IT was now time that the coronation should take place, and arrangements were accordingly made for performing
this ceremony with great magnificence in Westminster Abbey. The day of the ceremony acquired a dreadful
celebrity in history in consequence of a great massacre of the Jews, which resulted from an insurrection and
riot that broke out in Westminster and London immediately after the crowning of the king. The Jews had been
hated and abhorred by all the Christian nations of Europe for many ages. Since they were not believers in
Christianity, they were considered as little better than infidels and heathen, and the government that
oppressed and persecuted them the most was considered as doing the greatest service to the cause of religion.
One very curious result followed from the legal disabilities that the Jews were under. They could not own land,
and they were
re-  stricted also very much in respect to nearly all avocations open to other men. They consequently learned
gradually to become dealers in money and in jewels, this being almost the only reputable calling that was left
open to them. There was another great advantage, too, for them, in dealing in property of this kind, and that
was, that comprising, as such property does, great value in small bulk, it could easily be concealed, and
removed from place to place whenever it was specially endangered by the edicts of governments or the hostility
From these and similar reasons the Jews became bankers and money-lenders, and they are this day the richest
bankers and the greatest money-lenders in the world. The most powerful emperors and kings often depend upon
them for the supplies that they require to carry on their great undertakings or to defray the expenses of their
The Jews had gradually increased in numbers and influence in France until the time of the accession of Philip,
and then he determined to extirpate them from the realm; so he issued an edict by which they were all banished
from the kingdom, their property was confiscated,
 and every person that owed them money was released from all obligation to pay them. Of course, a great many of
their debtors would pay them, notwithstanding this release, from the influence of that natural sense of justice
which, in all nations and in all ages, has a very great control in human hearts; still, there were others who
would, of course, avail themselves of this opportunity to defraud their creditors of what was justly their due;
and being obliged, too, at the same time, to fly precipitately from the country in consequence of the decree of
banishment, the poor Jews were reduced to a state of extreme distress.
Now the Jews of England, when Henry died and Richard succeeded him, began to be afraid that the new king would
follow Philip's example, and in order to prevent this, and to conciliate Richard's favor, they determined to
send a delegation to him at Westminster, at the time of his coronation, with rich presents which had been
procured by contributions made by the wealthy. Accordingly, on the day of the coronation, when the great crowds
of people assembled at Westminster to honor the occasion, these Jews came among them.
The ceremony of the coronation was
per-  formed in the following manner: The king, in entering the church and proceeding up toward the high altar,
walked upon a rich cloth laid down for him, which had been dyed with the famous Tyrian purple. Over his head
was a beautifully-wrought canopy of silk, supported by four long lances. These lances were borne by four great
barons of the realm. A great nobleman, the Earl of Albemarle, bore the crown, and walked with it before the
king as he advanced toward the altar. When the earl reached the altar he placed the crown upon it. The
Archbishop of Canterbury stood before the altar to receive the king as he approached, and then administered the
usual oath to him.
The oath was in three parts:
1. That all the days of his life he would bear peace, honor, and reverence to God and the Holy Church, and to
all the ordinances thereof.
2. That he would exercise right, justice, and law on the people unto him committed.
3. That he would abrogate wicked laws and perverse customs, if any such should be brought into his kingdom, and
that he would enact good laws, and the same in good faith keep, without mental reservation.
Having taken this oath, the king removed
 his upper garment, and put golden sandals upon his feet, and then was anointed by the archbishop with the holy
oil on his head, breast, and shoulders. This oil was poured from a rich vessel called an ampulla.
The anointing having been performed, the king received various articles of royal dress and decoration from the
hands of the great nobles around him, who officiated as servitors on the occasion, and with their assistance
put them on. When thus robed and adorned, he advanced up the steps of the altar. As he went up, the archbishop
adjured him in the name of the living God not to assume the crown unless he was fully resolved to keep the
oaths that he had sworn. Richard again solemnly called God to witness that he would faithfully keep them, and
then advancing to the altar, he took the crown and put it into the hands of the archbishop, who then placed it
upon his head, and thus the coronation ceremony was completed.
