The Africans Who Called Tudor England Home

The Tudor dynasty that ruled England from 1485 to 1603 had plenty of drama, but the peculiar institution of slavery was not one of them. And neither was the population totally white, as depicted in historical dramas. People from Africa and their descendants were a small minority, but during that period, they lived among various social classes in England: servant, tradesman, craftsman, farmer, and even part of the royal staff.

At the College of Arms in London on a 60-foot-long vellum manuscript sits an image of a man atop a horse, with a trumpet in hand and a turban around his head. This is John Blanke, a black African trumpeter who lived under the Tudors. The manuscript…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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Sasha Harriet

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