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The Exceptions to the Rule

Jews in Shakespeare’s England

Cynthia Seton-Rogers

Abstract

History has largely ignored Anglo-Jewish history in the years between the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 and their readmittance in 1656 by Cromwell. This article revisits that period and disputes the misconception that the Period of Expulsion left England without any Jews for nearly 400 years. Although the small Jewish population ebbed and flowed with the rising and waning tides of English anti-Jewish hostilities, it nevertheless persevered. This article highlights some of the more well-known and thus well-documented of these Jews, the majority of whom were Crypto-Jews of Spanish or Portuguese origin.