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Blacks in medieval Europe.

 

NOTE: See also the files: Africa-msg, Africa-lnks, Ethiopia-art, Italy-msg, Moors-msg, Gypsies-msg, Jews-msg, pirates-msg, Congo-art.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.

 

Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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From: Ron Charlotte <roncharlotte at delphi.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: minorities & anachronisms

Date: Tue, 27 Sep 94 22:45:10 -0500

 

Solveig Throndardottir -- nostrand at bayes.math.yorku.ca (Barbara

Nostrand) wrote:

>Further, there really were black Africans living independently in

>Europe and Caucasians living in Africa during SCA period.

 

     She's absolutely right, in fact my few lingering doubts about

my participation in this thing of ours were finally banished when

I encountered a painting of Alessandro de Medici (1511-1537), the

son of Giulio de Medici (who became Pope Clement VII), and Duke of

Florence (unpopular, but Duke nonetheless).  He was about as dark

as myself.

 

     I figured at that point; if this man could be born

(legitimately or not) into a family as prominent as the de Medici,

then the odds were pretty good that Black people, while not

common, were in Europe enough to be very much a part of the

population.  This made my persona as the son of a Persian soldier

and a Sudanese woman, dwelling in Tuscany due to being displaced

by the conquests of Castile and Aragon, suddenly "jell", and I

found the era and garb that I find most appealing.  As I've

remarked before, since then, I've been gradually hunting down

period documentation of Africans in Europe.

 

     Truth be told, the racial aspect isn't something that I dwell

on much, beyond my academic curiosity; long ago, the Society

became a place where I found an extended "family" of really great

minds to interact with.

 

     So, If you've encountered any such documentation on the

subject of "modern day minorities" in period, drop me a note.

Given sufficient time, I'll Interlibrary loan it.

 

     al Thaalibi -- An Crosire, Trimaris

     Ron Charlotte -- roncharlotte at delphi.com or

                      afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu

 

 

From: cmwalden at bga.com (Antonio Bastiano)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Minorities in the SCA

Date: 13 Dec 1994 05:48:12 GMT

 

In article <3circd$9g7 at jabba.cybernetics.net>, achbar at cybernetics.net (James Morrow) says:

>

>  "Why are there so few Black people in the SCA?"  

 

I couldn't answer to that.  Perhaps the concept of raising up the European

ethic is not very politically correct.

 

I do know that the game that I play, rapier, is strongly influenced by

the work of a black man in a book which he called "Les Trois

Mousketaires" (sp?).

 

Antonio Bastiano

Bryn Gwlad, Ansteorra.

or

cmwalden at bga.com

 

 

From: sclark at blues.epas.utoronto.ca (Susan Carroll-Clark)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Temporary Persona OOP Problem

Date: 26 Jun 1995 02:45:19 GMT

Organization: University of Toronto -- EPAS

 

        Thanks to a rather resourceful lady in my canton, folks in Eoforwic

tend to know something about folks of African descent in the Middle Ages.

She's taken a late 15th century Portugeuse freedwoman persona herself, and

from what I remember, it would not have been odd to see blacks

anywhere in the Iberian peninsula (not just slaves, btw) and also in Italy

(though not to the same extent). For the most part, we're talking Renaissance

times--15th and 16th century.  You could also choose to be from the

Arab world (Moorish or more Baghdad-type Arabia), Egypt (not ancient Egypt),

or my favorite--Constantinople, where folks from virtually everywhere could

be found.

 

        Based on what Ines has told me, do expect to get a few questions

about why you are interested in "white guys' history (from others of African

descent), and if you opt for a non-obvious (ie Moorish) persona to get a

number of somewhat sloppily worded inquiries as to why you picked what

you did.  There just aren't a lot of huge books devoted to people of African

descent in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, and some people take this

to mean that there weren't any at all.

 

        When it comes down to a final decision, pick a persona that interests

you and that you'll have fun researching.  I've seen Italian Vikings, blond

Mongols, and all other sorts of interesting persona combinations over

the years.

 

Cheers!

Nicolaa/Susan

Canton of Eoforwic

sclark at epas.utoronto.ca

 

 

From: jkrissw at cinenet.net (J. Kriss White)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Temporary Persona OOP Problem

Date: 26 Jun 1995 07:06:02 GMT

Organization: Cinenet Communications,Internet Access,Los Angeles;310-301-4500

 

David Sanders (ae766 at yfn.ysu.edu) wrote:

: In a previous article, DDFr at Midway.UChicago.edu (David Friedman) says:

 

: >There is no rule requiring your persona to match your physical appearance.

