What evidence is there of Asians and Africans in medieval Britain other than Moors in the 7th century?

According to the National Archives website:

… in the Middle Ages, Moors arrived in Britain. They probably came, directly or indirectly, from Spain, which had been conquered by Muslims from North and Northwest Africa in the 8th century.

Is it known why these Moors came to Britain and what they did there?

The Wikipedia page Black British also has a reference to an African in Britain, perhaps someone who was one of the many slaves in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman conquest:

In 2013, a skeleton was discovered in Fairford, Gloucestershire, which forensic anthropology revealed to be that of a sub-Saharan African woman thought to be an unpaid bonded servant or slave, who died between the years 896 and 1025.

I also found this Rainbow Roundtable site with several references to Africans in Britain and around Britain but am wondering as to its credibility.

There are quite a number of references to Africans in Britain during Roman times and from the early modern period onwards (e.g. Moors in the court of James IV of Scotland, Elizabeth I of England expelling Moors), but I am curious about the period in between (i.e. the middle ages).

Are there any references in medieval chronicles, or is there any other evidence of Africans or Asians living in (or just visiting) medieval Britain?

I'm especially interested in Asians and Africans who were in Britain not as slaves but for other reasons.

The Kingdom of Makuria (Nubian peoples, think south of Egypt) was a Christian kingdom and I would suggest that is the likely homeland for Black people who made it into medieval Europe. It's heavily neglected (crusaders and Christianity tends to be portrayed solely as 'white', but that is heavily incorrect as three Christian kingdoms existed to the south of Egypt). You can find their Makurian presence in crusades, and this was a likely link back to France and England.

From the 4th crusade comes a an account in Constantinople where the crusaders come across a Nubian man

And while the barons were there at the palace, a king came there whose skin was all black, and he had a cross in the middle of his forehead that had been made with a hot iron. This king was living in a very rich abbey in the city, in which the former emperor Alexios had commanded that he should be lodged and of which he was to be lord and owner as long as he wanted to stay there.

The king mentioned above was on his own pilgrimage… From his homelands to Jerusalem, to Constantinople, then Rome, and finally Santiago de Compostela (far north west of Spain).

The shrine to St. James at Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain dates to the 9th century. The Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) was (and remains) one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in medieval Europe.

Medieval Spain was a well-known multicultural melting pot of peoples. Pilgrimage to Santiago is mostly associated with European Christians, but this is an incorrect assumption. In fact, one 12th century Latin text lists Nubians as one of the 72 different nations from which pilgrims came to visit the shrine. Even more, a century after King Moses George's trip, in 1312, historian Ibn 'Idhāri al-Marrakuši also mentioned Nubians as pilgrims to Santiago. So even if the king did not go-or did not survive the trip-other Africans appear to have done so, and be counted among the black faces present in medieval Europe.

I believe from here, a few of these people made their way through Europe and are likely the source of those mentioned in James IV of Scotland court. Oddly, the link suggests that we know more of these people from the Christian Mukuria Kingdom than we do of them in Roman society.

I have a few sources, but seems best (quotes above taken from here)

Potentially Chinese skeletons in London have been dated from the 2nd to 4th century. I have only seen vague explanations for their presence. Some methodological concerns were also raised about these findings.

Tudor, English and black – and not a slave in sight

W ithin moments of meeting historian Miranda Kaufmann, I learn not to make flippant assumptions about race and history. Here we are in Moorgate, I say. Is it called that because it was a great hub of black Tudor life? “You have to be careful with anything like that,” she winces, “because, for all you know, this was a moor. It’s the same with family names and emblems: if your name was Mr Moore, you’d have the choice between a moorhen or a blackamoor. It wouldn’t necessarily say something about your race.”

Her answer – meticulous, free of bombast, dovetailing memorable details with wider issues – is typical of her first book Black Tudors: The Untold Story, which debunks the idea that slavery was the beginning of Africans’ presence in England, and exploitation and discrimination their only experience. The book takes the form of 10 vivid and wide-ranging true-life stories, sprinkled with dramatic vignettes and nice, chewy details that bring each character to life.

Africans were already known to have likely been living in Roman Britain as soldiers, slaves or even free men and women. But Kaufmann shows that, by Tudor times, they were present at the royal courts of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and James I, and in the households of Sir Walter Raleigh and William Cecil. The book also shows that black Tudors lived and worked at many levels of society, often far from the sophistication and patronage of court life, from a west African man called Dederi Jaquoah, who spent two years living with an English merchant, to Diego, a sailor who was enslaved by the Spanish in Panama, came to Plymouth and died in Moluccas, having circumnavigated half the globe with Sir Francis Drake.

Miranda Kaufmann, author of Black Tudors. Photograph: Rosie Collins

Kaufmann’s interest in black British history came about almost by accident: she intended to study Tudor sailors’ perceptions of Asia and America for her thesis at Oxford University, but found documents demonstrating the presence of Africans within Britain. “I’d never heard anything about it, despite having studied Tudor history at every level. When I went to the National Archive for the first time, I asked an archivist where to start looking and they were like: ‘Oh well, you won’t find anything about that here.’” Kaufmann kept digging, contacted local record offices and ultimately built up to her book. So why has the existence of black Tudors been unknown, untold and untaught? “History isn’t a solid set of facts,” she replies. “It’s very much about what questions you ask of the past. If you ask different questions, you get different answers. People weren’t asking questions about diversity. Now they are.”

Despite Kaufmann’s research, it is hard to swallow the idea that black people were not treated as extreme anomalies (or worse) in Tudor England. “We need to return to England as it was at the time,” says Kaufmann – “an island nation on the edge of Europe with not much power, a struggling Protestant nation in perpetual danger of being invaded by Spain and being wiped out. It’s about going back to before the English are slave traders, before they’ve got major colonies. The English colonial project only really gets going in the middle of the 17th century.” That said, she does leave a stark question hanging in the air: “How did we go from this period of relative acceptance to becoming the biggest slave traders out there?”

Black Tudors does not make overblown claims about ethnic diversity in England – in her wider research, Kaufmann found around 360 individuals in the period 1500-1640 – but it does weave nonwhite Britons back into the texture of Tudor life. Black Tudors came to England through English trade with Africa from southern Europe, where there were black (slave) populations in Spain and Portugal, the nations that were then the great colonisers in the entourages of royals such as Katherine of Aragon and Philip II (who was the husband of Mary I) as merchants or aristocrats and as the result of English privateering and raids on the Spanish empire. “If you captured a Spanish ship, it would be likely to have some Africans on board,” says Kaufmann. “One prized ship brought in to Bristol had 135. They got shipped back to Spain after being put up in a barn for a week. The authorities didn’t know quite what to do with them.”

Although there was no legislation approving or defining slavery within England, it could hardly have been fun being “the only black person in the village” – such as Cattelena, a woman who lived independently in Almondsbury and whose “most valuable item … was her cow”. Nonetheless, Kaufmann uncovers some impressive lives, such as the sailor John Anthony, who arrived in England on a pirate’s boat Reasonable Blackman, a Southwark silk weaver and a salvage diver called Jacques Francis. Kaufmann points to them as “examples of people who are really being valued for their skills. In a later age, you get these portraits of Africans sitting sycophantically in the corner looking up at the main character, but they’re not just these domestic playthings for the aristocracy. They’re working as a seamstress or for a brewer. Even in aristocratic households they are performing tasks – as a porter, like Edward Swarthye, or as a cook – they are doing useful things, they get wages. John Blanke, a royal trumpeter, gets paid twice the average wage of an agricultural labourer and three times that of an average servant. They’re not being whipped or beaten or put in chains or being bought and sold.”

Portrait of a Moor by Jan Mostaert, early 16th century

I balk at the names black Tudors were given – Swarthye, Blanke, Blackman, Blacke – and at the idea that trudging out an existence as a Tudor prostitute, like Anne Cobbie, a “tawny Moor” with “soft skin”, is any great win for diversity. But it does seem that black Tudors are no worse off than white ones. At a basic level, they are acknowledged as citizens rather than loathed as outcasts. “It’s enormously significant, given how important religion was, that Africans were being baptised and married and buried within church life. It’s a really significant form of acceptance, particularly the baptism ritual, which states that ‘through baptism you are grafted into the community of God’s holy church’, in which we are all one body.”

Kaufmann says she feels “anxious, because people might not like” her book. “Part of it is the surprise element: people didn’t think there were Africans in Tudor England. There’s this fantasy past where it’s all white – and it wasn’t. It’s ignorance. People just don’t know these histories. Hopefully this research will inspire producers to get multiracial stories on our screens.”

Although she is very generous with her time, Kaufmann has been uneasy, even to the point of seeming dissatisfied, throughout our conversation. She goes cautiously silent when I try to link her concerns to current issues such as Brexit, racism or the rise of populist nationalism. Part of the reason might be wariness at the vicious online treatment meted out to women of expertise when they comment on current affairs or state a fact that goes against philistine fantasies. Earlier this year, the historian Mary Beard was the target of abuse for corroborating an educational film for children which showed a well-to-do black family living under the Roman empire.

This resistance to accepting a black history is not confined to the lower reaches of Twitter. The academic and novelist Sunny Singh has written about director Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk, which erased the presence of Royal Indian Army Services Corp personnel and lascars from south Asia and east Africa working for the British and, on the French side, Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian troops from France’s colonies. The comedian Mark Gatiss was so disturbed by the presence of one black actor in the cast for a Doctor Who time travel episode he was filming that he sent a “very difficult” email to his bosses protesting that “there weren’t any black soldiers in Victoria’s army”. Rattled, he did his own research and discovered that there had indeed been one black soldier there, whereupon he relented.

Despite her work in filling in these historical blanks, Kaufmann laments the scarcity of complete evidence: “I wish they had kept diaries or preserved letters. Much as I’ve pieced together these lives, they’re not satisfying biographies where we know everything – more often, they are snapshots of moments.” Nonetheless, the tide is turning against the myth that England has always been a monoracial, monocultural, monolingual nation. Along with writers such as David Olusoga, Paul Gilroy and Sunny Singh, and institutions such as the University of York, which has launched a project investigating medieval multiculturalism, historians such as Miranda Kaufmann are bringing England to a necessary reckoning with its true history.

A black trumpeter in a detail of a tapestry commemorating the Field of Cloth of Gold, 1520. Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images

History KS3 / GCSE: The story of Black migrants in England in Tudor times

David: Between the fifteen hundreds and the nineteen hundreds, Britain experienced successive waves of migration, both in and out of the country. But why did these mass movements of people take place? What was the experience of the migrants? And how did their comings and goings affect this country and its people?

David: Archaeologists are unearthing thousands of skeletons as part of the excavations to build a new railway line right across London.

David: This woman lived around 350 years ago. Now we don’t know very much about her, or about the 3,000 other people whose remains were found alongside hers. But archaeologists here at the museum of London archaeology might soon know if she was one of the hundreds of black people who were living in London at that time.

David: Evidence shows an African presence here as far back as Roman times, that’s 2,000 years ago. But why did they come here, and what were they doing?

David: I’ve come to the National Archives in Kew, to meet an historian whose researched the lives of 200 black people all of whom lived here in Britain in the 1500s.

Miranda Kaufmann: This image is part of a 60 foot long roll depicting this prestigious event, the Westminster Tournament of 1511 which Henry VIII put on to celebrate the birth of his son. Here we have the face of John Blanke, an African trumpeter, and you can see the royal standard hanging from the trumpet that he’s playing and the trumpeters were really important at tournament, you can imagine they have to herald the arrival of every new jouster on to the field. Sometimes if you were an ambassador, you would travel around Europe with a trumpeter to announce your important arrival. We have records of him being paid wages. We have a petition from John Blanke asking for a pay rise.

David: So he’s writing to the king asking, saying I want more money.

Miranda: That’s right. He says his wage now is “not sufficient to maintain and keep him to do your grace like service”.

David: And does Henry sign it?

Miranda: Yes, right here you can see this faint signature.

David: So this is a professional musician, he’s in the courts of the King. Many of the black people living in Britain who migrated here would have been in a much lowlier status. Is that right?

Miranda: Yes. Most of the individuals we have records for are in domestic service.

David: But not all of them.

Miranda: In London we find Africans working for a seamstress, for a beer brewer. We know that there was a needle maker in Cheapside in the 1540s. We also know of a silk weaver in Southwark in the 1590s called Reasonable Blackman. Both of those individuals were within the cloth trade, which was the main trade in England at that time.

David: And how many do we know of in Britain in the 1500s?

Miranda: Well I’ve found over 200 in the 1500s in this country in Parish registers, in tax returns, in documents like these, in letters, in diaries, in court records and I think there are probably many more still to be discovered.

David: From the 700s, the Moors of north Africa created an empire by taking over the kingdoms in the lands now known as Spain and Portugal. 300 years later, the Spanish and the Portuguese began reclaiming these settlements. The last re-conquest was in 1492. By 1502 Spanish and Portuguese ships were transporting enslaved Africans from the Iberian Peninsular and newly created basis on the north and west African coasts across the Atlantic to south America. English “privateers” intercepted those cargos bringing them to England. Other Africans arrived here through various routes, some employed in the households of royalty and merchants from Southern Europe, others journeying from North and West Africa.

David: Tell me about this document and what it tells us.

Miranda: This is another African. In this document, Jack Francis is giving testimony in a court case, in the High Court of Admiralty. His master, a Venetian merchant called Piero Paulo Corsi has been accused of theft and they’re accusing Corsi of stealing tin from a ship called the St. Mary and St. Edward.

David: What’s the significance of the fact that Jack Francis is clearly giving evidence in court?

Miranda: Not everybody was able to give testimony in a court of law. In England we still have serfs or villeins who were a medieval feudal hangover. If you were the Lord of the Manor, a landowner, that land would come with workers who were tied to the land or tied to you personally as the Lord. And they gave their labour without payment, and they were not allowed to testify in the courts of law because they were not free. So this African man was able to testify where various English people would not.

David: So the evidence in the archive suggests there were around 200 people of African descent, living in Britain in the 1500s. Now, as a proportion of the population, they were very few, but the evidence suggests they were generally living normal lives and were being for the most part, accepted… Now when the archaeologists here begin to examine their treasure trove of new human remains they might find that some of them are black Tudors. Historians have a lot of work still to do on this period.

A short film, presented by David Olusoga, which explores the lives of some of the hundreds of Black migrants who were in England during the Tudor period of the 1500s.

Olusoga visits The National Archives in Kew, where he meets Dr. Miranda Kaufmann.

They discuss John Blanke, a trumpeter in the court of Henry VIII, who was so well established that he actually submitted a request for a pay rise, and a diver, Jacques Francis, who gave evidence in a court case.

Dr. Kaufmann concludes that some Black people in England were accorded greater privileges than many white English people at the time.

This short film is from the BBC series, Migration.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

Start by showing students an image of John Blanke with his fellow trumpeters and discuss what we can tell about him from this picture.

This short film could be used to ensure students understand that there were free Black people living here before the Transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans.

Within a study of life in Tudor England, it could be used to show the presence and likely status of Black people.

It could also help students understand how we know about ordinary lives in the past, and the power of contemporary documents.

It offers an interesting take on the story of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon as the Westminster Tournament Rolls were created to record celebrations at the birth of their son who later died in infancy.

Key Stage 4

This short film could be used to introduce lessons on Africans in Tudor England.

Students could discuss how historians and archaeologists discover the presence of migrants in that period from parish and court records, tax returns, human remains, etc.

Before seeing the film, students could examine the documents about Blanke and Francis and discuss what they tell us, then see what Dr Kaufmann concludes.

The conclusion that Black people were accepted could prompt comparison with other migrant groups at the time.

Students could look at other contemporary documents to consider what they suggest about attitudes to Black people.

The film mentions the reconquest of Spain from the Moors and attacks by English privateers on Spanish and Portuguese slave ships: how might these have been causes of migration?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at KS3 and KS4/GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Fourth Level and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

What evidence is there of Asians and Africans in medieval Britain other than Moors in the 7th century? - History

The following post offers a brief discussion of some of the oxygen isotope evidence for long-distance contact and migration between Britain and other parts of the world in the early medieval period and before. The particular focus here is on those individuals excavated in Britain whose results are above the expected range for people who grew up on these islands, indicating that they could well have spent part of their childhood in southern Iberia and/or North Africa.

The British Geological Society map of the oxygen isotope values of modern European drinking water from 2004 click for a larger view (image © BGS/NERC, reproduced under a non-commercial/academic, educational and instructive licence, as detailed on the Wessex Archaeology & BGS websites).

The geographic distribution of areas outside of the UK with rainwater oxygen isotope values above 𔂯.0‰, shown in dark blue all twelve of the people from South Wales discussed above consumed water with a δ¹⁸O level of c. 𔂮.5‰ or higher (up to c. 𔂭.3‰) in early life. Note, only 1% of the UK has δ¹⁸Odw water levels above 𔂯.0‰, up to a maximum value of c. 𔂮.5‰, but as the map shows, such levels are widely encountered throughout North Africa and in small areas of southern Europe. Levels above 𔂮.0‰ are even more restricted in extent, being only recorded in Europe from a small area around Cádiz, southwest Spain, and are otherwise confined to North Africa, whilst levels above c. 𔂭.5‰ are only known from North Africa and further afield. Image: C. R. Green, based on data from the sources cited in fn 3, especially Evans et al 2012 and Bowen 2003󈝻, utilising a Wikimedia Commons map of the Mediterranean region as a base.

Second, it is worth observing that three of the four cemeteries studied (Brownslade, Llandough and Porthclew) all included not only individuals with phosphate oxygen isotope results above the conventional British tooth enamel δ¹⁸Op cut-off of 18.6‰, but also that all three of these cemeteries actually included individuals with the very significantly enriched results indicative of the consumption of drinking water with δ¹⁸O values above -4.0‰, arguably most consistent with a North African origin. This obviously suggests that the long-distance movement of people from the Mediterranean to early medieval Wales was not an isolated event, something further supported by the fact that people with 'notably enriched' δ¹⁸Op results in these cemeteries formed nearly a quarter of all those tested, a very significant proportion indeed. Moreover, the possibility that migrant groups may well have been living in South Wales in the early medieval period is further heightened by the fact three of the individuals with notably enriched values were women and two were non-adults, implying the presence of families and further countering the idea that the post-Roman direct trade between the Mediterranean and Atlantic Britain was carried out solely by male, mercantile groups who stayed only for a brief period of time. Third and finally, it is interesting to observe that one of the people from Porthclew with a significantly enriched phosphate oxygen isotope value of 19.1‰, suggesting the childhood ingestion of drinking water with a value of c. -3.8‰, was radiocarbon dated to AD 680� (at 2σ). This dating is rather later than the period in which the maritime trade between South Wales and the southern Mediterranean discussed above was focussed, and it may consequently be suggestive of continued contact and movement between these areas even after the cessation of significant trading activity.(7)

Early Medieval Northumbria

An oxygen and strontium isotope survey was undertaken on 78 individuals buried in the seventh- to early ninth-century cemetery at Bamburgh (Northumberland), the 'royal city' of the Anglo-Saxon Northumbrian kingdom of Bernicia. This revealed that over 50% of those buried here have 'non-local' isotopic signatures, indicative of them having spent their childhood in other areas such as Scandinavia, Ireland, western and southern Britain, continental Europe and North Africa. Such a degree of cosmopolitanism is credibly ascribed by the authors of the survey to the fact that the cemetery here was associated with the principal pre-Viking royal centre in the north of England, and documentary and archaeological sources certainly record the presence of people from Ireland, Scotland, continental Europe and North Africa in Anglo-Saxon England.(8) With regard to the specific results retrieved, there are 14 people buried in this cemetery who have isotope levels indicative of the consumption of water with a value at or a little above the maximum encountered in the British Isles, c. -4.5‰ (see above). and 3‰ or more above the oxygen isotope level of drinking water in the Bamburgh area, c. -7.5‰ δ¹⁸Odw. Even more interesting from the perspective of the present post, however, are the seven men, women and non-adults𔃑% of the total—whose oxygen isotope values are in fact significantly enriched beyond both the British range and the rest of the population of the cemetery, being indicative of the consumption of water with values ranging from -4.0‰ up to -2.45‰ δ¹⁸Odw. As was discussed in the previous section, such results are most consistent with an early life spent in southwestern Iberia or North Africa, perhaps most plausibly the latter given that three of these people had values reflecting δ¹⁸Odw between -3.2‰ and -2.45‰, levels only encountered in North Africa or further afield.(9)

Bamburgh Castle viewed from Holy Island (image: Akuppa, used under its CC BY 2.0 license).

In this light, it is interesting to note that anthroposcopic/craniometric analysis was also undertaken for both of the latter cemeteries at York too, with 11% of the Trentholme Drive samples and 12% of The Railway individuals being considered very likely to be of 'African descent', whilst yet more are thought to have potential 'mixed' or 'black' ancestry, up to a possible maximum of 38% of the population buried at Trentholme Drive and 51% of the population in the higher-status The Railway cemetery. Two of the three individuals with the highest oxygen isotope results were assessed by these means, one of whom was identified as being of potential 'mixed' ancestry and the other of 'white' ancestry. Of those thought likely to be of 'black' ancestry, only a proportion were also subject to isotopic analysis. The majority of these had oxygen isotope results significantly above the local range at York, where some of the lowest results in Britain are found, but still within the theoretical British range, and the interpretation of these individuals is a matter of debate, just as is the case for the famous Late Roman 'ivory bangle lady' of York too, who is believed to be of 'black' ancestry but consumed drinking water in childhood with a δ¹⁸Odw value only just within the upper end of the British range. Drinking water δ¹⁸O values that might produce the results of all of these people can certainly be found in western or far western Britain and Ireland, but it should be recalled that they are also available in other regions of the Roman Empire, including along parts of the Atlantic coast of France and Iberia, in some areas of the European Mediterranean coast, and in North Africa too. As such, it must remain unclear whether these people might all represent 'second generation migrants', as the authors of the study suggest, or if some of them could be 'first generation migrants' who had simply spent their childhood in those parts of North Africa that have similar δ¹⁸Odw values to those found in parts of Europe and Britain.(14)

A re-erected Roman column at York this once stood within the great hall of the headquarters building of the fortress of the Sixth Legion at York (image: Carole Raddato, used under its CC BY-SA 2.0 license).

