plays as The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Pericles, A Winter's Tale, and The Comedy of Errors.
PLAGUE, POPULATION, AND URBAN EXPANSION
There were still virulent outbreaks of the plague, as in 1499–1500, 1518, 1538, 1563, and 1665, the last the Great Plague in which between seventy and one hundred thousand people died. Nevertheless, there was also a major rise in population. Prior to the first national census in 1801, all figures are approximate, but the population of England and Wales seems to have increased from under 2.5 million in 1500 to over 4 million by 1603 and about 5 million by 1651. The impact of this change was accentuated because it followed a period of stagnation after the Black Death (1348–1350) and preceded another that lasted until the 1740s. The increase in population was due largely to a fall in mortality, but a rise in fertility stemming from a small decrease in the average age of women at marriage was probably also important.
The rise in population affected the structure of society by leading to overpopulation as far as the distribution of resources was concerned, certainly in comparison with the fifteenth century. This encouraged a persistent rise in prices in the sixteenth century. The demand for food caused the rents of agricultural land to rise proportionately more rapidly than wages. This hit both tenants and those with little or no land. In the volatile and tense situation, agrarian capitalism became more intense. Landlords tried to increase the yield of their customary estates and to destroy the system of customary tenure. Much of the peasantry lost status and became little different from poorly paid wage laborers. The growing number of paupers and vagrants greatly concerned successive governments, although more for reasons of law and order than because of concern about the poor.
Urban expansion was a product of the role of towns as centers of manufacturing, trade, government, and leisure. Yet all four were also pursued in the countryside, just as there was much market gardening within town walls, as well as orchards and pastures, the latter particularly for milk, which could not be refrigerated, treated, or preserved. With the exception of London, cities were small and the countryside was always nearby. In 1523, Worcester ranked sixteenth among England's towns by population, which was only about 4,000, and only about 6,000 in 1646. Evesham, the next biggest town in Worcestershire, had only about 1,400 people—the size of a modern village—in the mid-sixteenth century.
Rural fairs remained important to trade, their episodic character a reminder of the rhythm of seasonal activity that framed life. Much industry was also located in the countryside, in part because of the importance of waterpower provided by fast-flowing rivers and tapped by the water wheels in mills.
Alongside any emphasis on elements of continuity, it is necessary to draw attention to signs of economic change. This was both quantitative (increased production) and qualitative (new methods and routes). Both were important. A more integrated economy reflected the demands of a growing population and urban markets and the absence of internal tariffs. Trade increasingly linked distant areas. Northeastern coal was shipped from Newcastle to London. As national markets developed, the importance of transport links and capital availability increased. The processing of rural products—grain, meat, wool, wood, hides, hops—was central to industry throughout Britain. The cost and difficulty of transport encouraged the production of goods near the markets for which they were destined. Thus, rural Britain was dotted with breweries and mills.
Building reflected affluence and expenditure, as with the insertion of chimney stacks in many houses. The world of "things" increased over the early modern period. More artifacts survive from the sixteenth century than from the fifteenth, and other evidence, such as probate inventories, legal records, and literary references, also suggest a marked trend toward possessing more. Increasing material consumption also invited denunciation by moralists and was seen as the cause of what was regarded as a major rise in crime. The world of things had important cultural consequence. Craftsmanship flourished in the manufacture of many goods. The increase in the number of musical instruments, such as lutes, probably ensured that instrumental music came to play a prominent role, especially in genteel society. Songs were set to music, which it must be assumed people could readily play.
Books were an important part of this new world. Early beginnings in printing were less important than sustained growth in the production and consumption of books and other printed material in the sixteenth and later centuries. The availability of books helped to encourage literacy. It was important for its collective functions, especially the use of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in church and the energizing of cultural production. But it also offered the possibility of a more private and individual culture than that provided by the conspicuous consumption and display of public ceremonial.
The publication of the vernacular Bible helped to validate both books and the use of English rather than Latin. Printing made writing more available in a standard form, creating a shared and repeatable culture that manuscripts could not generate. Print thus lent itself to the demands of a state that from the 1530s was legislating actively in lay and ecclesiastical matters.
As yet, however, the impact of popular literacy and the print revolution upon oral culture was limited. Most people could neither read nor afford books. Furthermore, most people lacked formal education. Thus, printing exacerbated social divisions and gave an extra dimension to the flow of orders, ideas, and models down the social hierarchy. The inability of the poor to express themselves was accentuated. Conversely, education, the world of print, the impact of government, and the role of London all encouraged the gentry increasingly to view politics and society in national terms.
The poverty of the majority was counterpointed by the growing comfort that characterized the wealthy. This contrast was also seen in political and religious change, with the bulk of the population neither consulted nor considered other than as objects of control. The absence of consultation was more disruptive than it had been ever since the Norman Conquest of 1066 because change was not simply a matter of monarchs and aristocratic factions competing for the spoils of power and privilege, but, with the Reformation, also a deep-seated and divisive change in the nation's ideology and culture. The extent of this has been largely overlooked because, from the reign of Elizabeth (1558–1603), the Reformation was seen as the national destiny and central to national identity. English became the language of God's work and the monarch was now head of the church. The assertion by the English Church that purgatory did not exist and the consequent abolition of prayers for the dead destroyed links between the communities of the living and the dead. The loss of the monasteries in the 1530s brought much disruption, including, in many localities, the breakdown of poor and medical relief. Although in the short term monastic charity was ended, before long Protestant-influenced patterns of charitable giving developed. Instead of bequests going to masses for the dead and to chantry priests, they were now more frequently left for parish charities, educational provision, and almshouses.
RELIGION AND POLITICS
Henry VIII's use of Parliament in the 1530s and 1540s to legitimate his objectives increased its frequency and role. Nevertheless, the idea that there was a revolution in government in the 1530s is questionable: Henry's preference for direct control remained the dominant theme throughout his reign. He kept his grip on the domestic situation, helped by his clear right to the throne, his unwillingness to turn obviously to either religious option, and the selective use of terror. Henry retained control of the government, as well as of the aristocracy through their attendance at court, through the travels of the court itself, through shared participation in military activities and the hunt, and through patronage.
Under Edward VI (ruled 1547–1553), politics at the center and control of the localities were greatly complicated by religious disputes. They made it harder to ensure cooperation and consensus. During his reign, Edward was opened to the influence of Protestantism from the Continent, and there was a surge of state-supported and purposeful Protestant activity. Hostility to religious change played a major role in the widespread uprisings in the southwest in 1549, although the rising in Norfolk that year focused on opposition to landlords, especially the enclosure of common lands and their high rents, and to oppressive local governments. Although crushed, the risings in 1549 indicated the extent to which developments in the 1530s through the 1560s encouraged a degree of hostile popular response that menaced the political system and thus required the development of a new language and practice of apparent consultation within the political nation.
Similarly, under Mary (ruled 1553–1558), the failure of Wyatt's rising indicated the precarious nature of the regime, but also the problems affecting rebellions. Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragón, was a devout Catholic who was determined to return England to the Catholic fold. A parliamentary statute declared her power identical to that of a male ruler. She persuaded Parliament to repeal Edward's religious legislation and her father's Act of Supremacy. She restored papal authority and Catholic practice, although a papal dispensation from Julius III allowed the retention of the former church lands by those who now held them. The reign of the sickly Mary was brief, and her chance of success in re-Catholicizing England and Wales was further victim of her failure to produce an heir, in spite of two phantom pregnancies. Mary is chiefly remembered as a persecutor ("Bloody Mary"). Nearly three hundred Protestants were burned at the stake, including many leaders. Her reign was also important because in 1558 the French retook Calais, the last English possession in mainland France: only the Channel Islands were left.
THE AGE OF ELIZABETH
Parliamentary management became more important during the long reign of Elizabeth (ruled 1558–1603). This was an aspect of a shift in the politics of the country away from a focus on relations between crown and aristocracy and, instead, toward relations between crown and gentry. At the center, although the royal court remained the major focus of politics, this led to a greater role for Parliament and a stress on ideas of representation, and in the localities to the growing importance of the gentry as justices of the peace. The rise of a numerous and independent gentry with a sense and obligation of public duty was linked to the failure of the peerage to be the prime beneficiary of the sociopolitical changes of the period. The creation of stronger links between crown and gentry was fundamental to the achievement of the Elizabethan period. Elizabeth was the most experienced politician in her kingdom, anxious to preserve the royal prerogative, but knowing when to yield without appearing weak. She had favorites but did not give them power, and she never married. Claiming that she was an exceptional woman because she was chosen by God as his instrument, Elizabeth was pragmatic and generally more successful in coping with, indeed exploiting, divisions among her advisers than Mary had been. She presented herself as "mere English."
Elizabeth's lengthy reign permitted the consolidation of a relatively conservative Protestant church settlement, and also contrasted both with the chaos of the preceding two reigns and with the disturbed situation in contemporary France, where the lengthy civil Wars of Religion (1552–1598) were soon to begin. Like her grandfather, Henry VII (ruled 1485–1509), Elizabeth was a skillful manipulator, not a zealot. In religion, she sought to avoid extremes and would have preferred a settlement closer to that of her father, Henry VIII: Catholicism without pope or monks. She was, nevertheless, a Protestant in the last analysis. Mary's ministers and favorites were mostly dismissed, and the domestic political situation led Elizabeth in a more Protestant direction, but the Protestant settlement she introduced was more conservative than that of the last years of Edward VI. Elizabeth also sought to prevent further change, and this led to disputes with the more radical Protestants, the Puritans.
Elizabeth's Protestant settlement aroused Catholic concern, and the situation became volatile in 1568 when her cousin, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587), fled to England, where she was next in line in the succession. Mary's presence acted as a focus for conspiracy, helping trigger the unsuccessful Northern Rising of 1569. Its failure was one of the major stages in the political unification of England, for it marked the end of any viable prospect of regional autonomy centered on a different political and/or religious agenda. This was important because the north was more religiously conservative than the south. Even in 1569, the rebellion had been intended to ensure a change in the policy of the central government. Thereafter, politics centered far more on nationwide attempts to influence the center, rather than local efforts to defy it.
The Northern Rising was followed by an escalation in tension between Elizabeth's government and Catholic Europe. In 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated and deposed Elizabeth. This eased the path for a number of unsuccessful conspiracies designed to replace Elizabeth with Mary, Queen of Scots, which led in turn to the execution of the latter in 1587.
Two years earlier, English military support for Dutch Protestant rebels against Philip II of Spain, and English raids on Spanish trade and colonies, especially those by Francis Drake (c. 1540–1596), had led to war between the two powers. This conflict was most famous for the Armada of 1588, a Spanish attempt to send a major fleet up the English Channel in order to cover an invasion of England from the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium) by the effective Spanish army of Flanders under the duke of Parma. This was thwarted by a combination of poor planning, a skillful English naval response, and the weather. The latter fueled the development of belief in a providential sanction for English Protestantism. To contemporaries, the unassailable nature of divine approval was clear.
Despite the defeat of the Armada, Elizabeth I's reign did not end on a triumphant note. Inflation and a lack of crown revenue created a difficult situation. Elizabeth preferred to cut public expenditure rather than reform the revenue system. Demands for additional taxation and attempts to raise funds by unpopular expedients—especially forced loans, ship money, and the sale of monopolies to manufacture or sell certain goods—led to bitter criticism in the Parliaments of 1597 and 1601. Tax demands were especially unwelcome because of harvest failures and related social tensions. There were problems—political, social, and economic—aplenty, the government had a stopgap feel to it, and Elizabeth was less adept and tolerant in her last years than she had been earlier in the reign.
THE STUART SUCCESSION AND CIVIL WAR
Yet there was no civil war comparable to that in France, and the Stuart succession was inaugurated in 1603 without such a war. The increasing widespread politicization that was a feature of sixteenth-century England did not present insuperable problems. Instead, it contributed to a stronger national consciousness.
Thus, Parliament was a national body, whereas the nearest equivalent in France, the Estates-General, had less impact (and was not summoned between 1614 and 1789) than the regional Estates. As a unitary state, England could not be divided to suit the views of a ruler.
However, in the civil war that began in 1642, the country did split. The Royalists and the Parliamentarians had backing in every region and social group. Parliamentary support was strongest in the most economically advanced regions—in the south, the east, and the large towns—but in each of these regions there were also many Royalists, and the relationship between socioeconomic groups and religious and political beliefs were complex. The latter were important. Charles I (ruled 1625–1649) received much support as the focus for strong feelings of honor, loyalty, and duty. There was also widespread disquiet about possible changes to church government. In contrast, Puritans were his firm opponents. As a consequence, much rivalry was within, rather than between, social and economic groups. The English Civil War was a terrible crisis. Britons fought against and killed other Britons as never before. More than half the total number of battles ever fought on English soil involving more than 5,000 men were fought between 1642 and 1651. Out of an English male population of about 1.5 million, over 80,000 died in combat and another 100,000 of other causes arising from the war, principally disease.
Charles's defeat and his execution led eventually to a republic in 1649, and, in 1653–1658, to a military regime under Oliver Cromwell that suppressed domestic opposition and projected its power abroad with considerable success. However, the Puritan cultural revolution failed. There was widespread anxiety about the overthrow of order in politics, religion, society, and the household. This anxiety was the background to the restoration, in 1660, of the Stuart monarchy in the person of Charles II (ruled 1660–1685). Despite uncertainty and opposition, Charles's reign was more stable than the previous quarter-century. This was important not only for recovery from the mid-century conflicts, but also for economic growth and development. Foreign trade rose during Charles's reign. Economic growth was modest, and the stagnant population was a damper on demand, but there was development in both agricultural and industrial production.
Monarchy, Parliament, the Church of England, and the position of the social elite were all seen as mutually reinforcing, but the Catholicism of Charles's brother and heir, James II (ruled 1685–1688), made this an elusive harmony. James inherited his father's worst characteristics—inflexibility and dogmatism—and pressed forward unpopular authoritarian changes designed to further his goals of greater royal authority and paving the way for re-Catholicization. The political culture of the age assumed deference in return for good kingship, expectations of political behavior that involved a measure of contractualism. James spurned these boundaries.
THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION
James's base of support was narrow, and it collapsed in 1688 as a result of challenge from without by his nephew William III (ruled 1689–1702), stadtholder of the Dutch Republic and the husband of James's daughter Mary (ruled 1689–1694). William's invasion of England was quickly successful, in large part because he ably exploited James's failure of nerve. James was encouraged to flee and Parliament declared that James had abdicated, rather than adopting the more radical notion that he had been deposed. Parliament debarred Catholics from the succession and placed restrictions on royal power. The financial settlement left William with an ordinary revenue that was too small for his peacetime needs, obliging him to turn to Parliament for support. A standing army was prohibited unless permitted by Parliament. In other words, Parliament was by this time stronger than the monarchy.
As with the Tudor triumph in 1485, England had been successfully invaded. But in 1688 the political situation was very different for a number of reasons, not least the validating role of Parliament, and the need to ensure that Scotland and Ireland were brought in line. Nevertheless, there was also a fundamental continuity. Political issues were settled by conflict. Furthermore, the dynastic position was crucial: political legitimacy could not be divorced from the sovereign and the succession. Both these factors ensure that the elements of modernity suggested by the constitutional products of the 1688 invasion have to be qualified by reminders of more traditional features of the political structure.
