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Abbasid History Podcast

Feb 17, 2024

In 1319 Roger de Stangrave, a Hospitaller knight, and a Jew named Isaac arrived in England. For a ransom of 10,00 gold florins, Isaac had freed Stangrave, a stranger to him, from over 30 years of Mamluk captivity and then accompanied the knight home to be repaid. By 1322, Isaac has converted to Christianity and become Edward of St. John, with King Edward II taking him as godson.

What motivated Isaac to ransom a stranger for such an exorbitant cost and leave his native Egypt and end up baptised in England which at the time had expelled all Jews with the decree of Edward I in 1290 (father of Edward II) until it was formally overturned under Oliver Cromwell in 1656?

With the backdrop of the Crusades and European antisemitism, to share with us today his investigation of this curious tale is Dr. Rory MacLellan. Dr MacLellan completed his PhD in Medieval History 2019 at St. Andrews and is currently a cataloguer and manuscript researcher at the British Library. He specialises in medieval religious history, especially the crusades and the military-religious orders. His first book, ‘Donations to the Knights Hospitaller in Britain and Ireland’, 1291-1400, is published by Routledge.

02:20 The first records of Jews in England start with William the Conqueror although one can speculate there may have been Jews prior during the Roman occupation. What many viewers may not know is that Jews were officially expelled from England by Edward I in 1290 until it was formally overturned under Oliver Cromwell in 1657.
15:37 The reign of Edward II (1284-1327) coincides with the titular caliphates of Al-Hakim I (1262 - 1302) and Al-Mustakfi I (1302-1340) and the de facto rule of a number of Mamluk sultans starting with Qalawun (1279-1290) and ending with the second reign Nasir ad-Din Muhammad (1299-1309). What was the socio-political context of Edward's reign domestically and abroad, and what was he like as a person?
20:41 He was also cucked by a Frenchman. His wife Isabella shacked up with a Roger Mortimer and declared war on her husband. What happened there?
24:27 And give us also an overview of the Crusades and how that forms the backdrop to our story.
28:43 Before we look at Isaac and his journey to England, tell us first about Stangrave and how he ended up as a prisoner of war.
30:35 Enter Isaac. What do we do know about him?
39:08 And tell us more about the Domus Conversorum: a London hospital for baptised Jews and their relatives.
44:05 Your essay is a really good example of a critical reading of the sources. Tell us what you think really happened and why.
51:30 Comparison of Jewish life in Mamluk Egypt and Christian England
1:00:08 You have also looked at how the so-called 'alt right' can manipulate medieval history for their political agenda. Tell us your views about that.

For more on our guest:

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IslamicHistory #MedievalHistory #AbbasidHistory #jewishhistory #crusades #baptism #egypt