A Sicilian strumento of c. 1200� BC, found on the sea-floor at Salcombe, Devon, with other Bronze Age items from a probable twelfth-century BC shipwreck (image: British Museum).


Several key points emerge from the above summary of burial sites producing oxygen isotope evidence indicative of the presence of people from North Africa and southern Iberia in Britain between c. 1100 BC and c. AD 800, three of which are highlighted here by way of a conclusion. First and foremost, it is important to note that at least some migrants from these areas appear to have been present in Britain during all periods from the Late Bronze Age onwards. Whilst the presence of people from North Africa in Roman Britain is to a large degree unsurprising, as they are otherwise attested via literary and epigraphic sources, the fact that it can be shown that people from these areas were very probably also present in Bronze Age, Iron Age and early medieval Britain is a point of some considerable interest.

Second, the proportion of such individuals in each of the cemeteries surveyed is significant. For example, around a fifth of those buried in the Cliffs End prehistoric cemetery have oxygen isotope values probably indicative of such origins, as do around a quarter of those tested from the three early medieval cemeteries in South Wales and the Late Roman cemetery at Winchester, whilst at Roman Gloucester the proportion may be as high as a third. In this context, it is interesting to note that the anthroposcopic/craniometric analysis of two Roman cemeteries at York similarly points towards the presence of a potentially large number of people whose own or family origins lay in North Africa, with 11%󈝸% of those examined considered very likely to be of 'African descent', and yet others thought to have potential 'mixed' or 'black' ancestry, up to a possible maximum of 38% of the population buried at Trentholme Drive and 51% of the population in the higher-status The Railway cemetery. Of course, the sites and cemeteries surveyed here are likely to be to some extent exceptional, being located either at local capitals or close to the coast, but these results are nonetheless fascinating and certainly imply that some areas of Britain, at least, saw a degree of immigration from North Africa and/or southern Iberia in the early medieval period and before.

Finally, it is interesting to note that the potential migrants to Britain from North Africa and/or southern Iberia discussed above include men, women and non-adults, implying that contact between Britain and these areas was not solely the preserve of male mercantile or military groups, as has sometimes been assumed. Indeed, in some cases women and non-adults actually form the majority of the migrants identifiable there via oxygen isotope analysis, as is the case at Winchester and in South Wales.

1 On current approaches to oxygen isotope analysis and the underlying methodology, principles and issues, see, for example, J. A. Evans, C. A. Chenery & J. Montgomery, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 27 (2012), 754󈞬 and Supplementary Material I (14 pp.), and C. Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (2010), 150󈞫. The current post follows the interpretations and approaches to those individuals with notably enriched dental enamel oxygen isotope results adopted in these studies and also in other recent publications such as K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2013), 2352󈞧.
2 See, for example, C. R. Green, 'Thanet, Tanit and the Phoenicians: place-names, archaeology and pre-Roman trading settlements in eastern Kent?', 21 April 2015, blog post, online at 'A Mediterranean anchor stock of the fifth to mid-second century BC found off the coast of Britain', 29 August 2015, blog post, online at and 'A great host of captives? A note on Vikings in Morocco and Africans in early medieval Ireland & Britain', 12 September 2015, blog post, online at
3 The current oxygen isotope range for drinking water (δ¹⁸Odw) in Britain and Ireland is around -9.0‰ to -4.5‰, with only 1% of the British Isles having values above -5.0‰, namely in the extreme south-west of Britain, the extreme south-west of Ireland, and part of the Outer Hebrides, a situation that is believed to have changed little between the Mesolithic and Medieval eras. This range accords well with the apparent local British range of phosphate oxygen isotope values from excavated teeth, which is usually agreed to fall between 16.6‰ and 18.6‰ δ¹⁸Op, although Evans et al have recently concluded that people brought up on the far west of the British Isles could potentially have values a little higher too, reflecting the degree of normal ambient variation that might be seen within populations exposed to the extremes of drinking water composition within the British Isles. Similar or lower drinking water oxygen isotope values, from <-10.0‰ to -5.0‰, are found across much of western Europe, as can be seen from the first map reproduced above. In contrast, southern Iberia has notably higher drinking water/precipitation δ¹⁸O values, from -5.0‰ up to a maximum of c. -4.0‰, except around Cádiz where drinking water values of up to c. -3.5‰ have been noted, and North Africa has values from the British range right up to around 0‰, with even higher values found in parts of Sudan (ancient Nubia) and Ethiopia. See further on Britain W. G. Darling et al, 'The O and H stable isotope composition of freshwaters in the British Isles. 2. Surface waters and groundwater', Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions, 7 (2003), 183󈟋 J. A. Evans et al, 'A summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation in archaeological human tooth enamel excavated from Britain', Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 27 (2012), 754󈞬 at pp. 757𔃆 and Table 1 C. Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (2010), 150󈞫 at pp. 153, 156𔃅, 160. On mainland Europe and Africa, see BGS/C. Chenery, 'Oxygen isotopes values for modern European drinking water' (map), online at Evans et al, 'Summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation', fig. 12 G. Bowen, ' global and regional maps of isotope ratios in precipitation', online dataset 2003󈝻, figures online at L. J. Araguas-Araguas & M. F. Diaz Teijeiro, 'Isotope composition of precipitation and water vapour in the Iberian Peninsula', in IAEA, Isotopic composition of precipitation in the Mediterranean Basin in relation to air circulation patterns and climate (Vienna, 2005), pp. 173󈟆 at fig. 3 M. R. Buzon & G. Bowen, 'Oxygen and carbon isotope analysis of human tooth enamel from the New Kingdom site of Tombos in Nubia', Archaeometry, 52 (2010), 855󈞰, esp. Table 2 C. White et al, 'Exploring the effects of environment, physiology and diet on oxygen isotope ratios in ancient Nubian bones and teeth', Journal of Archaeological Science, 31 (2004), 233󈞞 and Table 2.
4 K. A. Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (2013), 2352󈞧.
5 See further the references cited in footnote 4, especially Evans et al, 'Summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation', fig. 12, and Araguas-Araguas & Diaz Teijeiro, 'Isotope composition of precipitation and water vapour in the Iberian Peninsula', fig. 3. See also K. Killgrove, Migration and Mobility in Imperial Rome (University of North Carolina PhD Thesis, 2010), pp. 263, 280, 284𔃃, 310󈝷 who identifies the three people in her study of Rome who have oxygen isotope results indicative of consuming drinking water with a δ¹⁸O value above -4.0‰ as probable North African immigrants to the city, rather than European.
6 See, for example, M. Fulford, 'Byzantium and Britain: a Mediterranean perspective on post-Roman Mediterranean imports in western Britain and Ireland', Medieval Archaeology, 33 (1989), 1𔃄 E. Campbell, Continental and Mediterranean Imports to Atlantic Britain and Ireland, AD 400�, Council for British Archaeology Research Report 157 (York, 2007) E. Campbell & C. Bowles, 'Byzantine trade to the edge of the world: Mediterranean pottery imports to Atlantic Britain in the 6th century', in M. M. Mango (ed.), Byzantine Trade, 4th-12th Centuries: The Archaeology of Local, Regional and International Exchange (Farnham, 2009), pp. 297� T. M. Charles-Edwards, Wales and the Britons, 350� (Oxford, 2013), pp. 222𔃁.
7 Hemer et al, 'Evidence of early medieval trade and migration between Wales and the Mediterranean Sea region', 2357𔃆.
8 S. E. Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th𔃇th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh, Northumberland, England', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 151 (2013), 462󈞸. The description of Bamburgh as 'the royal city' of Bernicia is that of Bede, writing in the first half of the eighth century (Historia Ecclesiastica, III.6). With regard to the documentary evidence for Africans in Anglo-Saxon England, see also Historia Ecclesiastica IV.1, where Bede describes Hadrian, the later seventh- and eighth-century Abbot of St Augustine's, Canterbury, as 'a man of African race' (HE IV.1).
9 Groves et al, 'Mobility histories of 7th𔃇th century AD people buried at early medieval Bamburgh', esp. pp. 465, 470 and Supplementary Figure 7.
10 P. Booth et al, The Late Roman Cemetery at Lankhills, Winchester: Excavations 2000� (Oxford, 2010), pp. 421𔃆 H. Eckardt et al, 'Oxygen and strontium isotope evidence for mobility in Roman Winchester', Journal of Archaeological Science, 36 (2009), 2816󈞅.
11 Evans et al, 'Summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation', fig. 11 & pp. 760𔃀.
12 Booth et al, The Late Roman Cemetery at Lankhills, pp. 249󈞟, 361, 509󈝼.
13 G. Müldner et al, 'The ‘Headless Romans’: multi-isotope investigations of an unusual burial ground from Roman Britain', Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (2011), 280󈟆 S. Leach et al, 'Migration and diversity in Roman Britain: a multidisciplinary approach to the identification of immigrants in Roman York, England', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 140 (2009), 546󈞩.
14 Leach et al, 'Migration and diversity in Roman Britain', Table 4 and pp. 546, 550𔃀, 558𔃇 S. Leach et al, 'A Lady of York: migration, ethnicity and identity in Roman Britain', Antiquity, 84 (2010), 131󈞙. On the isotopic values of water in North Africa, see for example Evans et al, 'Summary of strontium and oxygen isotope variation', fig. 12, and G. Bowen, ' global and regional maps of isotope ratios in precipitation'.
15 C. Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK', Journal of Archaeological Science, 37 (2010), 150󈞫, who note that 'the probability of these [individuals] being from Britain is small and an origin abroad is more likely' (p. 158).
16 The above is based primarily on J. I. McKinley et al, 'Dead-sea connections: a Bronze Age and Iron Age ritual site on the Isle of Thanet', in J. T. Koch & B. Cunliffe (eds.), Celtic from the West 2. Rethinking the Bronze Age and the Arrival of Indo-European in Atlantic Europe (Oxford, 2013), pp. 157󈞿, esp. pp. 166𔃆 and figs. 6.5, 6.6 and 6.7.
17 The oxygen isotope values from the Mendes burial site in the Nile Delta, Egypt, are expressed as both δ¹⁸Odw and δ¹⁸Oc in Buzon & Bowen, 'Oxygen and carbon isotope analysis of human tooth enamel from the New Kingdom site of Tombos in Nubia', Table 2, and the latter can be converted to δ¹⁸Op using the equation in C. Chenery et al, 'The oxygen isotope relationship between the phosphate and structural carbonate fractions of human bioapatite', Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 26 (2012), 309󈝿. Needless to say, the δ¹⁸Op and equivalent δ¹⁸Odw values of the two people from Thanet fall within both the reported δ¹⁸Odw and the calculated δ¹⁸Op ranges for Mendes, and are moveover above the bottom of the range of δ¹⁸Op values for people who grew up in the Nile Valley (21.0‰) as reported in Chenery et al, 'Strontium and stable isotope evidence for diet and mobility in Roman Gloucester, UK', p. 158.
18 On pre-Roman Iron Age contacts, see especially C. R. Green, 'Thanet, Tanit and the Phoenicians: place-names, archaeology and pre-Roman trading settlements in eastern Kent?', 21 April 2015, blog post, online at, and 'A Mediterranean anchor stock of the fifth to mid-second century BC found off the coast of Britain', 29 August 2015, blog post, online at On the Barbary ape from Navan Fort, Northern Ireland, see for example I. Armit, Headhunting and the Body in Iron Age Europe (Cambridge, 2012), pp. 72𔃁, and K. A. Costa, 'Marketing archaeological heritage sites in Ireland', in Y. M. Rowan and U. Baram (eds.), Marketing Heritage: Archaeology and the Consumption of the Past (Walnut Creek, 2004), pp. 69󈟈 at p. 73. On possible finds of Late Bronze Age Mediterranean items from Britain, see for example S. Needham & C. Giardino, 'From Sicily to Salcombe: a Mediterranean Bronze Age object from British coastal waters', Antiquity, 82 (2008), 60󈞴, and D. Parham et al, 'Questioning the wrecks of time', British Archaeology, 91 (2006), 43𔃅, online at A possible three-holed Bronze Age stone Mediterranean anchor from Plymouth Sound has been mentioned in news reports relating to the SHIPS Project/ProMare, but is as yet unidentified on the database for this project see T. Nichols, 'Unique project launched to shed light on hidden treasures in Plymouth Sound', Plymouth Herald, 5 July 2014, online at, although it should be noted that the dating and geographical origins of such stone anchors is open to debate.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2015, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

"Aethiops quidam e Numero Militari" - Black Africans in the Roman Army

A black legionary cornicen on the northern frontier, c.AD200. Illustration by Pavel Šimák.

The question of whether black Africans served in the Roman army comes up with surprising frequency on social media. It’s a contentious topic, related to various contemporary debates about ethnicity, multiculturalism, and the representation of history. Often these discussions generate considerably more heat than light, but as I was recently asked about an African centurion who appeared in my first novel, War at the Edge of the World, I though I might share a few thoughts about one of the few scraps of evidence we possess for the ethnicity of Roman soldiers.

In AD208, towards the end of his life, the elderly and gout-afflicted emperor Septimius Severus came to Britain for a last campaign against the rebellious peoples north of Hadrian’s Wall. Two years later, with no clear victory in sight, he died at York but in the months before his death he apparently experienced several grim omens. The Historia Augusta, a much later account of various imperial lives, preserves an unusual anecdote from the emperor’s stay in the north:

"After inspecting the wall near the rampart in Britain… just as he [Severus] was wondering what omen would present itself, an Ethiopian from a military unit, who was famous among buffoons and always a notable joker, met him with a garland of cypress. And when Severus in a rage ordered that the man be removed from his sight, troubled as he was by the man's ominous colour and the ominous nature of the garland, [the Ethiopian] by way of jest cried, it is said, “You have been all things, you have conquered all things, now, O conqueror, be a god.” "

(Post murum apud vallum visum in Brittannia… volvens animo quid ominis sibi occurreret, Aethiops quidam e numero militari, clarae inter scurras famae et celebratorum semper iocorum, cum corona e cupressu facta eidem occurrit. quem cum ille iratus removeri ab oculis praecepisset, et coloris eius tactus omine et coronae, dixisse ille dicitur ioci causa: Totum fuisti, totum vicisti, iam deus esto victor.)

(Historia Augusta, ‘Septimius Severus’, 22.4-5)

The Historia Augusta is generally regarded today as only partially reliable at best, but even if the event is fictitious, it must at least have been believable. This suggests that it may indeed have been possible to encounter a black soldier serving in the Roman army in northern Britain in AD210, although we can gather from the emperor’s reaction that it would not have been a common occurrence!

The Roman empire was both cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, drawing in people from every territory within and adjacent to its domains, and in most cases turning them into citizens. This was certainly true of the army, just as it was of the aristocracy for centuries, Rome had been absorbing the ruling elites of conquered nations and ‘rewarding’ them with access to the senatorial order.

Severus himself was a product of this cultural and political cross-pollination. Born in Leptis Magna, in today’s Libya, his family were of Punic (Carthaginian/Lebanese) background, and had gained Roman citizenship long before. His wife Julia Domna was Syrian, and a family portrait of c.AD200 shows the couple with their two sons – the second son’s face was obliterated some time later after his brother Caracalla murdered him and tried to erase him from history. The portrait shows Severus with a darker or ruddier complexion than his Syrian wife and son.

But the Romans had different ideas about ethnicity and geographical origins to those most common today, and often we have no way of distinguishing different ethnic groups, still less different complexions, from literary evidence. The ethnic marker Afer (‘African’), for example, which appears on tombstones, refers strictly to people from the region around Carthage, in modern Tunisia. The Roman term for someone of sub-Saharan origin was Aethiops – ‘Ethiopian’. So while Severus could be described as an African, we can see from the anecdote about the black soldier in Britain that he could not have been Aethiops himself.

A Romano-Egyptian mummy portrait from Fayum, 2nd-3rd century AD

As the term suggests, the principal route of entry for black Africans into the empire would be via the Nile valley and Egypt. Alexandria, in particular, was famously cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic, and had a black population long before the arrival of the Romans. The 4th-century historian Ammianus Marcellinus describes the Egyptians of his own time as ‘swarthy and dark of complexion’. However, not all black Africans came from Egypt Ammianus also mentions, in passing, that tribes of Aethiopi lived near Auzia in the province of Mauretania Caesariensis (modern Sour el-Ghozlane, in Algeria): there were trade routes across the Sahara into North Africa at the time, and historians have only recently begun to study the possible cultural and ethnic connections in this area.

However, for all the evidence of black Africans living throughout the Roman empire, we should not believe that ancient peoples were necessarily ‘colour blind’, or free from prejudices about ethnicity. On the contrary it seems that many Romans were distinctly prejudiced against black people in particular. Black Africans were seen as exotic, and perhaps threateningly alien, and they are seldom if ever mentioned in Roman literature without some negative connotation. Most disturbingly, the historian Appian claims that the military commander Brutus, before the battle of Philippi in 42BC, met an ‘Ethiopian’ outside the gates of his camp: his soldiers instantly hacked the man to pieces, taking his appearance for a bad omen – to the superstitious Roman, black was the colour of death.

This brings us back to the story in the Historia Augusta about Severus meeting the black soldier in Britain. Like the funereal cypress garland he carried, the soldier’s appearance seemed to the emperor an intimation of his own approaching demise. To be scrupulous, we should perhaps note that the text does not clearly refer to the man as a soldier – he was Aethiops quindam e numero militari: 'an Ethiopian from a military unit'. Nevertheless, he was most probably an enlisted man – 3rd-century evidence from Dura Europos on the eastern frontier and Lyons in Gaul suggests that military men could have additional roles as actors or entertainers (scaenici), but the term scurrus famae may simply have meant that he was well known among his fellow soldiers for his sense of humour!

Some historians have suggested that the Ethiopian could have been serving with the Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum, a ‘Moorish’ unit stationed at Burgh-by-Sands near the western end of Hadrian’s Wall in the later Roman era. This too is plausible, although the unit is first attested in Britain in the mid 3rd-century, and probably gained its title from a previous posting at Orleans (Civitas Aurelianorum) in modern France. So there may have been few, if any, actual ‘Moors’ in the unit by Severus’s day, even if the numerus was in Britain at all at that point.

North African light cavalry in action, as portrayed on Trajan’s Column in Rome, cAD110

But there may have been plenty of other routes for a man of black African origin to find himself in a military unit in the north of Britain in AD210. Detachments of legions and other forces were often sent from one province to another, sometimes over great distances, and we have evidence of men apparently recruited in North Africa turning up in Britain in the later second century.

The legions II Traiana and III Augusta, based in Egypt and Numidia respectively, appear to have been used as a pool for reinforcements throughout imperial history they alone would have contributed to a wide ethnic diffusion through the army more generally. And then, of course, there are the auxiliary forces, raised from inhabitants of the frontier provinces and given citizenship on discharge.

The irregular North African light cavalry who appear on Trajan’s Column may have a rather idealised appearance - and it is not entirely clear what the sculptor intended their ethnicity to be, beyond generically 'African' - but they certainly imply that, for all the prejudices of the metropolitan Roman, the army was far more accepting of diversity!

Our evidence would suggest, then, that the black African centurion Rogatianus who appears in War at the Edge of the World, himself a recent transfer to Britain, would probably not have been so unusual in the Roman army of the early 4th-century AD. But our vision of the ancient past is necessarily fragmented and partial history, the method we use to try and assemble those fragments and reconstruct what they might have shown, is constantly changing. Fiction provides one way of trying to imagine what the past might have looked like, in all its unexpected variety. So whether it’s the colour of Roman soldiers, or just the colour of Roman tunics, the debates will no doubt continue.

A Biblical scene from the 6th-7th century Ashburnham/Tours Pentateuch the figures are dressed in typical late Roman style.

Were There Camels in Roman Britain? New Evidence Suggests Camels Were Common Across The Empire

Were there camels in Roman Britain? Archaeological evidence indicates that camels were used across the Roman empire well into the early medieval period. As historian Caitlin Green suggests, this includes the island province of Britannia.

A camel from the 'Mosaic of Silenus' of Thysdrus (El Djem, Tunisia, 3rd c. CE).

In Roman antiquity, the camelus (from the Greek word κάμηλος) could come with one hump or two. The single humped camel is commonly called a dromedary. The dromedary was usually from the Arabian Peninsula and the African steppe regions. The two-humped camel was the Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus), which generally hailed from the colder desert regions of Asia. There is strong evidence to support the hybridization of these two types as early as the first millennium BCE, which produced a sturdier one-humped animal that could carry about 100 kg more per day.

Camels were commonly known to be used in North Africa, Egypt, and many parts of the ancient Near East. They were highly integral to the incense trade in particular. The elder Pliny (NH 12.32) noted that frankincense had to go through Sabota—Shabwa, capital city of the South Arabian kingdom called Ḥaḍramawt—on camels, and pass through a single gate. Bactrians could carry 220-270 kg between 30-40 km a day, though the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus (2.54.6) suggests over 400 kg. These Bactrian camels were particularly good for carrying freight along the Silk Road in caravans from China in the winter, for instance, but did not do well in heat. They gave hair and milk to traders in addition to their caravan services, but faunal remains would suggest they were not usually eaten along the Silk Road.

Camels were commonly used along the Silk Road. (Recumbent camel, Chinese, Tang dynasty, early 7th . [+] century CE, earthenware with traces of pigment now at the Dayton Art Institute).

From the Hellenistic to the Roman period, dromedaries were used to carry not only freight, but also mail along roads often protected by a police force this was a camel mail service model inspired by the earlier Persian Empire. A number of overland trade routes stemming from the Red Sea ports used these pack animals to transport freight to the East, in order to connect to the Nile.

Writing in the Augustan era, the geographer Strabo noted that it was the king Ptolemy Philadelphus who had opened up a route to Berenice, so that traders and camels could travel along it. This was done because the Red Sea was itself often unpredictable and difficult to navigate. Berenice and Myos Hormos were the most important of the Red Sea ports, and merchants often used camels to travel to and from Coptos. Thus camels were a pivotal transport link between the Nile region and the Red Sea. Remains of an enclosure near the port at Myos Hormos indicate camels may have been kept there before embarking on the journey to Coptos. Yet osteological evidence for camels within the empire has now expanded our view of these animals to include an area far beyond just the Red Sea region.

Sites with Roman-era camel remains in Europe. Image: C. R. Green, based on a map of the Roman Empire . [+] in the early second century AD by Tataryn/Wikimedia Commons, with the empire depicted in red and its clients during the reign of Trajan in pink click here for a larger version of this image. The distribution of finds of camel remains in Europe is based on Pigière & Henrotay 2012, Tomczyk 2016, Bartosiewicz & Dirjec 2001, Daróczi-Szabó et al 2014, Albarella et al 1993, Maenchen-Helfen 1973, Moreno-García et al 2007, Vuković-Bogdanović & Blažić 2014, and Vuković & Bogdanović 2013.

In a new blog post by Dr. Caitlin Green, the historian explores the prevalence of camels across the Roman Mediterranean, based on a number of camel remains excavated in areas such as Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and the Balkans. As she notes, the remains are dated to between the first and fifth centuries CE, with many coming from the third century or later. Moreover, Dr. Green remarks on the variant use of different types of camels across the empire: "Recent surveys by both Pigière & Henrotay and Tomczyk indicate that, where identification is possible, the evidence points to dromedaries or Arabian camels being dominant in the western half of Roman Europe whilst Bactrian camels were mainly found in the east, although the split was not absolute—for example, a near-complete skeleton of a Bactrian camel is known from a Roman urban context at Saintes, France, and dromedary remains have been recovered from Kompolt-Kistér, Hungary."

A 6th c. CE Byzantine mosaic of children riding a camel led by a camel driver from the Istanbul . [+] Archaeological Museum.

These camels were often used for transport and even for military service, but as Dr. Green points to, could also be used for food and for shows within the amphitheater. Camel teeth found at Greenwich Park, near the ancient city of Londinium (now London), likely come from a temple complex that sat along a busy Roman road. This may suggest some association between camels and higher-status sites in the West. In terms of cost, camels are listed in the Price Edict of Diocletian. This early fourth century price control law provides insight into the argument between using camels versus a wagon. Camels were about 20% cheaper in many areas, but could only carry around around 200 kg. Comparatively, wagons in the later empire could carry over twice as much, 392 kg.

Considering the spotty yet telling osteological remains of camels found across the Roman empire and in Britain, Green concludes the following : "All told, the finds from Greenwich thus seem to fit into the general pattern of Roman-era finds of camel remains across Europe, and there consequently seems little reason not to interpret them in a similar manner, that is to say as evidence of the presence and use of Roman camels, probably primarily as pack animals/beasts of burden. Certainly, if the Romans were willing to transport elephants across the Channel, as they may well have done, then there seems little reason to think that they wouldn't have done the same with camels, particularly given that camels were apparently being fairly widely employed elsewhere in north-western Europe then."

Clearly, our long-held belief that camels were an animal isolated to use in Egypt, Arabia and other parts of the Near East during the Roman period deserves a dromed-ic revision.

Camel Carrying a Wine Amphora. Mosaic. (Kissufim, Israel, 6th c. CE, now in the Israel Museum in . [+] Jerusalem).



The so-called “Greek Miracle” was never to have a profound effect on European culture. In fact, the record shows virulent persecution of the major Greek thinkers by their own society for teaching concepts which were entirely foreign to their culture. By the 4th century, the temples and places of learning began to be shut down by the emperors of Byzantium. By the middle ages, Europe had sunk back into barbarism. But from the south – again – would come a new age of enlightenment ushered in by black Africans and black Asians from the Arabian peninsula.

As is the custom, these legendary figures have been whitened by academia and their influence erased. Yet it is clear that the sweeping wave of civilization brought in by these sons of Africa saved Europe from its backwardness and created the scientific and cultural foundation which would result in the European Rennaissance.

Over a period of 700 years, 4 superb Moorish dynasties would rule Spain, the Umayad, the Abbasid, the Almoravid and the Almohade.

Origin and Race of The Moors

The Black scholar Wayne Chandler traces the origin of the people called the Moors to an African people known as the Garamante. This civilization stood along important trading routes in the Sahara and existed contemporaneously with other great African civilizations including Egypt of the pre-Christian era. The Moors must be distinguished from the Berbers who were a mixed race people in North Africa resulting from the intermarriage between caucasian Libyans and indigenous Africans. Black Africans had beem called Maures (‘dark’) by the Greeks in antiquity and no distinction had been made between The Moorish tribes which would later invade Spain and their Black African kin. There was also to be an Arab component to these peoples and in order for this to be put in context, the racial composition of Arabia in antiquity must be understood. Much of the Arabian peninsular had originally been populated by Blacks. The area was a colony of the kingdom of Kush. Southern Arabia, in particular, remained black for a considerable period as the Greeks themselves attest.

With the coming of Islam, interaction between Moors and Arabs increased but research into the manuscripts and documents of medieval Europe emphatically demonstrates that the prevailing image of the Mooor – for the period – concerned was that of the black skinned, woolly haired African. The image occurs repeatedly in such famed works as Las Cantigas de Santa Maria , a 13th century manuscript of Moorish musical works translated by Spain’s King Alfonso X (El Sabio), one of the best known of Europe’s acquirers of Moorish texts. Numerous works such as these leave no doubt as to what race of people the term “Moor” referred to in medieval Europe.

Alfonso set up centres in cities such as Toledo for the express purpose of acquiring and translating these texts. There is no question that it was not until centuries later that the distinctions became blurred and the term Moor began to be used for various other ethnic groups as well.

By the end of the 7th century AD, the Islamic Jihad had swept through the Arabian peninsular and North Africa. It was the Moorish general Tarik-bin-Ziad who was given the task of spreading Moorish holdings northward into the Iberian peninsular. The catalyst for this action was the request by the Greek governor of Ceuta for help in emancipaton from the tyrany of the visigoth king Roderick who then ruled Spain.

Tarik and his black army swept up into Spain and defeated the Visigoths in successive stages – capturing and consolidating Spanish towns from the south includingToledo and Cordoba.

By 715 AD, the Ummayad dynasty had been established.It would rule Spain for over a century until 850 AD although their racial memory hes been erased, the achievements and monuments of the Moors still endure. The great Mosque at Cordoba, the Mezquita is an architectural marvel and is to this day considered one of the most magnificent buildings of the middle ages.

The Ummayad dynasty was followed by the Abbasid an Arab dynasty which usurped the throne in 750 AD. However, in 756 AD, the African Abdurrahmon led an army of African Moors up into the Iberian Penninsula, overthrew the Abbasid and re-established the Ummayad dynasty.

A description of Cordova gives an idea of the cultural excellence introduced by the Moors into Spain. Excerpted from The Golden Age of the Moor (pg 166) , a historian provides the following analysis:

“Cordova had 471 mosques, and 300 public baths……and the number of houses of the great and noble were 63,000 and 200, 077 houses of the common people. There were ….upwards of 80,000 shops. Water from the mountains was…distributed through every corner and quarter of the city by means of leaden pipes into basins of different shapes, made of the purst gold, the finest silver or plated brass as well into vast lakes, curious tanks, amazing resevoirs and fountains of Grecian marble.” The houses in Cordova were air conditioned in the summer by “ingeniously arranged draughts of fresh air drawn from the garden over beds of flowers, chosen for their perfume, warmed in winter by hot air conveyed through pipes bedded in the walls. Bathrooms supplied hot and cold water and there were tables of gold, set with emweralds rubies and pearls. This list of impressve works appears endless it includes lampposts that lit their streets at night, to grand palaces, such as the one called Azzahra with its 15,000 doors. Rennaissance men like Zaryab.”

Over time, an ugly development in the history of the Moors began: The initiation and growth of the aquisition of white slaves as a prevalent aspect of its culture. The trade was began by a a Jewish element which began to buy and sell captured Slavs and Germans as laborers and concubines. the polygamous tendencies of the Islamic Black Moors encouraged this development and contributed to the lightening of the complexion of the Moorish element over time. It also contributed to a degeneration of values. The Ummayyad dynasty became ripe foe overthrow and in 1031 Christian forces achieved their defeat and brought the dynasty to a close.

The famous era of the Almoravids begins with The Black Muslim leader Ibn Yasin. Originally brought from Mecca, Yasin’s initial base of operations was in the area of Senegal in West Africa. He embarked upon an ambitious effort to convert all of the surrounding area to Islam through force. Over time, the Almoravids (from “Al-Murabitun”) conquered a vast area of west and northern Africa. In 1076, they overwhelmed and brought to an end the mighty Empire of Ghana itself . In 1086 AD, Yusuf Ibn Tashibin became aware of events in Spain, where Christians had long been persecuting Arabs and Moors. Yusuf invaded Spain to aid in its liberation. He is unequivocably described in the Moorish work Roudh-el Kartos as a black skinned African. Other matters back home in Africa however prompted him to return before the conquest was complete. He left his army to aid the Spaniards in their battle but was later informed that the local Spanish governers had left the Moors to do most of the fighting.

Yusuf in fury, ordered their replacement with Moorish rulers and there followed a splendid era of African rule which would not end until 1142 AD

In 1145, the last Moorish dynasty came to power. African accomplishment in the penisular reached its apex. But Christian resolve had strengthened, and as Moorish culture grew more and more passive, Christian forces gained courage and began a campaign which recaptured territories from the blacks over the following centuries.
The Almohade dynasty had deep intellectual concerns and encouraged its thinkers and scholars to engage in great debates and expressions of ideas of both theological and secular nature. It is during the reign of this dynasty that the tower of Seville is constructed. And it is during this time that Abu-Al-Walid Mohamed ibn Mohamed ibgn Rashd, known to the West as Averroes established a peerless intellectual body of work in the arts and sciences which is revered to this day.
Ummayad savants and scholars initiated another intellectual revolution by ushering in and promoting:
Land reforms in Spain.
Religious freedom.
Support of the arts and sciences.
A rennaissance in knowledge as the wisdom of the ancient cultures was relearned through the works of the Greeks, Hebrews, Chinese, Persians.Translating all into Arabic.
They were the first to trace the curvilinear path of light through the air.(1100)
They achieved advances in chemistry including the invention of gunpopwder.
Discoveries in Astronomy and on the nature of the earth.
The invention of the Astrolabe and the compass.
The medical use of vivisection and dissection.

The Almohade dynasty was to last until 1230 when Christian forces drove the last Moorish elements out of Spain in successive campaigns. But Europe was to benefit imeasurably from the legacy of these Africans for centuries after the expulsion:

Absence of class system, such that any man (regardless of birth stature) could rise to any rank except that of supreme ruler. This was in marked contrast to the Visigothic Christians who were legendry in their cruelty and usery
The creation of hospitals with running water and the widespread construction of baths. Christian Europe held this rite of bating in contempt for centuries.
Numerous fabulous gardens.
Latrines with running water hundreds of years before the rest of Europe.
Paved streets and street lights. Numerous bookstores and a highly literate populace.
The Moors also took interior decoration to new heights in elaborate building ideas. This compares with the rest of Europe where most structures were barren, artless hulks without the minimum of utilities even for hygiene.

The Moors of Al Andalu (Spain) introduced advanced numerous crops and methods of soil productivity including irrigation, crop rotation and the use of manure. After harvesting, Moorish preservation and drying know-how meant that foods could endure and be edible for several years.

There were numerous schools and places of learning in Moorish Al-Andalus (Spain).

begining with the Univerity of Cordoba, other great institutions were built in Seville, Valencia, Mallarga and Granada. Like the ancient Greeks under the Egyptians , several of the most prominent European Catholic scholars studied under the African Moors in their institutions in Spain. The Moors translated all great works they could lay their hands on from the ancients into Arabic. This included the knowledge of Egypt, Kush, India, China and the Greece. Western historians point to the Greek component of these documents and attempt to paint the Moors as merely borrowers of Greek intellectual culture. This ignores the fact that Greek knowledge comes directly from Ancient Egypt and that there is convincing evidence that the Moors already possesed similar knowledge of their own from their homelands.

But this was not only limited to higher education. The Moors promoted literacy and the advancement of the general population. Schools were everywhere, many of them free of charge.

Again, far in advance of Western Europe, Moorish physicians were specially trained and highly regulated. They practiced surgery and cauterization and understood the importance of cleanliness in the operating environment.

Jose Pimienta Bey notes in Golden Age of the Moor (pg 211):

“Europeans offered no competition with Moorish advances in pathology, aetiology (study of diseases), therapeutics, surgery and pharmacology. Texts were written by Moorish physicians describing surgical technique and instruments that were used doctors specialized in pediatrics, obstetrics, opthalmology, and in the treatment of hernias and tumors. Imamuddin tells us that Moorish scientists were even importing monkey skeletons from Africa for use in dissection when conditions prevented the use of cadavers.”

For the Andalusan Moor, scholarly endeavor was considered devine. The more one knew of one’s self and one’s World, the more one was sup[posed to know of one’s Creator. The ancient Kemetic creed “Know Thyself” was very much the creed of Andalus……….Rulers such as the Caliph Abd al-Rahman III, spent almost one-third of the state’s income on education. At a time when most Christan monarchs could not even write their own names, the Caliphs of Moorish Spain were often scholars.

The works of a number of Moorish savants were revered, translated and became required texts in the universities which later developed in Europe. These include Generalities on Medicine by Averroes, Solitary Regime by Avempace, Primus Canonis by Avicenna and Al-Tasrif, by Abulcasis, which became the predominant university medical text for Europe’s physicians.

It was the Moorish chemists such as Jabir who discovered nitric, nitro-muriatric and sulphuric acid. They were well versed in the science well before Europe.

Jose Pimienta-Bey notes the proximity of the founding dates of the major European universities to the translations of Moorish works by rulers such as Alfonso X of Spain. These centres of learning relied primarilly on Moorish texts for centuries

The Primary Source for this article is:

The Golden Age of the Moor. Edited by Ivan Van Sertima. Transaction Books, 1992.

web hosting • domain names • video sharing
online games • photo sharing
free blog • advertising online

The African Origins of the Holy Grail and the Witch's Cauldron

“The prenda is like the entire world in miniature, a means of domination. The ritual expert places in the kettle all manner of spiritualized forces. There he keeps the cemetery and the forest. There he keeps the river and the sea, the lightning-bolt, the whirlwind, the sun, the moon, the stars—forces in concentration.”

“All powers are concentrated in the Nganga, which is charged with aniministic magic. Everything in the Nganga, the Nganga itself, is a magical and telluric force. Everything in the Nganga has a level of energy, and this will vary according to the amount of time it has resided within it as part of its message… these contain good and evil spirits, just like the sacred stones of the Lucumi. An old Nganga saying dating from the time of the colony is a priceless trophy for the Palero who owns it… without the Nganga there is no Regla de Palo, no Mayombe ‘There is nothing.’”

“Like the Arabian brotherhood of the Hashishim, the legendary Knights Templar waited for the desired knight, or madhi, to rescue the world from tyranny and establish the benevolent rule of the grail.”

In the medieval occult traditions the Holy Grail was believed to be the chalice used by Christ at the Last Supper. The Holy Grail was first conceived as the cup of Christ’s Last Supper by the Burgundian Poet Robert de Borron between 1180 and 1200 in his story “Joseph D’Armathie.” Borron described the Holy Grail as a jewel that fell from the devil’s crown when the rebellious angels were kicked out of heaven. During his descent into hell the jewel fell to Earth and was used as a sacred vessel by the faithful. Joseph is said to have traveled to England with a group of monks where they built the temple of the Holy Grail in Glastonbury. Within this Christian story is to be found traces of the original Grail mysteries and spiritual bloodlines. But it is incomplete and based on much older esoteric teachings which have been passed down through the ages and can still be found in various places in the world where Shaitan and the Djinn are fervently honored. The only part of Borron’s story that seems to be based on older myth cycles is the notion that the Holy Grail is somehow connected to Shaitan and the Fallen Angels. Because of the Grail’s occult connection to the fallen angels, it was believed to be endowed with ancient extraterrestrial powers that only the chosen ones could properly channel. As Barbara G. Walker points out in her book The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, “The myth wasn’t heard in Europe until the 12th century. The real origins of the Holy Grail were not Christian but pagan. The grail was first Christianized in Spain from a sacred tradition of the Moors.”

The Holy Grail mysteries cannot be properly discussed without some understanding of the medieval Knights Templar. Like many other aspects of medieval European culture, the modern white Christian oppressors have led the people to believe that the Knights Templar were a band of white Christian warrior-monks who strongly believed in the tenets of white supremacy and globalization. New Age conspiracy theorists add even more confusion to an already muddy pool of water. All the popular information about the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail are so far from the truth! Holy Blood, Holy Grail is one of the few books with good information about the Templars, but in my opinion it too fails to address some very vital points. The true mysteries of the Holy Grail are to be found in the Hermetic traditions that were passed to the Knights Templar from the Sufis and Djinn sects of the Black Moorish orient and the royal witchcraft systems of the ancient Black Celts. Unfortunately, there are very few English books in print that reveal the true identity and occult workings of the medieval Knights Templar. Furthermore, all the modern Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) movements that claim Masonic descent from the medieval Knights Templar also do not reflect the inner teachings of the Grail nor the ultimate Sufi sex rituals of P.B. Randolph, the African-American Rosicrucian that revived some of the Templar secrets in the mid-1800s as a result of his travels in the Black Moorish orient. Like Barbara Walker states above, this medieval secret society of warrior-monks has much to do with the Black Africans the Romans called the Moors, often referred to in many mainstream books about the Templars as Arabs, Saracens and Hashishim.

So who really were the Knights Templar and what were their Grail mysteries really all about? In spite of all the watered-down theories out there, mainstream history still must be consulted in order to properly answer this question. According to almost all accounts the Knights Templar were a very powerful economic and spiritual organization sanctioned by the Vatican and forced underground when the Pope accused the leaders of the secretive crusader order of the most horrific white Christian heresies of all times. When the Knights Templar were disbanded they were accused by the Vatican of practicing sex magic, Thelema-like orgies, animal and human sacrifices, conjuring Kabbalistic demons and Djinn, denouncing all forms of white Christian law and order in midnight Satanic Black Masses, and worshiping alongside of the Holy Grail a mysterious idol called Baphomet. Many of these accusations may very well have been based in truth, but very few Eurocentric historians seem to really understand the cultural implications behind them. The best description of the real Knights Templar is without a doubt to be found in the writings of the Indian Sufi master Idries Shah. In his book The Sufis Shah states that “Probably relying upon the contemporary eastern sources, western scholars have recently supposed that ‘Bafomet’ has no connection with Mohammed, but could well be a corruption of the Arabic Abufihamat. The word means ‘Father of Understanding.’ In Arabic, ‘Father’ is taken to mean ‘source,’ ‘chief seat of,’ and so on. In Sufi terminology, Ras El-Fahmat (‘Head of Knowledge’ means the mentation of man after undergoing refinement—the transmuted consciousness[)]… it will be noted that the word ‘knowledge, understanding’ used here is derived from the Arabic FHM room. FHM, in turn, is used to stand both for FHM and derivatives, meaning man. The Black head, or Negro head, or Turks head which appears in heraldry and in English country-inn signs is a crusader substitute word for this kind of knowledge.”

When we add Shah’s information to the esoteric teachings I have received from several Afro-Caribbean Martinist lodges and Palo Mayombe secret societies, the true identity of Baphomet and the secret Templar order becomes quite apparent. All the information I have gathered suggest that the Negro head the Knights Templar worshipped as Baphomet was the primeval ancestor, blacksmith (coalman), and shamanic warrior that founded the Moorish Masonic order the Templars were initiated into while visiting the Holy Land. Long before Jesus Christ was associated with the mysteries of the Holy Grail, this sacred jewel that fell from the crown of Shaitan was the dark hermetic property of the Maribou and all Afro-Islamic ancestors and Djinn that manifest through this sacred vessel of light.

It is interesting to note that when Aleister Crowley became head of the OTO he assumed the name Baphomet, while all of his writings suggest that he was not aware of the true meaning of the word. Nor was he in a spiritual position to reintroduce to the occult community of his times the essence of the Black head always described in medieval folklore as al-Aswad and the devil Shaitan. The one who The Book of the Law prophesized would appear at the end of time and teach the Obeah and the Wanga shall reveal it all and revive in the new Aeon the true Templar tradition of the Royal Negroes and Turks. Like Shah has shown, the coalman Baphomet (or rather Abufihamat) is the spirit of the Afro-Islamic blacksmith, the alchemist who turns raw iron into Masonic tools and the instruments of war. This ancient blacksmith and alchemist is always represented by a dark-skinned Black man and warrior-king. Professor John G. Jackson sheds a lot of light on this matter. In his book Introduction to African Civilizations Jackson quotes the following words by Professor Franz Boas: “Neither ancient Europe, nor ancient western Asia, nor ancient China knew iron,” and Boas declares, “and everything of the blacksmith was found all over Africa, from north to south and from east to west with his simple bellows and a charcoal fire he reduced the ore that is found in many parts of the continent and forged implements of great usefulness and beauty.”

Now that we have taken the time to examine the word Baphomet, let us take a closer look at the true identity of the Holy Grail, then see how these two occult concepts relate to each other. Contrary to what most have heard, the Holy Grail is not a cup. The Moors who introduced the Grail to medieval Europe brought it in the form of a medium sized iron pot, which was the alchemical vessel the Afro-Islamic blacksmith used to communicate with his ancestors and the Djinn. Amongst the Moors, Picts and Danes (who evolved into the Black Celtic tribes of Ancient Britain) this iron pot came to be known as the witch’s cauldron. Please recall that in Arabic “witch” means both “black” and “wise,” and is definitely connected to the the word “Baphomet,” which you will recall is derived from another Arabic word that means “black,” “head of wisdom” and “knowledge,” concepts that can also be found in many forms of Gnostic Christianity. Black Celtic folklore is full of tales of the witch’s cauldron, its connection to the invisible world of the dead, and to the black dwarf spirits that were believed to live in the sacred mounds and caves of the European countryside. A Templar and Black Celtic connection also explains why the Knights of the Holy Grail took refuge in Ireland, Scotland and Wales when under attack from the Vatican. The Holy Grail and the witch’s cauldron were also connected to the legendary magickian Merlin. There is reason to believe Merlin was a Black Englishman with Moorish ancestry. In the middle ages, the Welsh described Merlin as a painted wild man from the woods, which is also how the Roman Catholic commentators described the militant Moors they encountered and fought bloody wars with in ancient Scotland and Ireland. Merlin was also associated with the Devil and Lord Anti-Christ, the arch-enemy of the white Christian empire. In other myth cycles Merlin was a blacksmith and Masonic builder of magical nations which connected him to the original Moorish Masonic builders of medieval Europe. Merlin is believed to have forged King Arthur’s magick armor and created with his craft the Holy Grail and its secret society of wizards and witches. In the original myth cycles Merlin was a real Black messianic figure in many of the occult traditions of ancient Moorish Britain. During the Middle Ages, the poor and the down-trodden prayed for the apocalyptic return of Merlin’s Holy Grail magick, and the destruction of white Christian tyranny and intense suffering. Out of this cultural matrix was born the noble spirit of the Knights Templar and Baphomet, their version of the Holy Grail and the Black Heads of Wisdom that spoke through it. When the so-called Christian Templars arrived in the Holy Land, the folk traditions of the Moorish orient must have seemed very familiar to them, which explains how Christianized Moorish and mulatto monks would come to associate with such radical and hysterical Islamo-occult movements as the criminal sects of the assassins, Sufi and Gnawa. Also the Black man Satan or Shaitan with his Holy Grail or witch’s cauldron were also very popular in the folklore of medieval Spain and Portugal, which is where the occult writer Barbara G. Walker suggests they all originate. The Holy Grail or the witch’s cauldron was the same thing as the Afro-Islamic pots of the Djinn found throughout the Black Moorish orient and Africa. It is an Afro-Shamanic practice that definitely entered medieval Spain by way of Morocco and Senegal, and is still a part of some of the dark Sufi, Maribou and Gnawa cults found in certain parts of these two Muslim countries.