What was to be termed by its supporters the Glorious Revolution was to play a central role in the Whiggish, heroic, self-congratulatory account of English development. It was clearly important in the growth of an effective parliamentary monarchy in which the constitutional role of Parliament served as the anchor of cooperation between the crown and the sociopolitical elite. Yet a less benign account is also possible, and not only from the perspective of the exiled James and his Jacobite supporters. The instability of the ministries of the period 1689–1721 suggests that the political environment necessary for an effective parliamentary monarchy had in some ways been hindered by the events of 1688–1689. A parliamentary monarchy could not simply be legislated into existence. It required the development of conventions and patterns of political behavior that would permit a constructive resolution of contrary opinions. This took time and was not helped by the burdens of the lengthy and difficult wars with France—from 1689 to 1697 and 1702 to 1713—that followed the Glorious Revolution. William's seizure of power did not assist this process of resolution for other reasons: alongside praise for him as a Protestant and a providential blessing, there was criticism of him as a usurper. This criticism was marginalized because the circumstances of William's reign permitted him a political and polemical victory over his opponents. As a result, the Protestant and Whiggish vision associated with the victors eventually came to seem natural to the English. However, a tenuous link can be drawn between the willingness to conceive of new political structures and governmental arrangements—seen, for example, with the parliamentary Union of England and Scotland in 1707 and the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694—and the increased interest in taking an active role in first understanding the world and then seeking to profit from this understanding, which flowered with the scientific revolution.
See also Agriculture ; Anne (England) ; Armada, Spanish ; Bible: Translations and Editions ; Capitalism ; Charles I (England) ; Charles II (England) ; Church of England ; Communication and Transportation ; Cromwell, Oliver ; Drama: English ; Edward VI (England) ; Elizabeth I (England) ; Enclosure ; English Civil War and Interregnum ; English Literature and Language ; Feudalism ; George II (Great Britain) ; George III (Great Britain) ; Glorious Revolution ; Hanoverian Dynasty (Great Britain) ; Henry VIII (England) ; Jacobitism ; James I and VI (England and Scotland) ; James II (England) ; Laborers ; Mary I (England) ; Printing and Publishing ; Puritanism ; Stuart Dynasty (England and Scotland) ; Tudor Dynasty (England) ; William and Mary ; Witchcraft .
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Identification. The name of the country and the term "English" derive from the Old English word for one of the three Germanic peoples that invaded the British Isles in the fifth century C . E ., the Angles. "Britain" and "British" derive from a Roman term for the inhabitants' language of the British Isles, called "Brythonic" or p-Celtic.
Englishness is highly regionalized. The most important regional divide is between the south and the north. The south, chiefly represented by the regions of the southeast, southwest, East Anglia, and the Midlands, now contains the economically most dynamic sectors of the country, including the City (the chief financial center of the United Kingdom) and the seat of the national government, both in London. The north, the cradle of industrialization and the site of traditional smokestack industries, includes Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northumberland, Cumbria, Durham, Merseyside, and Cheshire. Especially in the last decades of the twentieth century, the north has experienced deindustrialization, severe economic hardship, and cultural balkanization. England is also a culture of many smaller regionalisms, still centered on the old governmental unit of the county and the local villages and towns. Local products, such as ale, and regional rituals and art forms, such as Morris dancing and folk music, many of which date back to the preindustrial era, allow people to shape their attachments to their communities and the nation. Merged with the north–south divide and regionalism are notions of working class, middle class, and upper class as well as rich versus poor.
England's role as a destination for migration also has influenced conceptions of Englishness. Historically, the most prominent immigrant group has been the Irish, who came in two major waves in the modern era: 1847 and 1848 after the potato famine, and during and after World War II. Scots were present in England by the 1700s and settled in England in large numbers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, often for economic reasons. Welsh in-migration came to prominence when deindustrialization began in Wales in the 1920s. This inmigration has brought the so-called Celtic fringe into English culture in a host of ways. There has also been the impact of Jewish, Flemish, Dutch, French Huguenot, German, Italian, Polish, Turkish, Cypriot, and Chinese cultures since the twelfth century. The loss of Britain's colonies has brought Afro-Caribbeans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, and migrants from northwestern and eastern Africa in significant numbers. Judgments of whether England's newcomers feel themselves to be "English" vary by group and even by individual.
Location and Geography. England covers 50,357 square miles (130,423 square kilometers) of the main island of the British Isles and lies off the northwestern coast of Europe, separated from the mainland by the English Channel. The Gulf Stream makes the climate mild and rainy. The country is also divided into a highland zone and a lowland zone along a line from the mouth of the River Exe in the southwest to the mouth of the River Tees in the northeast. The highland zone's soil is poor and rocky, mainly suitable for raising livestock, but in the lowlands the land is flatter, the soil is fertile, and there are many navigable rivers. As a result of its favorable topography, the lowland region has always had the majority of the population, supported most agriculture and trade, and had the largest cities including the capital, London. The highland zone did not develop rapidly until the nineteenth century, when its coal and iron deposits allowed it to surge to prominence in the industrial revolution; its communities struggle in England's postindustrial era.
Demography. The population was 49.5 million in 1998. The estimated nonwhite proportion of the population for that year was 7.3 percent, with the officially designated ethnic groups being black Caribbean, black African, black other, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese.
Celtic in-migrations continues to be a major influence. These migrations are often urban in focus and tend to cluster in particular districts like London and Merseyside. The second important shift in demography from an ethnic standpoint is related to the end of the British Empire. Beginning in the 1950s, peoples from the Indian subcontinent and the Caribbean began to immigrate to England, taking advantage of the 1948 British Nationality Act, which established that all Commonwealth citizens enjoyed British citizenship. Most of these immigrants have settled in London, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Merseyside. Between 1984 and 1996, the number of nonwhites in England, Scotland, and Wales rose from 2.3 million to 3.39 million (the majority of whom lived in England) for a total increase of 47 percent. In that same period Great Britain grew by just 5.8 percent and England by even less. European, Mediterranean, and East Asian immigrants have been part of the cultural landscape since the Middle Ages, when the Jewish community came to prominence and Flemish clothworkers began arriving. Immigrants to England in particular have been drawn there by the creation of a Common Market in Western Europe and the ending of restrictions on the movement of eastern Europeans.
Linguistic Affiliation. The primary language since the sixteenth century has been some version of English. English, however, is an amalgam of languages brought to the British Isles by invasions that began before written history. The Celts made Gaelic the dominant language until the Romans invaded in 55 and 54 b.c.e., and introduced Latin and Greek, but it was the invasion of England by Germanic tribes in the fifth century (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) that laid the basis for English. The arrival of Christianity in 597 allowed English to interact with Latin as well as with Greek, Hebrew, and languages as distant as Chinese. Viking invasions a few centuries later brought Scandinavian languages to the British Isles, while the Norman invasion in 1066 introduced French. Gradually, all levels of society adopted English, which had largely supplanted Latin and French in the second half of the fifteenth century.
Modern English comes from the East Midland dialect of Middle English. This divide between the East Midland dialect and all others emerged between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries when those speaking with a "proper" or "posh" accent separated themselves from those speaking "Cockney" or working-class English. This division is signified by the distinction between "received pronunciation" (r.p.), Standard English, or BBC English and regional or local dialects of English. This linguistic divide has always corresponded with social rank. The elite generally spoke with an r.p. accent (also known as the Queen's or King's English), and other residents spoke a non-standard, locally mediated English. In recent decades the connection between class and accent has begun to loosen.
Except in certain urban communities, bilingualism and multilingualism continue to play a minimal role in England. As of 1980 at least twelve languages other than English had more than 100,000 speakers in Britain, including Punjabi, Urdu, Caribbean patois, Hindi, and Cantonese, which are among England's more influential second languages. In the last decade, the many varieties of spoken English have been thriving. Popular culture, especially music, radio, and television, has brought English creoles and patois; Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi English; and Celtic versions of English into the lives of the country's inhabitants. Thus, while Standard English still holds sway, it is no longer an unquestioned standard.
Symbolism. From a political standpoint, the monarchy, Parliament, and the English (or British) constitution are central symbols with both physical and ritual manifestations. Equally powerful are the rituals surrounding Parliament's routine. The monarchy expresses itself physically through the palaces and other residences of the royal family. Ritually, the monarchy permeates national life. From the social functions of the elite, which many people follow in the popular press, to the promotion of public causes, to royal weddings, the monarchy's representatives lend an almost sacral quality to public life.
Images that capture England's past have become a very important element in how people root themselves in a society that is increasingly mobile and in which the past has become a commodity. Idealizations of village and town life from bygone days are common in the speeches of politicians. Other idealizations of the past are equally popular, from the preserved industrial landscapes of the Midlands and the north, to nature walks that refer to the ancient peoples who inhabited the area long before the English arrived, to the appearance of the "English" countryside.
In recent years, popular culture has provided ways for England's immigrants to claim Englishness publicly. Before World War II the majority population insisted that newcomers assimilate and migrants were unable to lay claims to Englishness. More integrated national sports, especially soccer, and sports heroes represent the new ethnic landscape and provide symbols the young and the poor can claim. Similarly, movies, pop music, and plays have given less powerful groups ways of claiming Englishness. Popular festivals such as the Notting Hill Carnival, which is Europe's largest celebration of black identity, are also part of the mix. The New Commonwealth population also has produced widely read literary works.
History and Ethnic Relations
Emergence of the Nation. The emergence of the nation took place between 1200 and 1850. The first period when a quasi-national feeling was able to unify the people was the Hundred Years' War with France in the late Middle Ages (1337–1453). Although a dynastic conflict between successive English and French monarchs, this war became a cause in which Anglo-Saxon and Norman culture merged into a recognizably English culture.
In the sixteenth century, nationalism took on another component: anti-Catholicism. Henry VIII created the Church of England by tapping into popular sentiment against the Pope's interference in national affairs. Elizabeth I, his daughter, created a sense of national unity through the conflicts she orchestrated with Catholic Spain. Another manifestation of anti-Catholic sentiment was the Battle of the Boyne in 1689, where William III routed Catholic opposition in Ireland. William subsequently affirmed Catholicism as being contrary to English and Irish law. Beginning with Scotland and Ireland in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and continuing with competitions with the Spanish, the Dutch, and the French between 1550 and 1816, the English established a sense of expansionary patriotism. The final step in creating a national sentiment was taken in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when the middle classes defined Englishness as a positive morality to which everyone could subscribe.
National Identity. English cultural roots lie in a merging of Anglo-Saxon, Danish, and Norman French culture that has existed as a synthesis since the late Middle Ages. A process of negotiation was at the heart of this cultural creation.
Ethnic Relations. After stripping them of their assets, Edward I expelled the Jewish community in 1290, and Jews did not receive full rights and recognition until the twentieth century. The earliest guest workers, Flemish clothworkers, frequently found their contributions resented by "native" labor. German, French, and Low Countries Protestant refugees in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries were confronted with ethnic prejudices. The Irish as Celts and Catholics and the Welsh and Scots as Celts also have faced resentment, especially in eras dominated by English nationalism and British imperialism.
In the British Isles and abroad, the English record in colonized areas is no better than that of other European colonizing cultures. Beginning in the 1960s with the Immigration Acts and reaching a low point with the 1981 British Nationality Act, laws have been passed to restrict the rights of foreigners to enter the country and obtain citizenship and benefits. The support of Margaret Thatcher's government for free-market capitalism contributed to the decline of the areas where most ethnic minorities lived, sparking violent protests in the 1980s, such as London's Brixton riots in 1981. Antiracism legislation and the improving economy have lessened public and official attention to the nonwhite population. However, economic migrants and political refugees, chiefly from East Asia, eastern Europe, and Africa, have taken the place of the non-white populace as objects of public concern.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
England's urbanism and notions of landscape and countryside are closely tied to the movement of people and economic sectors from major metropolitan areas into new towns, extensions of older towns, smaller towns, villages, and remote rural areas. Cities are thought of as places of decay and degeneration by many people. The central principle in definitions of urban communities is their management and containment; this has been done by designating rings of nondevelopment (green belts) around major cities and urban areas. The emphasis on areas of nondevelopment also has influenced planning within cities and towns, with space being created for private and public gardens, parks, athletic fields, and other so-called greenfield sites. There has also been an emphasis on arranging cities and towns in more livable units, with more thought to the placement of work sites, public amenities, shopping areas, and dwellings and more of a focus on how streets cater to public and private uses.
Villages and small towns that were fairly local or regional have become bedroom communities for large cities such as London or parts of larger regional urban networks. Sometimes they retain their original character, but more often affluent newcomers have changed these localities. Thus, while those in suburban, village, and small-town areas trumpet the rural nature of their lives, they have altered the rural landscape. Outside the towns and villages, two forces dominate the countryside: highly commercialized agriculture and preservation. Agribusiness has played a role in defining the countryside by destroying 95 percent of the nation's wetlands. Countering the trend toward developing the countryside to accommodate more housing are the preservationists, who want to expand parks, preserve a traditional country way of life, and keep urban dwellers out of these areas. Left out of towns, cities, villages, and rolling hills are those with no money and no political voice. Those most excluded from current visions and proposals are the poor and the urban-dwelling ethnic minority groups.
Many different types of Englishness compete in towns, cities, villages, and the countryside. Architecturally, little is left from the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Roman periods, although Roman town planning, roads, and walls are still evident and Anglo-Saxon churches and Celtic monuments are still standing. The Middle Ages have left Gothic and Romanesque architecture while the Tudor and Stuart periods of England's history have also left their contributions, notably not just in buildings for the elite and the state but also for the middling sort. The eighteenth century saw Georgian and neo-Gothic architecture, which continued into the nineteenth century when neo-Classical styles arose. The twentieth century has seen the rise of suburban building styles and Modernism and reactions against both in the form of conservation, community architecture, and a tendency to revive old styles such as neo-Classicism.
Government buildings serve a range of symbolic purposes. Monuments more often symbolize particular historical figures or events. The purposes of public spaces also vary. The pews in a typical church promote an orderly separation between congregants while emphasizing togetherness as a congregation. Piccadilly Circus and many museums encourage people to mingle. Tea rooms, coffee shops, public houses, and nightclubs provide separate seating but promote a social atmosphere. People in England prefer to live in detached, suburban dwellings, ideally with a garden. First built in large numbers in the 1920s, many suburban houses were built in twos with a garden in front and rear. Another detached style was the single-story bungalow, which also became popular in the 1920s. Although in the post-war era it became common to build large, boxy modernist apartment blocks, especially for public housing, suburban building continued in additional new towns, some of which used the uniform, modernist styles. Since the 1980s more traditional designs for housing have been popular and both detached and non-detached housing have been constructed to evoke one of England's past eras. In private dwelling spaces, the English tend to fill much of the available space.
Food and Economy
Food in Daily Life. England is known for its bland cuisine. Traditional middle-class notions of diet put meats at the heart of the main meal, which usually was eaten at midday. Along with this main course, there might be a dish such as a meat casserole, and fish also was consumed. Heavy sauces, gravies, soups and stews or puddings (savory and sweet), and pasties and pies also were eaten. Vegetables included potatoes and carrots, turnips and cabbage, and salad vegetables. Fruit was also part of the diet, though in small proportions. Lighter meals included variations of the sandwich. Breakfast foods ranged from hot cereals to tea, toast, and marmalade, to steak, eggs, and kidneys. These foods were not available to most people before World War II. The rural poor, for example, ate a diet based on cheese and bread, with bacon eaten a few times a week, supplemented by fresh milk if available, cabbage, and vegetables if a garden was kept. All the classes drank tea; beer was drunk by the working classes and other alcoholic beverages were drunk by the middle and upper classes.