: >My own view is that choosing a persona consistent with your physical

: >appearance is usually a good idea, since it makes it that much easier to do

: >a convincing job of being your persona, but it is entirely up to you

: >whether you want to follow that advice; lots of people don't.

 

: Once at Pennsic I met a Black woman in full Elizabethan -- absolutely

: stunning!

 

: Vajk

: ae766 at yfn.ysu.edu

 

Actually, I recall reading somewhere that there was a significant free

black (African merchant) presence in English seaports during Elizabeth's

reign, something deduced that there were no less than three expulsion

orders for them on the behalf of English merchants who thought they were

being undercut. :)

 

(considerably after the period of)

Daveed of Granada

 

 

From: nqf2312 at is2.nyu.edu (Norman J. Finkelshteyn)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: African-European personae

Date: 1 Aug 1995 05:14:18 GMT

Organization: New York University

 

Kristine E. Maitland (bq676 at torfree.net) wrote:

: I have read journal articles and books on sixteenth century Africans in the

: British Isles, Portugal and Spain.  I have checked Russian history texts

: (as far as I can tell, black Africans were not seen in Russia until the

: mid 18th century... i could be wrong here).

 

The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin is reputed to have been part African.

his family history may be a good place to look if you've an interest in

Russians and Africans.

 

Nahum

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: bq676 at torfree.net (Kristine E. Maitland)

Subject: Re: accents (WAS: Being in Persona)

Organization: Toronto Free-Net

Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 12:45:44 GMT

 

I just thought I'd add a note.  My persona is a Black freedwoman from

Portugal and it has been my want to sing in the language of my country.  

As I have discovered, singing in Portuguese is FAR from easy.  But I

discovered an interesting bit of information not too long ago: black

women in Portugal for my period (circa 16th cen.) spoke in a heavy

dialect to the point where most Portuguese could not understand a word of

it. I "visualise" this as the difference between Jamaican dialect and

"the Queen's English".

 

Just a note

Ines Carmen Maria de Freitas

 

 

From: afn03234 at afn.org (Ronald L. Charlotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: West African (was women in combat)

Date: 28 Oct 1995 12:14:22 GMT

 

kolsoft (kolsoft at inlink.com) wrote:

: In article <46miqv$ctv at huron.eel.ufl.edu>, afn03234 at afn.org says...

: >

: >The Kingdom of Congo had extensive and fairly tight contacts with

: >Portugal in the 1500's.  At least initially, the King of Portugal treated

: >the King of Congo as an equal.  A significant number of the Congoese

: >travelled to Portugal for education, and one of the sons of the Congo

: >king became a Bishop of the Church (albiet with little actual authority).

: >

: The Almoravids had Hausa troops when they crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in

: 1170(?).  The Christians had never seen anything like them- dark, dark skin,

: hippo-hide shields, and war drums that could communicate orders across huge

: battlefields.  I don't know how many actually stayed in Iberia after the

: fighting, but there were certainly black slaves in Muslim and Christian

: households.

 

Even in the original conquest, there were black soldiers among the

conquering Moslems.  In illustrations from illuminated manuscripts of the

era, there are pretty clearly Negro features on some of the moslem

horsemen and footsoldiers.  The clearest illustrations tho' are from the

13th c. _Cantigas of Alfonso X_ which has oodles of well rendered

miniatures.

--

        al Thaalibi -- An Crosaire, Trimaris

        Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL

        afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu

 

 

From: lsteele at mtholyoke.edu (Lisa Steele)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Personas

Date: 20 Jan 1996 14:22:14 GMT

Organization: Mount Holyoke College

 

  As a note, the UNESCO's General History of Africa, vols. 3-4 has some

excellent essays on the various 9-15C African kingdoms and empires.

  --Esclarmonde

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: bq676 at torfree.net (Kristine E. Maitland)

Subject: Authenticity issues

Organization: Toronto Free-Net

Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 14:54:01 GMT

 

Buon giorno, tutti!

 

[note: I am NOT saying that black people HAVE to play black personas --

heck I have a Japanese persona on the works...]

 

I think that I'm going to have to bring up an issue that I discussed at

length some months ago, if only to provide a different perspective on

this whole issue of authenicity in the S.C.A.

 

I am a black woman. I play a black female persona. However, due to

present social mores I have my persona to suit.  I hate to repeat myself

but the research is plain (and I can provide sources up to my armpits --

and have on several occassion) -- black women attaining noble status is

EXTREMELY rare.  I'd had many learned people on this bridge mention this

body and that person -- but I pointed out then, they were ALL male.  

 

Black women, in general, were slaves. Freedwomen had the following

occupations: huskster, innkeeper, prostitute/cortesan, lady's maid

(though generally, black ladies maids were slaves with the occasional

exception in Scotland and England).  I know of two black lady's maids who

married well -- but they were both mulatto and they both ended up in the

New World.

 

The above applies to Europe.  The Islamic world (excluding sub-saharan

Africa) is not much better: black women were almost always slaves --

there are next to no references to FREE black women (except for the

occasional innkeeper or owner of a whore house in Egypt). There was ONE

black regent in Egypt in the 14th (? I'd have to check) century.  She had

been a slave too... then there's the occasional free performer.

 

So, as you can see, when playing a black female persona my options have

limits.  When you do black female persona you often have to truly be

anachronistic.  I cannot be a slave persona -- even though some black

female slaves did quite while (Scotland and England come to mind).  That

I play a black courtesan in (ren. Italy currently) is anachronistic --

there were relatively few black women in italy for the period (the stats

show that the majority of slaves in Italy were white and that black men

out numbered black women 10 to 1).  All the black women on record were

slaves.  There is no reference to FREE black courtesans or prostitutes in

ITaly in period  -- and I've checked the Italian resources as well.

 

My point.  There HAS to be some give and take as far as accuracy goes.  

This is not to say that we cannot point out errors (I have to do it all

the time as far as perceptions of blacks in period goes) -- but we can do

it in a way that is not accusatory.  Saying that,"I read that...what do

you think" is much better than, "You're garb's wrong".

 

We can learn and have fun at the same time without getting at other

people's throats.

 

musing

Ines Carmen Maria de Freitas

 

 

From: "Maureen S. O'Brien" <mobrien at dnaco.net>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: African-Europeans in period -- illo

Date: Sat, 07 Dec 1996 00:04:10 -0800

Organization: Dayton Network Access Company

 

First, everyone in the SCA should get a close look at "The Medieval

Woman Illuminated Calendar" put out by Workman.  It has many excellent

enlargements of interesting details, and each month covers a different

subject.

 

Anyway, the month of August has a picture of a lady of African heritage.

She's in the small picture at the top left of the lower page of the

month.  The book she's from is _Les Secrets de l'histoire naturelle

contenant les merveilles et choses me/morables du monde._, and I think

I see a beast in the woods behind the ladies.  The black lady seems to

be telling another lady not to whimper, but YMMV.  I like her outfit

and hat very much.

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: bq676 at torfree.net (Kristine E. Maitland)

Subject: Abid -- black military

Organization: Toronto Free-Net

Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 23:05:43 GMT

 

Now on to the business of blacks in the military.  I'm going to quote

directly here:

 

from J. O. Hunwick. "Blacks in the Mediterranean World: introduction to a

Neglected Aspect of the African Diaspora." in _Slavery and Abolition: a

journal of comparative studies_ 13:1 (April 1992)

 

"Black slave troops were first introduced into Egypt during the period of

the Turkish governor, Ahmad b. Tulun (868-84)...In the following century,

the Ikhshidids, sucessors to the Tulunids, also employed black troops,

while under their successors, the Fatamids (969-1171), large battalions

of black troops were raised to counterbalance the powerful Berber and

Turkish contingents...on several occasions the Turks and Berbers united

against the blacks. In the final and greatest clash (1169) an estimated

50 000 black troops fought valiantely against their hostile collegues in

arms before being defeat and driven out of Cairo to seek refuge in

southern Egypt.  The Fatimids successors, the Ayyubids, did not revive

the tradition of using black troops..."

 

"In North Africa and Andalusia both African and European slave troops

were used, the Africans being called by the generic name _sudan_

(blacks)... Black troops were first used under the Aghlabid dynasty of

Ifriqiya (roughly modrn Tunisia) in the ninth century...The need here, as

with Turks in Bagdad and blacks in Egypts at a similar period, was to

counteract the potentially rebellious tendiencies of local troops by

created a corps with had no local attachments and which was made up of

men who owed their very existance to the ruler and hence whose loyalty

could be counted on..."

 

"In the 'farther Maghrib' (roughly modern Morocco), black troops are not

in evidence until the reign of the Alomoravid ruler Yusuf b. Tashfin

(1061-1106) who established a bodyguard of some two thousand, as well as

a corps of European slave troops recruited in Spain.  The Almoravids's

successors, the Almohads, also made use of black troops to a limited

extent..."

 

At a later date, I can tell you about the Battle of the Zanj...

Inez Rosanera

Ealdormere

 

 

From: afn03234 at freenet2.afn.org (Ronald L. Charlotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Foreigners in Lisbon c. 1500

Date: 23 Feb 1997 14:01:39 GMT

 

In <5ef2c4$ho at usenet.srv.cis.pitt.edu>, jesst2+ at pitt.edu (Julia E Smith)

wrote:

 

> Certainly Portugal had been in contact with sub-Saharan Africa for some

> time.  Do we have any sense of the extent of the slave trade?  Did free

> blacks come as well?

 

The Portuguese actually had an on-again, off-again relationship with the

African Kingdom of Congo beginning in 1480s.  People like Manuel I of

Portugal tried to curb the european's urge to take slaves, and there was

a fairly large amount of travel between the two kingdoms. Many of the

children of the Congo nobility were educated in Portugal (one of the

Congo King's sons became a bishop).  In the end, the attempt to

Christianize the Congo failed and the greed of the europeans accelerated

the black slave trade.

 

There was a pretty cordial period, though, between 1491 and 1529.

--

     al Thaalibi ---- An Crosaire, Trimaris

     Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL

     afn03234 at afn.org

 

 

From: jarnott at sallie.wellesley.edu (Jennifer C. Arnott)

Newsgroups: soc.history.living,rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Blacks in Renaissance Italy

Date: 29 AUG 97 18:02:41 GMT

Organization: Wellesley College

 

Regarding blacks in Renaissance Italy:

 

I took a seminar on Renaissance Florence last semester, and as part of the

course work, we had to pick articles dealing with various subject areas.

 

One of the ones I read had to do with slavery in Florence, which, if I

remember correctly <and I might not, as this was last spring, and I don't

have any of my notes from that segment of class handy> was in its prime

between 1450ish and 1530. The slaves were principally from Turkey and

Eastern Europe - but from non-Christian areas or groups <there were laws

against enslaving Christians>

 

However, many of them also came from Northern Africa. Slaves were most

commonly young women <9-12 years old> who would be bought as nursemaids/

maids of all work - and yes, they would sometimes be concubines for the son

of the house. <Sons, even...>

 

It was not *incredibly* uncommon for these slaves - especially the women -

to be released from slavery when their charges were grown, given a small

lump sum,and left on their own. On the other hand, they were also often

favourite family retainers...

 

It was also pointed out that although the slaves *were* exposed to physical

violence, it was at about the same level that the children of the family

were - in other words, their master was equally brutal with both the slaves

and his own blood.

 

The article in question - and I'm sorry I don't have full information - was

in Renaissance Quarterly. I want to say that the Volume number was either

#30, or in that area, which puts it in the late 70s/early 80s, I think. If

anyone is interested, next time I get a chance to go hunt the library

stacks, I can see if I can get complete information. The title was

something along the lines of "Slave ownership in <time period> Italy."

 

Looking at the city records from Florence might get you somewhere, as well.

. they're among the most complete <and most complete for a cosmopolitan

area> of their kind.

 

-Cecilia Peters

MKA Jennifer Arnott

jarnott at wellesley.edu

 

 

From: DDFr at best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: soc.history.living,rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Blacks in Renaissance Italy

Date: 4 Sep 1997 03:32:14 GMT

Organization: Santa Clara University

 

One obvious question to ask is what the legal status was of the child of a

slave woman and a free man. I don't know the situation in Italy, but such

children were often free in al-Islam. Indeed, I believe that almost all of

the Abbasic caliphs were sons of slaves (and of caliphs, of course). One

particularly distinguished case is Ibraham ibn al-Mahdi, who was a very

distinguished cultural figure (singer, gourmet, etc.), an (unsuccessful)

claimant to the caliphate, and black. Ziryab would be similar but less

high-born case.

 

David/Cariadoc

 

 

From: paximus at aol.com (PAXIMUS)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Blacks in Renaissance Italy

Date: 4 Sep 1997 20:17:34 GMT

 

Dave Friedman wrote:

>One obvious question to ask is what the legal status was of the child of

>a slave woman and a free man.

 

In my research of the Italies of the 16th Century that question is

answered by the Father when and if he recognizes the child.

 

The Father might if he cared for the woman provide the child with

education and an oppurtunity to advance in life after that, the child was

on his own basically because" most of the Italians believed that it

wasn't your birth but your "Virtue" (strength of character and motivation)

that made you what you were in the world.

 

If the Father doesn't recognize the child it ends up most likely as a

servant of the household or if the Mother has the opportunity she can

apprentice the child out to learn a trade and again actually make something

of itself in the world.

 

And if I recall correctly I don't believe the Italians were really big on

enslaving other Christians and the child would definitely be raised a

Catholic unless of course you consider duty as a rower upon a Galley but

then that's a different topic. :)

 

Don Giulio

G.M. Cavalieri Dell'Ordine de Santo Stefano

 

 

Subject: Good Tidings from Lady Inez

Date: Sat, 07 Mar 98 11:35:58 MST

From: "Kristine E. Maitland" <bq676 at freenet.toronto.on.ca>

To: "Mark.S Harris" <rsve60 at msgphx1>

 

Bona dies, tutti!

 

After eight years of being buried in the stacks of various Toronto

libraries, I have finally completed (for now) my bibliography of sources

pertaining to the lives of black people, 600-1650.  And now it's up ONLINE!

(Hurray!!!)

 

You can currently find it at:

http://www.interlog.com/~kms/Skeldergate/lib-blacklives.txt

 

It's nothing fancy but it is extensive and should provide the direction

that people interested in this sort of research need.

 

Work is in progress to design my own webpage (the bibliography is

currently on the page for the College of Skeldergate, thanks to

webmistress Lady Zahra) and I let you know when that is up and running.

But please, take a look at the bibliography and let me know if I'm

missing anything.

 

Those of you with your own pages may like to set up a link [Stefen??] and

please feel free to direct interested parties to it.

 

my love to all of you,

Inez Rosanera

Ealdormere

 

 

Subject: RE: ANST - SCA and color

Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000 20:20:19 -0500

From: "Vicki Marsh" <XaraXene at home.com>

To: <ansteorra at ansteorra.org>

 

Greetings,

 

Mistress Xene here:

I was just reading the Byzantine Epic poem, "Digenes Akrites", and there is

a description of the main character's father which stated that the Emir (the

father) is dark, but not as dark as an Ethiope (Ethiopian).  There was quite

awhile in history where Egypt, Ethiopia and Morocco were part of the Eastern

Holy Roman Empire - Byzantium - and were considered to be Roman. "Digenes

Akrites" dates from about the 11th century (as far as I can remember without

looking it up).

 

It's interesting, but some of the current day fashions for women of color

include hats and large collars that look *very* Byzantine!!  Not that I'm

trying to influence you on your choice of persona, but...... Byzantine is

fun!

 

Xene

 

 

From: ghelena661 at aol.com (Ghelena661)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Date: 17 May 2001 11:11:21 GMT

Organization: AOL http://www.aol.com

Subject: black pirates...oh yes!

 

     Sir Francis Drake had a navigatior named Diego.  Diego was by all accounts

African.  He was also learned since he spoke no less than Spanish, English, and

whatever his native tongue was.  From what I can remember, Diego had been owned

by the Spanish, and was a valuable asset to Drake since Diego guided Drake

through the Caribean <sp?>isles occupied by the Spanish.

 

     I have seen this documentation before, but I will have to dig to find it.

Some day I would like to do a Pennsic class about little known pirates and

privateers.  I have been wool gathering documentation for a few years now for

just such an occasion.  In fact, I have a feeling that if memory serves me, the

website could probably be found using a search engine and the phrase 'pirates

and privateers'.  

     Drake also wrote some ships logs that survived, and they make for a really

cool read.  I found some stuff out about Drake that kind of took the shine off

my hero worship of him, since it had to do with the slave trade. (the lesson I

learned in  'our heros were really just people who did things right, as well as

wrong, good and bad, acted out of righteousness as well as

selfishness....."ohhh boy, I think I am almost ready for my Six Ways to Leave

Your Lover class at Pennsic...)

 

     I realize that there is a lot of junk on the internet, but I really liked

the pirates and privateers site.  Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen was in there

too.