When the Knights Templar were banished from Europe, the Holy Grail mysteries went underground and became a part of medieval romance and folklore. However, the shamanic practices the Templars inherited from the Black Celtic witches, Merovingian princes and militant Black Islamic and Black Jewish tribes of the middle east continued to flourish in secret guilds and covens in Spain and Portugal, all the way up to the great exodus of heretical Blacks out of western Europe and the advent of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. These medieval Black Europeans and the Holy Grail cults were banished to Sao Tome and Angola, both of which were at that time Portuguese colonies. There is also reason to believe that as the slave trade picked up momentum the creolized children of these banished Black Jews and Black Muslims returned to Europe in chains with a new shamanic tradition that was a blend of the ancestral religions their Black and mulatto European grandparents and the dark animistic beliefs of the Kongo basin. This is part of the tragic history of the Black European, and I can do no better than quote the famous Cuban writer Fernando Ortiz as his words appear in Dr. Sertima’s book African Presence in Early Europe. In this book Ortiz informs us that “The Negro first came to the West Indies from Spain, not from Africa… in one city like Evora, Portugal, the Negroes undeniably exceeded the whites. Several thousands of Wolof, Mandingo, Guinea and Congo slaves entered Lisbon and Seville each year and were sold for the cities and fields of Iberia… the Negroes and mulattos were frequently emancipated and both rose to prominence by the virtue of knowledge, art, valor or love.”

During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, thousands of Moorish-Bantu slaves from Europe and Central Africa were brought to the Caribbean, and they carried with them the black art in all its various syncretic forms. In a foreign land medieval African and Black European history repeated itself. The colonial Americas helped give birth to the return of the militant spirit of the Black Celt and his infamous witch’s cauldron or Holy Grail. This witch’s cauldron resurfaced in Cuba in the early-1700s under the Zarabanda cults. This cult revolved around a Moorish-Bantu inspired ancestral pot made of iron, and the dark shamanic tradition that, according to some of the elders of the Briyumba Kongo branch of Jewish Palo Monte worship, was conceived by the medieval Black Europeans that joined forces with the Ba-Kongo witch doctors in the early days of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Zarabanda was the tribal spirit believed to inhabit the big black iron pot of the west African Moors and Black Celts, and in the age of Cuba’s African cabildo was syncretized to the Orisha Ogun, the god of blacksmiths, amongst the medieval Dahomey and Yoruba tribes. Zarabanda was believed to be the cult’s primeval African ancestor, first blacksmith and militant witch-man of the woods much like the original Moorish Merlin. Many a slave looked to the Zarabanda cauldron the way the Knights of the Round Table and the conquered Black Celts looked to the Holy Grail and the return of Merlin. It is also interesting to note that throughout Cuban history some of the most famous Palo Mayombe families have carried Irish and Scottish last names, and is evidence of the Black Celtic or Islamo-Irish influences that exist in Bantu-Caribbean based mystery cults. What I am revealing to you is one out of a number of interrelated reasons why the Palo Mayombe greeting has been “salam malekum” for centuries and why many of the pictures o the Mayomberos from the late 1800s are photos of Black men dresser very similar to the Gnawa and Sufi masters of Morocco and Senegal. Please also recall that the Holy Grail and witch’s cauldron was thought of in the middle ages to be the jewel that fell from Shaitan’s crown when he rebelled against God and became a demonic spirit action. Believe that I tell you in the New Aeon, for I am the one that came to teach the Obeah and the Wanga. The Afro-Cuban Prenda or Nganga is the same witch’s cauldron that gave birth to the Knights Templar and the royal witchcraft traditions of the Black Celts.

Now that it has been established that the witch’s cauldron the Cubans call Nganga Zarabanda is of Moorish origins, let’s take a closer look at what this Nganga really is so you can fully start to see how it relates to the occult traditions of West Africa and Medieval Black Spain and Portugal. In her book Santeria Migene Gonzalez-Wippler has the following to says “The Mayombero waits until the moon is propitious and then he goes to a cemetary with an assistant. Once there, he sprinkles rum in the form of a cross over a pre-chosen grave. The grave is opened, and the head, toes, fingers, ribs and tibias of the corpse are removed… the bodies of white persons are also greatly favored, as the Mayombero believes that the brian of the mundele (white person) is easier to influence than that of a Black man and that it will follow instructions better… the Mayombero writes the name of the dead person on a piece of paper and places it at the bottom of a big iron cauldron, together with a few coins… after the human or animal blood has been sprinkled on the remains, the Mayombero adds to the cauldron the wax from a burnt candle, ashes, a cigar butt and some lime. Also added to the mixture is a piece of bamboo, sealed at both ends with wax, and filled with sand, sea water and quicksilver… the body of a small black dog is also added to the cauldron to help the spirit ‘track down victims.” Next to the dog, a variety of herbs and tree barks are placed inside the cauldron. The last ingredients to be added are red pepper, chili, garlic, ginger, onions, cinnamon, and rue together with ants, worms, lizards, termites, bats, frogs, spanish flies, a tarantula, a centipede, a wasp and a scorpion.” The description of the making of Nganga does not seem to have its origins in Central Africa. The Afro-Cuban Nganga has more in common with the witch’s cauldron until the time of the Spanish inquisition and the Moorish occultists that were banished by the Catholic Church to Sao Tome, the Canarie Islands and colonial Angola.

There is also reason to believe that the New World mysteries of Zarabanda and the witch’s cauldron may be pre-Columbian in origin. Even Christopher Columbus seemed to believe that Black European exiles had made it to the West Indies before him. On his fourth voyage in 1502 he records two very shocking discoveries. On the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe he and his crew discovered a witch’s cauldron and an old ship’s mast in a native hut. Columbus was able to recognize the design and contents of the witch’s cauldron and came to believe it was brought to the Caribbean long ago from the Canarie Islands. The Canarie Islands were an early-15th century Portuguese dumping ground for the Black Jews and Black Muslims who became the refugees of the racist witch trials the white Christian oppressors called the Holy Inquisition. Hence, the marriage of the medieval Black European and the pre-Columbia Mandingo mysteries probably already existed when the first white settlers arrived. Perhaps fundamental aspects of the witch’s cauldron existed in the ancient Americas long before the time of the iron pot Columbus believed Black European exiles brought with them from the Canarie Islands. In other words, aspects of the Palo Monte Mayombe cult seems to have been a native Black religious movement that was in no way a part of the Black diasporic culture that emerged during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This seems to explain how and why Zarabanda’s witch’s cauldron in some branches of the Palo Kongo faith such as Changani Ntoto have a strong pre-Columbian Black Moorish and native Taino and Arawak vibe. Also, the Taino and the Arawak are two native tribes out of dozens in the so-called New World Dr. Ivan Van Sertima has shown blended with the Egyptian-Olmec and the pre-Columbian Mandingo centuries before the coming of Columbus.

The Zarabanda cult and its native Black Moorish flavor seems to have also had a great impression on white Spanish culture in general, which explains why the most radical dance of the early Spanish colonies came to be known as the Zarabanda. The Zarabanda dance may also be related to the Haitian banda dance and the Vodou spirits of death, sex and black magick. Take a look at the Zarabanda dance and see how it relates to the Moorish-Bantu mysteries of colonial Cuba and most likely other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America where Central African and Black European slaves were found in large numbers. Wikipedia has the following to say about the Spanish Zarabanda dance: “The Zarabanda is an old Spanish dance related to the Sarabande especially popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is believed to have originated in Native American dances. In its time it was rather controversial since it was thought too indecent—Miguel de Cervantes once said it was ‘invented in hell.’ It was banned several times, but it was still performed by many people and even by clerics during mass.” The Zarabanda dance was first popular in colonial Panama, the home of the pre-Columbian Mandingo, Wolof and Fula. Some paleros believe this dance’s connection to Native American dances links it to the pre-Columbian Black Indians that lived in Central America and the Caribbean. This is a further reflection of the primeval pacts and treaties certain branches of the Zarabanda cults have with the native Black Taino and Arawak spirits and these spirit relation to the Black Moorish orient. There is also the possibility that the Zarabanda dance was first popularized by the Barbary Coast pirates and criminals that dominated the West Indies from the late-1600s to the mid-1700s the way they had centuries ago in the Mediterranean Sea. These Moorish freedom fighters consisted of runaway Black Celts, Black Muslims and Black Jews originally from Portugal and Spain, and the pre-Columbian Mandingos and Fulas. And was not the rebel flag of these pirates and criminals the skull and crossbones? The skull and cross bones is one of the primary symbols of the dark spirit Zarabanda and his sacred pot of iron! Hence, in the magick cauldron that re-surfaced in the colonial Caribbean is to be found a continuation of the Holy Grail mysteries that in medieval Black Celtic folklore was called the witch’s cauldron, the jewel of Shaitan the fallen one. Look at the similarity of traditions. Take as another example this: in Afro-Cuban black magick the witch’s cauldron is called la prenda or the jewel, no doubt a spillover from the medieval Black Europe and the idea that the Holy Grail was formerly a jewel in the devil’s celestial crown. And just like the witch’s iron pot of Black Celtic folklore and magick, la prenda is the vessel that has the power to raise the spirits of the hellfire worlds. I have revealed to you in this article the foundation upon which some of the oldest lines Palo Kongo worship stand. When we see Jewish Prenda Zarabanda and others like it we are without a doubt looking at a system of Afro-Caribbean shamanism that is one of the purest and most potent faces of the real medieval black art that has survived the test of time.

Padre Engo is the self-proclaimed “Afro-Islamic prophet of the new Black medieval era that begins in 2012.” He lives in Brooklyn. He can be reached at his website or on MySpace

The presence of Africans in Elizabethan England and the performance of Titus Andronicus at Burley-on-the-Hill, 1595/96.

In 1594 Shakespeare confronted the Elizabethans with the dramatic figure of Aaron, a literate African trained in the classics. Shakespeare's characterization of Aaron presented a striking departure from the established discourse of black inferiority. The novelty was calculated, in the first place, to unsettle the average Elizabethan theatergoer. It could not, however, have been a surprise to those playgoers who had a university education or to those courtiers and noblemen, like the Haringtons and Sidneys, who had been cultivating cultural relations with the Continent and had learned how to shape their beliefs and views in the light of the Spanish and Portuguese experience. There was, moreover, another category of spectators, the descendants of those English merchants who had pioneered slaveholding and dealing in early modern Andalusia from 1480 to 1532. The Mediterranean apprenticeship of slavery has been left unrecorded owing to the one-sided attention of Africanists and historians to the development of English slavery in the seventeenth century. I am going to make some use of the material I have uncovered from Spanish archives at the end of the present paper.

We must, moreover, bear in mind that the Elizabethans had witnessed the haphazard attempts made by the authorities to accommodate the presence of black Africans and Moors to the structure of Elizabethan society. The black presence, particularly in the last decade of the sixteenth century, had raised anxieties about interbreeding that asked to be addressed. This was the case particularly between 1592 and 1594, when the government was embroiled in the hitherto little noticed scandal caused by the legal and illegal importation of slaves from Guinea. I have, therefore, felt obliged to unfold the still poorly documented history of the black presence in Elizabethan England before turning my attention to Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus as performed at Burley-on-the-Hill by the Chamberlain's Men on January 1, 1596. The per- formance had been designed by Sir John Harington to be the political and cultural climax of his lavish Christmas festivities.

The Presence of Africans in Elizabethan England

The presence of Africans in early modern England has remained a subject in its infant stage of studies. As late as the 1980s, historians clung to the view that there is no way of establishing how many colored persons had been taken to or had settled in early modern England. However, Rosalyn L. Knutson has opened up new research strategies. She is the first to have undertaken systematic investigation and has succeeded in gathering fresh material from the entries of baptisms and burials kept in the London parish records. (1)

The major difficulty in gathering reliable information has proved the absence of a regulated slave trade in early modern England. Whereas in Portugal and Spain the import of slaves was a government monopoly, England disposed of no legal code for operating a slave system under the Tudor monarchs. Hence there were no customs duties levied on imported slaves. There was, however, an annual per capita tax. This was, in effect, a poll tax of 8d levied by the municipal authorities. (2) The English authorities came close to conceding a royal monopoly on the import of slaves in the Guinea charter of 1588, a memorable event of its own that took place in the year of the Armada and that, surprisingly, Africanist historians have not taken any notice of (see below).

The majority of the Africans were black domestic slaves, a few were freedmen, and some of them were Moors, mostly Berbers from North Africa. The contemporary blanket term for them all was blackamoor. The seeming absence of records documenting their presence would argue the case for the existence of a negligible number of colored servants. (3) On second thoughts, however, the marginalized African population must have assumed a sizable volume, conspicuous and large enough to be of concern to the government, which thought it opportune to take countermeasures. The "discontented" queen, in view of the "great numbers of Negars and Blackamoors which . are crept into this realm," issued two expulsion edicts in July 1596 and a third in 1601. The royal orders, however, were of no consequence, for as long as the Africans were granted no legal status and the owners enjoyed the freedom of an unregulated market, the queen's policy of containment was simply ignored. The 1590s were a decade of poor harvests, food shortages, and poverty, but the queen's anxiety that, I dare say, approximately half a percent of London's population were taking jobs away from the English seems to be unwarranted. Similar concerns had been raised in Portugal in the 1560s when the African population of the Portuguese capital had risen to 10 percent. (4)

English Female Slaveholders

A good many misconceptions about the black and colored population in early modern England are due to the fact that the issue of the black presence has not yet overcome the difficulties and misconceptions of a nascent discipline. Thus the majority of the African servants were not curiosities, neither were they oddities nor status symbols, as some scholars would make us believe. On the contrary, they were like their cousins in Spain and Portugal hardworking domestic servants whom, to put it in Shylock's terms, the Venetian (English) owners would "use in abject and in slavish parts." Moreover, a serious oversimplification perpetrated by current historical work has been to neglect the problem of gender difference as regards both the slaves and the slave owners. I have, therefore, thought it opportune to discuss some records that shed new light on the ignored gender issue. It is a most striking feature that Englishwomen of all social classes, from low to high class, and even to royalty, should emerge as slave owners as if they had been emulating their Spanish and Portuguese counterparts, who did not hesitate to attend public auctions, selling and buying slaves in great numbers. (5) Thus the queen kept black artists, Lady Ralegh called a black servant her own, Lady Anne Clifford numbered Grace Robinson, a black laundress, and John Morocco, a black servant, among her household staff at Knole some time after 1609, and the seamstress Millicent Porter was present at the christening of her black slave Mary Phillis in 1597. (6)

Grace Robinson has been singled out by Kim F. Hall, in her insightful article "Reading What Isn't There" (see note 4), as an instance demonstrating that the personal histories of black women are bound to remain irretrievable and that the black female domestic servants, unnamed and stripped of a history of their own, are doomed to remain invisible. Grace Robinson's alleged invisibility, I dare say, was a matter of social status rather than of color or ethnicity for it is a commonplace that the personal histories of white female servants are equally difficult to recover. The black laundress Grace Robinson shared the fate of being elided from the narrative of Lady Anne Clifford's Diary together with her white fellow laundresses. She stands nonetheless the chance of coming into her own if we attempt to pry into the position held by the laundry maids and into their daily work in the large household of Lady Anne Clifford, countess of Dorset after 1609 and countess of Montgomery and of Pembroke after 1630. (7)

From the inventory or "Catalogue of the Household and Family of the Right Honourable Richard, Earl of Dorset," which was begun in 1613 and completed on the earl's death in 1624, it emerges that Grace Robinson was one of several dozen servants who are all mentioned by name and listed according to their seating order at various tables, from the lord's table, the parlor table, the clerks' table, the long table, the laundry maids' table, the nursery, the kitchen and scullery. (8) The comprehensive inventory, which still hangs framed under glass at Knole House, Kent, is obviously conceived to convey to the reader the socializing policy of the earl of Dorset and his wife Lady Anne Clifford, who saw to it that all the members of their household, from the gentlemen ushers, grooms of the great horse, to the brewers, gardeners, and huntsmen met in the dining hall on festive occasions. The members seated at the "Laundry Maids' Table" were, besides Grace Robinson, Mrs Judith and Mrs Grace Simpton, obviously two gentlewomen overseeing the laundry Penelope Tutty, the maid of Margaret Sackville, Lady Anne's eldest daughter Anne Mills, the dairymaid the two goodwives Burton and Small William Lewis, porter and what must have been the four fellow laundresses of Grace Robinson: Prudence Butcher, Anne Howse, Faith Husband, and Elinor Thompson. The catalogue reveals no trace of social or racial marginalization, getting the message across to the reader that the "Blackamoor" laundress was well integrated in the Knole household.

Grace Robinson was indeed working in a team of five laundresses whose duties must have entailed washing, repairing, and possibly sewing the linen and clothes of the household. This was no doubt a burdensome task which demanded great skill and endurance. There is some evidence proving that Lady Anne developed a personal relationship with her personnel and maidservants. Thus in April 1617, she was lying ill in Judith Simpton's chamber and in her old age, when she was too weak to attend divine service on Sundays, she used to send her four laundry maids and her washerwoman Isabel Jordan to attend the sermon preached by parson Samuel Grasty at Ninekirks Church, Wetsmoreland. A fortnight before she died at Brougham Castle on March 23, 1676, she took the seamstress Margaret Montgomery, who had come from Penrith to make up twenty pairs of sheets and pillows, to her chamber, and kissed her and talked to her. (9)

Whether Lady Anne Clifford's personal relations with Grace Robinson were as intimate as with the seamstress Margaret Montgomery remains unproven. But in view of the fact that she felt bound to take special care for the spiritual welfare of her laundresses, it is not unreasonable to assume that she must have developed a particular interest in an African maid who had become a Christian convert. There is historical precedent for the privileged treatment of black female converts by aristocratic women in Europe. Catherine of Austria, wife of the Portuguese king Joao III, who on average numbered some twenty-five black African and Amerindian slaves among her royal household, gave evidence of her particular concern for the welfare of her female maidservants in manumitting her three black laundresses Margarida da Silva, Clemencia da Santa Maria, and Catarina da Cruz, in 1554. (10)

A female slaveholder of much lower social profile was Widow Stokes. She dwelt in the parish of All Hallows Barking, Tower Ward, London, where she paid an annual per capita tax of 8d for her servant "Clare, a Negra," in October 1598 and 1599. (11) Widow Stokes may have exploited Clare as a single maid-of-all-work for the full range of household tasks and may thus have offered Clare immunity fro sexual abuse at the hand of fellow servants. Sleeping arrangements still used to be mainly communal. Servants of either sex slept in the same room, and servants of the same sex often shared the bed, a fact that was well known to raise the female servants' vulnerability to rape, seduction, and, worst of all, the specter of miscegenation. (12) The possibility that the bedrooms of early English households were immune to color discrimination cannot be ruled out. In Spain miscegenation was endemic among the servant class in Elizabethan England it was certainly on the rise. The bold interracial bedroom scene in Othello (act 5) may have been inspired by the reality experienced in middle-class English households.

A well documented case of a female slaveholder in early modern England is that of Millicent Porter, seamstress. It shows that also women at the lower scale of the social order knew how to take advantage of slaveholding. In January 1584, she was found guilty of "ffornication and adulterye" and was, against her will, "enioyned to make her canonycall purgation" in the "consistorye place" in St Paul's, London. After having done public penance, she returned to her parish of St Botolph Aldgate. When exactly the black slave Mary Phillis joined her household is not known, but we do know that on June 3, 1597, Millicent Porter attended the christening of the twenty-year-old Mary together with the curate's wife, the sexton's wife, and three other women who stood as godparents to Mary Phillis. We have it on the authority of Thomas Harridaunce, the clerk of St Botolph Aldagte, that Mary Phillis answered the curate's questions about her faith "verie Christenlyke," and recited the Lord's Prayer and the "articles of her beliefe." Thereupon the curate took Mary to the font and baptized her. These two women, a black slave and what looks like a repentant prostitute, transcended the habitual relegation of the black African females and of the female delinquents to the margins of society. (13)

The parishioners of St Botolph were certainly unaware of the fact that the christening of Mary was an infringement upon her African past. They looked upon the baptismal rite as conferring a new lease of life on an English-speaking Christian convert, who despite her new cultural and religious identity remained a slave. The presence of a curate officiating the ceremony in a London parish church is proof of the Anglican Church's toleration of slavery as a necessary evil. The Anglican authorities considered slavery as reprehensible only when English merchants were sold to the Muslims and enticed to convert.

The case of Mary Phillis does not correspond to the culturally defamed representations of the black female domestic figure in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, nor does the hitherto unrecovered case of twelve-year-old Polonia. On May 5, 1597, Mrs Piers ("Peires"), the mistress of "Polonia, the blackmor maid," consulted Simon Forman about her servant's illness. Forman, in the absence of the patient, cast an astrological figure and below it set down a humoral diagnosis, according to which the poor girl was suffering from "Moch pane syd[e] stom[ach]" and was "Lyk to vomit." Moreover, he found "a feuer in her bones" and diagnosed a "fa[i]nt harte, full of melancoly & cold humors mixed with collor," i.e., choler. The remedy he prescribed for her cure was to "purg her of Neptune" and of her vapors. (14)

The absence of the patient during the medical consultation was nothing extraordinary. Of the 132 consultations for children in 1597, forty-five were visits of a parent on behalf of a sick child, and only in thirty-two cases was the child present for the consultation. (15) With the benefit of hindsight we may venture to put down the illness of the twelve-year-old Polonia to menstrual disorders rather than to the social stress of deculturation.

Polonia's case marks a watershed event in the annals of cross-cultural en-counters insofar as it records the first rapprochement between a black African and a self-made London medical practitioner. Simon Forman, though much maligned and denounced by the College of Physicians as a quack, must be given his due for having treated Polonia as a patient irrespective of race, ignoring the ethnic boundaries erected by the cultural discourse of white supremacy. An unconventional man operating on the outer fringes of academic life, he seems to have been aware of the historic moment in his medical career, for he was meticulous about the patient's identity, adding a definite article that seems to be charged emotionally: "Polonia, the blackmor maid at Mr Peires." Forman's professionally impeccable behavior is out of line with the depiction of non-European women in literary and other writings of the period as being "either dangerous . and needing to be . annihilated, or alienated from their own society and made tractable, and therefore ready to be converted and assimiliated into European family and society." (16)

Mrs Piers was aged twenty-one and had previously consulted Forman on May 3, 1597, regarding an illness of her own. She might also be the mother of "John Peire," aged three, who had consulted Forman on April 14, 1597. (17) This young woman felt morally obliged to look after the well-being of her juvenile black maidservant although she must have known that black servants enjoyed no legal status in early modern England and therefore was under no legal obligation whatsoever to offer her servant medical treatment.

Polonia's age profile is worth comment. In Europe the age of twelve was generally considered to mark a girl's transition from childhood to adult life. Thus in early modern England, the age of consent for marriage was set at twelve for girls. The age of twelve years was also taken to be the ideal age for slave girls to be introduced to the household domestic chores as maids-of-all-work or as companions or nursemaids for young children. (18) This might have been Polonia's lot if "John Peire," aged three, was indeed the son of Mrs Peirs. But it was also an age fraught with the danger of a young girl being raped and becoming pregnant. The bawd in Shakespeare's Pericles has brought up her daughters to the age of eleven and then has reduced them to serve in the brothel. (19) Juliet's nurse swears by her own "maidenhead at twelve year old," implying that she was deflowered as soon as she reached the age of twelve. (20) Launcelot, the primary go-between in the play, who shuttles between religious communities and ethnic minorities, commits an act of interracial sex in Portia's domain at Belmont, impregnating the offstage Mooress, whose age must be put to twelve or thereabouts. His impregnation of the Mooress may have been meant to evoke a real-life incident in London. (21)

English Merchant Slaveholders

Slaveholding in early modern England was not gender bound but whereas in the case of female slaveholders all the social classes seem to have participated in the business, in the case of men, slaveholding was mainly concentrated in the hands of the upper echelons of the merchant class. The English merchants stationed in Spain at the turn of the fifteenth/sixteenth century and John Hawkins's ventures in the Guinea-Caribbean slave trade of 1562/63 and 1564/65 had prepared the ground for holding colored slaves in England, and the English merchants doing business in the Mediterranean and in West Africa in the closing decades of the sixteenth century took their cue from them. Among the foreign merchants residing in England, the Portuguese New Christians or conversos, who had been accustomed to keeping and handling slaves before they took refuge in England in the 1540s, enjoyed the privilege of keeping up their old lifestyle, practicing their Jewish rites on the sly, and developing their commercial networks with their old converso partners in Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Constantinople. (See below.)

The double-career men like the Gonsons, the Hawkinses, and the Winters, who had a lifelong experience as members of the inner circle of the naval administration in charge of the royal fleet, had no scruples to take advantage of their public offices to promote their private enterprises. They became involved in slaving voyages as investors, ship owners and seafaring businessmen and did not hesitate to staff their households with colored servants. Evidence, however, is scarce to come by, but as regards Sir William Winter (ca. 1525-89) it is conclusive.

William Winter, keeper of the naval records (1546), master of the naval ordnance (1557), invested in and sailed on Thomas Wyndham's 1553 voyage to Guinea. He then joined the syndicate of Guinea merchants which in 1561 advanced the project of building a fort in Guinea. He was also one of the investors of John Hawkins's second slaving voyage of 1564/65, and in 1565 he financed, in partnership with his brother George, the voyage of their ship the Mary Fortune, which the Portuguese sank off the Guinea coast, taking the crew prisoner. It is also on record that in 1570 one ship of a fleet of three, owned by William Winter and bound for Guinea to participate in the transatlantic slave trade, sailed back home without reaching the Caribbean. For his services rendered to the navy and for his private ventures he was knighted in 1573. (22)

Had Thomas Harridaunce, the parish clerk of St Botolph Aldgate, not been keeping separate memoranda besides the ordinary parish registers, we might never have known that Sir William Winter even in his old age could not do without a Guinea slave or two working in his household. On August 17, 1587, Harridaunce recorded in his daybook the death of "Domingo Beinge a ginnye Negar" who was "servaunt to the Right worshipfull Sr William Winter" and had died in his London manor house at East Smithfield. (23) We do not know when Domingo entered Winter's service, it may have been before or after 1570. He may have been part of Winter's personal booty taken in Guinea from a former Portuguese owner, in which case Domingo would have been an institution among possible black fellow servants, or Winter may have bought him in London from a business partner any time after 1570.

The Guinea Charter of 1588-98

The diplomatic interventions of the Portuguese and the subsequent treaty signed by the English and the Portuguese governments in 1576 brought about a slump in the English Guinea trade. However, the exile of Dom Antonio, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, gave an unexpected impetus to the resumption of the Guinea or rather the Senegambian slave trade. Dom Antonio sought refuge in England in the aftermath of the Portuguese dynastic crisis of 1578/80, accompanied by a retinue of some forty-eight attendants, among them the mulatto Pedro Fernandes. The renewal of the slave trade under the auspices of the English government and Dom Antonio has passed unnoticed by English historians. A comprehensive study of the historical, cultural, and ethnic dimensions of the first Guinea charter (1588-98) remains a desideratum. The following comments lay claim to being nothing more than a first step on the road to recovering a fascinating story of cross-cultural encounters, political machinations, and African dominance in imposing the terms of the slave export and foreign trade with the Portuguese, Spaniards, French, and English. (24)

On his arrival in England in July 1581, Dom Antonio was penniless, but he had taken the precaution to seize the Portuguese crown jewels, the precious spoils of the Portuguese East and West Indies. Queen Elizabeth welcomed Dom Antonio not as a claimant, but as a sovereign brother, and set her mind on making use of him as a trump card in the political trials of strength waged between the English, French, Spanish, and Moroccan courts. When Dom Antonio ran out of his financial resources, he resorted, with the approval of the English government, to unorthodox methods of financing his campaign to recover the Portuguese throne from Philip II. (25)

The Guinea charter, signed on May 3/13, 1588, by the English government and on May 20/30, 1588 by Dom Antonio, was a contract concluded, in the first place, for the benefit of both sides and, in the second, as a warrant for Dom Antonio's financial survival. It granted some English merchants of Exeter, Colyton, Barnstaple, and London, for the space of ten years, license to trade with Senegambia, that is, a stretch of the mainland littoral lying between the rivers Senegal and Gambia in Upper Guinea and some 240 miles long. The first 140 miles, reaching from the estuary of the Senagal to the peninsula of Cape Verde and known as the Great Coast, were inhospitable terrain without any ports and therefore irrelevant to the transatlantic trade. The international traffic was concentrated on the Small Coast, reaching from Cape Verde to the estuary of the Gambia. This part of the coast was dotted with a number of busy ports and slave emporia, the most important being Bezeguiche, Rufisque, Portudal, and Joal. (26)

Dom Antonio, though ousted from the Portuguese throne by Philip II, kept claiming the Senegambian littoral as his overseas possession. Thus he enjoined the English patentees to fit out three vessels bound for Guinea every year to accept two Portuguese agents on board the English vessels to register the goods on the outward and homeward voyages to pay duties of 5 percent on all the goods sold from ivory, hides, amber, wax, gold, and silver to slaves, and to hand the taxes over to Dr Rodrigo (Ruy) Lopez, the queen's physician, whom the Privy Council had appointed collector of the duties and had charged to use the incoming money to indemnify Dom Antonio's English creditors. The debts Dom Antonio had incurred between 1581 and 1588 amounted to [pounds sterling]4000, and he was about to accrue further debts with the disastrous Portugal expedition of 1589 under the command of Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norris. (27)

The most prominent patentee to sign the Guinea charter was the Barbary merchant Anthony Dassell. He staked his money on the vessels which sailed under the command of his brother Thomas. The two brothers looked upon the resumption of the Guinea trade as a fat chance of lining their own pockets. They committed a number of violations, which were endemic among international slaving merchants, such as flouting the legal machinery set up to recover the import duties levied on the goods. Dom Antonio, therefore, brought a lawsuit against them for refusing to allow his agents to board their vessels in order to inspect the commodities and to remit the duties to Dr Lopez's account. What is of utmost relevance to the present investigation is the attempt of the Dassell brothers to bypass the rules of the Guinea charter in surreptitiously importing black Africans and evading the import taxes to the detriment of Dom Antonio and the English authorities. Thus it transpires from the interrogatory drawn up by the High Court of Admiralty and put to four English sailors, who had obviously sailed to Guinea in 1592, that the Dassell brothers were suspected of smuggling a considerable number of Guinea slaves into England. The four sailors summoned to appear before the judges of the High Court of Admiralty were to be questioned about the number of Africans transported on the two ships of the Dassells. The judges also wanted to know "what are their names and in whose custodye and keeping are they at this tyme, and whether were they transported with the good will and leave of their parents and frends and the leave of the kinge of the said cuntrye, yea or no, and of what account are such as are so transported in the saide cuntrye to your knowledge, or as you have hearde by credible reporte". (28)

It emerges from the wording of the interrogatory (items 11 and 20) that Dom Antonio, in cooperation with the English government, was the instigator of the resumption of the English Guinea slave trade in 1588. The English government tacitly approved of the view held by an exiled potentate, who had had a lasting experience in slaveholding, that exporting slaves from Guinea was a legal enterprise provided the European exporter secured a license from the native kings or chieftains. This is borne out by the accusation laid by Dom Antonio before the High Court of Admiralty against Anthony Dassell and his brother Thomas in 1592. Dom Antonio accused the Dassell brothers of having "cast in prison the king of Portingall his agent," that is, his own Guinea agent, and of having "transported" to England two Africans "against the king[e] of that realme and his officers comma[u]ndements". (29)

The two Africans were said to be "cheife yonge negroes, . sonnes to the cheife justice of that contrey." Dom Antonio and the English authorities, therefore, feared that the Dassells' fraudulent practices would bring about "the utter overthrow[e] and disturba[u]nce of that trade in those partes," and awaken "the prejudice of other marchants of that societie, by reason wherof" the queen and Dom Antonio were bound to lose "tenn thowsand[e] crownes yearlye" (Nunes Costa, Document 40). Richard Kelley was one of the Guinea merchants who disapproved of Anthony Dassell's behavior. He was afraid to return to Guinea because he believed that the two "Neygrose of some accompt" had been taken to England "against their wills." He argued that "by suche indiscreete dealinge it is greatlye to be feared that the trade into those partes wilbe very muche hindred." He was, therefore, not ready to return to Guinea unless "some order be taken for the saffe bringinge backe of the sayde ij Negrose into the sayde countrye" (National Archives, Kew, HCA 24/59/49-51).

In his defense, Anthony Dassell countered that the "two yonge negroes they of themselfes made sute to come, and voluntarie came to see England without any compulsion," adding that their "good entertaynment heere wil be more benefficiall and comodius" to the queen "in regarde of the trade then all the serva[u]nts" of Dom Antonio "canne doe good in goinge thither." And to justify his blatant breach of the Guinea charter he went to the length of invoking the example set by the French, who had been trading in Guinea "above thirtie yeares" without paying "duties" to their king. No "nation" was "better beloved nor so well wellcome to the negroes" as the French, who "cheifflie proceded by bringinge negroes nowe and then into France and usinge them well" (Nunes Costa, Document 41).

Anthony Dassell's violation of the Guinea charter and his brother's resort to violence lends little credence to Anthony's argument that the measures he had taken were inspired by altruistic motives in the interest of England's economic development. He revealed his true turn of mind when he complained to the judges that he was now constrained to keep the two noble Africans in his own house at his great cost for the benefit of the queen and his country (Nunes Costa, Documents 44 and 45).

The documents uncovered so far in the English and Portuguese national archives yield only a fraction of the economic enterprises undertaken by the eight patentees of the Guinea charter, that is, by William Brayley, Gilbert Smith, Nicholas Spicer, John Derricott, all four of Exeter, John Young of Colyton (Devon), Richard Dodridge of Barnstaple (Devon), and Anthony Dassell and Nicholas Turner, both of London. Further investigations are likely to bring to light the actual number of the black Africans whom the Dassells illicitly imported into London and whom the other merchants may have legally freighted to England, paying the export licenses issued by the African chiefs and the import duties exacted by Dom Antonio and the English government.

Two contemporary witnesses and chroniclers of the arrival of the English merchants in Senegambia in the early 1590s, one a Portuguese and the other an Englishman, throw some additional light on the memorable encounters between the English and some African kings as well as on the nature and conditions of the trade. It emerges from the chronicle of Andre Alvares d' Almada, citizen of Sao Tiago, the principal among the Cape Verde Islands, and from the report of Richard Rainolds, one of the factors on Anthony Dassell's ship the Nightingale, that Dom Antonio was woefully out of touch with the realities in Senegambia. The Portuguese and the Spaniards had lost the favor of the native kings, who since the 1570s had been encouraging the French and, in the 1590s, the English, among them Thomas Dassell, to trade with them directly irrespective of the regulations of the 1588 Guinea charter, which obliged the English merchants to sail under the supervision of Dom Antonio's agents. (30)

Alvares d'Almada provides invaluable information on the profitable and successful relations between the Creolized Luso-Africans or Afro-Portuguese and the English merchants who had chosen Bezeguiche (Beseguiache in Rainolds) on the Cape Verde Peninsula, its large bay sheltered by the islet of Palma, as their favorite port of call. The Luso-Africans, disdainfully dismissed by the Portuguese authorities as "lancados," were the middlemen who specialized in bartering goods between the Africans and the foreign merchants, the Spaniards, French, and English. They became the main purveyors of slaves when the monopoly of the Portuguese began to decline after 1570. The business partners were in a festive mood when the deals were concluded and the goods handed over to the foreign traders. The English used to banquet the Luso-Africans, entertaining them with music played on viols and other instruments. (31)

Alvares d' Almada also raises the issue of sending Senegambians to England. He records that owing to the amicable relations established between the Bawal kingdom and the English merchants some Africans went to England to learn English and to visit the country. It was the governor of Portudal (Porto d' Ally in Rainolds), also acting as overseer of king Amar Malik's exchequer, who had given the order. This statement seems to contradict the accusation, brought against the Dassell brothers by Dom Antonio, of having conveyed to London two noble Africans, the sons of the chief justice, against the orders of king Amar Malik (or Mamalik) and his officials. (32) The case of the Dassells looks very much like being a precedent of the business venture to be arranged between some London Guinea merchants and the king of the river of Cess in Upper Guinea. The king sent his son Derij laquoah to London, where he was baptized in the church of St Mildred Poultry on January 1, 1611, some of the English merchants attending the ceremony of the baptism as godparents and sureties. John laquoah, the new convert, was obviously trimmed as a black Christian factor in the hope of boosting the shipment of goods, presumably slaves, between England, Guinea, and the Caribbean. (33)

The Senegambians participated in the Atlantic trade as equal partners. Rainolds in his travel account does not tire of foregrounding the understanding and amity between the African rulers, the state officials, and the English merchants. One of the first professional obligations Rainolds fulfilled in November 1591 after landing at the islet of Palma, which he calls the "litle Iland . of liberty," was to receive the governor of Beseguiache. The governor came "with a great traine . aboord in their canoas" to collect king Melek Zamba's "dueties for ankerage." Rainolds rose to the occasion, giving the governor "and all his company courteous entertainment" so as "to purchase the more love." The governor then conducted Rainolds and his company to his "house" on the mainland at Beseguiache, where the English merchants "were gently and friendly feasted after their maner, and with some presents returned safe aboord againe." These ceremonies, observed on the occasion of what was the official opening of trade relations, were concluded the following day when the governor came aboard the English ship "to wil" Rainolds "to send some yron and other commodities . to traffike with the Negros." The same procedure was repeated at Rufisque (Refisca) and at Portudal. Portudal was ruled by king Amar Malik, son of Melek Zamba, whose subjects "befriended and favoured" the English and were "ready to ayde, succor and defend" them against the hostile followers of Dom Antonio. "In" these Africans, Rainolds commented, "appeared more confident love and goodwill towards us, then ever we shall finde either of Spaniards or Portugals." (34)

The alleged influx of Guinea slaves in the early 1590s, whether legal or illegal in terms of the Guinea charter of 1588, generated a sense of anxiety about the black presence in late Elizabethan London. The government, therefore, took measures to defuse the situation. In the wake of the investigations conducted by the High Court of Admiralty in 1592-94, the queen under the pretext of a threat to economic stability, was induced to issue the ineffective deportation acts of 1596, 1599, and 1601. It is one of history's ironies that the English government, put under pressure by Dom Antonio's impecunious circumstances, should have condoned the import of Guinea slaves. Government measures alone were not sufficient to allay the fear of the citizens. By 1594 the Londoners had come to perceive the presence of Africans as an anomaly within the social body of their city and country which asked to be confronted on a public platform. This was the moment for Shakespeare to step in to make an attempt to defuse the situation by confronting his contemporary audiences with the extraordinary figure of Aaron, a literate African, in 1594.

The Mediterranean Traders

Besides Guinea as an export region of black slaves, the countries bordering the Mediterranean were another frequent source of supply. Trade in the Mediterranean and later on in the West Indies afforded Paul Banning or Bayning (d. September 30, 1616), member of the Grocers' Company, alderman of Farringdon Without, called Fleet Street Ward (1593-1602), the opportunity to build up a vast business empire. Banning was one of the dominant figures of the Venice Company (1583-89) and the Levant Company, also known as the Turkey Company (1581-88), which was granted a new charter in 1592. As a merchant promoting privateering, he had a powerful galleon built, the Golden Phoenix, designed with an eye to war and trade. At the turn of the century, he pursued a policy of investing the capital, which he had accumulated while trading in Venice and Turkey in the 1580s, in the first expedition of the East India Company. (35) He was treasurer of the East India Company 1600-1602.

The head of a vast household made up of many retainers, clerks, and servants, Banning had by 1593 bought at least three "blakamores," all of them female domestic servants, who constituted a high-risk group in his crowded household. He is the only English merchant known so far to own more than one black servant except for the naturalized Portuguese conversos dwelling in England. A fourth black household servant was "Iulyane," twenty-two years old when she was christened in St Mary Bothaw on March 29, 1601, and "namyd" Mary by her godparents. These were obviously responsible for her integration into Banning's teeming household and for her assimilation of English cultural values. (36)

The Portuguese New Christians as Slaveholders in England

The most experienced slaveholders in early modern England were the Portuguese New Christians or conversos who sought refuge in English ports when in 1536 Portugal, under Spanish pressure, established an Inquisition of its own and instituted the purity of blood statutes. The community of the Portuguese conversos reached its peak in the last decades of queen Elizabeth's reign when it numbered between eighty and ninety members. Their presence was most welcome in England because of their widespread international commercial networks, their inveterate disapproval of Spain's annexation of Portugal in 1580, and their unanimous backing of Dom Antonio's cause. Their impressive performances won them much acclaim among the English circles of power and secured them long-lasting government backing and many a special privilege, the most important being the tacit acceptance by the English authorities of their commitment to rejudaization. (37)

The dominant converso families maintained their old elite lifestyle in their new English environment. The ingrained legacy of their self-image as prominent bankers, merchants, ship owners, physicians, diplomats, and court astronomers stood them in good stead when they struggled to pursue their old careers in England. (38) The way of life led by the wealthy Portuguese conversos, whether they settled in London, Amsterdam, or Antwerp, required running large households, staffed by native and foreign male and female servants. The foreign domestic personnel of the Portuguese merchants of Antwerp were mostly black African servants. Their presence in Jewish Antwerp households is rather well documented as for London converso households it is, unfortunaley, poorly documented. (39)

Dr Hector Nunes [Nunez] (1520-91) scored an unparalleled success as one of the most prominent multi-career Portuguese conversos to opt for exile in England. He was a renowned court physician, an enterprising merchant, shipowner, marine insurance broker, intelligencer, and banker who supported the cause of Dom Antonio, the pretender to the Portuguese throne. He was monitoring anti-Spanish resistance from his exile in England, besides being secretary Walsingham's accredited negotiator in putting out secret peace feelers in 1585/86 in order to assess the mounting preparations made for the sailing of the Spanish Armada. As head of the Portuguese community in London, he was running a syndicate of converso merchants linked by close family ties. Their policy was to pioneer commercial relations with the Mediterranean countries, Morocco included. He and his partners were among the first to import Moroccan sugar, molasses, paneles (brown unpurified sugar), and rameals (inferior sugar), via Antwerp in ships flying the Moroccan flag in the late 1560s. In March 1571, he and his partner William Curtis invested money in a voyage to Guinea, obviously with an eye on seizing slaves, but the Portuguese ambassador put the Privy Council under pressure to stop the enterprise. There is also evidence that he suffered serious financial setbacks due to daring commercial ventures and to the dangers of Anglo/Spanish hostilities. (40)

In 1582, Dr Nunes's household consisted of his wife Leonor Freire of Antwerp, a butler, three clerks, all of them Portuguese New Christians (Fernando Alvarez, senior, Francisco Alvarez, and Francisco de Tapia), and two black female domestics, Gratia and Elizabeth Anegro. Elizabeth obviously bore the name of Dr Nunes's sister-in-law Elizabeth Freire, who in 1582 married Alvaro de Lima, and Gratia, the name of Grace Freire, another sister-in-law, who had died in 1578. Gratia died a young woman she was buried in the parish of St Olave Hart Street on July 13, 1590. (41)

Elizabeth and Gratia Anegro, who were members of the Anglican Church, were to play a decisive role in confirming the accusation that the Nunes and Alvarez households were practicing Jewish observances in secret. While Dr Nunes saw to the worldly and economic affairs of his household, he left the daily observance of religious conduct to his wife and his brother-in-law Fernando Alvarez, the husband of Philippa Freire. Dr Nunes had been endenizened as an English subject in 1579 and then had publicly conformed to the Church of England while allowing the members of his family to practise Judaism in the privacy of his house. The evidence that his was a judaizing family is unmistakable. His wife had obviously assumed the role of judaizer since in rabbinic law it was held that Jewishness was transmitted through the mother. (42)

As a slaveholder the distinguished physician was surprisingly out of touch with the legal realities in Tudor England. After having spent some forty years in England, Dr Nunes assumed that there were laws regulating the slave traffic as there had been in his native Portugal. Thus, in 1587, he submitted a formal complaint to the Court of Requests, stating that he had bought an Ethiopian, meaning a black African, from an English mariner at a price of [pounds sterling]4 10s. The slave, however, "vtterly" refused "to tarry and serve him." Dr Nunes apparently made the painful experience that he had "not any ordinarye remedie at and by the course of the comon Lawes" unless the queen through her secretaries in the Court of Requests would "compell the sayde Ethiopian to serve him during his liffe." Should the court refuse to oblige the African to serve him, he requested the court to "Recover this sayd ffowre poundes Tenne shillinges" from the English mariner who had sold him the slave.