Since 1950, the English have eaten less red meat, more poultry, and about the same amount of fish. The consumption of fats is down, and that of alternatives such as margarine is up. Fresh fruits are in favor, while vegetables are not, and the focus is on salad vegetables. The main meal is now eaten in the evening and is likely to consist of frozen or ready-made food. In addition to eating out in pubs, inns, and restaurants, people consume fast food. There has been a dramatic increase in the variety of foreign cuisine, ranging from Chinese and Indian to French and Italian.
There are few food-related taboos. People avoid some foods for so-called hygienic reasons, such as onions and leeks, which can cause bad breath. There are also foods that are considered uncivilized. Traditionally, the English have never eaten dogs, horses, other carnivores, or insects. Increasingly, eating meat is looked on as uncivilized. As part of the shift away from meat toward fruit, vegetables, and fish, people have become more distanced from the production of the meat they eat and less willing to eat as wide a variety of meats.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Apart from cakes on birthdays, few special foods are eaten at major secular ceremonies, although such ceremonies involve toasting and drinking alcohol. In religious ceremonies, alcohol, usually wine, is common at most celebrations of the Eucharist in Christian churches and also is used at Jewish ceremonies. On Shrove Tuesday, which is both a secular and a religious occasion, many people eat pancakes.
Basic Economy. The economy is developed and highly specialized, and very few inhabitants produce food and other necessities for themselves. In 1998, approximately 13 percent of England's workforce was self-employed, many working in agriculture, fishing, and construction. This group and the few among the economically inactive (21 percent in 1998) who have opted out of the market economy completely are the only people in England who may produce goods for themselves. Given that the majority of both groups are part of the regular economy, the number of people who are completely self-sufficient is small, although at times they are politically and culturally prominent. A rough sense of England's dependence on the world can be gained by looking at trade figures as a proportion of GDP. In 1997 England's exports amounted to about 29 percent of GDP, as did imports.
Land Tenure and Property. The most common form of land tenure is the owner-occupied house, with personal ownership in 1998 at 68 percent and the remainder of the inhabitants renting government-owned rent-controlled or private dwellings. Most dwellings are in urban areas, which occupied about 12 percent of the total land area in 1999. In that same year, 71 percent of England's land was devoted to agriculture: 24 percent was rented and the remaining 47 percent was owned by resident farmers or farming enterprises. Legal rights to property have their origin in the period 1500–1800, when landholders enclosed land and claimed exclusive ownership of it. Their actions extinguished many customary use rights to land and established private claims to rights-of-way. In addition to this division between private and common land, many forms of public and semipublic land have developed. Roads, infrastructure, and official buildings are often public. Also subject to public control are the national parks and nature reserves. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are often in private hands but are under public supervision of the Countryside Agency. Public rights-of-way and common lands are often owned by individuals, but those owners may be obligated to ensure public access. The Department of the Environment, Transport, and the Regions oversees land use, working with local authorities, an arrangement in place since the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act.
Commercial Activities. In addition to manufacturing, the major sectors of the economy are financial services, wholesale and retail trade, communication technology, and education and social services.
Major Industries. The major areas of industrial output are textiles; food, beverages, and tobacco; paper, paper products, wood products; chemicals; metals and fabricated metal items; electrical and optical equipment; and transport equipment and other machinery.
Division of Labor. People with more experience still tend to hold positions with greater responsibility and rewards, but this situation has been changing since the 1970s. Increasingly, older workers are losing jobs because of business strategies to keep workforces small. This trend has hit older working class men particularly hard because the sectors in which they work are rapidly being shifted out of the economy. Ethnic prejudice, ageism, and sexism still prevent many people from advancing. Specialization, educational attainment, and status correspond fairly well, with managerial and professional groups being at the top of society, followed by white-collar workers and then skilled blue-collar workers and semi-skilled and unskilled manual laborers.
Classes and Castes. Class is the primary way in which people approach social stratification. The upper class (the landed gentry, the titled nobility, and members of the royal family) has roughly the same social position it has had since the nineteenth century, when the middle classes began to compete successfully with the landed interests for influence. However, the upper class lost official political influence (and credibility) in the twentieth century. The major change in England's social identity structure has been the shrinking number of workers in manufacturing and the increasing number of people who work in service industries. White-collar and other service workers have replaced blue-collar workers as England's economic backbone. Consequently, the middle class has increased in size and wealth, and home ownership has increased, while union membership has declined dramatically, along with the size of the traditional industrial working class.
Most workers expect unemployment at some point in their careers, especially the unskilled and uneducated. In 1983, only 5 percent of non-manual workers were unemployed. In contrast, skilled manual workers experienced 12 percent and semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers 23 percent unemployment, and manual workers combined accounted for 84 percent of the unemployed.
England is becoming a society of the included and the excluded. There has been a sharp rise in long-term unemployment. The nature of work in a fluid economy does not support long-term employment for low-skilled and moderately skilled workers, and this is reflected in the rise in part-time (24.7 percent of the 1999 workforce), and multiple-job workers. Homelessness has become a fact of English life, with 102,410 families in England accepted as homeless in 1997 alone.
The richest class has increased its share of the national income and national assets. In 1995, the wealthiest 10 percent of the population owned half the assets controlled by households. In 1997 the income of the top 20 percent of households was four times that of the bottom 20 percent. Meanwhile, those earning less than half of the median doubled between 1979 and 1998, reaching 10 percent.
Ethnic minorities have not fared well in the new economic environment. For all minority men, unemployment was 17 percent in the period 1986–1988, for example, compared with 10 percent for whites. Ten years on, in the period 1997–1998, unemployment rates of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and blacks were more than three times those for whites. Indians, on the other hand, have faired better, currently occupying a central position in the middle class as entrepreneurs and in the professions, enjoying chances of employment more comparable to whites.
Symbols of Social Stratification. Many of the traditional symbols of social difference have undergone change. Clothing and other consumer goods historically were indicators of class, but are now more ambiguous. Most consumer goods are widely available, and the clothing and fashion industries recycle styles so quickly that rank and clothing do not always correspond. Education, which used to be a clear way to divide people into classes, has also lost some of its defining power. Private primary and secondary schools increased their share of school age children through 1990, and higher education has expanded the number of places available to those who want postsecondary training; by the mid 1990s more than 30 percent of students age eighteen were attending a university. Oxford and Cambridge have been accepting students from an increasingly broad socioeconomic spectrum, and students now have many more universities to choose from. Accent also has become a less reliable class signifier.
Government. Unlike Scotland and Wales, England does not have a separate parliament or departments to represent and manage it. Contact with the central government is increasingly achieved through nine Government Offices for the Regions. Day-to-day life in the community is governed by local authorities such as district and parish councils.
Leadership and Political Officials. Political parties and institutions favor those judged to be respectable and, in senior positions, those with political experience. Thus, in the Conservative Party, only members of Parliament (MPs) can elect party leaders. It is still common for politicians and judges to have an elite education and a privileged background. Local politics is a mixed bag, with some local authorities and town and village councils politically polarized and others less so, although the larger the community the more likely it is to be dominated by the Labour Party. In general, those who participate in local politics and local organizations such as arts councils knew someone in government before becoming involved.
England has no national parties that affiliate specifically with the national culture. The main parties are the Labour Party (now often called New Labour), the Conservative Party (Tories), and the Liberal Democrats.
Access to political leaders is achieved most effectively through voluntary sector interest groups. These organizations work with local government authorities, local agencies such as the police, individual MPs, and central government ministries and may acquire an official role.
Social Problems and Social Control. For purposes of policing and criminal justice, England and Wales are treated as one unit. Policing is handled by forty-one locally organized police forces in addition to the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London police force. Most police officers carry a nightstick, with only designated officers carrying sidearms. Persons suspected of committing a crime may be stopped and searched. More extensive searching is possible with authorization from a senior officer. For most crimes the police require judicial authorization to make arrests, but for "arrestable" offences such as murder, authorization is unnecessary. The maximum period of detention without a charge being leveled is ninety-six hours. The Police Complaints Authority handles cases of police brutality. The national policing bodies are the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. The Home Secretary of the United Kingdom has overall responsibility for policing in England as well as for the prison service, the probation service, and the criminal law.
Criminal law is a combination of statute law made by Parliament and common law (case law). Founded in 1985, the Crown Prosecution Service prosecutes criminals arrested by the police. The court system is adversarial, and the accused is defended by a lawyer (a solicitor or barrister) who attempts to disprove the case presented by the Crown Prosecution Service. Cases that go to Crown Court involve a trial by a jury of the accused person's peers with guidance from the presiding judge. In all other cases not on appeal, the defendant is tried in magistrate court by a judge who decides the case with the assistance of a law clerk. The accused or the Crown may appeal a judgment to a higher court, with the highest court being the House of Lords. Except for treason and a few other offenses, the highest penalty is a custodial sentence.
Since the 1980s, ideas about the role of the criminal justice system have been changing, largely as a result of perceived and real increases in violent and property crimes. Local communities with their informal mechanisms for social control are considered an important part of criminal justice. Neighborhood watch schemes have become popular, and victim-offender mediation and reparation, community mediation, and neighborhood mediation have emerged. Police cautioning, in which juvenile offenders and their parents or guardians are informed of the seriousness of their offenses, has become popular. Parole boards administer the punishment of offenders in the community, and the police and other official agencies have formed partnerships with local communities and voluntary organizations. Some people are critical of the trend toward integrating informal social control into the official criminal justice apparatus. They argue that such social control may result in a culture divided into communities suspicious of outsiders. Others have noted that vigilantism, which plays a relatively small role in the culture (exceptions are street gangs, less organized groupings of males termed "the lads," and soccer hooligans), may take root.
Military Activity. Military activity is administered through the armed forces of the United Kingdom, which are directed by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense.
Social Welfare and Change Programs
Social welfare and change programs are directed toward people who cannot care for themselves (the elderly, children and youth, and the disabled), those in poverty, and those experiencing discrimination. Local government social services authorities provide for children and youth, the elderly, and the disabled, and there are advisory and regulatory bodies such as the National Disability Council and the Mental Health Act Commission. For the elderly, the disabled, and those with learning disabilities, major services include supervised residential and day care, help for those confined to the home, support services for family members caring for those individuals, and counseling. Increasingly, government policy has aimed services for the elderly, the disabled, and persons with learning disabilities at helping those people live at home and in the community. The mentally ill are treated locally, though since there are fewer places for the mentally ill in large hospitals, this has meant farming out patients to smaller hospitals and private and charity-supported facilities. Local authorities have the responsibility for child welfare, and provide aid to families such as advice, guidance, counseling, and day care. They also protect abused children and care for children without parents.
The poor and the unemployed receive support from the Department of Social Security (DSS). The major beneficiaries are the unemployed, families in need, those with short-term or long-term disability, widows, and elderly retirees. Since the early 1980s, more conditions have been placed on the receipt of DSS benefits, with the exception of the elderly and those unable to work. The unemployed, for example, must demonstrate they are looking for work to receive benefits.
Social change programs for ethnic minorities and women are in their infancy. There is a Race Equality Unit in the central government, and the 1976 Race Relations Act set up the Commission for Racial Equality that oversees over one hundred racial equality councils. These changes have not diminished ethnic inequality and tensions, although Britain has a minister for women, a Women's Unit, and an Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) as well as an umbrella group known as the Women's National Commission.
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
The Charity Commission for England and Wales registered 188,000 charities in 1998. Across the United Kingdom, charities employed 485,000 people and supervised three million volunteers in 1998. With the move toward privatization in the 1980s, charities became more important, but social and economic dislocation have made it difficult for them to maintain the social safety net. Nongovernmental organizations work with children and youth; marginalized or disadvantaged groups such as the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those suffering from inequality; environmental conservationists; the science and technology sector; the arts; and the humanities.
Gender Roles and Statuses
Division of Labor by Gender. Gender roles assign homemaking, other domestic activities, and most unpaid labor to women. A man's sense of self is defined chiefly in terms of the paid work he can obtain. The impact of these constructions of gender is now much different than before, but is still felt in English society.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Although there is no equal rights amendment, in recent decades there has been a more noticeable commitment to equality of opportunity for men and women through bodies such as the Equal Opportunity Commission and laws such as the Abortion Act of 1967 and the 1969 Divorce Act. The rate of women's (especially married women's) participation in the workforce increased in the late twentieth century, as did the nature of that participation. In 1971, only 57 percent of women of working age were economically active, but in 1998 that figure was 72 percent, whereas men's participation declined from 91 percent to 84 percent. Despite their importance in the workforce, women earn only 80 percent of what men do. Women have been confined to lower-status work, are more likely to work part-time, and are under-represented in elite jobs. However, some women have obtained high-status, formerly male-dominated work, and the status of female-dominated work has risen. Women's increasing participation in political life and their progress in religious roles in society—the rise of women MPs in the 1990s and the Church of England's agreement to ordain women priests in 1994—may be an indication of this.
Women have probably made the least progress in the social sphere. They were the victims in 70 percent of cases of domestic violence in 1998, and women still perform most unpaid work, such as running households and raising children. Gender roles among particular subgroups, however, diverge from this picture. Some Muslim and Jewish women are more involved in the domestic sphere, and Afro-Caribbean community women are more likely to be employed and have a higher status than Afro-Caribbean men.
Marriage, Family, and Kinship
Marriage. Among many members of the South Asian and Jewish communities, arranged marriages as a means of cementing family alliances are the norm. Most inhabitants, however, decide independently whom to marry, often choosing to cohabit with the partner before marriage. Social position, social aspirations, and informal social control drive the choice of a marriage partner. Thus, marriages across class lines are not common, especially among unskilled workers and the professional and managerial classes. Marriages across ethnic lines also are not common. As a reason for marriage, economic security is prominent, but so is the desire for sexual and social companionship. In 1997, about half the population over age sixteen was married. While marriage between a man and a woman remains the primary model for long-term relationships, it is not the only one. Same-sex unions and so-called blended families are increasingly common, and experimentation with forms of quasi-polygamy has taken place.
Domestic Unit. The basic domestic unit is a household headed by a married couple—a model that accounted for 59 percent of the households in 1998. Close to 73 percent of inhabitants live in a family headed by a couple (though not necessarily a married couple). It is uncommon for couples to live with the kin of either partner. Current gender roles dictate that men are the primary breadwinners and women are responsible for household management. Who actually controls the household on a daily basis, however, varies by household. Single-parent, usually female-headed households are on the rise, accounting for 9 percent of all households in 1998. The extended family is a visible and important social institution in the South Asian, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, and Jewish communities and still plays a role in the majority population. People living alone represented 28 percent of households in 1998.
Inheritance. Children rarely depend on inherited wealth to become independent and usually inherit movable property rather than real estate. When real estate is involved, it often consists of a home and the attached land, not agricultural land. Most people follow the principle of equal division of inherited wealth among offspring, with some favoritism toward biological offspring in blended families.
Kin Groups. People envision themselves as part of a set of interconnected families, the size of which varies with marital status and family traditions. Most people include three to four generations of people in their kin group. Those who are married count the same number of generations of the spouse's family as part of their family. Kin groups do not have prominent status in society formally or informally. Notions of kinship involve a network of individuals who enter into kin relationships. The individual is not subsumed by the kin structure.
Infant Care. Good mothering entails stimulating an infant through play and other activities. Many other aspects of infant care are class-specific. For example, middle-class mothers are likely to breast feed babies and wean them early, while working-class mothers tend to use bottle feeding and wean infants later. Middle-class infants are more likely to sleep in a separate room in a crib than are their working-class peers. Working-class infants also are more likely to receive physical chastisement for crying. Working-class fathers are not likely to participate in the upbringing of infant children because of the difficulty of obtaining time off.
