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Head of Zeus
Licoricia: The Triumph and Trials of a Thirteenth-Century Jewish Businesswoman by Rebecca Abrams, foreword by Simon Sebag Montefiore

'Totally fascinating, tragic and unforgettable, this is an untold story of female power, royal intrigues, high finance, civil war and antisemitism' Simon Sebag Montefiore

'A beautifully written and compelling account of the life of the most important Jewish woman in thirteenth-century England' Robert Stacy

Licoricia of Winchester has been described as the most remarkable Jewish woman in medieval history; her life was filled with dramatic reversals of fortune and extraordinary achievements, played out against a backdrop of civil wars, political turbulence and rising antisemitism in early Plantagenet England. Yet her extraordinary story is not widely known.

Rising from obscurity to become one of the wealthiest women in thirteenth-century England and one of the country's most successful Jewish financiers, Licoricia provided loans to kings, queens, bishops and the nobility. But she also endured the horrors that engulfed the Jews of medieval England in the decades before their mass expulsion by Edward I in 1290. Licoricia and her family experienced the rising tide of antisemitic legislation, local expulsions and massacres, systematically destroying the country's once-thriving medieval Jewry: her first husband was falsely accused of killing a Christian child, her local community was violently attacked, and she herself was ultimately murdered in her own home.

Rebecca Abrams brings the story of this remarkable individual to light, exploring Licoricia's significance as a woman, as a Jew, and as a financier. An inspiring chronicle of her personal resilience and determination to stand up to power, it also locates Licoricia and her community in the wider context to show how the fate of the Jews was inextricably connected to the profound social and political changes taking place in England at the time. In so doing, Abrams exposes the historic roots of English antisemitism and reveals how they continue to inform negative anti-Jewish myths and stereotypes still potent in the world today.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Medieval History
07 Jul 2022 * 224pp * £9.99 * 9781803285009
REVIEWS
'Totally fascinating, tragic and unforgettable, this is an untold story of female power, royal intrigues, high finance, civil war and antisemitism. Abrams' book superbly tells the astonishing rise of the richest woman in Plantagenet England whose unique independent career ended in her murder but is in so many ways relevant today'
Simon Sebag Montefiore
'A beautifully written and compelling account of the life of the most important Jewish woman in thirteenth-century England ... The current moment, when the tragic history of the Jews in medieval England is attracting unprecedented popular attention, this book should find a wide and receptive audience'
Robert Stacy
Author

Rebecca Abrams

Rebecca Abrams
Rebecca Abrams is an award-winning author and journalist who has contributed to the national press for over thirty years as a feature writer, book critic and commissioning editor. She is the author of The Jewish Journey: 4000 years in 22 objects, co-editor of Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries, which was longlisted for the 2021 Wingate Literary Prize, and writes regularly for the Financial Times on Jewish history and culture. She lives in Oxford.
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