Sunday, October 22, 2017


The England That Pilgrims Left

Nadene Goldfoot                                         
The birth of the United States was almost like a miracle considering what civilization was like by 1620 when the Mayflower left Holland with a group of their refugees from England.  These Pilgrims had a view of life they had dreamed of after studying their Old Testament in their bible and had higher goals for their future than they had had in England or Holland.  They were the descendants of a Medieval England where people were not free, but serfs, working the land for a landowner.  These people had religious ideals  that were not being met in England where they had no religious freedom, and in Holland they were losing their English language.  They had to make a choice.  Risk everything, even their new comforts, for a try in a new land.  Reverend John Robinson said to do it.  His son Isaac, followed later in the next ship.
Giving thanks for their life with neighbors, the Indians
who helped them survive. "The English colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving as part of their religion. But these were days of prayer, not days of feasting. Our national holiday really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians to celebrate the colony's first successful harvest.
Pilgrims had no knowledge of Jews and their standards other than what they read in the Bible.  Jews were exiled out of England in 1290  by Edward I and would not be allowed to return until attitudes or needs changed in 1655.  Anti-Semitism at its worse had come from their Christian religious beliefs in which the few Jews they knew of were looked on as aliens in England, and because Jews were defiant in not accepting Christianity, so were said to be evil people.  Shakespeare's plays didn't help the situation, either, merely focusing on common attitudes then.  Shakespeare was born on the 26th of April, 1564.  He never met a Jew.
Jews lived almost 4,000 years ago in the land of Canaan which became Israel.  Moses brought a concept given to him through G-d that Jews were to live by,  that would bring harmony in the world.  When I look at what life was like in England only 1,000 years ago, it makes me shudder and thank G-d that I was born today.  Even the Pilgrims lived in a slightly improved world, and they risked their lives sailing in that tiny Mayflower on a sea that was  surely bent on destroying them.  They risked their lives to get onto this land and start a new way of living.  Their goals would be reached and would become a beacon of light in a world of darkness.

Jews had lived in England when their ancestors had immigrated from France and the Rhineland in the wake of the Conqueror, William in 1066 who needed their financial knowledge and connections to fund his military and his castle and church building activities.  It was not a Democratic country.
1189: Richard I, also called Richard the Lionheart, is crowned and London's Jews are massacred. "When King Richard the Lionheart was crowned, Jewish dignitaries who brought him gifts were stripped, whipped and banished from the court. This snowballed into a large-scale pogrom."

  Christian canon law forbade Christians to lend money and charging interest so the Jews were needed for this  part of life in medieval days.  Nobody is out of his mind enough to loan money without charging for it because it was not always paid back.  (Only parents today do such things for their children.)   This brought about trade by lending the capitol needed in which they would charge interest.  This was the ONLY business they were allowed to do.  Jews were forbidden to enter a trade or a craft in England or to own or rent land, so even farming was out.  To do so meant they would HAVE TO become a member of their trade society and swear an oath to the Holy Trinity,  This, of course, kept all people out that were not Christians.
Serfs working land in Middle Ages
Actually, nobody owned land except the gentry, the royalty.  All farming was done as peons who were owned by the gentry.  They really were like slaves, but were even taxed.  Like the USA in the 1800s, most people were farmers.  In England at this time, it was also true.  Most people were living in the country, with England and Wales having about 1,500 market towns where they could bring their products.  Rural manors, owners of the land,  had their Roman-like villas become a farm designed to feed the market.  Ten million sheep produced 40,000 sacks of wool each year for an international cloth market.  London was the largest town.  Next in size were York, Norwich and Coventry  which had 10,000 to 13,000 population each.
The GREAT FAMINE occurred in 1315 and lasted until 1322, starting with a bad harvest in 1314.  This was followed with wet miserable weather for 2 years.  Then they were hit with a sheep and cattle disease.  Many people died but many babies were also born.  Men paid for the hand of a woman in marriage with 5 marks or even 2 shillings.  The BLACK DEATH entered the land in 1348.  Bubonic plague came in an early summer and flourished in warm weather.  Europe's population were also dying by the millions.  It came with an army who were on ships bound for Europe, Africa  and the Near East.

As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, causing the death of a large part of the population, Jews were used as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed in numerous persecutions. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by issuing two papal bulls in 1348, the first on 6 July and an additional one several months later, 900 Jews were burned alive in Strasbourg, France,  where the plague had not yet affected the city.                                               
forced to wear a yellow badge