Child Rearing and Education. A good child is often termed well adjusted, as opposed to children who are shy, withdrawn, overly aggressive, or hyperactive. Typically, people see children's behavior as the result of interactions with those around them, with the parents being the primary influence. Some children are viewed as having health problems that affect behavior, requiring medical intervention. There are two major areas of emphasis in child-rearing practices and beliefs. First, adults, particularly parents, need to teach children and young adults how to behave by setting limits to what they can and cannot do, teaching them how to solve conflicts and deal with others, and modeling good behavior. Second, adults should stimulate children to learn and be curious and creative to promote the growth of their mental capacities. Children are supposed to be well behaved but capable of interacting with their peers without shyness and should be curious and inquisitive as learners. Models for learning, teaching, and parenting involve intense interaction between teacher and learner and parent and child. Major secular initiation ceremonies for children and young adults revolve around the educational process and clubs. School graduation ceremonies are a primary rite of passage for most children and young adults. Hazing is used to initiate junior members of clubs, schools, and street gangs. There are three levels of schooling below the university level: preschool, primary school, and secondary school. Depending on the kinds of knowledge tested at the secondary levels, schools emphasize practical knowledge and problem solving as much as the mastery of a body of knowledge.
Higher Education. Government policy since the late 1950s has been aimed at expanding the opportunities for students to benefit from postsecondary education to create a more skilled workforce and increase social mobility. In the 1990s, more than 30 percent of all eighteen-year-olds were attending a university (up from under 5 percent in 1960), although the recent introduction of student fees may cause some to discontinue their education.
Etiquette is changing, but norms for appropriate behavior articulated by the elite and the middle class are still an important normative force. Greetings vary by the class or social position of the person with whom one is dealing. Those with titles of nobility, honorific titles, academic titles, and other professional titles prefer to be addressed by those titles, but like people to avoid calling too much attention to a person's position. Unless invited to do so, one does not call people by their nicknames. Postural norms are akin to those in other Western cultures; people lean forward to show interest and cross their legs when relaxed, and smiles and nods encourage conversation. The English expect less physical expression and physical contact than do many other societies: handshakes should not be too firm, social kissing is minimal, loud talking and backslapping are considered inappropriate, staring is impolite, and not waiting one's turn in line is a serious social blunder.
In conversation the English are known for understatement both in humor and in other forms of expression. On social occasions, small talk on neutral topics is appropriate and modest gifts are given. People reciprocate in paying for food and drink in social exchanges, by ordering drinks by rounds, for example. In public houses (bars), appropriate etiquette includes not gesturing for service. In restaurants it is important to keep one's palms toward the waiter, and tips are in the range of 10 to 15 percent. Standard table manners include holding the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right hand, tipping one's soup bowl away when finishing, and not leaning one's elbows on the table. Deviations from these norms occur in ethnic subcultures and among the working class. These groups usually develop their own version of etiquette, appropriating some rules from the majority standard while rejecting others.
Religious Beliefs. In 1998, approximately 10 percent of the population claimed to be atheists and 15 percent said they were agnostics, while 20 percent said they believed in God. In 1991, about 25 percent of inhabitants claimed to believe in astrology and good luck charms, and 42 percent believed in fortune-telling and faith healing. The major religious traditions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism. In recent decades, so-called pagan or cult religions have included Wicca, shamanism, heathenism, druidry, goddess religion, the Unification Church, and Transcendental Meditation.
Religious Practitioners. Christian leaders derive power and authority from their control and dispensation of sacraments. Jewish rabbis and Islamic imams derive their authority from their mastery of a specific set of religious legal texts and the application of those texts to everyday life. Hinduism relies on a wide variety of texts, and traditionally its primary leaders gain authority from their caste position as well as from their adherence to specific ascetic rules and, especially in the case of gurus, their perceived connection to the divine. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion with a single set of texts, and ideally Sikhs associate themselves with a guru who helps believers achieve spirituality. In the most popular form of Buddhism (Mahayana), monks and teachers hold spiritual authority by virtue of their ascetic way of life and mastery of certain texts. In the various forms of Buddhism, monks and teachers hold spiritual authority by virtue of their ascetic way of life, their mastery of certain texts, and their leadership of worship ceremonies. Modern paganism often envisions its priests as deriving their power through a unique connection to the hidden forces in nature. Leaders of other movements rely on charisma or the attractiveness of the skills they teach.
Rituals and Holy Places. Christians celebrate an annual cycle of rituals that vary by denomination. Most celebrate Christmas and Easter and attend services in a church on Sunday. Judaism has particular days of celebration, such as Passover, and weekly services on Saturdays in a synagogue. Islam has special celebrations (the month of Ramadan) and weekly attendance at worship services in a mosque on Fridays. In Hinduism worship is a daily activity, often taking place at the household shrine but also at the local temple. There are festivals and feasts to honor individual deities (Ram Navami) and particular occasions in the year (e.g. Divali); some are yearly, others weekly and fortnightly. For Sikhs, regular worship at the temple is important, but there are no days that are particularly holy; Sikhs worship on Sunday. For Buddhists, worship is done both at home and at religious centers and occurs on a weekly basis; the birth of the Buddha is an important occasion that is celebrated. Alternative religions vary in where they worship, how often, and on what days.
Death and the Afterlife. In the early 1990s, about 25 percent of the population believed in life after death, although there is a wide range of practices around death. For a majority of the population, ideas about the afterlife are based on typical Victorian notions that are reinforced on television and in film: a place where life is better and those who have lived a good life are rewarded. For most people, funerals have become much cleaner, with the deceased meticulously prepared and cleaned before burial. Cemeteries are kept pristine and immaculate. Others, however, feel that the dead are very much among the living in photographs, videos, and other visual mementos. People used to remember the dead in a yearly cycle of religious days, but with the geographic spread of families, family occasions have become the occasions to recall them. There are organizations that promote awareness of how to die, from living wills to hospice care to palliative measures and euthanasia.
Medicine and Health Care
Since 1946, most people have obtained health care from a physician or other specialist attached to the National Health Service (NHS), a government-controlled and government-funded health care system. Although in the 1980s and early 1990s there were attempts to introduce market-driven principles into the NHS, and the number of privately insured inhabitants has risen; the NHS retains the principles of free services at the point of delivery, and the current Labour government has rescinded many of the measures intended to manage healthcare by market principles.
Most people believe in an approach to medicine that focuses on particular problems and illnesses as opposed to overall wellness. In this type of medicine a patient sees a medical specialist when a health complaint arises. The doctor diagnoses the problem on the basis of the patient's physical symptoms and either prescribes a treatment or sends the patient to a more specialized doctor. In recent years, a very different set of approaches to medicine and health (complementary medicine) has been informed by non-Western traditions such as traditional Chinese medicine and nonstandard approaches such as herbal lore. Rather than trying to cure a specific ailment, practitioners of complementary medicine attempt to restore the well-being of the patient's entire mind and body, often by tapping the body's capacities to heal itself. Examples of complementary medicine are acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy, and healing touch.
New Year's Eve and Day (31 December, 1 January), celebrate the beginning of the new year. April Fool's Day (1 April), is a day on which people play practical jokes on one another. The sovereign's birthday is celebrated in June. Guy Fawkes's Day (5 November) commemorates the foiling of a 1605 Catholic plot to blow up the houses of Parliament and is an occasion for fireworks and revelry. Remembrance Day (11 November) celebrates the contributions of war veterans to defending the freedom of the nation.
The Arts and Humanities
Support for the Arts. In addition to artists' earnings, support for the arts derives from the government, chiefly through the Arts Council and business and private philanthropic sources.
Literature. The elaboration of an expressly English literature began in the medieval period with Geoffrey Chaucer and continued into the Renaissance and then into the Restoration with William Shakespeare, John Milton, and John Dryden. During those periods, drama and poetry were the major literary forms, with popular literature shading into song, cartoons, and storytelling.
The eighteenth century is notable for the emergence of new literary forms such as the novel, the true crime tale, light opera, magazines, and new oral traditions associated with England's port districts. Regionalized music and storytelling from this era still provide the foundation for much currently performed folk music in England.
The nineteenth century is the age of the Romantics and the Victorians. Artists in both movements were social realists, with the Romantics known for recovering older forms and the Victorians known for highly elaborate language. Popular literature offered the penny dreadful and a profusion of magazines that published novels and other literary work serially. New oral traditions sprang up around labor protest movements such as those of the Luddites and Chartists.
In the twentieth century, writers born in England shared the stage with Commonwealth writers such as Derek Walcott, V.S. Naipaul, and Nadine Gordimer and with other non-English writers such as James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, and Alice Walker. The twentieth century also saw the continuance of the phenomenon of Anglicized émigré writers such as T. S. Eliot. Edwardians such as E. M. Forster and moderns such as D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf dominated the period 1900–1950. Edwardians extended Victorian approaches, and moderns worked in older forms such as the novel and helped develop the short story.
Since World War II, the efforts of writers to stretch the bounds of genres expanded. Poetry is now performed in the form of hip-hop music or at poetry slams, while written poetry may be rooted in jazz and has lost prominence. Drama has flourished, as have filmed versions of classic and contemporary works. Novels focus on the everyday and the autobiographical, a reflection in part of women's influence on literature.
Graphic Arts. Most training of graphic artists is provided by universities and art colleges. Art has been incorporated into the school curriculum as part of the nation's educational policy, and all English students receive some training in and exposure to the graphic arts. In 1997 and 1998, 22 percent of the population over age 15 visited a gallery, museum, or other major collection, a figure that has shown little change since the late 1980s. Whether museums are egalitarian in terms of affordability and relevance, however, is debatable. The National Disability Arts Forum and similar organizations are funded by the Arts Council of England and improve access to the arts and training in the arts for the disabled population; the Arts Council promotes cultural diversity as well.
Performance Arts. The Royal Shakespeare Company and musical productions in London's West End are well attended. Musical productions range from orchestras such as the London Philharmonic to jazz, rock, and folk music. Dance forms range from classical ballet to free-form club dancing. Ticket prices limit attendance at elite forms of performance art, although statistics show that in the last decade their audience has not decreased in size.
The State of the Physical and Social Sciences
England supports research and teaching in all areas of science and the social sciences. The government funds most scientific and social scientific research. Larger private corporations and private foundations are also major players. The research sector develops applications for basic primary research in a range of fields. With a long tradition of empirical inquiry, English scholars have often been active in applied science.
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See Also: United Kingdom
This entry covers Anglo-Saxon practices of magic and witchcraft through the Middle Ages in England. See also separate entries for Scotland, Wales, and the pre-Saxon inhabitants of England, the Celts. For the modern period, see separate entries on magic and witchcraft.
Early Magic and Witchcraft
The Anglo-Saxon system of magic was based on the Teutonic. Witchcraft practitioners were called wicca (or wicce, femi-nine), scin-laeca, galdor-craeftig, wiglaer, and morthwyrtha. A wiglaer (from wig, idol or temple, and laer, learning) was a wizard, and a wicca or wicce was a witch. Scin-laeca (a shining dead body) was a species of phantom or apparition; the term was also used to identify someone who had the power of producing such phantoms. Galdor-craeftig implies one skilled in incantations, and morthwyrtha is, literally, "a worshiper of the dead." Another general appellation for such personages was dry (magician).
The laws prohibiting these practices carried severe penalties. The best account given of them is found in a passage written during the reign of Edward and Guthrun (tenth century):
"If any wicca, or wiglaer, or false swearer, or morth-wyrtha, or any foul, contaminated, manifest horcwenan [whore queen or strumpet], be any where in the land, man shall drive them out. We teach that every priest shall extinguish all heathendom, and forbid wilweorthunga [fountain-worship], and licwiglunga [incantations of the dead], and hwata [omens], and galdra [magic], and man-worship, and the abominations that men exercise in various sorts of witchcraft, and in frithspottum, and with elms and other trees, and with stones, and with many phantoms."
From subsequent regulations, it is clear that witchcraft and magic were used for violence, for penitentiary penalties were levied against anyone who injured or killed another by wiccecraefte (witchcraft).
Witches apparently used philters (love potions), for it was also a crime to gain another's love through enchanted food or drink. Wicca were also forbidden to wiglian (divine) by the moon. King Canute renewed the prohibitions. He declared it illegal to worship the sun or the moon, fire or floods, wells or stones, or any sort of tree; to love wiccecraefte, or to frame death spells, either by lot or by torch; or to effect anything by phantoms. The Poenitentiale of Theodore reveals that witches also claimed the power of letting loose tempests.
Another name for magic among the Anglo-Saxons was unlybban wyrce (destructive of life). Penitence was prescribed for a woman who killed a man by unlybban. In one account a woman who had resolved to kill her stepson, or at least to alienate him from his father's affection, sought a witch who knew how to change minds by arts and enchantments. Offering the witch rewards, the stepmother inquired how the father's mind might be turned from the child and fixed on her. The witch immediately made a magic medicament and it was mixed with the husband's meat and drink. The episode ended with the murder of the child and the stepmother's exposure.
The Anglo-Saxons used numerous charms. They trusted in their incantations to cure disease, for successful planting and harvest, for the discovery of lost property, and for the prevention of casualties. Specimens of their charms have been preserved. The Venerable Bede recorded that "many, in times of disease (neglecting the sacraments) went to the erring medicaments of idolatry, as if to restrain God's chastisements by incantations, phylacteries, or any other secret of the demoniacal arts."
Their prognostications—from the sun, from thunder, and from dreams—were so numerous that they perpetuated superstition. Every day of every month was cataloged as a propitious or unpropitious date for certain transactions. There were Anglo-Saxon treatises that contained rules for discovering the future and disposition of a child from the day of birth. One day was useful for all things; another, though good to tame animals, was poor for sowing seeds. One day was favorable to business, another to let blood; on others these things were forbidden.
On a particular day it was said that one must buy, on a second sell, on a third hunt, on a fourth do nothing. If a child was born on a certain day it would live; if on another, it would be sickly; if on still another, it would perish early. The future could be predicted by noticing on what day of the week or month it first thundered, or when the new moon appeared. Dreams likewise had regular interpretations and applications, and thus life, instead of being governed by counsels of wisdom, was directed by those solemn rules of superstition.
Beginnings of Witchcraft in England
Prior to the Reformation, little official notice was given to the practice of witchcraft, "the craft of the wise," but authorities were always on the lookout for anyone believed to be practicing sorcery (i.e., malevolent magic). It was regarded as a political offense to employ sorcery against the ruling powers and it was punished severely, as is witnessed by the execution of the duchess of Gloucester in Henry VI's reign and the duke of Buckingham in 1521. In Henry VI's time Lord Hungerford was beheaded for consulting certain soothsayers concerning the duration of the king's life.
Witchcraft was widespread and of early origin in England, but it seems those practicing it were not systematically punished until after the sixteenth-century Reformation period. Prosecution may have taken place against witches in Plantagenet and early Tudor times, but the popularity of sorcery was probably so widespread and the protection against it by the church was supposed to be so powerful that nothing like a crusade was directed against it.
At very early periods the church had fulminated against those who practiced witchcraft. In 696 C.E. a canon of council held at Berkhampstead condemned to corporal punishment those who made sacrifices to evil spirits.
According to James I. F. A. Inderwick, in Side-Lights on the Stuarts (1888),
"For centuries in this country strange as it may now appear, a denial of the existence of such demoniacal agency was deemed equal to a confession of Atheism and to a disbelief in the Holy Scriptures themselves. But not only did Lord Chancellors, Lord Keepers, benches of Bishops and Parliament attest the truth and the existence of witchcraft, but Addison writing as late as 1711, in the pages of the Spectator, after describing himself as hardly pressed by the arguments on both sides of this question expresses his own belief that there is and has been, witchcraft in the land."
