Isaac of Norwich

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Isaac of Norwich or Isaac ben Eliav was a Jewish-English financier of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He was among the Jews imprisoned by King John of England in 1210.[1] It is possible that at this time a house of his in London fell into the hands of the king and was afterward (1214) transferred to the Earl of Derby.[2] He was by far the most important Jewish money-lender at Norwich in the early years of Henry III, the majority of the items of a day-book of that place now preserved at Westminster Abbey referring to his transactions.[3] In the "Shetarot" Isaac is referred to as "Nadib" or "Mæcenas".[4] He appears to have died before 1247.[5] A caricature of him appears in an issue of the Exchequer, 17, Hen. III. (1233), which represents him as being tortured by a demon and expresses the contemporary Christian view of his rapaciousness.[6] The accompanying caricature represents Isaac as three-faced, probably in allusion to the wide extent of his dealings. He is crowned with a coronet, and surveys a scene in which two other Jews, Mosse Mok and a woman named Abigail, are being tortured by demons, seemingly under his direction. The scene appears to be taken from a miracle-play, the drapery representing the stage, and the architectural adornment the cloister of a church, such plays generally being performed in churches.


  1. ^ "Select Pleas of the Jewish Exchequer," ed. Riggs, p. 3.
  2. ^ "Rotuli Cartarum," p. 3, London, 1837.
  3. ^ Jacobs and Wolf, "Bibl. Anglo-Jud." p. xviii.
  4. ^ Davis, "Shetarot," Nos. 1-2)
  5. ^ ibid. No. 11)
  6. ^ F. Devon, "Issues of the Exchequer," frontispiece, and p. 506, London, 1837)