Letter: St Hugh, friend to medieval Jews

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was intrigued to read in your Diary column (27 May) that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had written to Ann Widdecombe complaining that St Hugh of Lincoln was anti-Semitic. Nothing could be further from the truth. In an age of growing hostility towards the Jews, Hugh stood out as their true friend and protector. During the anti-Jewish riots at the beginning of Richard I's reign, Hugh risked his life on at least three recorded occasions by standing unarmed between the Jews and the howling mob.

His popularity with the large Jewish community in Lincoln was strikingly displayed at his funeral. His close friend and biographer, Adam of Eynsham, wrote: 'Even the Jews came out weeping, to render him what homage they could, mourning and lamenting him aloud as the faithful servant of the One God.'

Miss Widdecombe's choice of St Hugh the Bishop of Lincoln as her confirmation name was well chosen, and should not be confused with the character in the much later anti-Jewish plot popularly called 'Little St Hugh', against which the Board of Deputies might justifiably object.

Yours faithfully,

JOHN WILFORD

City of Lincoln

Archaeology Unit

Lincoln

(Photograph omitted)

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