De Montfort University is facing calls to change its name as the 6th Earl of Leicester persecuted the Jewish people.

Students at the university in Leicester are calling for it to drop its association with Simon de Montfort.

De Montfort is hailed as the father of parliament but he was also a Crusader and persecuted the Jewish people in England.

As Earl of Leicester he expelled Jews from the city and as England’s de facto leader cancelled debts owed to Jews through the violent seizures of records which ended in massacres.

De Montfort University changed its name from Leicester Polytechnic to honour the earl in 1992. 

A stone marking the Battle of Evesham, a defining moment in the history of England when Simon De Montfort, Earl of Leicester lead the rebellion of 180 baron's in a battle with Prince Edward

Credit: Russell Sach

But the university’s students union have launched a campaign, led by Aisha Ismail, a student opportunities and engagement executive, to ditch the name. 

They told the Times that although he was regarded as the founder of democracy, he was “known for his antisemitic views and hatred towards the Jewish community, which ultimately led to the expulsion of the entire community from Leicester and the massacre of hundreds of Jews across the country”.

The statement said the name is not one “anyone within our community would want to be associated with”, adding: “This is not a name we say with pride. It is not reflective of our core values and beliefs.”

The union said that cutting ties with De Montfort “should not just be a virtue signalling act” but a way of ensuring the university “actively begins to start dismantling any signs of antisemitism within the institution”.

A spokesman for the university said it “stands against racism in all its forms, including antisemitism” and had “longstanding objectives of genuine equality, inclusion and diversity, and of becoming a truly antiracist university”.

He added: “We very much welcome the discussion the De Montfort Students’ Union campaign will bring and are very happy to work alongside our students to ensure the future of our university is fit for us all.”