4 November 2017

​Think you know the Tudors? Black Tudors: The Untold Story, by Miranda Kaufmann

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Until now, the story of the Africans who lived and died in sixteenth-century England has remained untold. Black Tudors  tells the stories of ten Africans. Miranda Kaufmann traces their tumultuous paths in the Tudor and Stuart eras, uncovering a rich array of detail about their daily lives and how they were treated. 

She reveals how John Blanke came to be the royal trumpeter to Henry VII and Henry VIII: the trouble Jacques Francis got himself into while working as a salvage diver on the wreck of the Mary Rose; what prompted Diego to sail the world with Drake, and she pieces together the stories of a porter, a prince, a sailor, a prostitute and a silk weaver. 

They came to England from Africa, from Europe and from the Spanish Caribbean. They came with privateers, pirates, merchants, aristocrats, even kings and queens, and were accepted into Tudor society. They were baptised, married and buried by the Church of England and paid wages like other Tudors. 

Their experience was extraordinary because, unlike the majority of Africans across the rest of the Atlantic world, in England they were free. They lived in a world where skin colour was less important than religion, class or talent: before the English became heavily involved in the slave trade, and before they founded their first surviving colony in the Americas. 

Their stories challenge the traditional narrative that racial slavery was inevitable and that it was imported to colonial Virginia from Tudor England. They force us to re-examine the 17th century to find out what had caused perceptions to change so radically. Black Tudors also provokes a reassessment of our national story and what it means to be British. They are just one piece in the diverse jigsaw of migrations that make up our island’s multicultural heritage. 

The knowledge that Africans lived free in one of the most formative periods of our national history can move us beyond the invidious legacies of the slavery and racism that blighted later periods in our history. Black Tudors  challenges the accepted narrative that racial slavery was all but inevitable and forces us to re-evaluate our shared history.
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About the Author

Dr. Miranda Kaufmann is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, part of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She read History at Christ Church, Oxford, where she completed her doctoral thesis on 'Africans in Britain, 1500-1640' in 2011. As a freelance historian and journalist, she has worked for The Sunday Times, the BBC, the National Trust, English Heritage, the Oxford Companion series, Quercus publishing and the Rugby Football Foundation. She is a popular speaker at conferences, seminars and schools from Hull to Jamaica and has published articles in academic journals and elsewhere (including the Times Literary Supplement,  The TimesThe GuardianHistory TodayBBC History Magazine and Periscope Post). She enjoys engaging in debate at the intersection of past and present and has been interviewed by Sky News and the Observer.  Find out more at Miranda's website www.mirandakaufmann.com and find her on Twitter @MirandaKaufmann

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