A NEW book has been published, shedding light on Winchester's most famous medieval businessperson.

A statue to Licoricia of Winchester was unveiled earlier this year and visited by the Prince of Wales.

She helped finance monarchs in the 13th century before her murder in her home in Winchester in 1277 shortly before Jews were expelled from England by Edward I.

Rebecca Abrams has written a biography of Licoricia, with a foreword by by best-selling historian Simon Sebag-Montefiore, as part of the project which has seen the bronze statue installed in February outside the Arc on Jewry Street close to the medieval Jewish quarter.

The 160-page book, with 40 colour images, opens a window onto the experiences of the wider Jewish community in 13th century England, a time of political turbulence and escalating anti-Jewish persecution.

Ms Abrams draws out the parallels between the treatment of minority groups in the past and the present, highlighting the pressing relevance of Licoricia’s story for modern day readers.

Maggie Carver, chair of The Licoricia of Winchester Appeal which raised funds for the statue, said: “Rebecca has written a gripping book which will be both an inspiration and a revelation to all readers”.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, patron of the appeal, said: “Totally fascinating, tragic and unforgettable, this is an untold story of female power, royal intrigues, high finance, civil war and antisemitism.”

Prof Robert Stacey, of the University of Washingtonin the USA, leading medieval historian, said: “A compelling account of the life of the most important Jewish woman in medieval history. Easily accessible to general readers yet informative even to specialists.”

Ms Abrams said: “Licoricia was a self-made Jewish woman in a man-made Christian world. She is an inspiring example of what can be achieved in the face of even the greatest obstacles. But Licoricia’s story also has so much to teach us about the roots of English antisemitism, a subject that’s rarely talked about but is still so relevant today.”

The book was commissioned as part of the appeal's wider educational aim to educate people about Winchester’s important but little-known medieval Jewish community and the wider history of the Jews of medieval England. It was a time when Jews were banned from most occupations and also from owning land and Christians not allowed to lend money for profit, so people such as Licoricia filled a gap in raising money for kings and aristocrats.

Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England, The Rise and Fall of a Remarkable Jewish Businesswoman is published by the Licoricia of Winchester Appeal (www.licoricia.org.uk) with a RRP of £14.99. An ebook is also available (ISBN 978-1-3999-1791-9).