The people who had presents for the king now approached and offered them to him.
 Among them came the Jews. Their presents were very rich and valuable, and the king received them very gladly,
although in announcing the arrangements for the ceremony he had declared that no Jew and no woman was to be
allowed to be present. Notwithstanding this prohibition, the Jewish deputation had come in and offered their
presents among the rest. There was, however, a great murmuring among the crowd in respect to them, and a great
desire to drive them out. This crowd consisted chiefly, of course, of barons, earls, knights, and other great
dignitaries of the realm, for very few of the lower ranks would be admitted to see the ceremony; and these
people, in addition to the usual religious prejudice against the Jews, had many of them been exasperated
against the bankers and money-lenders on account of difficulties that they had had with them in relation to
money that they had borrowed, and to the high interest which they had been compelled to pay. Some wise observer
of the working of human passions has said that men always hate more or less those to whom they owe money. This
is a reason why there should ordinarily be very few pecuniary transactions between friends.
At length, as one of the Jews who was
out-  side was attempting to go in, a by-stander at the gate cried out, "Here comes a Jew!" and struck at him.
This excited the passions of the rest, and they struck and pushed the poor Jew in order to drive him back; and
at the same time a general outcry against the Jews arose, and spread into the interior of the hall. The people
there, glad of the opportunity afforded them by the excitement, began to assault the Jews and drive them out;
and as they came out at the door beaten and bruised, a rumor was raised that they had been expelled by the
king's orders. This rumor, as it spread through the streets, was soon changed into a report that the king had
ordered all the unbelievers to be destroyed; and so, whenever a Jew was found in the street, a riot was raised
about him, he was assaulted with sticks and stones, cruelly beaten, and if he was not killed, he was driven to
seek refuge in his home, wounded and bleeding.
In the mean time, the news that the king had ordered all the Jews to be killed spread rapidly over the town,
and in the evening crowds collected, and after murdering all the Jews that they could find in the streets, they
gathered round their houses, and finally broke into them
 and killed the inhabitants. In some cases where the houses were strong, the Jews barricaded the doors and the
mob could not get in. In such cases they brought combustibles, and piled them up before the windows and doors,
and then, setting them on fire, they burned the houses to the ground, and men, women, and children were
consumed together in the flames. If any of the unhappy wretches burning in these fires attempted to escape by
leaping from the windows, the mob below held up spears and lances for them to fall upon.
There were so many of these fires in the course of the night that the whole sky was illuminated, and at one
time there was danger that the flames would spread so as to produce a general conflagration. Indeed, as the
night passed on, the excitement became more and more violent, until at length the streets, in all the quarters
where Jews resided, were filled with the shouts of the mob, raving in demoniacal phrenzy, and with the screams
of the terrified and dying sufferers, and the crackling of the lurid flames in which they were burning.
The king, in the mean time, was carousing with his lords and barons in the great banqueting-hall at
Westminster, and for a time took
 no notice of these disturbances. He seemed to consider them as of very little moment. At length, however, in
the course of the night, he sent an officer and a few men to suppress the riot. But it was too late. The mob
paid no heed to remonstrances which came from the leader of so small a force, but, on the other hand,
threatened to kill the soldiers too, if they did not go away. So the officer returned to the king, and the riot
went on undisturbed until about two o'clock of the next day, when it gradually ceased from the mere weariness
and exhaustion of the people.
A few of the men who had been engaged in this riot were afterward brought to trial, and three were hung, not
for murdering Jews, but for burning some Christian houses, which, either by mistake or accident, took fire in
the confusion and were burned with the rest. This was all that was ever done to punish this dreadful crime.
In justice to King Richard, however, it must be stated that he issued an edict after this forbidding that the
Jews should be injured or maltreated any more. He took the whole people, he said, thenceforth under his special
protection, and all men were strictly forbidden to harm
 them personally, or to molest them in the possession of their property.
And this was the terrible coronation scene which signalized the investiture of Richard with the crown and the
royal robes of England.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics