Episode 3: The Medieval Massacre of the Jews of York
In 1190 one of the darkest events in York’s history took place at the site of Clifford's Tower. Trapped by an angry and violent mob, the city's entire Jewish community, who were taking refuge inside York Castle’s tower, were confronted with the impossible decision of either taking their own lives or facing the mob outside, and certain death at their hands.
Josie Long visits Clifford's Tower to learn more about this story and to try to understand how and why this terrible tragedy took place, in the third episode of Speaking with Shadows – the podcast that listens to the people that history forgot.
Visiting Clifford’s Tower in York, Josie meets curators Jeremy Ashbee and Sally Dixon-Smith to hear the story of the medieval massacre of the Jews. Also speaking to members of the York Liberal Jewish Community, Josie explores the modern parallels that can be drawn from this dark chapter in York's history and how local Jewish communities reflect on it today.
This episode contains graphic descriptions which some people may find upsetting. It is not suitable for younger listeners.
Read more about the Massacre of the Jews
Read more about what happened at the site of Clifford's Tower in 1190 and explore the historical context around this tragic event. Learn about the history of the Jewish population in England, and what caused the growing hostility towards this community in the period leading up to the massacre.
Read More about the massacre at Clifford's tower
Links and Further Reading
- York Liberal Jewish Community
- History Extra – The Jews of Medieval England
- Dobson, RB, The Jews of Medieval York and the Massacre of 1190, Borthwick Papers (York, 1996)
- Huscroft, R, Expulsion: England's Jewish Solution (Stroud, 2006)
- Mundill, R, The King’s Jews: Money, Massacre and Exodus in Medieval England (London and New York, 2010)
- Rees-Jones, S and Watson, S (eds), Christians and Jews in Angevin England: The York Massacre of 1190, Narratives and Contexts (Woodbridge and York, 2013)
- Roth, C, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford, 1941)
Presenter: Josie Long
Producer: Katharine Kerr for Fresh Air
- Jeremy Ashbee – Head Properties Curator, English Heritage
- Sally Dixon-Smith – Collections Curator, The Tower of London
- Ben Rich – Trustee, York Liberal Jewish Community
- Shannon Kirshner – Trustee, York Liberal Jewish Community
Visit Clifford's Tower
Visit Clifford's tower and take in stunning panoramic views over Old York from the top of Clifford's Tower - the ideal starting point for any visit to the city of York.
History of Clifford's Tower
Discover the history of Clifford's Tower, the largest remaining part of York Castle, once the centre of government for the north of England.
Listen to more Speaking with Shadows
Explore more episodes of Speaking with Shadows, the podcast that listens to the people that history forgot.
The English Heritage Weekly Podcast
Step into England’s story with our weekly podcast. Join presenter Charles Rowe as we bring the history of our sites to life with news, views and expert interviews.