Presbyter Judaeorum

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PRESBYTER JUDAEORUM (arch-presbyter, or le prestre in Norman French), secular head of the exchequer of the Jews in 13th century England who supervised the collection of taxes and fees for the crown. He has been variously identified by historians as chief rabbi, high priest, bishop, or judge. As one of the most prominent Jews in England, he was often called upon by the king to advise on a variety of matters affecting his people, and was sworn "to look after the administration of justice on behalf of the king and to explain the king's laws," largely, presumably, on administrative matters. Six such archpresbyters are known, all of them wealthy. Jacob of London, appointed in 1199, was followed in 1207 by Josce fil' Isaac, who was succeeded by *Aaron of York in 1236. *Elias le Eveske assumed the position in 1243. After protesting against the onerous taxes and fines, he was deposed in 1257 and eventually became an apostate. The king then offering the Jews the right to select a successor, they chose Hagin (Ḥayyim), son of Master Moses of Lincoln, in 1258. The last arch-presbyter, who held office from 1281 until the expulsion of the Jews from England a decade later, was Cok Hagin, son of Deulecresse of London.


H.P. Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History (1913), 23–43; Roth, England, 112n., 30–31, 79–80; A.M. Hyamson, History of the Jews in England (19282).

[Isaac Levitats]