Dr Kenneth Austin is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Bristol. His research lies in the field of late medieval and early modern European history, especially the connections between the worlds of the Renaissance and the Reformation. Among his published works is a monograph on Immanuel Tremellius (c.1510-1580), a highly influential figure who has been surprisingly overlooked in the historiography of the European Reformation. More recently, he has published The Jews and the Reformation (Yale University Press, 2020). In this monograph, which ranges across western Europe, and covers the period between the late fifteenth and late seventeenth centuries, he investigates the impact that the Reformations - Protestant and Catholic - had on Christian attitudes towards Jews, and on Judaeo-Christian relations.
The Whitehall Conference, convened by Oliver Cromwell in December 1655, was one of the most significant episodes in English Jewish history. Although the Conference itself ended inconclusively, in its aftermath Jews were given tacit permission to live in England. This reversed the position which had existed for more than 350 years, since the expulsion of all Jews from the country ordered by Edward I in 1290. In this talk I will look again at the circumstances surrounding the Whitehall Conference and subsequent readmission, focusing particularly on the ways in which the Reformation – in both England and Europe – helped to bring this about.