Did William the Conqueror Have a Jewish Mother?

It is known that the Norman king was the illegitimate son of the previous duke of Normandy and a woman name Herleva, whose father was a tanner. Joshua Gelernter examines some circumstantial evidence that she might have been Jewish:

According to the 19th-century historian Edward Freeman, William the Conqueror, who was also known as William the Bastard, was sometimes known as “William the Mamzer.” This is where things get interesting. Mamzer is a Hebrew pejorative meaning the child of an illegitimate sexual relationship, such as adultery or incest. In Europe, it may have entered the vernacular as a pejorative for the offspring of a particular type of illegitimate relationship—one between a Christian man and a Jewish woman. . . . [Furthermore], in medieval Europe, tanners were frequently Jews. . . .

We know that in the 11th century Normandy was home to a large number of Jews. By some estimates, its capital Rouen began that century with a population that was one-fifth Jewish. And we know that William was relatively fond of the Jews: after his Conquest, he suggested Normandy’s children of Israel resettle in England—a surprising invitation, even for someone interested in developing trade and finance. . . .

Does any of this prove that England as we know it was founded by a Jew? Of course not. But it’s something to chew on.

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More about: England, French Jewry, History & Ideas, Intermarriage, Middle Ages

 

Hamas’s Tactics of Attrition and Extortion Are Paying Off

Feb. 21 2020

In January, the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Iran after promising the Egyptian government that he would not. Cairo responded by cutting exports of cooking gas and tires to the Gaza Strip. Facing a possible domestic crisis, the terrorist group recently resumed sending balloon-borne explosives into Israel, and allowed other jihadists to fire rockets. The move succeeded, despite retaliatory strikes by the IDF, writes Elior Levy:

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Israeli Security