JEWISH-AMERICAN HALL OF FAME • JEWISH MUSEUM IN CYBERSPACE
ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 
 Oliver Cromwell Medal   Masaniello Medal
Figure 30. Oliver Cromwell and Masaniello Medal

Wouter Müller, England/ Italy, 1658, Silver cast medal, 70 mm. Ref: M.I., i, 432/78; Eimer 47/198; Jones, 1979; 51/110; Med. Hist. Engl. 64/10; Scher 39/26; Weiss BW178 (Image: Collection of Benjamin Weiss)

The above medal consists of two embossed, repoussé plates, chased, and united by a broad rim. This medal was inspired by the rise to prominence of two commoners, considered remarkable in the 17th century: Tommaso Aniello and Oliver Cromwell. Tommaso Aniello, called Masaniello (1620? 1647), was a fisherman, turned Neapolitan revolutionist, who in 1647 led a revolt of the lower classes against the Spanish rulers of Naples and the Neapolitan nobility.

The reverse of this medal compares Masaniello's revolt with that of Cromwell's in England. Like that in Naples, the English commoners and their representatives in parliament grew tired of the excesses of the nobility, in this case the rule of Charles I. During his reign, Cromwell’s policy was both anti Stuart and pro Protestant, his most notable achievement being his championing a degree of unprecedented religious freedom, including his decision to permit the resettlement of Jews back into England after more than 350 years of banishment.

The act by Oliver Cromwell in 1656 to allow Jews to resettle in England was of such importance that three centuries later a medal was issued in England commemorating the three hundredth anniversary of this historic event (Figure 31). The obverse of the medal shows busts of Oliver Cromwell and Menasseh ben Israel, a Dutch rabbi who successfully petitioned Cromwell to rescind the expulsion of the Jews; a menorah below. The reverse depicts a woman reading a scroll reading 1656 - 1956 and holding a plaque reading, in Hebrew, Thou Shalt Know That Thy Tent Is in Peace, Job. V. 24.

 Oliver Cromwell Medal   Masaniello Medal
Figure 31. Resettlement of Jews in Great Britain, Tercentenary Medal

Paul Vincze, England, 1956, Bronze struck medal, 38 mm. Ref: Eimer 2097; BHM 4467 (Image courtesy of Christopher Eimer)

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