Black Tudors: The Untold Story, by Miranda Kaufmann

I really might have to pick up this book.  Thanks Elice (@EliceASmith) for bringing it to my attention! ~ Vida


Diverse: there is little sense that Tudor society made judgements on grounds of race

You might assume that there were no black people in Tudor England, and that if there were, they were there as slaves. Black Tudors tells another story. The book describes the lives of 10 very different black people living in early modern England, and in the process challenges easy assumptions about race, religion and social status.

Several of these individuals followed a profession.

John Blanke was a trumpeter at the court of Henry VIII who appears in the manuscript illustration of the great joust of 1511.

Jacques Francis was a diver, hired to salvage valuables from the wreck of the Mary Rose in 1545.

Reasonable Blackman was a silk weaver in Elizabethan Southwark who lost two of his children to the plague of 1592.

John Anthony was a mariner, described as “of the town and port of Dover”, working in the early Stuart period.

Others were servants, such as Edward Swarthye, the porter for a Gloucestershire landowner, or Mary Fillis, who came from Morocco to London as a child, and was baptised in 1597. Diego was a former slave who escaped to become a valuable companion to Francis Drake, while Dederi Jaquoah was an African prince who came to England in a merchant ship, spent two years in London, then returned home – where his fluent English was to come in useful in subsequent trading encounters.

Anne Cobbie was a prostitute in London in the 1620s known for her soft skin and Cattelena of Almondsbury seems to have lived as a single independent woman in a small village in Gloucestershire.

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