This case confirms that owing to the absence of a black slave's legal status in early modern England the law courts and even the secretaries of state in the Court of Requests, some of whom were personally acquainted with Dr Nunes, had no authority to intervene. The conclusion of Rosalyn L. Knutson, who has unearthed the document, that the English slaveowner who bought a black slave at the market "did not have the help of the law of England to enforce the bond at the level of enslavement, though they may well have had other kinds of power," is quite relevant. It was precisely the absence of the legal status of a slave that offered the slave a loophole to refuse and at the same time gave the owner free hand to enslave his black African, exploiting him or her as an unpaid domestic servant. (43)

The complaint lodged by Dr Nunes casts a fresh perspective on the hazards of an unregulated black slave market in early modern England. The black slave took advantage of his legally undefined status in refusing to accept the sale and serve Dr Nunes for the rest of his life. He may have been a second-generation African, born in Europe, who had created an image of himself and did not hesitate to challenge European concepts of ownership. Dr Nunes's complaint, moreover, reveals for the first time in an English document what was the actual market value of a black male slave in 1587 London.

Dr Nunes's leadership went uncontested among the Portuguese New Christians in Elizabethan London. His merits, however, have remained undervalued by literary and cultural scholars, who have preferred to focus their attention on another Portuguese converso, on Dr Rodrigo (Ruy) Lopez, physician and collector of the customs duties which the patentees of the Guinea charter owed Dom Antonio. His execution, on June 7, 1594, on a charge of being a secret judaizer plotting to poison the queen has been more newsworthy. C. J. Sisson holds the view that the judaizing New Christians of Portuguese descent Shakespeare is likely to have met in London were not Shylocks but men like Dr Nunes. (44)

The Performance of Titus Andronicus: Sir John Harington's Political and Cultural Credo

My first article on Titus Andronicus was, as it were, the by-product of my extensive researches into Antonio Perez's exile in Essex House, London (1593-95). The historic defection of the astute secretary to Philip II and the secret royal audiences he was granted by queen Elizabeth aroused the indignation of the Spanish court. His defection, however, as seen through the prism of English history, was a marginal event worth comment but of little consequence for Elizabethan foreign policy. Even as a man of letters, as a leading aphorist and Tacitist in his day, Antonio Perez has remained underrated in Spain. Surprisingly, though officially a persona non grata in the eyes of the Elizabethan authorities, he was championed as Spain's foremost Tacitean writer by the learned secretaries of the earl of Essex. (45)

Most of the earl of Essex's secretaries and advisers had taken to Tacitism as a mode of political inquiry and, while Perez was dwelling in London, were pooling their resources to disseminate the Spaniard's writings among the members of the Essex faction and the Elizabethan court. They even went to the length of harnessing the skills of Richard Field, Shakespeare's first printer, to publish Perez's famous Pedacos de Historia o Relaciones (1594) in a cross-border campaign framed to exonerate the notorious exile at home. In the Pedacos de Historia, Perez drew on Tacitus's histories in order to provide ideological justification for tyrannicide and for the Aragonese rebellion against Philip II, which had been unleashed by Perez's imprisonment in Zaragoza. Perez escaped from his Aragonese prison to the court of Navarre and, in 1593, to the French embassy in London until he eventually took refuge in Essex House. There a set of like-minded scholars came together in the earl's secretariat one of them, Henry Wotton, produced an English synthesis of the book another, Arthur Atey, turned out an English translation under the supervision of Anthony Bacon, the earl's foreign secretary.

While Perez, as a politician, was ignored by the English court or rather, the English court pretended to ignore Perez, he was held in high esteem by the Tacitean scholars in the service of the Essex faction. To them Perez offered a model for studying the rule of a tyrant. In his Pedacos de Historia, Perez posed as the favorite who had fallen victim to Philip II's tyranny. Thus what they read in Tacitus and in Perez sustained their republican principles of imposing legal limits on royal power. In their opinion, to put it in terms of John Guy, the queen's capriciousness, especially in the matter of favorites, bore the "distinguishing mark of tyranny." (46)

Perez also made a name for himself as an epistolomaniac. He used to shower the English courtiers and the followers of the Essex circle, male as well as female, with epistles, penned in Latin and Spanish, which he used to lard with political aphorisms. His favorite English muse was Penelope Devereux, Lady Rich, to whom he addressed at least five Spanish letters. The climax of Perez's literary and social prestige was, no doubt, his three-day visit to Cambridge, which was stage-managed by the earl of Essex. On the occasion of the B.A.Commencement at the end of February 1595, which was celebrated with the performance of several plays at Trinity and Queens Colleges and a series of academic disputations, over a dozen guests of the earl of Essex, among them noblemen and courtiers, were awarded honorary M.A. degrees. Among the honorands were Antonio Perez and Giovanni Battista Basadonna. (47)

Giovanni Battista Basadonna was a patrician merchant, whom the republic of Venice had despatched to England as agent to the Elizabethan court. A nobleman with some literary pretensions, who presided over a miniature court in the city of London, which used to be frequented by Anthony Bacon in his capacity as foreign secretray to Essex, he acted as a banker to Perez and assisted him in erecting, on behalf of the earl of Essex, an intelligence service in Italy. The pregnant news that this "royal merchant," as he is called in contemporary documents, kept among the records of the Court of Admiralty, was building up an impressive merchant fleet of his own, has gone unnoticed by scholars. His vessels, manned with English and Italian sailors, were flying the Venetian flag while navigating the waters of the Thames in those years in which Shakespeare happened to be writing The Merchant of Venice. (48)

For Richard Field printing a book coming from the pen of the expatriate Spaniard, who was biding his time in Essex House, in a quarto edition of over 389 pages with a faked imprint, was quite an outstanding professional achievement. An address of the printer, "E1 Impressor a Todos" (sig. Ddd3r-Ddd4v), is appended at the end of the book, in which Field declares, "Yo he Impresso este libro con poca noticia de la lengua Espanola" (I have printed the book with little knowledge of the Spanish language). This was not quite true. (49)

Bearing in mind that Richard Field had been commissioned by the Essex faction to print the Pedacos de Historia and that the earl of Essex had subsidized its printing, it is not rash to speculate that one of the earl's secretaries may have suggested to Shakespeare to pen a stage portrait of the notorious Spaniard for the entertainment of the Essex followers. In my study A Spaniard in Elizabethan England I have marshaled various arguments to bring home to the modern reader that Shakespeare conceived Don Adriano de Armado in Love's Labour's Lost as a downgraded stage portrait of Antonio Perez. Shakespeare's parody of Perez as an insider of Spanish history endowed with rare linguistic accomplishments is grafted on the dramatic stock figure of the Spanish braggart, who originally strutted on the stage of the commedia dell'arte. I have not changed my mind since the 1970s and still hold, to put it in terms of A. L. Rowse, that Shakespeare's stage portrait of Antonio Perez is "very near the bone." (50) The original audience of the comedy was invited to take King Ferdinand of Navarre's description of Armado at face value:

There are, admittedly, other candidates for Shakespeare's satirical portrait of Armado, the Spanish braggart. Thus Tom Cain has demonstrated that the play was written within the tradition of representing recognizable contemporaries in a satirical vein. His candidate for Armado is Gabriel Harvey, the Cambridge scholar. But unlike Perez, Harvey simply does not fit in with King Ferdinand of Navarre's description of the "refined traveller of Spain." (52) It was none other than Perez, hailed as the "refined" exile "of Spain," who was haunting the Elizabethan court. Perez had taken refuge at the court of Navarre before haunting the court of Queen Elizabeth. Stage-cast in the shape of Armado, he finds access to the court of Navarre and its noblemen who have vowed to impose on themselves a three-year exile as students. Some commentators have noted that the king's promise of an excursion into Spanish history is not fulfilled in the play. It was probably never meant to be fulfilled, for Shakespeare apparently assumed that the play's original audience, that is, the members of the Essex faction and the Inns of Court students and lawyers, did know that "the worth of many a knight / From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate" was inscribed in the London edition of the Pedacos de Historia, a handwritten English and even Latin translation of which were available to them.

What may clinch the controversy over the satire's target in favor of Antonio Perez is the following argument I forgot to advance in my study of 1976: the closeness of Love's Labour's Lost to the Inns of Court culture of wit and satire which fostered the mock recitation of private correspondence. Given that Perez was a frequent visitor to Gray's Inn, where he shared Francis Bacon's private rooms, as well as a guest of the Gray's Inn revels of 1594, which climaxed with the performance of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors on December 28, it is not far-fetched to assume that the inmates, the lawyers, and the law students of Gray's Inn had more than a passing knowledge of the Spaniard as an obtrusive epistolomaniac and Tacitean historian a la mode, whose advocacy of limited sovereignty was deemed subversive by the Elizabethan authorities. His epistles are likely to have been made the object of quipping comments circulating among the Inn's members, such as the poet Francis Davison, who were in close touch with the Bacons and the followers of the earl of Essex. Armado's pretentious letter, read out in act 1 before the court of Navarre by King Ferdinand, sounds like a concerted take-off of Perez's overblown epistolary style. (53)

Antonio Perez was an exacting exile. His political expectations, demands, and whims inevitably put an unbearable strain on Anthony Bacon's frail physical condition. Bacon therefore appointed, with the approval of the earl of Essex, a string of servants to attend upon the "refined" Spaniard, who in his heyday had commanded an army of officials to see to his business and body of curators to look after his famous collection of Titians, Correggios, and Parmigianino's Cupid. (54) One of them was the Gascon Jacques Petit, who prided himself on being blessed with an academic turn of mind that stood him in good stead while he was in attendance upon Perez.

After the Spaniard's departure for France in July 1595, Anthony Bacon commissioned Petit to repair to Burley-on-the-Hill, Rutland, and there to further the French studies of Sir John Harington's son and heir John, a three-year-old child prodigy. While in Rutland, Petit maintained a steady correspondence with his master in London which discloses some nuggets of precious information on the Christmas festivities celebrated at Burley-on-the-Hill in December 1595/January 1596. Thus Sir John Harington, though beset with economic difficulties after marrying his adolescent daughter Lucy to Edward Russell, third earl of Bedford, in December 1594, lavishly and generously entertained some two hundred private guests, many of them his relatives, and up to nine hundred neighbors, copyholders, and tenants. Petit likened the vast concourse of aristocratic Christmas revelers to a "royal" court. It looks as if in 1595/96 Sir John inaugurated a series of Christmas festivities which John Chamberlain in 1602 was to qualify as "royal."

The memorable Christmas celebrations climaxed with a double bill on New Year's Day, first, with the amateur performance of a masque written by Sir Edward Wingfield, Sir John's brother-in-law, obviously with an eye to offering his young niece, the countess of Bedford, a stage debut among her relatives, and second, with a professional performance of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, given by the Chamberlain's Men. (55) Petit, our informant, failed to live up to the importance of the event. An uninspired onlooker, he contented himself with the terse comment that "Les commediens de Londres son[t] venus icy po[u]r en auoir leur p[ar]t . on a aussi ioue la tragedie de Titus Andronicus mais la monstre a plus valeu q[ue] le suiect." (56) Petit did not even bother to find out what had induced Sir John to commission the Chamberlain's Men to stage Titus Andronicus for the entertainment of his guests. He haughtily assumed the pose of a would-be chronicler who looked down on dramatic entertainments as products of minor quality, missing the opportunity to record the emotional impact the play made on the select audience. On the other hand, he had felt it his bounden duty, on the occasion of Antonio Perez's departure for France, to compose a doggerel farewell sonnet and two adulatory lamentations each couched in an execrable quatrain. In the first quatrain, he deplores Perez's absence "Manquant le medecin qui chassoit mon esmoy" in the second, he laments that he will no longer be able to converse with Perez and his "dons celestes." (57)

The play Sir John Harington had commissioned for the entertainment of his Christmas guests at Burley-on-the-Hill was not brand-new considering that its first performance had already been given on January 24, 1594. But the play's political message, which argues the case for a more constitutional form of government capable of making up for individual failure as well as for the failure of political institutions in Rome and, by implication, in Elizabethan England, had not lost its immediacy in 1595/96. (58) In 1594, the earl of Essex had been positioning himself to weather the imminent issue of succession, aspiring to change England's destiny on the queen's death. (59) In 1594/95, the earl had also been championing the international campaign raised by the exiled Antonio Perez, who as Spain's leading Tacitean historian and former secretary to Philip II had adopted a critical discourse to reveal the machinations of Philip II's government against him. Sir John Harington had always been gravitating toward the Leicester/Essex nexus. He had been a staunch supporter of the earl of Leicester, who as second husband of Lettice Knollys (1578-88) had been stepfather of the earl of Essex. (60) Sir John's scheme to stage Titus Andronicus as the climax of the Christmas festivities at Burley-on-the-Hill in 1595/96 was no doubt motivated by political considerations. It looks as if the Christmas festivities in Rutland served him as an instrument for letting his entourage know in public that he was positioning himself as a member of the Essex faction. His extravagant twenty-two-year-old son-in-law, Edward Russell, earl of Bedford (1572-1627), who on December 12, 1594, had married his daughter Lucy a month before her fourteenth birthday, followed suit. In February 1601, the earl was tried and heavily fined for being implicated in the rebellion of the earl of Essex.

Besides the contemporary relevance of the play's political message, Titus Andronicus broke new ground in its attempt to cast doubt on the conventional perception of the African other as an inferior being. The racial discourse had not lost its immediacy in 1595/96. The foundation of the Guinea Company in 1588 had led to an increased influx of black Africans and by 1593/94, when Shakespeare was writing the play in the form it has come down to us, the black presence in Elizabethan England had reached a peak. The illicit arrival of two young African notables, the sons of the chief justice of Senegambia, and of some black students to be indoctrinated in English culture, was a conspicuous event, which alarmed the English government (see above). Shakespeare responded to these social, legal, and ethnic tensions in staging forms of cross-cultural encounters that called in question the entrenched English position on racial hierarchies and George Peele, considered by some scholars as coauthor of Titus Andronicus, seized the opportunity to publish his old play on The Battle of Alcazar with its Moroccan and European settings, which he had written in 1589 as a caveat against the imminent dangers of an English alliance with a Muslim country. (61)

Titus Andronicus, besides being Shakespeare's first revenge tragedy, can claim to be the first Elizabethan play to undercut the racial discourse of positioning white over black. It challenges the ideological assumptions about the black man's racial inferiority. Aaron, the black outsider, does not correspond to the black African slaves the Londoners had come to know in increasing numbers after 1588. His most salient deviation from the real-life enslaved blackamores kept in London households is his literacy. Aaron is a literate black African well versed in the classics. He knows Ovid and Horace better than the sons of Tamora, the white queen of the Goths. Moreover, Aaron's sexual behavior does not conform to the entrenched belief and stereotyped representation of a black man's uncontrollable sexuality. Whereas Tamora herself and her two sons are figures of unrestrained sexuality, Aaron is capable of practicing sexual restraint. He thereby contradicts the current notion of the black man's boundless sexual potency. He also outdoes the Romans in setting examples of moderation and self-discipline and in acting as a vehicle of moral commentary. (62) As a father he is pitted against Titus Andronicus, an embodiment of Roman values, who does not hesitate to resort to infanticide for political and moral considerations. Aaron, however, poses as a paragon of paternal love in his frantic attempt to save his son's life. The assumption that civilized Rome cannot be barbaric is shown to be incorrect.

The play's two miscegenated babies, I think, must be seen as projections of contemporary cultural anxieties about miscegenation: a black baby, the biological product of a black man (Aaron) and a white woman (Tamora), and an offstage "fair" baby, begotten by a black African (Muly) on the body of his white wife. However, the different skin color of the two babies goes against one of the basic tenets of the racial discourse that black men invariably produce black children. The play's daring instance of nature's waywardness was obviously orchestrated by Shakespeare to cast doubt on the popular view, spread by George Best in the True Discourse of the Late Voyages of Discoverie (1578), that he had seen a black baby born on English soil to an Englishwoman and an Ethiopian, "whereby it seemeth this blacknes proceedeth rather of some natural infection of that man, which was so strong, that neither the nature" of the salubrious English climate, nor the fair "complexion of the mother concurring, coulde any thing alter" (262). In passing off the anomaly of interbreeding as an "infection," Best, of course, touched a sensitive nerve: his country's fear of losing its identity.

In contrast to Best, Shakespeare's play suggests what Sir Thomas Browne was to formulate in his Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646) that the Blacks descend from "the seed of Adam" just as the English and are endowed with the powers of body and mind to do good and bad things. Thus the play gives the liminal Aaron a public platform to voice his bottomless pride in blackness. "Coal-black," he speaks out undauntedly "is better than another hue / In that it scorns to bear another hue." (63) He does not hesitate to mount a counterattack to bring home to Tamora, to the nurse, and emphatically to Tamora's sons that far from being "as loathsome as a toad" (4.2.69) the black baby is their brother "sensibly fed / Of that self blood that first gave life" to them (4.2.124-25). This is not meant to be a humanitarian plea, but rather a challenge to drop their "exclusiveness and see in themselves" the consanguineous "evil they see in their black brother." (64)

Sir Thomas Browne's position was not a novelty in the context of European cultural history, nor was Shakespeare's. Thus Greek ceramicists and vase painters used to give voice to their belief in the equality of Blacks and Whites in creating janiform kantharoi, two-headed drinking-jugs, representing a white and a black head. The naked black Africans, romping around together with their white partners in Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights (painted about 1510), convey the painter's message to the world that humans born black are equal to those born white. His contemporary Albrecht Durer was most impressed by his encounters with black Africans when he was in Flanders in 1521. He portrayed two black domestic slaves, bringing their personalities to life with his masterful pencil strokes. The black slave is unnamed, but the female slave is identified as Katherina, aged twenty, serving in the household of Joao Brandao, commercial representative of the king of Portugal in Antwerp. (65)

Shakespeare's approach to the imminent issues of cultural otherness must have struck a chord with Sir John Harington. The Haringtons had had close interconnections with the Spanish nobility since Margaret Harington, one of Sir John's many sisters, had left England for Spain in July 1559 in the suite of her twenty-year-old cousin Jane Dormer, lady-in-waiting to the late queen Mary. Jane had been married in London to Gomez Suarez de Figueroa, fifth count of Feria, on December 29, 1558. The Feria household in Madrid was to become the hub of the English recusants in Spain, the countess relentlessly supporting the activities of the English Catholics on the Continent besides keeping her Protestant cousins in England, the Haringtons and Sidneys, au courant with the latest flourishing of Spanish culture. Margaret Harington remained affiliated to her cousin's retinue until 1588 when she married don Benito de Cisneros, a member of a prominent Castilian family. As a present Jane gave her cousin Margaret a dowry. (66)

Bearing in mind that Sir John Harington was a patron of the arts who had a cousin, a sister, and a brother-in-law, the three of them members of the Spanish nobility, it is obvious that his family connections singled him out as one of the best informed English noblemen about Spanish matters. We can, therefore, be almost certain that he knew that Portugal had brought forth a mulatto dramatist, Afonso Alvares, and Spain a black neo-Latin poet, Juan Latino, who was the first Afroeuropean writer to construct a Latin discourse of black pride. (67) Given the absence of his sister Margaret and his Spanish brother-in-law, who had not been able to honor the invitation to join the Harington reunion at Burley-on-the-Hill in December 1595, Sir John was, no doubt, the best qualified playgoer, watching the performance of Titus Andronicus and ready to awaken the response of his numerous private guests, among them his relatives, friends, and neighbors, to the play's ethnic position. He may indeed have succeeded in bringing home to his select audience the redeeming qualities of Aaron as a father as well as his outstanding literacy and grounding in classical authors, which entitle him to shed the image of a barbarian. Both the fictional Aaron and the real-life Juan Latino defined themselves by their classical literacy as a measure of human worth. The Latinity was for the two of them a means to fashion their own identities and in the case of Aaron even to claim cultural superiority.