It was in the twelfth century that pagan witchcraft practices were first associated with the devil. The tale of the old woman of Berkeley that Southey's ballad familiarized was earlier related by William of Malmesbury (ca. 1125) on the authority of a professed eyewitness. When the devil informed the witch of the near expiry of her contract, she summoned the neighboring monks and her children, and, after confessing her criminal compact, displayed great anxiety lest Satan should take her body as well as her soul.
She asked that her body be sewn in a stag's hide and placed in a stone coffin closed with lead and iron. The coffin was then to be loaded with heavy stones and the whole fastened down with three iron chains. In order to baffle the power of the demons, she further directed that 50 psalms be sung by night, and 50 masses be sung by day, and at the end of three nights, if her body was still secure it could be buried with safety.
All these precautions, however, proved of no avail. The monks bravely resisted the efforts of the fiends on the first and second nights, but on the third night in the middle of a terrific uproar an immense demon burst into the monastery and in a voice of thunder commanded the dead witch to rise. She replied that she was bound with chains, but the demon snapped them like thread. The coffin lid fell aside, and when the witch arose the demon bore her off on a huge black horse, galloping into the darkness while her shrieks resounded through the air.
The first trial for witchcraft in England is believed to have occurred during the tenth year of the reign of King John (Robin Hood's opponent) when, according to the Abbreviato-Placitorum, Agnes, the wife of Odo the merchant, accused one Gideon of the crime. He proved his innocence, however, by the ordeal of the red-hot iron.
A trial for sorcery was reported with more detail in the year 1324. Certain citizens of Coventry had suffered at the hands of the prior, whose extortions were approved of and supported by two of Edward II's favorites. By way of revenge they plotted the death of the prior, the favorites, and the king.
To carry out their plot they consulted John of Nottingham, a famous magician of the time, and his servant Robert Marshall of Leicester. Marshall, however, betrayed the plot and stated that he and his master fashioned images of wax to represent the king, his two favorites, the prior, his caterer and steward, and one Richard de Lowe—the latter being brought in merely as an experimental figure to test the effect of the charm.
At an old ruined house near Coventry on the Friday following Holy Cross Day, John gave Marshall a sharp-pointed leaden branch and commanded him to plunge it into the forehead of the figure representing Richard de Lowe. This being done, John dispatched his servant to Lowe's house to find out the result of the experiment. Lowe it seems had lost his senses and went about screaming "Harrow!" On the Sunday before Ascension, John withdrew the branch from the image's forehead and thrust it into the heart, where it remained until the following Wednesday, when the unfortunate victim died. Such was Marshall's testimony, but the judges gave it little credence, and after several adjournments the trial was abandoned.
The first enactment against witchcraft in England was by the Parliament of 1541 and was annulled six years later. In 1551 further enactments were leveled at it, but it was not until 1563 that Parliament defined witchcraft as a capital crime. The regular persecution of witches followed. Many burnings occurred during the last years of Elizabeth's reign.
Early Witchcraft Trials
At the village of Warboys, in Huntingdon county, in 1589 lived two country gentlemen, Robert Throgmorton and Sir Samuel Cromwell. Throgmorton's family consisted of his wife and five daughters, of whom the eldest, Joan, a girl of 15, was well versed in ghost and witch lore.
On one occasion Joan had to pass the cottage of a laboring family by the name of Samuel. This family consisted of a man, his wife, and their grown daughter. Mother Samuel was sitting at the door, where she was busily engaged in knitting. Joan accused her of being a witch, ran home, and fell into strange convulsive fits, swearing that Mother Samuel had bewitched her. In due course the other Throgmorton daughters were beseiged by similar fits and placed the blame on Mother Samuel.
The parents began to suspect that their children were really bewitched and reported the matter to Lady Cromwell, who, as an intimate friend of the family, took up the matter. She and Sir Samuel ordered that the alleged witch be put to ordeal. Meanwhile the children let loose their imaginations and invented all sorts of weird and grotesque tales about the old woman.
Eventually Throgmorton had the poor old woman dragged to his grounds, where she was subjected to torture, pins being thrust into her body to see if blood could be drawn. Lady Cromwell tore out a handful of the woman's hair, which she gave to Mrs. Throgmorton to burn as an antidote to witchcraft. Suffering under these injuries the old woman invoked a curse against her torturers that was afterward remembered, although she was allowed her liberty. She suffered much persecution thereafter at the hands of the two families; every misfortune occurring among their cattle and livestock was blamed on her.
Eventually Lady Cromwell was seized with an illness that caused her death, and Mother Samuel was blamed. Repeated efforts were made to persuade her to confess and amend what she had done. At last, tormented beyond endurance, she let herself be persuaded to pronounce an exorcism against the spirits and confessed that her husband and daughter were associates with her and had sold themselves to the devil. On the strength of this confession the whole family was imprisoned in the Huntingdon jail.
At the following court session the three Samuels were put on trial and indicted with various offenses, among them, "bewitching unto death" the Lady Cromwell. In the agony of torture the old woman confessed all that was required, but her husband and daughter strongly asserted their innocence. All were sentenced to be hanged and burned. The executions were carried out on April 3, 1593.
With the accession of James I, (the former James IV of Scotland) the Continental crusade against witchcraft that had begun in the late fifteenth century came to England. James, who believed deeply in the negative power of witches, became greatly concerned about the spread of witchcraft in his land. He studied the nature of witchcraft and wrote a significant polemic against the practice. His book Daemonologie (1547) gave great impetus to the persecution of witches in England. Some 50 witches were executed during his reign. (English Protestants, who needed the approval of James, a Roman Catholic, to get their new translation of the Bible published, not only dedicated it to him but improperly translated the Hebrew word ob as "witch" as an additional means of gaining his support.)
The famous case of the Lancashire witches, notable for its accounts of witch covens (as opposed to the actions of individual sorcerers) arose in 1612. Twenty-two years later, when a boy called Robinson claimed that he had witnessed a witches' Sabbat at the Hoare Stones, some 17 women were brought to trial at Lancaster assizes.
As a result of the severe legislation against witchcraft, there arose a class of self-appointed witchfinders who used their power for personal advantage and caused the sacrifice of many innocent lives.
The most famous of these witchfinders was Matthew Hopkins of Manningtree, in Essex. He assumed the title "Witchfinder General," and, with an assistant and a woman whose duty it was to examine female suspects for devil's marks, he traveled about the counties of Essex, Sussex, Huntingdon, and Norfolk. In one year, from 1645 to 1646, Hopkins brought about the death of 60 people.
His general test was that of swimming. The hands and feet of the accused were tied together crosswise. She was wrapped in a sheet and thrown into a pond. If she sank—as frequently happened—she was deemed innocent, but at the cost of her life; if she floated she was pronounced guilty and immediately executed.
Another test was to repeat the Lord's Prayer without a single falter, a thing said to be impossible for a witch. Sometimes the suspect was weighed against the Bible, obtaining her freedom if she outweighed it. There is an apocryphal legend that when Hopkins's frauds were discovered an angry crowd subjected him to his own test by swimming. Hopkins retired to his home in Manningtree, Essex, in 1646, where he died about a year later.
In his book Witch, Warlock, and Magician (1889), W. H. D. Adams states:
"I think there can be little doubt that many evil-disposed persons availed themselves of the prevalent belief in witchcraft as a cover for their depredations on the property of their neighbours, diverting suspicion from themselves to the poor wretches, who through accidental circumstances had acquired notoriety as the devil's accomplices. It would also seem probable that not a few of the reputed witches similarly turned to account their bad reputation."
Decline of the Witchcraft Superstition
Toward the close of the seventeenth century, the tide began to turn and witchcraft convictions began to be discouraged by the courts. An old superstition dies hard, however, and in the early part of the eighteenth century, witchcraft was still considered credible, even among the educated classes of England. The last execution of witches in England took place at Northampton, where two were hung in 1705 and five others in 1712.
Francis Hutchison, commenting on this in his Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft (1718), states, "This is the more shameful as I shall hereafter prove from the literature of that time, a disbelief in the existence of witches had become almost universal among educated men, though the old superstition was still defended in the Judgment Seat, and in the pulpit."
According to John Wesley (1703-1791), who had considerable influence as a bishop,
"It is true likewise that the English in general, and, indeed, most of the men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it. The giving up of witchcraft, is in effect giving up the Bible. But I cannot give up to all the Deists in Great Britain the existence of witchcraft, till I give up the credit of all history sacred and profane."
Judge and legal authority Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780) claimed that "to deny the possibility, nay, the actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery is at once flatly to contradict the revealed Word of God in various passages of the Old and New Testaments, and the thing itself is a truth to which every nation in the world hath in its turn borne testimony."
With every passing year, however, the old belief diminished, and in 1736, decades before Wesley stated his foregoing opinion, the laws against witchcraft were repealed. Yet the superstition was long-lived. In 1759 Susannah Hannaker of Wengrove was put to the ordeal of weighing, but she fortunately outweighed the Bible. Cases of ducking supposed witches occurred in 1760 at Leicester, in 1785 at Northampton, and in 1829 at Monmouth, while as late as 1863 a Frenchman died as the result of an illness caused by his having been ducked as a wizard. On September 17, 1875, an old woman named Ann Turner, a reputed witch, was killed at Long Compton in Warwickshire.
Magic in England in early times coexisted with witchcraft; only Roger Bacon, scientist-philosopher, displayed a separation between the two. Of course the occult traditions concerning Bacon are merely legendary, but they help to crystallize the popular idea of an English magician of medieval times. The Elizabethan History of Friar Bacon was probably the first to place these legends on record. It has no factual concern with the Bacon of science, for the Bacon of superstitious belief is a magician who cheated the devil, made a brazen head that spoke, and engaged in all manner of black magic.
In England the popular belief in magic was strengthened by the extraordinary effects of natural processes then known only to a small number of individuals who concealed their knowledge with the most profound secrecy. In England before the Reformation, the study of magic and alchemy were extremely common among the Roman clergy.
The rapid rise to power of statesmen like Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell led people to think that they had gained their high positions through diabolical assistance. There were a great number of magicians during the reign of Henry VIII, as is witnessed by documents in the Public Record Office in London.
According to Thomas Wright in his Narratives of Sorcery and Magic (2 vols., 1851), at the height of Wolsey's career a magician described as "one Wood, gent." was dragged before the privy council, charged with some misdemeanor that was connected with the intrigues of the day. In a paper addressed to the lords of the council, Wood stated that William Neville had sent for him at his house at Oxford, it being the first communication he had ever had with him. After he had been at Weke a short time, Neville took him by the arm and led him privately into the garden. Wood said Neville then asked him to make a ring that would bring him favor with the king, but he declined and left.
Neville sent for him again and entered into further communication with him on the subject, telling him that he had another conjurer (occult magician) named Wade who could show him more than Wood could. Among other things, Neville said, the conjurer had shown him that "he should be a great lord." This was an effective attempt to move Wood to jealousy, and Neville then prevailed upon him to make "moldes" (probably images) of a woman on whom he seemed to have set his love. Wood again refused, declaring that, although at the desire of "some of his friends," he had "called to a stone for things stolen," he had not undertaken to find or make treasures.
The search for treasure, which the conjurer Wood so earnestly disclaimed, was, however, one of the most usual occupations of magicians of this period. The frequent discoveries of Roman, Saxon, or medieval deposits in the course of accidental digging (then probably more common than today) was enough to whet the appetites of the needy or the miserly. The belief that the sepulchral barrow, or the long-deserted ruin, or even the wild and haunted glen concealed treasures of gold and silver was carried down in a variety of local legends. Hidden treasures were said to be under the charge of spirits who obeyed the magician's call. These searches were not always successful, as is evident from the following narrative, abridged from the account of William Stapleton, the main character in the story.
In the reign of Henry VIII, a priest named William Stapleton was placed under arrest as a conjurer, having been involved in some court intrigues. At the request of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey he wrote an account of his adventures, which is preserved in the Roll's House records (it is addressed to Wolsey, and not, as has been supposed, to Thomas Cromwell). Stapleton stated that he was a monk of the mitred abbey of St. Benet in the Holm, in Norfolk, where he lived in the nineteenth year of Henry VIII's reign (i.e., in 1527 or 1528), at which time he borrowed from one Dennys of Hofton a book called Thesaurus Spirituum, and after that another, called Secreta Secretorum, a little ring, a plate, a circle, and also a sword for the art of digging, and spent six months in studying their use.
Stapleton disliked rising early, and after having been frequently punished for being absent from matins and negligent of his duty in church he obtained a leave of six months from the abbot to go into the world and try to raise money to buy a dispensation from an order that did not suit him.
The first person Stapleton consulted with was his friend Dennys, who recommended he try his skill in finding treasure. Dennys introduced Stapleton to two "knowing men" who had "placards" or licenses from the king to search for treasure troves, which were not infrequently bought from the crown at this period. These men lent him other books and instruments related to the "art of digging," and they went together to a place named Sidestrand in Norfolk to search and mark out the ground where they thought treasure should lie. It happened, however, that the lady Tyrry, to whom the estate belonged, learned of their trespassing, and after sending for them and subjecting them to a close examination, ordered them to leave her grounds.
After several more futile attempts at "conjuring" treasure at other towns, a disappointed and disgusted Stapleton gave up the pursuit. Back in Norfolk, however, he soon met with some of his old treasure-seeking acquaintances, who urged him to go to work again, which he refused to do unless he had better books. They told him of a man called Leech who had a book to which the parson of Lesingham had bound a spirit called "Andrea Malchus." Stapleton went to see the man.
Leech gave Stapleton all his instruments, and told him that the parson of Lesingham and Sir John of Leiston (another ecclesiastic) as well as others, had recently used the book to call up three spirits: Andrea Malchus, "Oberion," and "Inchubus."
After Stapleton acquired Leech's instruments he journeyed to Norwich, where he was soon found by a messenger from Lord Leonard Marquees, who lived at "Calkett Hall" and wanted a person expert in the art of digging. Stapleton met him at Walsingham; the lord promised him that if he would take pains in exercising the dig he would request a dispensation that would make Stapleton a secular priest and the lord's own chaplain.
Leonard proceeded rather shrewdly to test the searcher's talents: he directed one of his servants to hide a sum of money in the garden, and Stapleton dug for it, and one Jackson "scryed" (invoked the treasure's "spirit" through a crystal), but they were unable to find the money. Undaunted, Stapleton went directly with two other priests, Sir John Shepe and Sir Robert Porter, to a place beside Creke Abbey, where treasure was supposed to be, and "Sir John Shepe called the spirit of the treasure, and I shewed to him, but all came to no purpose."
Stapleton went to hide his disappointment in London, where he remained some weeks, until Leonard, who had arranged the dispensation he promised, sent for him to pass the winter with him in Leicestershire. Toward spring Stapleton returned to Norfolk. There he was informed that there was "much money" hidden in the neighborhood of Calkett Hall, especially in the Bell Hill (probably an ancient grave). After some delay, he obtained his instruments and went to work with the parish priest of Gorleston but reported, "of truth we could bring nothing to effect." After this Stapleton returned to London, carrying his instruments with him; on his arrival he was thrown into prison at the suit of Leonard, who accused him of leaving his service without permission, and all his instruments were seized. He never recovered them, but he was soon released from prison and obtained temporary employment in the church. The number of such treasure hunters appears to have been far greater among Stapleton's contemporaries in almost all classes of society than one might believe.