Jews were forced to wear special hats to identify them
In 1274, Edward I of England enacted the Statute of Jewry, which also included a requirement of Jewish identification, usually using a yellow badge:
Each Jew, after he is seven years old, shall wear a distinguishing mark on his outer garment, that is to say, in the form of two Tables joined, of yellow felt of the length of six inches and of the breadth of three inches. 
Jews had been under the protection of William and his succeeding English monarchs, who taxed the Jews highly and treated them like their flock of sheep, always available for shearing, vulnerable to wolves.  The Jews provided English kings, nobles and churchmen with the capital for major projects:  palaces, houses, cathedrals such as Lincoln and Peterborough, and the great monastic building programs like the Cistercian houses of Yorkshire.  This caused attitudes toward Jews to be contradictory.  They were useful and popular with their clients, but were despised and resented for their wealth and financial power.  Jews who entered were not all lenders of money.  This was a few, but the law allowed others to enter as well.  Aaron of Lincoln was one such wealthy Jew who was able to contract loans for cathedrals.  When he died, Henry II appropriated hi wealth including debts to the tune of 3/4 of the annual royal income in a normal year.  Aaron's bullion was shipped to France to finance the English wars against Philip Augustus but sank in February 1187 from Shoreham, England to Dieppe, France.
  The crusading King Edward I introduced the Statute of Jewry in 1275 which made the practice of charging interest "usury" illegal which put the Jews out of business.  The Italians were there also loaning money with interest who were not stopped by this ruling because they had papal protection to take over the banking role.  In the very same year as this statute, Edward ordered  the Jews of Marlborough to move to Devizes, and Jews in Gloucester to Bristol, and Jews in Worcester to Hereford and Jews in Cambridge to move to Norwich.

 In Lincoln, there was a Jewish lady Belaset who lived in the stone JEWS HOUSE, and she was accused of coin clipping and was hung! In fact, it turned out that all the Jews were arrested then for coin clipping.  680 Jews were held in the Tower of London and they executed 300 of them.  Jews were forced to wear the Yellow Badge for  immediate identification.   It was that same year of 1290 that Edward expelled the remaining, now virtually destitute Jews from his kingdom.  Their use came to an end.  They were forced out for the next 365 years.  Frankly, I can't understand why they'd want to live there after all of this.

Christianity entered England by the 1st century but were pushed back with events like the Saxon invasion in the 300s who brought their Germanic polytheism.  The Romans had left the country by 360.  It was Augustine who brought Christianity in 597.
The country was ruled by the royal elite and all others were serfs, kept in this level by laws that even covered what clothing they had to wear to show their level in society.  It was much like India's system.  You were born into a social group and there was no way to leave.
Serfs had to wear identifiable clothing of their station in life
 Feudal landlords of Britain looked down on their peasants with contempt.  The "villani" were lowly people and lacking in substance according to them, who wrote in Latin, not English.  This finally started a rebellion-by small landlords having from 5 to 20 acres who had sheep, cattle and pigs, and also craftworkers and townsmen.  This was in 1381 and was called the Peasants Revolt incorrectly.  They were revolting mainly about taxes, but the clothing laws didn't allow the poor to wear fur; only the royalty.  They had to wear a poor rough cloth to show their station in life.
 It wasn't until 1500 where money accrued meant more than one's feudal status.   Making money meant buying comfort and possessions to show one's station.  In 1481, the will of John Symond of Wickham Market, Suffolk, a barber and wax-dealer, left a feather bed and bedclothes, 6 pewter plates, 12 silver spoons, a wooden chest, 4 metal candlesticks, a brass pot, 5 irons, rosary beads and a saddle and bridle for his horse.  He had had a degree of material comfort unknown to his ancestors.
It was 1620 when the Mayflower sailed for the New World and came to the shores of Plymouth Rock in what would become Massachusetts in 1788, after the Revolutionary War of America's history.  The country with vision wasn't perfect.  The people settling in South before the Pilgrims reached the shores of Massachusetts came to make money.  They wound up raising tobacco and cotton in a very hot climate and quickly decided that they needed some slaves.  They were easily available by dealing with slave ships who brought them to our shores.  In 1833 England had passed a law against owning slaves.  Actually, " only slaves below the age of six were freed in the colonies. Former slaves over the age of six were redesignated as "apprentices", and their servitude was abolished in two stages: the first set of apprenticeships came to an end on 1 August 1838, while the final apprenticeships were scheduled to cease on 1 August 1840. The Act specifically excluded "the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company, or to the Island of Ceylon, or to the Island of Saint Helena." 

 In this way, England ended their ownership of slaves almost 30 years sooner than the 
USA did and without having a war over it.  Half of their country was not in the position of be-
ing dependent on slavery, however.  Those that owned plantations raising sugar were, so
they did face some of the same problems.  

Slaves were brought to Jamestown, Virginia to help grow tobacco in 1619, the year before the Mayflower left port.  They would not gain freedom until after  the CIVIL WAR in the USA from April 12, 1861 to May 9, 1865; a war of 4 years 27 days.  This was led by President Abraham Lincoln who came to the realization that owning slaves was against a bigger law than man's and was bent on changing his country.  "Approximately 620,000 soldiers died from combat, accident, starvation, and disease during the Civil War. This number comes from an 1889 study of the war performed by William F. Fox and Thomas Leonard Livermore. Both men fought for the Union."  Today there are people who want to destroy statutes of Lincoln because it was said that he owned a slave at one time.  His revelation brought about the lives of all the soldiers who died in the effort to fight over this decision.  The South had seen their loss of slaves as the end of their livilihood and civilization.  The North had seen the evil of owning people and not paying them for their value.  

Do our children of today understand how bad life was in England to force people to risk their lives in coming to this wild continent?  In 241 short years, we have the life we do today, a far better life than those back in England, even in 1775.  Yet we have to also understand that England had come far in 775 years compared to what life was back then and had remained that way till 1775.  

Resource:Book:  THE TRIBES OF BRITAIN, by David Miles
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