 

     My college recently had a one day lecture called "the history of black

people in Britain".  Lots of people of all colors said the same thing when they

saw the class listed...."there were black people in Britain?"  Yep, there were.

I have some cool pictures of black people wearing Elizabethan.....

 

     In the Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, there is a blurb about a

needlemaker in the cheapside who would take no apprentices in order to have no

competion.  He made needles in spanishe style, and he was also a black man.  

If I get real ambitious, I might be able to tease this factiod out of that

rather large book.

 

     If anybody is interested, I will try to dig up more stuff about black

people and Elizabethan history.  I am afraid that will be the limit of my scope

since Elizabethan is what I do!  Sorry this does not help early period folks

much.

 

I would get off my big bum right now and find all this cool stuff (my interest

is all piqued), but it is 7 am and I have been up all night.

 

May your threads never tangle,

Roxanne Greenstreet    

 

 

Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 14:58:38 -0400

From: James Koch <alchem at en.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: black pirates...oh yes!

 

A large percentage of pirates were African.  When pirates captured

ships, they usually encouraged crew members to join them, including

slaves whom they freed in abundance.

 

An excellent book on the subject is "Expedition Whydah" by Barry

Clifford. Clifford salvaged the Bellamy fleet from the sands of Cape

Cod.  When he tried to open his pirate museum in Boston he was blocked

by African American organizations who objected to the fact that he was

depicting pirates as being African!  He tried several other cities in

Florida and along the East coast but was picketed everywhere.  The

museum was eventually opened at Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod. No

strong NAACP presence there.

 

But this is nothing new.  History has been grossly simplified over the

ages.  Some of Cortez's conquistodors were of African descent.  Many

more though were Jews (conversos), who left Spain to avoid the watchful

eye of the Church.  One of Cortez's most famous fighters was a woman

(one of many on the expedition) named Maria Estrada.

 

Jim Koch (Gladius The Alchemist)

 

 

From: raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: 18 May 2001 01:33:26 -0500

Organization: Solaria Public Access UNIX - Milwaukee, WI

 

Jeanne Francesca / Cynthia R. Gee <goldndog at usa2net.net> wrote:

| A few years ago, a group of us down here (Trimaris) were invited to take

| part in a local Pirate Festival, in garb, etc. Now, my husband, Don Khalid

| Romanos, happens to be African American, and was asked several times, by

| well-meaning mundanes and by not-so-well-meaning mundane rednecks, if

| there were ever any black pirates. I'm sure that black pirates must have

| existed, especially post-period in the Caribbean, and we told the hecklers

| so; but how about in earlier times? Is there any documentation to prove

| their existance?

 

Aside from the pirates of the African coast, consider the prominent

category of black sailors (not just pirates) from Moorish and post-Moorish

Spain.  Quoting what I told someone in another newsgroup a few years ago:

 

"[Columbus's] ships and financial support came, not from his Italian homeland,

but from a Spain which had lingering effects of past Moorish (Black) dominance.

Black members of the expedition included the owner, captain, and navigator

of the Nina, the pilot of the Santa Maria, and the first man to sight shore."

 

With such representation among Spanish sailors in general, I'd expect there

to be similar representation among the subset that went pirating -- or just

privateering, which could be indistinguishable to their victims.

 

Perhaps your husband merely never bothered to show off his Letter of Marque

and Reprisal, because he was never confronted by a superior force that could

try him on the charge of piracy, and so never needed to offer such a defense.

--

Raven    

 

 

From: David Friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Organization: dis

Date: Thu, 17 May 2001 23:47:04 -0700

 

raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven) wrote:

> "[Columbus's] ships and financial support came, not from his Italian

> homeland,

> but from a Spain which had lingering effects of past Moorish (Black)

> dominance."

 

"Moorish" doesn't mean "Black." Most of the Moors were North African

Berbers, a mediterranean people; the word may ultimately derive from the

same source as "Mauritania," the Roman term for North Africa. They

interacted with subsaharan Africans farther south, who were what we

think of as blacks--enough so that there were some black moors.

--

David/Cariadoc

http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html

 

 

From: raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: 19 May 2001 04:54:31 -0500

Organization: Solaria Public Access UNIX - Milwaukee, WI

 

| Raven <raven at solaria.sol.net> wrote:

|> "[Columbus's] ships and financial support came, not from his Italian

|> homeland,  but from a Spain which had lingering effects of past Moorish

|> (Black) dominance."

|

| "Moorish" doesn't mean "Black." Most of the Moors were North African

| Berbers, a mediterranean people; the word may ultimately derive from the

| same source as "Mauritania," the Roman term for North Africa. They

| interacted with subsaharan Africans farther south, who were what we

| think of as blacks--enough so that there were some black moors.