A few years before these events, in the twelfth year of Henry VIII's reign (1521) the king granted to Robert, Lord Curzon,the monopoly of treasure seeking in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. Curzon immediately delegated to a man named William Smith of Clopton, and to a servant or retainer of his own named Amylyon, not only the right of search given to him but also the power to arrest and press charges against any other person they found seeking treasure within the two counties.
Smith and Amylyon apparently used this delegated authority for purposes of extortion, and in the summer of 1521 Smith was brought before the court of the city of Norwich, at the suit of William Goodred of Great Melton.
It appears that the treasure diggers, who had received their "placard" (license) from Curzon in March, went to Norwich about Easter and paid a visit to the schoolmaster George Dowsing, who, they had heard, was skilled in magical arts. They showed him their license for treasure seeking, which authorized them to press into their service any persons they might find who had skill in the science; so it appears that they were not capable of raising spirits themselves without the assistance of "scholars."
The schoolmaster entered willingly into their project, and they went, about two or three o'clock in the morning, with one or two other persons who were admitted into their confidence, and dug in the ground beside "Butter Hilles," within the walls of the city, but found nothing there. (These "hilles" were probably ancient games.) They next proceeded to a place called "Seynt William in the Wood by Norwich," where they excavated two nights but with no better success.
They then held a meeting at the house of one Saunders in the market of Norwich and called to their assistance two ecclesiastics, one named Sir William, the other Sir Robert Cromer, the former being a parish priest. At this meeting, Dowsing allegedly raised "a spirit or two" in a scrying glass, but Cromer "began and raised a spirit first." Spirit or no spirit, however, they seem to have had as little success as ever in discovering the treasure.
Unable after so many attempts to find the treasure themselves, they resolved to extort a general contribution from everybody who followed the same calling. They accused a person of the name of Wikman of "digging of hilles" and by threatening to take him before Curzon they obtained ten shillings from him.
With the era of John Dee and Edward Kelley (middle to late sixteenth century), a much more definite system of magico-astrology evolved on English soil. Although Kelley was a rogue, there is little doubt that Dee possessed psychic gifts of no mean character. His most celebrated followers were William Lilly and Elias Ashmole. Lilly gathered about him quite a band of magicians—Ramsey, Scott, Hodges, and others, as well as his "skryers" (crystal gazers) Sarah Skelhorm and Ellen Evans. These may be said to be the last of the practical magicians of England. Their methods were those of divination by crystal gazing and evocation of spirits, combined with practical astrology.
The mid-seventeenth century also produced such individuals as Robert Fludd, who wrote concerning the secrets of mysticism and magnetism. Fludd was a Paracelsian (after sixteenth-century Swiss alchemist Paracelsus ) and regarded man as a microcosm of the universe. He was an ardent defender of the Rosicrucians and wrote two spirited works about them, as well as his great Tractatus Apologeticus and many other alchemical and philosophical treatises. The part of the Tractatus that deals with natural magic is one of the most definitive ever written on the subject.
Thomas Vaughan is likewise a figure of intense interest from this period. He was a supreme expert of spiritual alchemy, and his works written under the pseudonym "Eugenius Philalethes" show he possessed an exalted mind. It is through men of this type that a mystical or spiritual dimension was added to the earlier uncritical and superstitious belief in magic.
(For the development of Spiritualism, psychical research, and parapsychology in Britain, see entries under those headings.)
The British occult witnessed a revival in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, resulting in keen interest in spiritualism, psychic readings, and the development of magical orders, including Wicca. The word Wicca refers to British Traditional Witchcraft, also called English Traditional Witchcraft, a specific magical Mystery tradition that evolved over centuries. The use of the Old English word Wicca distinguishes British Traditional Witchcraft from the many other forms of religious witchcraft that exist. While the Old English form was "wiccecraeft," the modern usage has become "Wicca Craft" or the Craft of the Wicca. The concepts of Wicca known today derive from ceremonial magic and Freemasonry. Wiccans are a proper subset of religious practitioner Witches and are very active today.
Claims of the paranormal remain popular in the British Isles, with many of the twentieth centuries' most world-renown and controversial cases emerging from England. In 1998 The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of Paranormal compiled what they believe to be the top 10 enduring paranormal "hoaxes," three of which are based in England. Number five on the list is the Cottingley Fairies, where in 1917 two English schoolgirls took photographs of winged fairies dancing in Cottingley Glen. Although photography experts attested the images were not double exposures nor had the negatives been altered, the scene itself was eventually determined to be faked, as the girls had merely posed with paper fairy cutouts. The photos deceived many for several years, however, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.
Crop circles were number six on the skeptic's list. Elaborate patterns have been mysteriously appearing in southern English wheat fields since the late 1970s. Many offered mystical or extraterrestrial explanations for the bent stalks. In 1991, however, two men demonstrated how they had created the first crop circles, which others have repeatedly copied.
Number eight on the list was the Piltdown "Missing Link" case. The "missing link" between mankind and our prehistoric ancestors was reportedly uncovered near Piltdown Common in England by an amateur fossil collector in December 1912. The story was recognized across the world and the bones were exhibited in the British Museum. In 1953, however, the find was revealed to be a combination of ordinary human cranial pieces and the jawbone of an orangutan.
With the exception of the Piltdown Missing Link case, people worldwide continue to believe in claims of paranormal activity.
Despite skeptical rebuff to many paranormal and supernatural claims, psychical research is currently undergoing a boom in the United Kingdom, especially in the form of universitybased research; in England alone this includes research projects at the University of Hertfordshire, the University of the West of England, University College Northampton, and Coventry University. Organizations dedicated to the subject include the Society for Psychical Research, based in London, and the Student Parapsychology Society, based in Cheltenham, Gloucester.
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Valiente, Doreen. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present. New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Macmillan, 1973.
Wright, Thomas. Narratives of Sorcery and Magic. 2 vols. London, 1851. Reprint, Detroit: Gale Research, 1974.
Since the 1970s, English food appears to have undergone a transformation. A postwar cuisine of plainly cooked meat and vegetables supplemented with baked goods and puddings has apparently given way to multiculturalism. Restaurants serve fusion food. Supermarkets sell chilled meals based on Italian or Asian recipes. The cookery sector of publishing is buoyant. This seems astonishing for a country whose eating habits evolved little between the mid-nineteenth century and 1953, when Second World War rationing ended; but beneath the metropolitan froth, old ideas about plain cooking live on.
England has an unpredictable but generally benign maritime climate, without extremes; relief is low, the highest mountain standing 3210 feet (978 meters). A basic topographic division runs from northeast to southwest, along the watershed of the Trent and Severn rivers. North and west of this, the land tends to be higher, and the climate colder and wetter. To the south and east, hills are generally low, and summers warmer and drier. Annual rainfall ranges from about 97 inches (2,500mm) in the hills of the northwest to about 23 inches (600mm) in the driest parts of the east; winter temperatures rarely drop more than a couple of degrees centigrade below freezing and the summer maximum is about 86°F (30°C).
England's political and cultural dominance of the United Kingdom makes it difficult to disentangle English food habits from those of the Welsh, Scots, and Irish. Successive waves of settlers have brought ideas about food, but few attributions can be made until the twentieth century. Foreign trade has been important to English cuisine since at least the late Middle Ages. Spices came from the East Indies; sugar and currants were initially imported from the Mediterranean, and later from colonial possessions. A dependence on tropical crops—tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar—developed in the nineteenth century; and the idea of curry came home with the nabobs of the East India Company.
Localized breeds of cattle, sheep, and pigs developed in the nineteenth century. Grass-fed beef from Aberdeen Angus, Hereford, and other traditional breeds is considered best. Most sheep meat is eaten as lamb, under the age of a year; mutton, from older sheep, formerly important, is now almost unobtainable. Fresh pork was and is popular, as is bacon. Wiltshire became an important center for curing meat in the nineteenth century. Bacon provided a relish for the otherwise monotonous diets of the poor. It remains an English favorite, though much is now imported from Denmark. Regional ham cures that became famous include those of York (or, more properly, Yorkshire), Cumberland, Devon, and Suffolk.
Poultry has long been important for both meat and eggs. In the nineteenth century, the counties around London produced Sussex and Dorking chickens; Surrey was famous for capons, and the town of Aylesbury produced ducks. Turkeys and geese were reared on corn (grain) stubble in East Anglia for sale in the capital. Poultry production is now an intensive industry, though small businesses based on high-quality traditional poultry production are appearing. Only geese have not succumbed to intensive systems.
Game has always featured on the aristocratic menu. Venison was most sought after; deer farming has made this more accessible, but it remains a minority taste, as do hares. Rabbits, nurtured in warrens in the Middle Ages, escaped, naturalized, and became pests, and the only wild creatures easily accessible to the poor. Wildfowl of all descriptions were eaten up to the eighteenth century, but subsequently the choice narrowed to about a dozen species, of which pheasants are most common, yet grouse from heather moorlands, and partridges are most prized.
Meat cookery demonstrates a preference for plain roasted (or, strictly speaking, baked) meat. Traditional accompaniments are horseradish sauce for beef; mint sauce (finely chopped mint mixed with sugar and vinegar) for lamb, and sage and onion stuffing and applesauce for fresh pork, which is generally roasted with the skin on to make crackling. Roast potatoes and boiled green or root vegetables are also served. Boiled meat dishes, such as salt beef with carrots, or mutton with caper sauce have almost vanished, though some people still marinate beef with salt, spices, and sugar for several days to make spiced beef. Steaks and chops are used for grilling.
Other meat dishes include pies or steamed suet puddings of beefsteak and kidney; oxtail is made into stews and soups. Skirt of beef is mixed with chopped potato, onion, and turnip in Cornish pasties, popular everywhere but closely identified with Cornwall itself. Northern butchers make a paste of cooked beef beneath a layer of fat; this potted beef is a remnant of an eighteenth-century tradition of potting all kinds of meat. Lancashire hotpot is a traditional stew of lamb or mutton chops with layers of onions and potatoes. It evolved in an area where a high rate of female employment led to a reliance on slow-cooked and ready-prepared foods.
Pork products include fresh sausages of lean and fat meat and some type of grain; the Cumberland type, with a high meat content and distinctive coiled presentation, is considered particularly good. Pork pies, survivors of a great tradition of raised pies, are made with a lard-based hot-water crust. Melton Mowbray in the Midlands is famous for a fine version. Black puddings (blood sausages), highly seasoned mixtures of blood, grain, and cubes of fat, are known everywhere but have a strong association with the industrial towns of south Lancashire (as does ox tripe). Hog's puddings, of seasoned grain and fat, are popular in the southwest. Other items include faggots, chopped offal wrapped in squares of caul; haslet, a kind of loaf made from scraps of lean and cured pork; and brawn, a cold jellied dish made from meat picked from the head. Lard, beef suet, and drippings are important in traditional cookery.
Chicken, once an expensive treat roasted for special occasions, is now ubiquitous. It is much used in dishes of foreign origin. Rabbit stews and pies became poverty food, and the taste for them has waned. Hare soup and jugged hare—cooked slowly with wine and herbs, the sauce thickened with the blood of the animal—are classic dishes of English game cookery.
Cod and haddock, though becoming scarce, are staples of fish and chip shops; grilled Dover sole is a standard of English restaurant cookery. Oysters, until the mid-nineteenth century a cheap food, suffered from pollution and disease and are now a luxury. Morecombe Bay shrimps (Crangon crangon ), potted in spiced butter, are a traditional teatime delicacy. Eels, until the 1970s, were closely associated with the food habits of the London poor. Eel pie, and mash (mashed potatoes) shops sold them cold as jellied eels (boiled and allowed to cool in their liquid) or hot with mashed potato and "liquor," a green parsley sauce. Herrings were important until a recent decline in fish stocks. Some were eaten fresh, but most were preserved. Red herrings (heavily salted and smoked for long-term keeping) were superseded in the nineteenth century by lighter cures: kippers (split and cleaned before smoking) evolved in Northumberland, while Yarmouth favored bloaters (whole, lightly salted smoked herrings). Salmon, which became expensive when rivers were polluted during the nineteenth century, is cheap again because of fish farming, and poached salmon with cucumber is an English summer favorite.
Bread and Baking
White wheaten (wheat) bread is of primary importance. Traditional oblong tin loaves have become degraded under industrial production, and foreign influence makes it easier to buy croissants, ciabatta (a bread of Italian origin with a chewy, open texture), pita, or nan bread than a traditional cottage loaf (two-tiered round loaf). Historically, bread grains included rye, barley, and maslin (mixed grain). In the northern hills, oats, the only reliable grain crop, were used for flatbreads. By the seventeenth century a preference for wheat had developed in the London area. Variety diminished as the taste for wheat spread and grain imports grew in the nineteenth century. Now, only the oat-bread tradition survives. Haverbread (from Old Norse hafre, oats), flat ovals about a foot long, can occasionally be found in towns on the Yorkshire-Lancashire border. A stronger custom of baking floppy oatcakes about ten inches in diameter continues in Staffordshire. Barley is now grown for brewing.
There are many small regional breads. Kentish huffkins, Cornish splits, and Yorkshire teacakes are all round and flattish, enriched with a little sugar, lard, and dried fruit. Hot plates are used to bake muffins (made from soft bread dough), and also crumpets, and pikelets (both made from thick, yeast-leavened batter). This trio of foods are all eaten toasted and spread with butter for breakfast or tea. Scones, of flour, sugar, egg, and dried fruit, are common. Chelsea buns and Bath buns are rich and sweet. Hot cross buns, marked with a cross on top, are plainer and spiced; formerly made only on Good Friday, they are now produced for several weeks around Easter.
Lardy cakes made from bread dough folded with lard, sugar, and dried fruit are typical of southern England. Currants, raisins, and candied peel feature in yeast-leavened Guernsey gâches, Cornish saffron cakes, and Yule loaves (sweetened Christmas breads made in the north). Rich fruit cakes are related to these breads historically. Modern versions are heavy with sugar, butter, raisins, currants, and candied cherries. Covered with almond paste and sugar icing, they are essential for Christmas or weddings; baked with a marzipan layer in the middle, they become simnels, for Easter.
The taste for dried fruit extends to Eccles, Chorley, and Banbury cakes—spiced currant mixtures wrapped in puff pastry. Small mince pies, filled with a mixture of dried fruit, spices, and sugar, are eaten all over the country throughout the Christmas season. Originally the mincemeat filling did contain veal, mutton, or beef; now, an enrichment of beef suet is all that survives of this. Such dried fruit and pastry confections have been popular for at least four hundred years.
Ginger is popular in baking. Grasmere gingerbread comes from the Lake District, where local ports were active in the West India trade and a taste for brown sugar, rum, and ginger survives. Parkin is a north-country gingerbread that often contains oatmeal. Cornish Fairings and Ashbourne cakes are also ginger-flavored, and have a crisp, biscuity texture. The diversity of modern British biscuits (cookies) is a product of nineteenth-century industry, but Shrewsbury cakes (related to shortbread) were recorded in the seventeenth century, and Bath Olivers (plain biscuits) in the early nineteenth.
Vegetables and Fruit
The English have never been renowned for sensitivity in cooking vegetables, which were generally boiled and served with butter. Cabbages, carrots, parsnips, spinach, and salads such as lettuce and watercress have a long history of use, as has asparagus: the Vale of Evesham and Norfolk are particularly associated with this crop. One vegetable almost uniquely used by the English is sea kale (Crambe maritima ); wild plants were overexploited in the nineteenth century but sea kale is now cultivated in small quantities. Potatoes first gained wide acceptance in the north; by the nineteenth century they were eaten everywhere by everyone, and have continued to be so.
Apples, pears, cherries, and plums are traditional fruit crops of the southeast and southwest. Cobnuts are grown in Kent; soft fruit is grown across much of the country, strawberries and raspberries being favorites. Historically, the north, with a more challenging climate, relied on gooseberries, damsons, and rhubarb, the latter mostly grown in West Yorkshire, where it is forced as an early spring crop. Traditional fruit puddings and jams are a strength of the English kitchen. One vital item, the bitter orange, is grown in southern Spain and imported specifically for making breakfast marmalade. A taste for sugar confectionery has led to numerous boiled sugar sweets, many using fruit flavorings.
Dairy products were considered food for the poor in the seventeenth century, but have become progressively more important. Cream is mixed with fruit purees for fools, and beaten with wine and lemon for syllabubs. Clotted cream, heated gently to produce a thick crust, is a specialty of Devon and Cornwall. Butter is essential for spreading on bread and toast, as well as in cooking generally. Cheese-making in Britain was centralized during the Second World War, concentrating on "territorial" cheeses—Stilton, Cheddar, Gloucester, Cheshire, Lancashire, Wensleydale, Derby, and Leicester. All named for their areas of origin, they became generic (apart from Stilton, the manufacture of which was restricted to a small area in 1910). A dwindling nucleus of farm cheese-makers was boosted in the 1980s as "new wave" artisans who injected new creativity and energy into the industry.
Meal Times and Names
The British all recognize the early morning meal as breakfast, but after that a division becomes apparent. One pattern is a light midday lunch, perhaps afternoon tea, and a large dinner in the evening. The other is midday dinner and a substantial tea in the early evening. Sometimes this is called high tea or supper, though "supper," confusingly, is also used to indicate a light, late-evening repast. This divide originated when dinner, once a midday meal, slipped first to the early evening and then as late as 8:00 P.M. in the early nineteenth century. Lunch and afternoon tea developed to fill the long hours between breakfast and dinner. Wealthy younger people and southeasterners tend toward the lunch and dinner pattern. Poorer people, older ones, and northerners follow, to a diminishing extent, the dinner and tea pattern.
The "full English" breakfast. There is much nostalgia for the full English breakfast, a meal now mostly encountered in hotels, guesthouses, and cafés. Fried bacon and eggs are essential. Tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, fried bread, sausages, and black pudding are often added. Toast and marmalade generally follow. In cafés this meal is often available at any time. Time-consuming to prepare and eat, it is rarely made at home on a workday, when breakfast usually consists of cereal or toast, or coffee and a pastry bought on the way to work. However, cooked breakfasts are often made as a weekend treat.
Other items sometimes found at breakfast are oatmeal porridge (now closely identified with Scotland, but a survivor of a general British tradition of grain pottages) and kippers. In India, the British took khichri, spiced rice and lentils eaten with dried fish, and transmuted it into kedgeree, a mixture of rice, onions, and smoked haddock, still popular. Substantial breakfasts were most fully developed in country houses in the mid-nineteenth century, when huge buffets including such delicacies as deviled kidneys, raised pies, and cold tongue were laid out.
Lunch. Lunch has few special foods linked with it; though large formal lunches are sometimes eaten, a collation of odds and ends is more frequent. Sandwiches are a popular choice. The English have found sandwiches a convenient handheld meal since the mid-eighteenth century, when the Earl of Sandwich is said to have asked for his meat between two slices of bread, so as to avoid leaving the gaming table. Currently enjoying a zenith of popularity and variety, numerous specialty shops sell them filled with anything from conventional cheese and pickles or roast beef and horseradish combinations to chicken tikka or prawns and avocado. For those who want a hot lunch, soup or "something on toast"—cheese, eggs, fish, baked beans—are popular.
Dinner. Dinner is a substantial hot meal, whether taken at midday or in the evening. The traditional pattern is cooked meat or fish with vegetables. A sweet course, usually referred to as pudding, follows. Food may come from the prepared-food counter in a supermarket, and home cooks are as likely to choose dishes from the Mediterranean or the Indian subcontinent as traditional English ones. Take-away (takeout) food, from traditional fish and chips to kebabs, curries, or "a Chinese," are possible choices.
Confounding the lunch-dinner division are the special cases of Sunday dinner and Christmas dinner. These phrases still imply a large midday meal. Sunday dinner is often roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, served with gravy made from the meat juices or a commercial mix. Roasted or boiled potatoes and other vegetables, typically boiled cabbage and carrots, are also served. Lamb, pork, or chicken may take the place of the beef. Pudding choices include trifle (sherry-soaked sponge cake covered with layers of custard and cream); treacle tart (filled with golden syrup, lemon, and breadcrumbs), or lemon meringue pie. Steamed suet or sponge puddings are seen as old-fashioned but remain popular, as do fruit pies.
Christmas dinner usually centers on turkey or goose accompanied by sage and onion stuffing. Bread sauce, milk infused with cloves and shallot, thickened with breadcrumbs, is a classic accompaniment and a survival of a medieval tradition of bread-thickened sauces. Brussels sprouts are generally among the vegetables. This is followed by Christmas pudding flambéed with brandy, served with rum or brandy butter. Turkey is now the general choice, a reflection of centuries of great feasts involving various bird species, though roast beef was also a standard Christmas dish until the nineteenth century.
Afternoon tea and high tea. Tea is overlaid with social nuances. Apart from tea to drink (a beverage of primary importance in England since the mid-eighteenth century), afternoon tea is a dainty meal: bread and butter, small sandwiches filled with cucumber, a cake. Cream tea is a variant on this, with scones, jam, and cream. Elaborate afternoon teas are now most often taken in a café. High tea is a substantial meal, for people returning from work, or for children after school. It involves hot food such as kippers, eggs, pies, or sausages, or, in summer, cold ham or tinned canned salmon and salad. Bread and butter is always on the table, together with jam, and a selection of cakes—large ones, such as fruit cake or a Victoria sandwich (sponge cake filled with jam and cream), and small fairy cakes (similar to cupcakes or miniature muffins), jam tarts, and cookies.
A trend toward vegetarianism and concern about animal welfare has become apparent since the 1970s, leading to a growth in consumption of organically produced and vegetarian foods. Another development is a taste for ethnic food. Though imitations of Asian food, such as curry, piccalilli, and mushroom ketchup, have been made since the eighteenth century, in the last hundred years immigrant communities have introduced numerous new ideas. Chinese restaurants were widespread by the 1960s and Italian restaurants soon followed. Indian restaurants began to penetrate beyond major centers of immigration in the 1970s, putting dishes such as chicken tikka masala on the national menu, especially after pub closing time. West Indian, Hispanic, Turkish, and Thai restaurants can now be found in most cities.
London restaurant culture now has a global reputation for excellence, and interest in eating healthily has increased; but London is not England, and the high incidence of cardiovascular disease throughout the country is partially attributed to poor diet. Writers, guides, and chefs have raised the variety and quality of ingredients and of ready-prepared food, and cookery is a popular subject for television. But the best traditional English food remains a specialty found mostly in the homes of dedicated cooks.
See also Custard; Fish and Chips; Pastry; Tea (Meal).
Ayrton, Elisabeth. The Cookery of England. London: André Deutsch, 1974.
Burnett, John. Plenty and Want: A Social History of Diet in England from 1815 to the Present Day. London: Scolar Press, 1979. Newton, Mass.: Biscuit Books, 1994.
Davidson, Alan. North Atlantic Seafood. London: Macmillan, 1979; New York: Viking, 1980. A book that covers far more than just England, but contains much information about fish as used in Britain.
Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Though this book covers food globally, it contains much information on English food habits and includes a useful article on early English cookery books (cookbooks).
Drummond, J. C., and Anne Wilbraham. The Englishman's Food: A History of Five Centuries of English Diet, with a new introduction by Tom Jaine. London: Pimlico, 1994.
Grigson, Jane. English Food, with a foreword by Sophie Grigson. London: Penguin, 1992. Classic English recipes, updated for a modern audience.
Hartley, Dorothy. Food in England. London: MacDonald and Jane's, 1954; Boston: Little, Brown, 1996. A slightly romantic but well-observed picture of traditional English cookery from information gathered between the two world wars.
Mason, Laura, and Catherine Brown. Traditional Foods of Britain: An Inventory. Totnes, Devon, U.K.: Prospect Books, 1999. Based on information gathered for Euroterroirs, a European Union study of local foods.
Wilson, C. Anne, ed. Luncheon, Nuncheon, and Other Meals: Eating with the Victorians. Stroud, U.K.: Alan Sutton, 1994. This book contains much information on meal times, patterns, and content as social change affected them in the nineteenth century.
Pudding has two different but linked meanings. It can indicate any sweet food considered suitable for dessert, ranging from fresh fruit to the most elaborate of sweet dishes. This usage developed after puddings, a fairly neutral staple food in the seventeenth century, evolved a subset of heavily sweetened dishes eaten for the second course at dinner.
Older meanings relate pudding to specific groups of dishes, some savory, some sweet. The oldest group is represented by sausage-type products such as black puddings (blood, fat, and grain) and white puddings, well documented since the sixteenth century. Bag puddings, mixtures of suet and flour or breadcrumbs, wrapped in a cloth and boiled, were known by the seventeenth century, and developed two distinct types. One was the sweet suet pudding with lemon peel, currants, sugar, and spice. Plum pudding, a heavily enriched version with raisins, candied peel, and sugar, has become a symbol of Christmas and remains essentially unchanged since the eighteenth century. Other sweet puddings include versions filled with fresh seasonal fruit, or jam roly-poly, suet crust spread with jam and rolled up, which became a school dinner staple. The second type was the savory suet pudding with a meat filling. These were recorded by the nineteenth century: steak and kidney remains a favorite, though puddings made with steak and oysters, mutton, and game such as partridges are also recorded.
Other ancient pudding types are pease pudding, based on a puree of dried peas, eaten with boiled bacon or ham, and Yorkshire pudding, made from batter baked in a popover pan, the principal survivor of numerous recipes for batter puddings boiled or baked.
In the eighteenth century, many sweet puddings using pastry and fruit or nuts became fashionable. Mixtures of rice or sago with milk and sugar also became common. These remain popular, though often in debased "nursery" versions. Puddings, steamed or baked, based on sponge-cake mixtures, flavored with lemon, ginger, or cocoa, became popular in the mid-nineteenth century, as did summer pudding, based on bread and fresh summer fruit.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips, a favorite take-away (takeout) food in England, are sold in their own specialized restaurants and shops. There is some debate about when the combination became popular, but fried fish was being sold as street food in London as early as the 1830s, when Charles Dickens mentioned a fried-fish warehouse in Oliver Twist. Chips (french fries) appear to have joined the fish by the 1880s, and the pairing has remained popular ever since.
Cod is most commonly used, though haddock is preferred in some areas; the fillets are dipped in batter before deep-frying. For chips, the potatoes are cut in thick fingers and deep-fried. Vegetable oil is the usual frying medium in the south. Beef drippings are often used in the north. On purchase, the cooked fish and chips are seasoned with salt and vinegar as the customer desires. A pot of mushy peas (cooked marrowfat peas) is sometimes added to the order. Traditionally, newspapers are used for wrapping fish and chips, and the smell of deep-frying combined with hot newsprint is part of the experience. Health regulations now demand layers of greaseproof paper to insulate the food from printer's ink.
Muffins and Muffin-Men
As late as the 1930s, muffins were sold in London by muffin-men, street vendors who announced their presence by ringing a bell. In 1851, Sir Henry Mayhew recorded in London Labour and the London Poor that muffin-men bought their wares fresh from the bakers. The muffins were kept warm by wrapping them in flannel; they were then carried through the streets in baskets for resale door-to-door. The custom apparently derives in part from genteel ladies who did not keep servants who could be sent on errands, but who liked a slap-up (lavish) tea. The muffin-men recognized this, and made their rounds in mid-afternoon, convenient for tea time. Muffins were most popular in winter. To eat them, they were toasted, pulled apart around the circumference, spread with butter, and the halves put back together to allow the butter to melt.
The origin of the name is a mystery. Recipes appear in the mid-eighteenth century, but the idea is probably much older. Muffins enjoyed great popularity but were considered old-fashioned by the early twentieth century, and had almost vanished by the Second World War. In the 1980s, they were revived by industrial bakeries, and are once again available, in varying degrees of quality. Muffins in England—quite unlike sweetened muffins and what people in North America call "English muffins"—are disks about four inches in diameter and an inch thick, and made from plain, soft bread dough. Size and the use of yeast as a leaven relates them to the many other small breads of English traditional baking, while the use of a hot plate puts them in the same category as crumpets, pikelets, and several Welsh and Scottish specialties.
The course of the Renaissance in England corresponds closely with the history of the Tudor dynasty. Ideas associated with the Renaissance began to take hold in the country around the time that Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch, assumed power. The Renaissance reached its peak in England during the reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch. Although Renaissance thought continued to flourish during the rule of her successor, James I, it lost momentum after his death.
The Birth of the Tudor Dynasty. When Henry VII took the throne in 1485, he put an end to the Wars of the Roses, a long struggle for power between the noble houses of York and Lancaster. Henry, a relative of the Lancasters, united the two families by marrying Elizabeth, the daughter of a Yorkist king. To strengthen his new dynasty, he arranged matches for his four children with foreign royals. His daughter Mary wed Louis XII of France, while his daughter Margaret married James IV of Scotland. The heir to the throne, Arthur, wed the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. When Arthur died in 1502, his younger brother Henry became heir and eventually married his brother's widow.
An able but rather colorless ruler, Henry VII firmly established the Tudor dynasty on the English throne. He made the government more efficient and raised money for the royal treasury. During his reign, the humanist* ideas that had begun to enter England took firm root. Latin and Greek, which only a few university scholars had studied before 1485, became a regular part of the curriculum around 1500. At the same time, the printing industry was established in England. The king took little personal interest in intellectual matters. However, his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, became a patron* of scholars and founded two colleges at Cambridge University.
In the past, most historians labeled Henry VII England's first Renaissance ruler. However, modern scholars believe that Renaissance ideas truly came to dominate the country in the 1530s, during the reign of his son Henry VIII. Well educated in Latin and theology*, and a strong supporter of learning and the arts, Henry VIII embodied many of the qualities of the Renaissance. Art and humanism flourished under his rule. The great Renaissance scholar Sir Thomas More served as Henry's lord chancellor in the 1530s, and German-born artist Hans Holbein became the official court painter. The founding of St. Paul's School, the first grammar school in England to provide thorough instruction in ancient Greek and Latin, also encouraged humanist studies during Henry's reign.
The Reformation in England. The growth of Renaissance thought in England went hand in hand with the Protestant Reformation*. The changes in the English church began in 1527, when Henry VIII sought the pope's permission to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The couple had no sons, and Henry wanted a new wife who could give him a male heir to the throne. When the pope denied the king's request, Henry decided to reject papal* authority. In 1533 and 1534 Parliament passed laws that cut England's ties to the Roman Catholic Church and named the king as head of the new Church of England.
Henry's divorce from Catherine became official in May 1533. The king had already taken a new wife, Anne Boleyn, in secret several months earlier. Anne bore Henry a daughter that September, but the couple had no more children. In 1536 Henry accused Anne of being unfaithful and had her beheaded. He then married Jane Seymour, who bore his long-awaited son in 1537. The queen died shortly after childbirth. Henry married three more times, but none of these marriages produced additional children.
