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February 9, 2022 3:41 pm
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Prince Charles to Unveil Statue of Influential Jewish Businesswoman in Medieval England

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The statue of Licoricia and her son Asher that will be installed on Jewry Street. Photo: Licoricia of Winchester Appeal.

A new statue of an influential and successful Jewish businesswoman who lived in 13th century England will be unveiled by Prince Charles on Thursday.

The life-size bronze monument of Licoricia and her son Asher will be erected on Jewry Street in Winchester, the city where she lived. Asher is seen holding a dreidel in his hand, and on the plinth of the statue is a biblical quote in Hebrew and English from Leviticus, which reads, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”

“Licoricia is seen purposefully walking ahead — a woman with much to do and complex issues on her mind — whilst holding on to Asher’s hand, showing her commitment at the same time to her family,” according to a news release by the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal. The monument aims to “educate people about England’s and Winchester’s important but little-known medieval Jewish community” and “inspire young people and women, illustrating the role of education in providing opportunities.”

After its unveiling by the Prince of Wales, the sculpture will be blessed by Ephraim Mirvis, the chief rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

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Licoricia, twice a widow with five children, was a leader of the Jewish community in Winchester and one of a handful of Jews who were prominently involved in finance. Highly educated, she raised her family as a single parent and ran a successful moneylending business, becoming a major financier to Henry III and Queen Eleanor. The money given by Licoricia and the estate of her second husband, David of Oxford, contributed to the building of Westminster Abbey and its shrine to Edward the Confessor.

Licoricia and her Christian maid were murdered in 1277, likely by a burglar, in the Oxford home she once lived in with David, who died in 1244.

Jews faced a hostile society in medieval England and were restricted in the occupations they could assume. They were required to wear prominent badges on their clothing identifying them as Jews, or else pay fines. “Jews were the property of the King, frequently persecuted by the Church, and taxed at will until they were too poor to be of any utility,” according to the Licoricia Appeal.

In 1290, King Edward I issued an expulsion of all Jews who would not convert to Christianity.

The statue paying tribute to Licoricia was created by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, who told the Hampshire Chronicle it was an honor to be involved in a project that recognizes “a woman who made a significant contribution to this country in terms of financial expertise and one who is probably forgotten by many people today.”

Maggie Carver, chairman of the Licoricia Appeal, said Prince Charles’ involvement in the unveiling “marks the historic importance of the medieval Jewish community in Winchester’s royal past, and the continuing importance of strong inter-faith understanding.”

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