ISAAC OF NORWICH (Isaac b. Eliab):
By: Joseph Jacobs
English financier of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. He was among the Jews imprisoned by King John in 1210 ("Select Pleas of the Jewish Exchequer," ed. Riggs, p. 3). It is possible that at this time a house of his in London fell into the hands of the king and was afterward (1214) transferred to the Earl of Derby ("Rotuli Cartarum," p. 3, London, 1837). He was by far the most important Jewish money-lender at Norwich in the early years of Henry III., the majority of the items of a day-book of that place now preserved at Westminster Abbey referringto his transactions (Jacobs and Wolf, "Bibl. Anglo-Jud." p. xviii.). In the "Shetarot" Isaac is referred to as "Nadib" or "Mæcenas" (Davis, "Shetarot," Nos. 1-2); he appears to have died before 1247 (ib. No. 11). A caricature of him appears in an issue of the Exchequer, 17, Hen. III. (1233), which represents him as being tortured by a demon and expresses the contemporary Christian view of his rapaciousness (F. Devon, "Issues of the Exchequer," frontispiece, and p. 506, London, 1837).
The accompanying caricature represents Isaac as three-faced, probably in allusion to the wide extent of his dealings. He is crowned with a coronet, and surveys a scene in which another Jew, Mosse Mok, and a Jewess named Abigail, are being tortured by demons, seemingly under his direction. The scene appears to be taken from a miracle-play, the drapery representing the stage, and the architectural adornment the cloister of a church, such plays generally being performed in churches.