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Medieval Sourcebook:
Gerald of Wales:
A Witty Jew, c. 1185

We set forth thence towards Wenloch through a narrow and steep way which they call Bad-place [Malam plateam].  Here it happened in our days that a certain Jew journeying to Shrewsbury with the archdeacon of the, same place whose name was Peche and the deacon whose name was Dayville. When he heard the archdeacon by chance saying that his deaconry began at this place which is called Bad-place and lasted till Bad-pass near Chester, considering and reflecting on the surname of the archdeacon and the name of the dean he made a rather witty and neat remark.  " It will be a wonder," said he, " if chance bring me back safe from this country whose archdeacon is Sin [Peche], whose dean is the Devil, which you enter by a Bad-place and go out in a Bad-pass."

[Editor’s note: Besides the intrinsic interest of this anecdote it is conclusive evidence that the everyday speech of the English Jews of the time was French, as was the case with the upper classes in general.]


Source: Gerald of Wales. Itinerarium Cambriae II. c. xiii. (ed.  Dimock, vi. 146), ed. Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England: Documents and Records (London, 1893), pp. 86-87)

Scanned by Elka Klein.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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