The Magna Carta 2 Missing Crucial Paragraphs


 Excerpted from theoccidentalobserver.net
Why have clauses 10 and 11 been airbrushed from history? These were the ones inserted in the original charter to protect widows and underage heirs specifically from Jewish moneylenders by restricting the recovery of debt out of the deceased debtor’s estate.

But they are nowhere to be found in the official Magna Carta Trust website nor the US National Archive website which instead features the text of the later — and much shorter — 1297 version. The two clauses in the original 1215 Great Charter are:

10. If one who has borrowed from the Jews any sum, great or small, die before that loan be repaid, the debt shall not bear interest while the heir is under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if the debt fall into our hands, we will not take anything except the principal sum contained in the bond.

11. And if anyone die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if any children of the deceased are left under age, necessaries shall be provided for them in keeping with the holding of the deceased; and out of the residue the debt shall be paid, reserving, however, service due to feudal lords; in like manner let it be done touching debts due to others than Jews.

You can, as they say in the British civil service, see the problem. While unremarkable in their day these short paragraphs are pretty incendiary stuff now and a headache for the organisers of the Magna Carta Trust — Patron: Her Majesty The Queen — which obviously wants to avoid causing offence to the richest and most powerful ethnic group in the legal profession.

Of the forty or so distinguished members of the advisory board of the Magna Carta Trust about a quarter are Jewish and they include:

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer;
John Bercow, Speaker of the British House of Commons;
David W. Rivkin, Secretary General of the International Bar Association and a member of President Obama’s finance committee;
Stephen Zack, former president of the American Bar Association and chairman of the ABA’s Magna Carta committee;
David Rubenstein, private equity billionaire and philanthropist; Rubenstein who founded the Carlyle Group and purchased one of the few remaining Magna Carta charters.

So what relevance has any of this for today? In the narrowest of senses, very little because practically nothing from the Great Charter is still on the statute books in Britain today.

But more broadly It does shine a light into our medieval history and specifically the role played by the Jews in medieval England. In recent years there has been a concerted attempt to depict Jews as a peaceful open community pursuing a wide variety of occupations.

The Jews of medieval England were occupied entirely as moneylenders and enjoyed great privileges and the special protection of the King. Not only were they exempt from the usury ban on Christians, they were able to move about the country without paying tolls and special weight was attributed to a Jew’s oath, which was valid against that of 12 Christians.

But the protection of the King depended purely on their revenue-raising abilities. It has been said that just as the Jews could soak the wealth from a land the King could squeeze it from them. The money raising powers of the Jews were an important element on his side in the struggle between Crown, barons, and municipalities which makes up the constitutional history of England. But as could be expected this earned them the hatred of the general population and this often found violent expression. The Jews were seen as very much the King’s creatures and to take against the moneylenders was to take against the King.

What is interesting about clauses 10 and 11 is how prosaic and matter of fact they are. They deal with the technical issue of how an underage heir’s estate can be protected from the depredations of moneylenders until he reaches his majority. There are no diabolical fantasies of blood libel or any religious content at all. It is just business that is at issue, but underlying the dry prose is anger at Jewish moneylending.

In more recent times some people have chosen to place a generous interpretation that the Jews were not being singled out at all. That is because there is also a phrase “Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly” in the original.

In fact much popular anger remained against Jewish extortionate financial practices—so much so that when King Edward returned from the Crusades in 1274 he discovered so much land dispossession that he decided to take action with the Statute of Jewry. This outlawed usury altogether and tried to entice Jews into the community by granting them a licence to farm. They were also encouraged to make a living as merchants, farmers, craftsmen or soldiers.

Unfortunately when the 15-year trial period had elapsed, it was discovered that the Jews had covertly continued their moneylending and other sharp practices such as coin-clipping. In 1290, King Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England. The expulsion edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages, the culmination of over 200 years of conflict on the matters of usury.

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