Did Edward I make the Jews wear yellow stars?

9/18/2012 • Ask Mr. History

Is it true that king Edward the 1st made the Jews in his kingdom wear yellow stars labeling them Jewish to other townspeople?


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Dear Bryan,

It was, in fact Henry III, in his second year as king of England (1218) who ordered all Jews to wear a "badge of shame," consisting of a cloth patch in the shape of the two tablets bearing the Ten Commandments, to identity themselves to others. England was the first country in Europe to adopt the practice, but hardly the last. Henry also exacted tallages, or taxes on the Jews to finance his military campaigns. On July 18, 1290, Edward I decreed the Edict of Expulsion, driving all 2,000 of the Jews then living in England to France, from which they had to make their way to anyplace that would accept them (principally Poland and Muslim-controlled parts of Spain). There would be no more Jews permanently living in England until 1656, when Oliver Cromwell lifted the edict to allow a small colony of Sephardic Jewish refugees to live in London. The official year of acceptance, however, would probably be 1858, when Jews were allowed to sit in Parliament without having to convert  (as Benjamin Disraeli had previously done not only to become a Conservative MP, but prime minister).


Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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