Two trustees from The Licoricia of Winchester Appeal, Danny Habel and Tony Stoller, appeared on the most recent episode of Podcast Against Antisemitism where they spoke on the life of Licoricia of Winchester and the recent statue unveiling.
Licoricia was a Jewish businesswoman who has been described as “the most important Jewish woman in medieval England” and a leader in her community. She lived in the 13th century and was murdered in 1277, just thirteen years before King Edward I expelled the Jews from England.
“At a time when women really were very nondescript and not in the histories much, she stood out,” Mr Habel told our host. “She was a businesswoman. She made the most of it on her own as a single mother with five children in a very hostile society.
“As time went on, she was obviously a bold woman. She was close to Henry III…she would go into the royal court and address the king and the courtiers in French, in their language. She would be dealing with people in the local community in English. As part of her very confrontational business of finance, she would be in court quite often acting on her own behalf in Latin. So, she was able to face up to people, but at the time same, she was a community leader.”
Mr Stoller agreed that Licoricia was “highly significant,” though added that this did not necessarily protect her completely. “She was imprisoned for eight months in order to get money out of her at one stage…You lose Henry III, you get Edward I, you get extremely antisemitic demands by Simon De Montfort and the barons…Licoricia is murdered, we don’t think we know why. The guess is this might have been a way of somebody avoiding paying back money that was owed to her.”
When asked about the lessons that could be learned from Licoricia’s story, Mr Habel noted that “In Licoricia’s time, there were certain tropes and concepts about the way people thought about Jews and strangely enough, they’re exactly the same as today.” Mr Habel said that some of the tropes levelled against Jews included the belief that they were all rich, that they were responsible for the death of Christ, and that they were evil.
When asked if the trustees had any message for Podcast Against Antisemitism’s listeners, Mr Stoller said: “Come and look at the statue of Licoricia of Winchester, and then think about it. And if you can’t look at the statue, then go onto our website and take a virtual tour, and see what it is and see if you are as inspired as we are.”
Podcast Against Antisemitism, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, talks to a different guest about antisemitism each week. It streams every Thursday and is available through all major podcast apps and YouTube. You can also subscribe to have new episodes sent straight to your inbox. Previous guests have included comedian David Baddiel, The Sunday Telegraph columnist Zoe Strimpel and actor Eddie Marsan.