After breaking away from the Catholic Church, Henry began taking over the monasteries in England. This change had a major impact because at the beginning of the Tudor period, monasteries had owned as much as a quarter of the country's land. Parliament passed acts in 1536 and 1540 that closed the monasteries and turned their property over to the crown. By the time Henry VIII died, most of the former monastic lands had been sold to nobles and members of the gentry*. Their valuable libraries went to universities, cathedrals, and private collectors.
Much of the wealth seized from the religious houses was spent on warfare. Henry had already taken part in wars earlier in his reign. As a Catholic king, he had made England part of the Holy League, an alliance designed to prevent the French from gaining territory in Italy. The king had personally commanded troops at the famous Battle of the Spurs (1513), in which the hasty French retreat had left several towns in northern France under English control. After establishing a Protestant church in England, Henry and his advisers feared that Catholics would attempt to invade the country and restore the old religion. They spent vast amounts of money on fortifications and on renewed wars against France and Scotland, its longtime ally.
The relationship between the Renaissance and the Reformation in England is complex. Renaissance ideas about questioning traditional views may have paved the way for rethinking church government. Also, classical* learning had an impact on several early leaders of the Church of England. At the same time, however, the Reformation drew interest away from the Renaissance. Humanist learning generally became less important after 1540, as religious concerns absorbed the nation.
Shifts in Power. In his will, Henry VIII named his son, Edward, as his heir. However, he also decreed that his daughter Mary, the child of Catherine of Aragon, would inherit the throne if Edward died without children. Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, was third in the line of succession*.
Edward VI became king in 1547, when he was only nine years old. Henry had named a large group of advisers to act as his son's regents*, but Edward's uncle, the duke of Somerset, soon took control of the government. Somerset ruled effectively for several years, but rebellions in 1549 caused him problems. He lost power to John Dudley, the duke of Northumberland, who remained the most important figure in the government for the rest of Edward's reign.
Edward and his regents brought new reforms to the English church. In 1549 Archbishop Thomas Cranmer introduced the first Book of Common Prayer in the English language. This volume did not stray too far from Catholic practices, but a revised version that appeared in 1552 contained more sweeping changes. The following year, Cranmer issued the Forty-Two Articles of Religion, which laid out the doctrines of the English church. Many of these beliefs represented a sharp break from Catholic views.
King Edward died of lung disease in 1553. During the last days of his reign, his advisers tried to steer the succession to Lady Jane Grey, a distant relative of the king's and a supporter of Protestant causes. They feared that if the crown passed to Edward's Catholic sister Mary, she would try to restore the old religion. However, Mary had enough popular support to take the throne as Mary I.
Queen Mary undid the English Reformation in two stages. In 1553 she restored the Latin Mass (the Roman Catholic religious service), and in 1554 she brought England back under the authority of the pope. The Protestant Archbishop Cranmer was dismissed, arrested, and finally executed. A Catholic noble, Reginald Pole, took his place. Many people supported Mary's restoration of the Catholic faith, believing that earlier reforms had gone too far in doing away with beloved church ceremonies and religious beliefs. Those who held on to their Protestant beliefs continued to worship in secret or fled the country.
The Golden Age. When Mary died in 1558, her younger sister Elizabeth took the throne. Many historians have called her reign the golden age of England. The young queen began by trying to resolve the conflict in the English church. She restored the Church of England in 1559 but attempted to steer a middle course between Protestant and Catholic ideas. For example, the Elizabethan prayerbook allowed worshipers to hold different views on some points of theology.
The Renaissance reached its fullest flower under Elizabeth. Educated by humanist scholars, the queen spoke many languages and was an accomplished musician. During her long reign, classical ideas dominated literature. Noted writers such as William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, and Christopher Marlowe drew ideas from ancient history and mythology. Grammar schools and universities began to emphasize Greek, Latin, and ancient history in their courses of study. Even areas such as state pageants and medical practice reflected the influence of classical thought.
During Elizabeth's reign, England devoted much of its energy to opposing Catholic powers in Europe. Philip II, the Catholic ruler of Spain who had been married to Mary I, sought Elizabeth's hand. When Elizabeth rejected his offer, she gained an enemy and brought England into the conflict between Spain and the pope and other Protestant states. In the Netherlands, Protestants were struggling against Spanish rule and persecution by Catholics. At first Elizabeth avoided taking sides. However, in time she decided that England, the main Protestant power in Europe, had a duty to aid Protestants elsewhere. Angry at Elizabeth's support for the rebels, Philip sent a fleet called the Spanish Armada against England in 1588. England defeated the Armada, scoring a decisive victory in its battle with Spain.
Elizabeth also faced Catholic threats closer to home. Various Catholic plots centered on Mary Stuart, the former queen of Scotland, whose Protestant subjects had driven her from her homeland. For years Elizabeth allowed Mary to live under guard in England, even though this granddaughter of James IV of Scotland was the leading Catholic rival for the English throne. In 1586 Elizabeth learned of Mary's involvement in a plot against her life. The queen arrested her cousin and in 1587 ordered her execution. Catholic rebellion in Ireland also caused difficulties in Elizabeth's final years.
A Troubled Reign. When Elizabeth died in 1603, she left no children, and the Tudor dynasty came to an end. The crown passed to James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Stuart and Lord Darnley. James took the throne as James I of England, the country's first monarch of the Stuart dynasty. His court was more troubled than Elizabeth's had been. Under his rule the country suffered severe economic problems, and political leaders disapproved of the king's favorite courtiers.
Soon after taking the throne, James called a special conference to respond to Puritan* requests for church reform. The attempt at cooperation failed, however, when the Puritans demanded that James eliminate bishops. James refused, believing that a structured church was an essential partner to the monarchy. The only lasting result of the conference was the King James Bible, a new translation that remained popular for centuries.
King James made peace with Spain and proposed a marriage between his son Charles and the daughter of Philip II. However, the Spanish princess refused to wed a Protestant. A marriage between the king's daughter Elizabeth and the German ruler Frederick V had unfortunate results as well. Frederick's attempts to take the throne of Bohemia led to the outbreak of the bloody Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). James tried to remain outside this conflict, but many of his subjects believed that England should support fellow Protestants. As a result, England was dragged into unsuccessful naval campaigns against Spain and France.
Throughout the early years of the Stuart dynasty, classical learning continued to dominate education and literature in England. Playwrights such as Ben Jonson based court masques* on stories from ancient mythology. At the same time, architect Inigo Jones introduced classical styles into English architecture. With the death of King James in 1625, the English Renaissance faded.
Economic and Social Changes. The population of England grew rapidly in the 1500s, straining the country's resources. At the same time, changes in agriculture caused economic problems. Many large landowners had begun replacing their grain fields with fenced pastures for sheep. This process, called enclosure, increased their profits because wool was England's most valuable export. However, it also forced many peasants off the lands they had farmed all their lives. They moved into the cities seeking work, but many lacked the skills to find jobs and ended up as beggars or robbers. Although the government tried to deal with this social problem by banning enclosure, most landlords ignored the law. England eventually passed a series of poor laws to provide relief for those in need.
Inflation, an increase in prices, contributed to economic distress as well. To meet their expenses, kings Henry VIII and Edward VI had reduced the amount of precious metal in the coins they issued. When merchants realized that the coins had less value, they began to raise their prices. Elizabeth I recalled all the "debased" coins in 1560 and replaced them with coins of higher value. However, prices continued to rise, causing hardship for many.
At the height of the Renaissance, England began expanding its naval power. Voyages of exploration and discovery began in 1497, when John Cabot sailed to North America. In the 1500s, Captain John Hawkins opened up trade with the Caribbean and Sir Francis Drake gained fame for his voyage around the world. In the early 1600s England began to establish colonies in the New World, laying the foundations of what would eventually become the mighty British Empire.
(See alsoAmericas; Art in Britain; Classical Scholarship; Drama, English; English Language and Literature; Humanism; Libraries; London; Money and Banking; Netherlands; Poetry, English; Poverty and Charity; Protestant Reformation; Puritanism; Spain; Universities. )
- * humanist
referring to a Renaissance cultural movement promoting the study of the humanities (the languages, literature, and history of ancient Greece and Rome) as a guide to living
- * patron
supporter or financial sponsor of an artist or writer
- * theology
study of the nature of God and of religion
- * Protestant Reformation
religious movement that began in the 1500s as a protest against certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church and eventually led to the establishment of a variety of Protestant churches
- * papal
referring to the office and authority of the pope
- * gentry
people of high birth or social status
- * classical
in the tradition of ancient Greece and Rome
- * succession
determination of person who will inherit the throne
- * regent
person who acts on behalf of a monarch who is too young or unable to rule
In 1491 Henry VII faced a threat to his rule from an imposter named Perkin Warbeck. Warbeck was posing as Richard Plantagenet, the younger son of the Yorkist king Edward IV. Richard and his brother had disappeared from public view after their father's death. Members of King Henry's own household promoted Warbeck's rebellion, and several foreign monarchs briefly supported him. The king finally captured Warbeck in 1497, and he was hanged two years later.
- * Puritan
English Protestant group that wanted to simplify the ceremonies of the Church of England and eliminate all traces of Catholicism
- * masque
dramatic entertainment performed by masked actors, or a ball or party at which all guests wear masks or costumes
England, the largest and most populous portion of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2011 pop. 53,012,456), 50,334 sq mi (130,365 sq km). It is bounded by Wales and the Irish Sea on the west and Scotland on the north. The English Channel, the Strait of Dover, and the North Sea separate it from the continent of Europe. The Isle of Wight, off the southern mainland in the English Channel, and the Scilly Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwestern tip of the mainland, are considered part of England. London, the capital of Great Britain, is located in the southeastern portion of England. The Thames and the Severn are the longest rivers.
Behind the white chalk cliffs of the southern coast lie the gently rolling downs and wide plains stretching to the Chiltern Hills and the Cotswold Hills. Along the east coast are the lowlands of Norfolk, reaching up to the Fens, formerly marshy country that has been drained, lining The Wash, an inlet of the North Sea. In the east and southeast, river estuaries lead to some of England's great commercial and industrial centers: London, on the Thames; Hull, on the Humber; Middlesbrough and Stockon-on-Tees, on the Tees; and Newcastle upon Tyne, on the Tyne. The north of England, above the Humber, is mountainous; the chief highlands are the Cumbrian Mts. in the northwest and the Pennines, which run north-south in N central England. The famous Lake District, in the Cumbrians, has England's highest points. The center of England, the Midlands, is a large plain, interrupted and bordered by hills. In the Midlands are the industrial centers of Birmingham and the Black Country. The Midlands, especially its northern edge, was formerly a great coal-mining region. On the Lancashire plain is the great city of Manchester, the center of the English textile industry. Durham and W Yorkshire are also highly industrialized, but E Yorkshire is an area of bleak moors and wolds, and the upper reaches of Northumberland are sparsely populated. In the west and southwest the border with Wales and the peninsula of Devonshire and Cornwall have a hilly, upland terrain. The main ports in the west are Bristol, on the Avon (which flows into Bristol Channel), and Liverpool, on the Mersey. In southern England, the main ports are London, Southampton, and Plymouth.
Despite its northerly latitudes (London is on the same parallel as the easterly tip of Labrador), England has a mild climate, attributable to warm currents in the surrounding seas. Most of the region is subject to much wet weather, and some of it experiences severe cold, but in general the climate is favorable to a wide variety of agricultural and industrial pursuits.
England has 27 administrative counties: Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, and Worcestershire. Nonmetropolitan areas, the counties are further divided into districts. Cornwall, Durham, Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, Northumberland, Rutland, Shropshire, and Wiltshire are historical counties that have abandoned the two-tier county council–district council structure for a single-tier unitary council; administratively, they are unitary authorities. The former counties of Avon, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cheshire, Cleveland, and Humberside have been dissolved into smaller unitary authorities; these and other areas that were administratively part of the remaining counties are now independent local governing authorities.
From 1974 to 1986 there were also seven metropolitan counties: Greater London, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire; the administrative districts that comprised these counties are now responsible for most local government functions. Greater London consists of the City of London and 32 boroughs and, unlike the other former metropolitan counties, has an elected mayor and assembly. The 39 so-called ancient or geographical counties of England (Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Westmorland, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, and Yorkshire) typically differ in area from the existing counties even when they share a name with a modern county or unitary authority. Some ancient counties (Sussex and Yorkshire) have been divided into separate counties or counties and other administrative units, while others (Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cheshire, Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Middlesex, and Westmorland) have been subdivided into smaller administative units.
For the history of England as well as more information on government and economy, see Great Britain.
While new scholarship and art were flowering in fifteenth-century Italy, England was recovering from defeat in the Hundred Years' War, and English claimants to the throne from the houses of York and Lancaster were fighting a long and bloody civil war. In 1485, when Henry Tudor defeated his rival Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the Tudor dynasty was established. Returning to political and social stability, England began absorbing humanist ideas from the continent. English schools followed the new humanism, instructing their students in Latin, Greek, and the classical authors. The first printed books spread literacy, while scholars from the continent, notably Desiderius Erasmus, arrived seeking patronage. In 1509, with the start of the reign of Henry VIII, England's Renaissance took its first steps at the king's royal court, where the painter Hans Holbein worked and the renowned scholar Sir Thomas More served the king as lord chancellor. The classical languages were taught at Saint Paul's school, founded by John Colet; William Lily wrote a Latin grammar in the 1520s and Thomas Elyot a dictionary of Latin and English words.
The pivotal year in English Renaissance history was 1536, when Henry established the Church of England. The king became the supreme head of the church, which adopted many of the doctrines of Martin Luther and Protestant Reformation. Catholic property was seized and members of the church were arrested or driven into exile. Monasteries were closed and nuns and monks forced to renounce their vows. As monastic property was confiscated, large collections of books, including manuscripts of ancient Greek and Latin authors, spread to the universities. During the Tudor dynasty, religion played an important role in English foreign policy.
Henry's reign was followed by those of his son Edward and daughter Mary. Edward supported the cause of reform. During his reign the English Book of Common Prayer was published, advancing Protestant doctrine. Mary, however, was a fervently devout Catholic. She restored the traditional faith and had many Protestant leaders and nobles executed. After a short reign, she died without an heir, passing the throne to her Protestant half sister Elizabeth. Tutored by Roger Ascham, one of the foremost scholars of Latin and ancient literature, Elizabeth had an open mind to new ideas and encouraged humanist education. The queen was a lively and intelligent leader who enthusiastically patronized scholars and artists. English literature, art, architecture, and music flourished in the Elizabethan age of the late sixteenth century.
Music, drama, and pageantry were hallmarks of Elizabeth's royal court. Italian forms, such as the sonnet and the madrigal, were taken up in English poetry and music. The composer Thomas Morley set Shakespeare's poetry to music in the Italian style; Thomas Tallis and William Byrd also experimented in musical form and style. Edmund Spenser glorified the Tudor dynasty in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. The theater was brought to new heights by William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and many others. The thorough knowledge of history and classical literature reflected in their plays demonstrated the broad humanistic education that was now widely available to English students. In the field of natural philosophy, Sir Francis Bacon made an important contribution with his concepts of the scientific method.
England still faced serious threats from the continent. England's support of Protestant rebels in the Netherlands prompted the Spanish king, Philip II, to send a powerful armada of warships to invade and conquer England. The Spanish Armada was turned away in 1588 by storms and outmaneuvered by skilled English navigators. In the meantime, England was joining the era of exploration, sending ships to North America to search for a northwest passage to Asia and establishing American colonies after the turn of the seventeenth century. These voyages expanded the kingdom's trade and stimulated its economy, as chartered companies such as the East India Company, the Hudson Bay Company, and the Muscovy Company set up operations in Asia, North America, and Russia.