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20 July 2012 @ 02:01 pm
and in non-Austen news  
Britain's first black community in Elizabethan London


I was a bit annoyed with Michael Wood for not really addressing race in The Story of England (which recently aired over here on PBS; I think it's up on the website), beyond some quick comments at the end, but this is interesting, although of course I'd like more context. Still, it's the details that make the piece compelling.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on July 20th, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think people know how. This would have been around the time Queen Elzabeth tried to banish all POC, except the ones working in her court, and those working for her friends, and the rest of Fairer complexioned England took great pains to protect servants, spouses, neighbors: (Baptisms, name changes, salaries....) Thanks for sharing this. They did not put the dates of the expulsions: 1596,1599 (which is probably why these people were rushing to get married and Baptised) and 1601.

Edited at 2012-07-20 09:30 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on July 20th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting suggestion to account for the weddings and baptisms! I kept meaning to take a better look at Imtiaz Habib's book Black Lives in the English Archives 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible - I only had time for a quick look, back when I was searching for some leads on some Hollar engravings* - but I seem to remember a suggestion that there was something of a "peaceful" lull after the expulsion edicts, during the time the engravings were made (mid-1600s?). Which is of course not the same thing as tolerance or acceptance, but.

*Here's one of them:
There are suggestions that Hollar might have based them on Black servants he saw during a trip to England, but that may be wishful thinking. I couldn't find much in the way of actual specifics, in the end. (And to bring the whole thing full circle, I think I first saw these engravings in Michael Wood's "In Search of Shakespeare" program several years ago.)

Edited at 2012-07-20 09:46 pm (UTC)
viomisehuntviomisehunt on July 21st, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
The Dutch were notorious Slave Traders, although in the US they (And the Germans) were the one group who discouraged the use of 'slaves' as opposed to indetured servant. The Queen's reasoning was not that the people were "Black". There is much to indicate she was particulary fond of her Black serving woman. However, the Queen had first been appalled by the invasions and slave raids of Hawkins and Drake to the point that she suggested that Heaven would punish the undertakers. Hawkins did much to convince the Queen that the Africans were not Christian, that they were cannibals---you know the usual lies, so that the invasions seemed more like "Rescues". Move up to 1596, jobs are scarce, slavery is illegal, it was the old illegals working for nothing, keeping proper English men from jobs, and of course these people had no Christain background. So there was the need for Baptism, secret "conversions" from Islam, and of course, moving from common law marriage to the more expensive legal marraige. Lord Cecil had a long time servant he was especially fond of. Elizabeth had given the okay to a Dutch Trader to take possession of people of color, and sell them to the Spanish and Portuguese. The number of POC in London at the time is at question, as (from the Queen's decree) there were only about eighty in London, but ath might have been eighty without papers or sponsers.
The other reason was that many of the POC had come to England with the Spanish and were Catholic.

Edited at 2012-07-21 02:24 am (UTC)
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on July 21st, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
Yes, alas - same old story, although I suppose this is an earlier instance of it than some.
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tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on July 21st, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC)
I remember that it was pretty fascinating, from the limited time I spent with it!
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tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on July 21st, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
I thought so! This kind of thing is exactly why I wish I could (figure out how to) write historical fiction: there is probably not that much concrete evidence to be discovered about these individuals, which *can* mean that they get left out of historical narratives in favor of the more thoroughly documented. But a novel could add richness to our understanding of the period in a different sort of way.