It is not possible to do justice to the play's attempt to question the hostile response to the African in Elizabethan England without taking into account, besides the black presence, the early history of English slavery, the whole body of experience made by the English slaveholders and dealers dwelling in early modern Spain, which cultural historians, literary scholars, and Africanists have brushed aside as nonexistent. Ignorance of early English real-life encounters with Africans has spawned Winthrop Jordan's long-harbored and infectious myth that the encounter of the early modern English with Blacks was a traumatic experience--for the English. (68)

The historical records I have uncovered open up a new dimension in assessing the cross-cultural encounters between the Africans and the English merchants residing on the Christian/Muslim frontier, the European/African intersection in the Mediterranean ports of early modern Spain. It emerges from the documents retrieved from Spanish archives that all the English merchants residing in lower Andalusia after 1480 were potential owners of domestic slaves, black Africans and Moors, and that they were deeply immersed in the slave trade as dealers in human merchandise. The most prominent of them, Thomas Malliard and Robert Thorne, operated as capitalist leaseholders of soap factories in Seville and Malliard as an early colonist and joint tenant of one of the first sugar farms in the Canaries, the two of them exploiting unskilled and skilled labor force from Africa for the industrial production of white soap and sugar. (69)

Despite the institutionalization of the slave market, which affected all social classes in Spain, from top to bottom, in buying and selling slaves, the foreign merchants included, there were moments in which the white masters did look beyond the immediate exploitation of their slaves, whom they were legally entitled to own as their chattels. Thus Robert Thorne, facing his sudden return to England, sold seven Berbers and six Negroes to Bartholomaus Welser and Heinrich Gessler on May 2, 1531, and manumitted his two Berber master soap makers on May 10, 1531. He was somehow looking beyond harnessing their skills for the sole purpose of exploiting them as pieces of productive property. But it was still a "manumissio sub conditione." (70) There is also unmistakable evidence that the authorities in England were disposed to acknowledge the black man's human nature and personhood. The judges of the High Court of Admiralty in a London lawsuit of 1548 granted the Guinea diver Jacques Francis the status of a witness against the fierce opposition of some Italian merchants resident in Southampton. (See my paper on the Guinea diver Jacques Francis.)

Richard Hakluyt, the historian of England's maritime ventures and collector of travel narratives, unlike his Spanish and Portuguese colleagues, who were eloquent chroniclers of the incipient slave trade in their countries, failed to record the experiences made by the English merchants as slave dealers in early modern Spain. It looks as if the chaplain-turned-geographer pursued an editorial policy of withholding information in order to protect his compatriots against being lumped together with the ignominious record of the Spaniards and Portuguese. His nationalist discourse of discovery was primarily aimed at glorifying his country's naval achievements and praising its moral superiority. Thus in his Divers Voyages (1582), he edited Robert Thome's text on the polar passage to Cathay and another on "A declaration of the Indies" without making a reference to Thome as an experienced slaveholder. (71)

Despite Hakluyt's reticence about England's early Mediterranean experience with black slaves, the extensive involvement in the slave business of William de la Founte, Thomas Malliard, Robert Thorne, his brother Nicholas Thorne, Roger Barlow, Nicholas Arnold, Thomas Bridges, Francis Bawd-wyn, Emmanuel Lucar (1494-1574), William Ostriche, Henry Patmer, Martin Pollard, Thomas Waters, (Guatres) and many other English merchants cannot have completely been lost on their English partners, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances in England.

When Robert Thorne was back in England in 1531, he took like most of his wealthy partners testamentary measures to preserve the survival of his memory in perpetuity. In his will he donated [pounds sterling]300 toward the foundation of St Bartholomew Grammar School, Bristol. This foundation was an expression of the wish "he shared with his brother Nicholas from adolescence, as they both tried to establish navigational instruction and foreign language tuition in the city of Bristol." (See entry on Robert Thome in ODNB.) What the two brothers in their capacity as mercantile and intellectual go-betweens envisaged was obviously a transfer of scientific knowledge of modern navigation and cartography from Spain to England, a transfer that was eventually to be brought about after 1547, when Sebastian Cabot, Robert Thome's old partner, settled in England. (72) Thorne's endowment of the grammar school was apparently financed by money he had made by holding and selling slaves.

Emmanuel Lucar, Robert Thome's onetime apprentice, later on partner and overseer of the Seville soap factory, turned out to be a competent go-between and transmitter of past events. He returned to England in 1531, though Thorne had commissioned him to look after the two manumitted Berber master soap makers, who had been sold to the German Welser Company and were bound to work on for another five years. Thorne, who died in 1532, and Lucar were members of the Merchant Taylors' Company. Lucar was elected master of the Company in 1560/61, the year in which the famous Merchant Taylors' School was founded. He was in an ideal position to keep alive the memory, legacy, and life story of his former master Robert Thorne. His son, Ciprian Lucar, is said to have transmitted the Thorne papers to John Dee and Richard Hakluyt. (73)

In my essay on "Portia and the Prince of Morocco," I argue that the Davenants, who were members of the Merchant Taylors' Company, called Shakespeare's attention to the story of the Gores, who have gone down in the annals of the Merchant Taylors as the first Anglo-Moroccan family. The involvement of the Gores in the bankruptcy of the prominent Moroccan Jew Isaac Cabeca and in the ensuing lawsuit, which dragged on in the High Court of Admiralty for over a decde, was common knowledge in London's mercantile community. The numerous bankruptcies of English Christians and Moroccan Jews, who happened to be interlocked in transnational business partnerships and cross-border money lending, was quite alarming. The Gore/Cabeca partnership and subsequent lawsuit is, to my mind, a real-life contemporary parallel to the Antonio/Shylock bond. The involvement of English merchants in the slave trade of early modern Spain may likewise have been brought home to Shakespeare through his contacts with the members of the Merchant Taylors' Company. It would help expalin why about 1592-94 Shakespeare, at the height of the scandal caused by the illicit import of Guinea slaves, embarked on a policy of facing up to the new cultural realities and of provoking changes in the Elizabethan perception of cultural otherness. He was to pursue his policy in the Mediterranean plays, The Merchant of Venice. (74) Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest, addressing in all of these plays the hotly debated issues of cross-cultural marriages, miscegenation, and manumission of slaves in The Tempest.

(1.) See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," in Shakespeare and Cultural Traditions. The Selected Proceedings of the International Shakespeare Association World Congress Tokyo 1991, ed. Tetsuo Kishi et al. (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1994), 110-26. Imtiaz Habib of the Department of English, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, is pursuing his search for black Africans in London parish records (see n. 14). The family of a freedman is recorded by Knutson and another instance is erroneously given by Habib. Habib, an authority on the colonial discourse in Shakespeare's plays, has been misled by Folarin O. Shyllon's study, Black People in Britain, 1556-1833 (London: Oxford University Press, 1972), into identifying a Spanish or Italian mercenary serving in the army of king Henry VIII as an African. The identification of Sir Peter Negro as a black officer does not take into account that the Negros were of Genoese descent. Dozens of them settled in Spain and Portugal in the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, far too many to be listed here. The factor Paolo di Negro, for whom Columbus was working in Madeira in 1479, may stand for the others. I have consulted all the available contemporary records in Spanish and English none mentions that Sir Peter was black. I therefore can't help concluding that the career of the mercenary Pedro Negro under king Henry VIII is quite irrelevant to the study of Othello. See Imtiaz Habib, Shakespeare and Race: Postcolonial Praxis in the Early Modern Period (Lanham: University Press of America, 2000), 128 ff.

(2.) For the confusion of the legal status of black Africans in England see Kenneth Little, Negroes in Britain. A Study of Racial Relations in English Society (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), 192-93. For the poll tax levied in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, Toward Ward, see W. E. Miller, "Negroes in Elizabethan London," Notes and Queries, n.s. 8 (April 1961): 138.

(3.) The view still prevails that black Africans were rarities in England until slaving reached its full development in the late seventeenth century. See William D. Phillips, Jr., Slavery from Roman Times to the Early Transatlantic Trade (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), 155.

(4.) For the expulsion edicts see James Walvin, Black and White: The Negro and English Society 1555-1945 (London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1973), 8-9 Carole Levin, The Reign of Elizabeth I (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), chap. 6, 120-1, For the Portuguese complaints about the superfluity of slaves and alleged disruption of economic stability see A. C. de C.M. Saunders, A Social History of Black Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal 1441-1555 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 48 and Didier Lahon, "Black African Slaves and Freedmen in Portugal during the Renaissance: Creating a New Pattern of Reality," in Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, ed. T. F. Earle and K. J. P Lowe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 261-79. For the issue of an immigrant coloured minority becoming the national scapegoat for an economic problem and Shakespeare's ironic response to this issue through the figures of Launcelot and the Mooress in The Merchant of Venice see Kim F. Hall, "Reading What Isn't There: 'Black' Studies in Early Modern England," Stanford Humanities Review 3 (1993), 23-33.

(5.) Dona Catalina de Ribera is an extreme instance. On her death in 1505, she owned seventy-one slaves. See Alfonso Franco Silva, La esclavitud en Andalucia al termino de la edad media (Madrid: Pons, 1984), 145 Leonor de Guzman, duchess of Medina Sidonia, claimed thirty-three slaves in 1511. See Miguel-Angel Ladero Quesada, Los senores de Andalucia: Investigaciones sobre los nobles y senores en los siglos XIII a XV (Cadiz: Universidad de Cadiz, 1998), 252-53 Leonor de Aznar bought thirteen slaves on January 17, 1511 (Archivo Historico Provincial de Sevilla, legajo 3969).

(6.) For Lady Ralegh and Lady Clifford see Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 1984, rpt. 1992). Fryer makes the outdated statement that is was the privilege of titled and propertied families to secure blacks as an exotic status symbol (p. 8). For Grace Robinson and John Morocco see Edward Scobie, Black Britannia: A Study of Blacks in Britain (Chicago: Johnson, 1972), 23. African musicians in the service of Tudor monarchs have been recorded by Africanist scholars. The "Blynd More," one of the musicians in Leicester's service in 1559, has not. See Simon Adams, ed., Household Accounts and Disbursement Books of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1558-61, 1584-86 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

(7.) The paucity of biographical records shedding light on the lived experience of ordinary black people has aroused the comment of James Walvin. Very little is known about black women and black family life in Britain. See James Walvin, "From the Fringes: The Emergence of British Black Historical Studies," in Essays on the History of Blacks in Britain, ed. Jagdish S. Gundara and Ian Duffield (Aldershot: Avebury, 1992), 225-42.

(8.) See D. J. H. Clifford, ed., The Diaries of Lady Anne Clifford (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1990), appendix 1. The Catalogue, I think, must have been drawn up by Edward Marsh, Lady Anne's secretary.

(9.) D. J. H. Clifford, The Diaries, 53, 231, 234, 238, 241, 242, 244, 251, 254, 258, 264, 265.

(10.) For more information on the three black laundresses see Annemarie Jordan, "Images of Empire: Slaves in the Lisbon Household and the Court of Catherine of Austria," in T. F. Earle, Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, chap. 7.

(11.) The other slaveowners listed as paying the same tax in the parish of All Hallows were Richard Woods, the owner of Mary Oliver Skinner, the owner of Maria and one Mr Mitons, obviously a Dutchman. See W.E. Miller, "Negroes in Elizabethan London," Notes and Queries, n.s. 8 (1961): 138, and R. E. G. Kirk and Ernest P. Kirk, Returns of Aliens in the City and Suburbs of London, Publications of the Huguenot Society of London 10 (1907), pt. iii, 28, 54.

(12.) See Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford, Women in Early Modern England 1550-1720 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 89, 106-7, who do not mention miscegenation.

(13.) For more detailed information on slave and slaveholder see Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113, 120, 124.

(14.) Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 226, fol. 84v. A. L. Rowse in his study of The Case Books of Simon Forman: Sex and Society in Shakespeare's Age (London: Picador, 1976) has ignored Polonia's case. I have managed to read Forman's hand but have failed to decipher his astrological shorthand. There is a cursory reference to this case in Imtiaz Habib's article "Elizabethan Racial-Medical Psychology, Popular Drama, and the Social Programming of the Late-Tudor Black: Sketching an Exploratory Postcolonial Hypothesis," in Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage, ed. Stephanie Moss and Kaara L. Peterson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 93-112.

(15.) See Barbara Howard Traister, The Notorious Astrological Physician of London. Works and Days of Simon Forman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 64, 70.

(16.) Quotation from Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race and Colonization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 28.

(17.) I owe this information to Dr. Lauren Kassell who has been so kind as to consult her microfilm of Forman's case books. Dr. Kassell does not discuss Polonia's case in her study Medicine and Magic in Elizabethan London. Simon Forman: Astrologer, Alchemist, Physician (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005).

(18.) See Iris Origo, "The Domestic Enemy: The Eastern Slaves in Tuscony in the 14th and 15th Centuries," Speculum 30 (1955), 321-66.

(19.) William Shakespeare, Pericles, The Arden Edition, ed. F. D. Hoeniger (London: Methuen, 1963), 4.2.13-16.

(20.) William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, The Oxford Shakespeare, ed. Jill L. Levenson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 1.3.2-3. Juliet is fourteen years old.

(21.) William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, The New Cambridge Shakespeare, ed. M. M. Mahood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 3.5.30--35. For Launcelot's role as go-between and advocate of religious, racial and sexual exchange see Steven R. Menth, "The Fiend Gives Friendly Counsel: Launcelot Gobbo and Polyglot Economics in The Merchant of Venice," in Money and the Age of Shakespeare: Essays in New Economic Criticism, ed. Linda Woodbridge (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 177-87. For Portia's anxieties about miscegenation see my article on "Portia and the Prince of Morocco," Shakespeare Studies 31 (2003): 89--126. Miscegenation was endemic among the servant class in Spain. See Ruth Pike, Aristocrats and Traders: Sevillian Society in the 16th Century (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972), 188. It was on the increase in late Elizabethan London and in the Netherlands. The rudimentary bilingual word list Duyts-Guineets, appended to Pieter de Marees' Beschryvinge ende historische verhael van het Gout Koninckrijk van Gunea (Amsterdam, 1602), was challenging and novel in the sense that its language lessons conceived for the professional guidance of Dutch merchants in Guinea did not shy away from raising the issue of sexual intercourse, thus encourging the Dutch merchants, in conversational scraps, to pull down the racial and sexual barriers: "Give me a fine woman" and "Woman, do you want to sleep with me?" See the modern English translation Description and Historical Account of the Gold Kingdom of Guinea (1602), ed. Albert van Dantzig and Adam Jones (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 246--59. The registers of St. Benet Fink, London, record, on June 2, 1606, the christening of a boy born to a black woman. The father was supposed to be John Edwardes, a border in the house of William Connrador. See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113.

(22.) For William Winter's career as a naval administrator see entry in the ODNB (2005) as a mercantile venturer exploiting the commecial resources of Guinea see John W. Blake, West Africa: Quest for God and Gold 1454--1578 (London: Curzon Press, 1977), 163-64, 172 Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder and Settlement. Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480--1630 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, rpt. 1991), 105. The ODNB does not record Winter's stake in the Guinea ventures.

(23.) Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 114-15. Sir William's son, Edward, kept a black African working as his porter in Lydney, Gloucester shire, in the 1590s. Edward Winter dispossessed the African of his original identity, calling him his own under the name of Edward Swarthey. I owe this information to Miranda Kaufmann, Christ Church College, Oxford, who is working on "Africans in Britain 1500-1640."

(24.) Kenneth R. Andrews in Trade, Plunder and Settlement, has argued that the possibility of English trade to Guinea returned in 1585 with the open outbreak of the Anglo-Spanish hostilities. The English slave trade, he noted, was not resumed until after 1650 (pp. 111/12). For the Portuguese members of Dom Antonio's household in February 1585, see the inventory drawn up by one of Sir Francis Walsingham's clerks and edited by E. M. Tenison, Elizabethan England, vol. 7 (Leamington Spa: 1940), 202-4. As a person of high rank Dom Antonio used to keep colored slaves in his household. Thus he brought from Tangiers, where he had been governor, the Muslim slave Antonio Luis, whom he kept to look after his stables in Portugal. See Jorge Fonseca, "Black Africans in Portugal during Cleynaert's Visit 1533-1538," ed. T.F. Earle and K. J. P Lowe, Black Africans in Europe, 113-21.

(25.) Thus he issued privateering letters and letters of marque in 1582 and 1584. See Pauline Croft, "English Commerce with Spain and the Armada War, 1558-1603" and Simon Adams, "The Outbreak of the Elizabethan Naval War against the Spanish Empire: The Embargo of May 1585 and Sir Francis Drake's West Indian Voyage," both papers ed. M. J. Rodriguez-Salgado and Simon Adams, England, Spain and the Gran Armada, 1585-1604, 240 and 53, resp. For a financial memorandum Dom Antonio addressed to the English government in 1592 see E. M. Tenison, Elizabethan England, vol. 9, 165 ff, 269-75, 449ff.

(26.) For a short description of the two coasts see Jean Boulegue, Les anciens royaumes Wolof (Senegal), vol. I: Le Grand Jolof, XIIIe-XVIe siecle (Paris: Karthala, 1987), 124-29.

(27.) The documents concerning the renewal of the English Guinea trade in 1588 have been published by Mario Alberto Nunes Costa, "D. Antonio e o trato Ingles da Guine (1587-1593), Boletim Cultural da Guine Portuguesa 8 (1953): 683-797. Nunes Costa has edited the material he found in the Portuguese National Archives, the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, but has not made use of the documents kept at the National Archives, at Kew, High Court of Admiralty, 24/59/28-51. The date 1587 as given by the Portuguese editor is in Old Style. The regulations of the charter provided that the proceedings from the sales of slaves, "qualquer dinheiro . . . de qualquer venda de escravos," were to be inventoried. See the Portuguese text of the charter in Nunes Costa, document 4, pp. 711--17, resp.715-16. The English original text of the Guinea charter was published by Richard Hakluyt in The Principal Navigations, Viages and Discoveries of the English Nation (London, 1589), Hakluyt Society, Extra Series, no. 39, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 240-42. Nunes Costa has edited the original French translation of the Guinea charter (see document 3). For a concise history of the Guinea charter see John Milner Gray, A History of Gambia (London: Frank Cass, 1966), chap. 3: "The arrival of the English in Gambia, 1588-1622" William Robert Scott, The Constitution and Finances of English, Scottish, and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720, 3 vols. (Cambridge, 1910-12), vol. 2, 10-14. The best informed English historian on the first Guinea Company is John William Blake. However, his study "English Trade with the Portuguese Empire in West Africa 1581--1629," published in Quarto congreso do mundo portugues, vol. 4, t. 1 (Lisbon, 1940), 314--35, though meticulously researched, remains incomplete. Blake overlooked the important body of material which Nunes Costa was to recover from Portuguese archives. Blake's article has been reedited by Jeremy Black in The Atlantic Slave Trade: Origins-1600 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), vol. 1, item 15.

(28.) Nunes Costa, document 43, pp. 776-78. A copy of the same document is also kept at the National Archives, at Kew, HCA 24/59/45-46. Evasion of duties was rampant among merchants and slavers operating on the upper Guinea coast. Under the Hispano-Portuguese regime the colony went through the golden years of trade in slaves and ivory. See Walter Rodney, "Portuguese Attempts at Monopoly on the Upper Guinea Coast, 1580-1650," Journal of African History 6 (1965): 307-22.

(29.) Nunes Costa, documents 1, 37, 38.

(30.) Andre Alvares d'Almada, Tratado breve, dos rios de Guine do Cabo Verde (1594), ed. Antonio Brasio, Monumenta Misionaria, Africa Ocidental, 1570-1650, 5 vols. (Lisbon: Agencia Geral do Ultramar, 2a serie, 1958-79), vol. 3 (1964), 230-376, chap. 2, pp. 247ff. Richard Rainolds, "The voyage of Richard Rainolds and Thomas Dassel to the rivers of Senega and Gambra [sic] adjoyning upon Guinea, 1591, with a discourse of the treasons of certain of Don [sic] Antonio his servants and followers," in Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation (1598-1600), ed. with an Introduction by John Masefield, 8 vols. (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1927), vol. 5, 44-52.

(31.) To put it in terms of Alvares d' Almada: "E o dia de eles receberem as pagas e entregarem as suas mercadorias, lhes dao os Ingleses em terra banquetes, com muita musica de violas de arco e outros instrumentos musicos. E por esta causa estao estes resgates de toda esta costa do Cabo Verde ate Rio de Gambia perdidos" (p. 251). For more information on the Luso-Africans see Walter Rodney, A History of the Upper Guinea Coast, 1545-1800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), 74 ff Jean Boulegue, Les Luso-Africains de Senegambie, xvi-xix siecles (Lisbon: Instituto de Investigacao Cientifica Tropical, 1989), 37-39 and the first chapters in Peter Mark, "Portuguese" Style and Luso-African Identity: Precolonial Senegambia, SixteenthNineteenth Centuries (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).

(32.) The relevant passage in Alvares d' Almada reads: "e agora, depois de terem amizade com os Ingleses, foram ja alguns a Inglaterra aprender a lingua Inglesa e ver a terra, por mandado do alcaide de porto de Ale, que serve de veador da fazenda de el-Rei" (p. 250). The earliest instance of five West Africans taken to England in order to be broken in as interpreters, in emulation of Portuguese practice to boost commercial relations, dates from 1555. See Peter Fryer, Staying Power, 5. The difference between the two events is that in 1555 the initiative was taken by the English, in 1592 obviously by the Africans.

(33.) See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry."

(34.) See "The voyage of Richard Rainolds," 46, 50, 51. The central theme of John Thornton's incisive study Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400--1680 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) is that "the Africans were active participants in the Atlantic world, both in African trade with Europe (including the slave trade) and as slaves in the New World" (p. 7). Slavery in Africa was endemic before the arrival of the Europeans the Africans themselves were given to exporting slaves. As soon as the Portuguese abandoned their early strategy of raiding for commerce, exporting slaves took a dramatic turn upward (p. 95). It was African strength, not weakness, that became a key factor in shaping the transatlantic slave trade.

(35.) For Paul Banning's career as a merchant and privateering magnate see Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade Plunder and Settlement, 98, 245-47, 251-52, 257, 261, 263 and T. S. Willan, "Some Aspects of English Trade with the Levant in the 16th Century," The English Historical Review 70 (1955): 399-410.

(36.) The three black servants are listed in Irene Scouloudi, ed., Returns of Strangers in the Metropolis, 1593, 1627, 1635, 1639. A Study of an Active Minority, Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London 16 (1937-41): 149. The christening of "Iulyane" has been retrieved by Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113. For John Abel, one of Banning's many retainers, who "purloined" [pounds sterling]70 from his wealthy master to squander them on the maintenance of Mary Newborough see my article on "Prostitution in Late Elizabethan London: The Case of Mary Newborough," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 15 (2003): 89-126, n. 74.

(37.) The groundwork for studying the Portuguese conversos in early modern England has been laid by Lucien Wolf in the "Jews in Elizabethan England," Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 11 (1926): 1-91. For an overview of the Jewish presence see James Shapiro, Shakespeare and the Jews (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 68ff.

