Who are “The Pope’s Jews”?

In 1269, the Jews who were living in Carpentras were expelled by the Bishop of Carpentras. In 1275, a papal enquiry was carried out to find out what happened. The conflict apparently arose when certain lords of the Comtat tried to force these Jews to contribute to the levy of a subsidy to finance the Crusade, which they refused to do, on the grounds of the legal “grey area” in which they found themselves. Indeed, having initially been the Jews of the Bishop of Carpentras, they had become, thanks to their expulsion, “Jews without a lord,” and the only lord that could be considered as being subservient to was the person who reigned over the Bishop of Carpentras, i.e. the Pope. The conclusions of the papal enquiry, confirmed that the only person who had jurisdiction over Jews who no longer had a lord, by virtue of their expulsion, was the Pope himself. The Jews who were the subject of this enquiry were therefore considered from then onward as “the Pope’s Jews”.