Black Tudors: African Lives in Renaissance England
A black porter publicly whips a white English gentleman in a Gloucestershire manor house. A heavily pregnant African woman is abandoned on an Indonesian island by Sir Francis Drake. A Mauritanian diver is dispatched to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose... Miranda Kaufmann reveals the absorbing stories of some of the Africans who lived free in Tudor England.
From long-forgotten records, remarkable characters emerge. They were baptized, married and buried by the Church of England. They were paid wages like any other Tudors. Their stories, brought viscerally to life by Kaufmann, provide unprecedented insights into how Africans came to be in Tudor England, what they did there and how they were treated. A ground-breaking, seminal work, Black Tudors challenges the accepted narrative that racial slavery was all but inevitable and forces us to re-examine the seventeenth century to determine what caused perceptions to change so radically.
`Splendid...that rare thing - a work of history about the Tudors that actually says something fresh and new...a cracking contribution to the field.' * Dan Jones, Sunday Times * `Enlightening and constantly surprising... Far too many popular studies of the Tudors return the same faces. To its great credit, Black Tudors presents fresh figures and challenges the way we look at them.' * Jessie Childs, Financial Times * `An absolute joy.' * Leanda de Lisle, The Times * `This is history on the cutting edge of archival research, but accessibly written and alive with human details and warmth. Black Tudors is a critical book that allows us to better understand an era that fascinates us like no other.' -- David Olusoga, author of Black and British: A Forgotten History `In a work of brilliant sleuthing, engagingly written, Kaufmann reclaims long-forgotten lives and fundamentally challenges our preconceptions of Tudor and Jacobean attitudes to race and slavery.' -- John Guy, bestselling author of Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years `Miranda Kaufmann has written a superb antidote both to the cliches of Tudor history and to the assumption that Black migration to Britain began with the Windrush. Her vivid portrait of Black Tudor lives sweeps readers around the world in the company of Diego, manservant to Sir Francis Drake, and back to the life of single woman Cattelena in the Gloucestershire countryside. Grounded in precise and detailed historical research, Black Tudors promises to change perceptions of a period at the heart of Britain's national identity.' -- Catherine Fletcher, author of The Black Prince of Florence `The book is based on impeccable research in a rich array of sources. But Dr Kaufmann wears her learning lightly and she tells a series of fascinating stories with an elegance and wit that should appeal to many readers.' -- Clive Holmes, Emeritus Fellow and Lecturer in History, University of Oxford `A brilliant example of how to use the most detailed kind of archival data to present a broadly accessible picture of the past, and one which has enormous relevance to the present controversies about immigration and diversity.' -- Paul Kaplan, Professor of Art History, State University of New York, Purchase `The very concept of black Tudors may sound unlikely, but in this highly readable yet intensively researched book, Kaufmann...makes clear that people of African descent were residing in England centuries before the postwar Windrush generation and were not necessarily enslaved. By examining in detail the lives of 10 previously obscure men and women, Kaufmann depicts the great diversity of their experiences in 16th- and early-17th-century England... Kaufmann also persuasively argues that the enslavement of Africans emerged as a response to the socioeconomic conditions of England's Caribbean and North American colonies, rather than as an inevitable result of a supposedly inherent racism within early modern English culture. Kaufmann's crucial contention, in conjunction with her lively prose and fascinating microhistories, should draw some well-deserved attention.' * Publishers Weekly, starred review * `An eminently readable book that offers contemporary readers valuable insights into racial relations of centuries past.' * Kirkus * `Tudor England's legendary history is a rich locus in the popular imagination. Full of pageantry and larger-than-life personalities, the period is a favorite of the Anglophilic world. But what if that seemingly monolithic world was also black?... For a modern audience acculturated to thinking of Africans in the West as either enslaved or altogether absent, the picture that emerges challenges the centrality of whiteness and slavery in the Tudor period. Kaufmann takes pains to situate Great Britain on the national stage as a minor nation emerging from civil war and fighting to be acknowledged at the international level... Black Tudors concentrates on individuals who are enmeshed in the historical narrative and effectively places them right back where they've always belonged.' * Foreword Reviews * `Who knew that a diver from West Africa worked to salvage Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose? Based on a wealth of original research, Miranda Kaufmann's Black Tudors restores the black presence to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England in all its lively detail. Africans lived and worked not as slaves but as independent agents, from mariners to silk weavers, women and men, prince and prostitute. Black Tudors challenges assumptions about ethnic identity and racism in Tudor England. It will be required reading for anyone interested in new directions in Tudor history.' -- Dr John Cooper, Senior Lecturer in History, University of York, and author of The Queen's Agent
Miranda Kaufmann is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of London's Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She has appeared on Sky News, the BBC and Al Jazeera, and she's written for The Times, Guardian and BBC History Magazine. She lives in Pontblyddyn in North Wales.