(38.) For a modern approach to defining converso identity see Miriam Bodian, " ' Man of the Nation': The Shaping of Converse Identity in Early Modern Europe," Past and Present 143 (1994): 48-76 and Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community of Early Modern Amsterdam (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997).

(39.) For the Antwerp Jews see Hans Pohl, "Die Portugiesen in Antwerp (1567-1648): zur Geschichte einer Minderheit," Vierteljahrschrift fur Sozial- und Wirtschafts-geschichte 63 (1977): 1-439.

(40.) For Dr Nunes's biography see the entry in the ODNB (2004), vol. 41, 274 and Lucien Wolf, "Jews in Elizabethan England," 8-9, 23, 30, and appended documents. For the uncalendared Moroccan trade see my article on "Recovering a Black African's Voice, in an English Lawsuit," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 17 (2005): n. 38 and for the abortive Guinea voyage see John W. Blake, West Africa: Quest for God and Gold, 188. For his financial reverses see Charles Meyers and Edgar Samuel, "Debt in Elizabethan England: the Adventures of Dr Hector Nunez, Physician and Merchant," Jewish Historical Studies 34 (1994-96): 125-40.

(41.) See Lucien Wolf, "Jews in Elizabethan England," 8-9, 13. Gratia's death is recorded by Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred's Poultry." Knutson gives two burial dates, one is July 13, 1590 (p. 114), the other is September 13, 1591 (p. 115). For the role played by the Freire sisters within the international network of Jewish trade relations see Alan Stewart, "Portingale Women and Politics in Late Elizabethan London," in Women and Politics in Early Modern England, 1450-1700, ed. James Daybell (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), chap. 5.

(42.) For the Alvarez household, which is said to have contained several black servants, and for the part played by Elizabeth Anegro see C. J. Sisson, "A Colony of Jews in Shakespeare's London," Essays and Studies 23 (1938): 38-51. Fernando Alvarez was a member of the Spanish Church of London and when it was disbanded in 1563, he joined the Italian Church under Girolamo Ferlito. See William McFadden, "The Life and Works of Antonio del Corro (1527-1591)" (PhD thesis, Faculty of Arts of Queen's University, Belfast, 1933), 2 vols, chap. 22 and Luigi Firpo, "La chiesa italiana di Londra nel cinquecento e i suoi rapporti con Ginevra," in Ginevra e l' Italia. Biblioteca Storica Sansoni, ed. Delio Cantimori et al. n.s., 34 (1959): 342.

(43.) The document has been unearthed and commented on by Rosalyn L. Knutson in "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 116. Knutson has not realized that the misspelt name of the physician "Hector Novimeis" stands for Dr Nunes. Penal slavery did exist in early modern England under the anti-vagrancy and poor relief acts.

(44.) C. J. Sisson, "A Colony of Jews in Shakespeare's London," 38-51. Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador to the Jacobean court, was to allege that Dr Lopez had been innocent and unjustly executed. See the biographical entry of Dr Lopez in ODNB (2004).

(45.) On the earl of Essex's secretaries and his patronage of Antonio Perez see Paul E. J. Hammer, "The Uses of Scholarship: The Secretariat of Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, ca. 1585-1601," English Historical Review 109 (1994): 26-51, and The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics. The Political Career of Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex, 1585-1597 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). My article on the play is titled "An Unrecorded Elizabethan Performance of Titus Andronicus, " Shakespeare Survey 14 (1961): 102-9.

(46.) John Guy, "The 1590s: The Second Reign of Elizabeth I?" ed. John Guy in The Reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Court and Culture in the Last Decade (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 1-19.

(47.) The letters have been edited in Gustav Ungerer, A Spaniard in Elizabethan England: The Correspondence of Antonio Perez's Exile (London: Tamesis Books Limited, 1 (1974), 2 (1976) see vol. i, nos. 41, 42, 44, 45, 48, 50. The visit to Cambridge has been uncovered by Paul Hammer in The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics, 304.

(48.) Basadonna's presence in London (1593-99) has been blotted out from Italian and English historiography. Some day I hope to write an essay on Basadonna's embassy, his commercial and social activities, and his purchases of expensive vessels from London brokers. Basadonna was undoubtedly the best qualified Venetian in London to give an English author, such as Shakespeare, an insider's account of Venice. He was in touch with John Byrd, brewer, of Southwark, and with Henry Stradling, draper, who in 1594 sold him three vessels, the Hopewell, the Elizabeth of London, alias the Golden Noble, of 240 tons, and the Bona Speranza, a "royally furnished ship," of 280-300 tons, at a price of [pounds sterling]650. See my essay on "Prostitution in Late Elizabethan London: The Case of Mary Newborough," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 15 (2003): 138-223, n. 71.

(49.) Richard Field had already some experience in publishing a Spanish/English language manual. In 1591, he had printed William Stepney's The Spanish Schoole-master and between 1596 and 1600 he was to print several books of the Spanish reformer Cipriano de Valera under the imprint "En casa de Ricardo del Campo." See Gustav Ungerer, "The Printing of Spanish Books in Elizabethan England, The Library, 5th ser. 20 (1965): 177-229.

The presence of Perez in London and the publication of his book under the pseudonym of Raphael Peregrino were reason enough for the Essexians to learn Spanish. In his instructions to Robert Naunton, Essex wrote that "to have Signor Perez willingly helpe yow in the Spanishe yow must pretende to studye the tonge as well, be- cause it is hys, as for the excellencye of itselfe . If you will use an amplificacion, yow maye saye yow learne Spanishe to understande Raphael Peregrino's booke as well as Bartas did Englishe to understande Sir Philip Sydney's Arcadia." See Hammer, The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics, 310, n. 215.

(50.) A. L. Rowse, Shakespeare's Globe. His Intellectual and Moral Outlook (London, 1981), 117.

(51.) William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost, ed. G. R. Hibbard in The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 1.1.161-75.

(52.) Tom Cain, "'Comparisons and wounding flouts': Love's Labour's Lost and the Tradition of Personal Satire," ed. John Batcheler, Tom Cain, and Claire Lamont in Shakespearean Continuities: Essays in Honour of E. A. J. Honigmann (London: Macmillan, 1997), 193-205. Not Armado but the Spanish braggart Huanebango in George Peele's play The Old Wives Tale (1593-94) is in part a parody of Gabriel Harvey's style.

(53.) On the play's similarity to the Inns of Court culture see Lynne Magnusson, "Scoff Power in Love's Labour's Lost and the Inns of Court Language in Context," Shakespeare Survey 57 (2004): 196-208. On Francis Davison's acquaintance with Perez, his obvious knowledge of Spanish and participation in the Gray's Inn Revels of December 1594 see Gustav Ungerer, A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 256-57.

(54.) For Perez's famous collection of paintings see Gustav Ungerer, A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 193.

(55.) I have addressed the issues raised by the performance of the Chamberlain's Men in Rutland and those by the Christmas festivities sponsored by Sir John Harington in two separate papers. The first, dating from 1961, focuses on the identification of the London company of players (see note 45). The second deals with the social and economic dimensions of the Christmas festivities and with the great drain the financial resources of Sir John Harington which was caused by his ambitious life style. It was published by the Rutland Record Society under the title "Shakespeare In Rutland," Rutland Record 7 (1987): 242-48. The original French text of Jacques Petit has been dropped by the editor and replaced by my English translations.

(56.) Jacques Petit's letter containing the reference to Titus Andronicus can be read in the original French in the appendix to my 1961 essay and in a modern English version in Daphne du Maurier's Golden Lads. A Study of Anthony Bacon, Francis and Their Friends (London: Victor Gollancz, 1975), 146-47. A team of record agents under the supervision of Mrs St. George Saunders has transcribed over three hundred original letters. The quality of the transcriptions is very uneven and occasionally quite inaccurate. See, for instance, A. Bacon's letter in Golden Lads, p. 160, and my transcript in A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 276-77.

(57.) Petit's sonnet and lamentations can be read in A Spaniard in Elizabethan England, i, 238-40. While Petit immersed himself in effusions of second-rate farewell verses, the earl of Essex was constrained to borrow [pounds sterling]500 from the Dutch jeweler and stonecutter Peter van Lore in order to finance Perez's return to Henry IV in Paris. (See my essay on "Prostitution in Late Elizabethan London," n. 33). Medical tropes were fashionable in the Elizabethan age. When Thomas Platter, the physician from Basel, visited White Hall Palace in September 1599, he was ushered into a hall which jutted out over the Thames and which was crammed with emblematic devices. One of them in Latin hexameters praised the queen as the writer's "medicine," light, and fountain. See Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, ed., L'Europe de Thomas Platter: France, Angle-terre, Pays-Bas, 1500-1600. Le siecle des Platter III (Paris: Fayard, 2006), 362, n. 579.

(58.) See Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 165-67. Quentin Taylor, "'To order well the state': The Politics of Titus Andronicus," Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 32 (2005): 125-50

(59.) Paul E. J. Hammer, The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics, 168-69.

(60.) For Sir John's relations with Leicester see Jan Broadway's entry of Sir John in ODNB, vol. 25.

(61.) Accurate figures of black slaves in England are hard to come by. Further investigations into the mercantile and legal activities of the Guinea Company are bound to yield reliable figures. The year 1593 happens to be the year in which the mortality rate of black domestic servants in London was high. Four black servants are entered as having been buried in the parish of St Botolph Aldgate: Suzanna Pearis, servant to John Despinois, on August 8 Simon Valencia on August 20 Cassangoe, servant to Thomas Barbor, merchant, on October 8 and Robert, servant to William Matthew, gentleman, on November 29. See Rosalyn L. Knutson, "A Caliban in St. Mildred Poultry," 113-14.

(62.) Glenn Odom and Bryan Reynolds, "Becomings Roman/Comings-to-be Villain: Pressurized Belongings and the Coding of Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationality in Peele and Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus," ed. Bryan Reynolds, Transversal Enterprises in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries. Fugitive Explorations (Houndmills: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2006), chap. 8. Francesca T. Royster, "White-Limed Walls: Whiteness and Gothic Extremism in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus," Shakespeare Quarterly 51 (2000): 432-55.

(63.) William Shakespeare, Titus AndronIcus, The Arden Shakespeare, ed. Jonathan Bate (London: Routledge, 1995), 4.2.101-2. In his article on "Kind and Unkindness: Aaron in Titus Andronicus," Brian Boyd holds the view that nowhere in the play does Shakespeare presume "that the blackness of race means vileness of character" (69). Boyd has edited his article in Words that Count. Essays on Early Modern Authorship in Honor of MacDonald P. Jackson (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), 51-77. The governments of Bridewell have recorded a number of cases which disprove that the fear of "naturall infection" was inhibitive. The taboo of sex between a white woman and a black man was repeatedly broken in the London brothels. Thus alone in 1577 Jane Thompson, obviously a prostitute, was detained in Bridewell for committing "whoredome" with "Anthonye, a blackmoreblackamore" and Rose Brown for admitting "dyvers & many blackamores" as customers to her establishment and Margery Williams confessed to the governors that she had sexual intercourse with Peter Peringoe, a "blackamore." In 1604, the governors issued a warrant to arrest a London hatmaker "whoe had gott the blacke more with child." See Duncan Salkeld's review of Michael Neill's edition of Shakespeare' Othello in The Times Literary Supplement, August 18/25, 2006, p. 26. A thorough search for further evidence among the Bridewell Court Books is a desideratum. Were the black customers slaves or freedmen? Did these white prostitutes give rise to the fashion of deriding harlots as "dark ladies" which was in vogue among the Inns of Court sutdents in the 1580s and 1590s?

(64.) Quotation taken from Alexander Leggatt, Shakespeare's Tragedies: Violation and Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 15.

(65.) Ladislas Bugner, general ed., L'image du noir dans l'art occidental, vol. ii Des premiers siecles chretiens aux grandes decouvertes, ed. Jean Devisse and Michel Mollat, Les Africains dans l'ordonnance chretienne du monde, 14e-16eI4e--I6e siecle (Fri-bourg: Office du Livre, 1979).

(66.) See Albert J. Loomie, S.J., The Spanish Elizabethans: The English Exiles at the Court of Philip II (New York: Fordham University Press, 1963), 107 ODNB, vol. 53, under Suarez de Figueroa, Jane and Suarez de Figueroa, Gomez. Don Benito de Cisneros must have been a descendant of Don Benito Jimenez de Cisneros, nephew of Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros (1436-1517), primate and regent of Spain, grand inquisitor, initiator of the mass conversion of the Moors, the guiding spirit behind the Spanish campaign in North Africa (1505-10), and patron of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Bartholomew Yong (1560-1612), the son of a Roman Catholic family, known as translator of Jorge de Montemayor's pastoral novel Diana, had "conference with the duchess of Feria" while he was touring Spain (1578-80). The subject of the conference remains unknown. See Dale B. J. Randall, The Golden Tapestry. A Critical Survey of Non-chivalric Spanish Fiction in English Translation, 1543-1657 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1963), 77ff. Yong may have been introduced to Sir Philip Sidney after he had completed his translation. See Judith M. Kennedy, A Critical Edition of Yong's Translation of George of Montemayor's Diana and Gil Polo's Enamoured Diana (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), lix, n. 8. There is an entry on B. Yong in ODNB.

(67.) On Juan Latino's classical literacy see Baltasar Fra-Molinero, "Juan Latino and His Racial Difference," ed. T. F. Earle, Black Africans, chap. 15 on Diego Jimenez de Enciso's seventeenth-century play on Juan Latino's life and career see the same author, La imagen de los negros en el teatro del Siglo de Oro (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1995), chap. 6 on Afonso Alvares see T. F. Earle, "Black Africans versus Jews: Religious and Racial Tension in a Portuguese Saint's Play," ed. T. F. Earle, Black Africans, chap. 16. Juan Latino's work that stood the greatest chance of being known in sixteenth-century England and Scotland was his poem Austrias Carmen (1573), a panegyric in hexameters praising don John of Austria as victor of the battle of Lepanto in 1571, putting an end to the myth of Turkish naval invincibility. King James composed a poem on Lepanto about 1584. The British Library copy of Juan Latino's panegyric, which has an accession stamp of 1872, has the following handwritten title page motto: "Satiabor cum apparuerit gloria tua 1573." I owe this information to Dr Barry Taylor, Curator of the Hispanic Collections 1501-1850.

(68.) Winthrop Jordan, White Over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro, 1550-1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968, rept., New York, 1977), 6.

(69.) The findings of my investigations into the early history of English slavery will be published by Verbum, Madrid, in 2008.

(70.) Archivo Historico Provincial de Sevilla, Protocoles Notariales, legajo 3289, fol. 23 r-24 v fol. 125 r-v fol. 126 r-v. These records together with some others will be published in the appendix of the above mentioned study.

(71.) For Hakluyt's "economic nationalism" shaping his editorial policy see Emily C. Bartels, "Imperialist Beginnings: Richard Hakluyt and the Construction of Africa," Criticism 34 (1992): 517-38. For a discussion of Thorne's document see Roger Barlow, A Brief Summe of Geographie, ed. E. G. R. Taylor, The Hakluyt Society, 2d ser., no. 59 (1931 Nendeln: Kraus Reprint, 1967), XXV ff. Hakluyt had no scruples about eliminating narratives, abridging materials, and excising records for political reasons. See James P. Helfers, "The Explorer or the Pilgrim? Modern Critical Opinion and the Editorial Methods of Richard Hakluyt and Samuel Purchas," Studies in Philology 94 (1997): 160-86.

(72.) See David Loades's entry on Sebastian Cabot in ODNB, vol. 9. For Cabot's role as innovator and mediator in handing down to the English pilots his knowledge of mathematical navigation acquired as Spain's pilot major see Eric H. Ash, Power, Knowledge and Expertise in Elizabethan England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).

(73.) For the transmission of the Thorne papers see R. C. D. Baldwin, "Robert Thorne, the younger," ODNB, vol. 54, p. 606 G. C. Moore Smith, The Family of Withypoll, Walthamstow Antiquarian Society 34 (1936): 38.

(74.) Venice is a transposed image of mercantile London, Shylock and Antonio operating as mirror images of Elizabethan society. Shylock, who is pressed by the court to forgive Antonio, claims the same rights to sell human flesh as the Venetian (English) merchants have and urges them to free their own slaves and grant them the rights of free subjects: "You have among you many a purchased slave, / Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules, / You use in abject and in slavish parts / Because you bought them. Shall I say to you, / 'Let them be free! Marry them to your heirs! / Why sweat they under burdens?" Quoted from M. M. Mahood's edn. of the play in The New Cambridge Shakespeare (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 4.1.90ff. There is evidence that some English contemporaries of Shakespeare, who were operating in the Mediterranean, were working hand in glove with the Venetian elite as purveyors of slaves. Thus, in 1594, the captain of the English vessell Susanna sold seven slaves to the "magnifico Giovanni Maria Canevali, cittadino e mercante," three men, three women, and a boy, all of them presumably Moors. See Alberto Tenenti, "Gli Sciavi di Venezia alla fine del Cinquecento," Rivista Storica Italiana 67 (1955): 52-69.

Dark Ages royal palace discovered in Cornwall – in area closely linked to the legend of King Arthur

The mysterious origins of the British archaeological site most often associated with the legend of King Arthur have just become even more mysterious.

Archaeologists have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel in Cornwall. It is likely that the one-metre thick walls being unearthed are those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia .

Scholars have long argued about whether King Arthur actually existed or whether he was in reality a legendary character formed through the conflation of a series of separate historical and mythological figures.

But the discovery by English Heritage-funded archaeologists of a probable Dark Age palace at Tintagel will certainly trigger debate in Arthurian studies circles – because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel as a result of an illicit union between a British King and the beautiful wife of a local ruler.

The account – probably based on an earlier legend – was written by a Welsh (or possibly Breton-originating) cleric called Geoffrey of Monmouth. The story forms part of his greatest work, Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), one of the most important books ever produced in the medieval world.

Significantly, it was almost certainly completed by 1138 – at a time when the Tintagel promontory (where the probable Dark Age palace complex has been discovered) was uninhabited. The medieval castle, the ruins of which still stand today, was built almost a century later. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s assertion that King Arthur was conceived in an earlier by then long-abandoned great fortress on the site would potentially therefore have had to have come, in the main, from now long-lost earlier legends, claims or quasi-historical accounts.

The probable palace which the archaeologists have found appears to date from the 5th and 6th centuries AD – which would theoretically fit well with the traditional legends of King Arthur which placed him in precisely those centuries. Whether coincidence or not, the way in which the new evidence resonates with Britain’s most enduring and popular medieval legend is sure to generate renewed popular and scholarly interest in the site.

What the archaeologists have found is of major historical significance – irrespective of the ve racity of any Arthurian connection . It’s the first time in Britain that really substantial buildings from the 5th and 6th centuries – the very heart of the Dark Ages – have been found. So far the excavations have revealed massive metre-thick masonry walls, steps and well-made slate flagstone floors.

Some of the buildings were relatively large. Around a dozen have been archaeologically or geophysically located over recent months. Two are around 11 metres long and 4 metres wide.

The people who lived in these well-constructed buildings appear to have been of elite status. The archaeological evidence – scores of fragments of pottery and glass – show that they were enjoying wine from what is now western Turkey and olive oil from the Greek Aegean and what is now Tunisia. What’s more, they ate their food from fine bowls and plates imported from western Turkey and North Africa, while they drank their wine from the very finest, beautifully painted French-made glass cups.

Over the past few weeks around 150 shards of pottery have been found – including fragments of amphorae (used to transport wines and olive oil from the Eastern Mediterranean) and fine tableware.


The probable palace appears to have been the more luxurious part of a much larger complex of literally dozens of buildings which covered most of the Tintagel promontory. These other structures may well have housed artisans, soldiers and other retainers who worked for the ruler who lived there – probably the King of Dumnonia

The whole complex appears to have come into existence some time in the 5th or the early 6th century AD – but was probably in decline by the early 7th.

So far, no evidence of any catastrophic destruction has been found. However, the latter half of the 6th century and the 7th century were notorious for a terrible plague pandemic (an early version of the later medieval Black Death) which almost certainly devastated parts of Britain after having killed millions throughout the Mediterranean world. It is conceivable therefore that Dark Age Tintagel declined and was eventually abandoned partially as a result of bubonic plague rather than any political or military conflict.

Quite apart from what the new discoveries tell us about royal life in Britain 1,500 years ago, they also shed additional light on western Britain’s place in the world all those centuries ago.

Although eastern and much of central Britain had been taken over by Germanic (ie, Anglo-Saxon) conquerors and settlers from what is now Germany and Denmark, much of the west of Britain (including Cornwall) remained under native British control.

These native British areas seem to have maintained or more likely revived their trading and political links with the Roman Empire. The Romans had abandoned Britain in AD410 and had completely lost the whole of Western Europe to Germanic barbarian invaders by 476. However, by 554 the Empire (by then entirely based in Constantinople – modern Istanbul), was reconquering parts of the Western Mediterranean world - namely Italy, North Africa and southern Spain. As a result Roman trade into the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic (including Britain) began to flourish once again.


The big incentive for the Romans to trade with Britain was probably Cornish tin, which they needed for their bronze-making industries. It’s also conceivable that they regarded Dumnonia, or indeed other western British kingdoms, as client states or official allies, possibly with some quasi-official status within the Empire. Indeed, officially, they may have regarded the loss of Britain in 410 as a temporary and expedient measure rather than a permanent change in legal status. Certainly there is historical evidence that the Empire gave financial subsidies to Britain in the 6th century – ie, well over a century after the traditional date for Britain’s exit from the Empire. There is even evidence suggesting that the 6th century Roman authorities tried to use their theoretical "ownership" of Britain as a territorial bargaining chip in wider geopolitical negotiations.

This summer’s excavation at Tintagel, which finished on Tuesday, has been directed by archaeologist Jacky Nowakowski and James Gossip of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit – part of Cornwall county council.

“The discovery of high-status buildings – potentially a royal palace complex – at Tintagel is transforming our understanding of the site. It is helping to reveal an intriguing picture of what life was like in a place of such importance in the historically little-known centuries following the collapse of Roman administration in Britain,” says Win Scutt, English Heritage’s properties curator for the West of England.

The Tintagel promontory – the site of the famous ruined 13th century castle – is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public.