 

FYI, my emphasis in that paragraph (quoted from a rebuttal to someone who

denied the contributions of Blacks, Jews, and Asians to exploration and

science) was specifically the Black role in exploration -- which is why I

went on to list prominent members of Columbus's expedition who were Black:

 

"Black members of the expedition included the owner, captain, and navigator

of the Nina, the pilot of the Santa Maria, and the first man to sight shore."

 

Earlier in that rebuttal, I had said more clearly that the Moors were

"black-dominated", not that each and every individual Moor was black.

 

Thus the paragraph you quote is again stressing that Moorish dominance

amounted to Black dominance (Blacks dominated the Moors who dominated Spain),

not that Blacks constituted each and every one of those Moors.

 

"Black-dominated" is more expressive of Moorish culture than might be inferred

from "there were *some* black moors". (Please capitalize "Moor".)  Blacks

were not a minority in power or influence, but a prominent and dominant part

of Moorish *leadership*; enough that Black was considered *more* beautiful

than White (unlike later conditions in the New World, black skin was the mark,

not of probable slavery, but of probable nobility); enough that a Moor was

presumed to be Black unless otherwise specified (Shakespeare's Othello was

a Moor, and this is enough information to have him appear onstage as Black);

enough that the English word "blackamoor" exists, and referred even to Blacks

who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire.  The absorption into the more

"Mediterranean" population they dominated has changed that appearance, rather

as modern Mongols appear more Chinese now than they did before ruling China,

but please don't back-project later (or New World) ideas of Black roles.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

Below is the full text of that original post, again from several years ago.

 

I should add that "Cage" was replying to someone else, not to me, and I

just entered the thread at this point:

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

On 29 Apr 1997, Cage <??? at !!!.com> wrote:

 

|> If you want to generalize, then I think one has to admit that the Jews

|> and Asians are superior to whites -- statistically speaking they are

|> more intelligent, better educated, harder working and more successful

|> than whites.

|

| Rrrrrrreeeeeeeeaaaalllllllyyyyyyyy ??????!!!

|

| Tell me then, what contributions to the world have they made ?

 

If you really don't know, doesn't that say more about your ignorance

than about their contributions?  You should have learned this in school.

But it's not too late for you to visit a public library and read history.

 

| Since the dawn of history, the white race has been a mighty race of

| builders, explorers, artists, warriors, inventors, philosophers, and

| cultivators.

 

So have the others.

 

| We have sailed the seas,

 

Joseph of Arimathea was sailing between Judea and Britain to trade in tin

during the lifetime of Jesus.  There are indications of Chinese trade in

the Americas, by sailing ship across the Pacific, long before Columbus.

 

| tamed vast wildernesses,

 

You think the Chinese found the vast cultivations of China ready-made?

 

Those were being farmed when most of Europe was still forest.

 

| scaled towering mountains,

 

And visited the Tibetans who'd already been living there for centuries.

 

| and journeyed to the depths of the ocean

 

Here, "we" includes Black, Asian, and Jewish submariners.

 

| and into the cold void of outer space.

 

Ditto previous comment for astronauts.

 

In case you didn't realize, Guion Bluford, Ronald McNair, and Mae Jemison

are (or were) Black; and Franklin Chang-Diaz, Leroy Chiao, Mamoru Mohri,

Chiaki Naito-Mukai, and Ellison Onizuka are (or were) Asian.  The "or were"

is because McNair and Onizuka died along with lovely (and Jewish) violinist

Judith Resnick on the Challenger.  "If blood be the price of Admiralty,

Dear God, we have paid it in."  They've each earned their due recognition.

 

But you seem to think that only White Gentiles were involved.

 

You could have mentioned "travelled to the North Pole" too -- but then

it was a Black man named Matthew Henson who actually planted the US flag

there, so I can see why you wouldn't want to mention *that* achievement.

 

| We have built great civilizations,

 

See China, Japan, India, Africa.  Timbuktu was a famous intellectual center

under King Askia ("certainly the equal of the average European monarch of

the time and superior to many of them," per Alexander Chamberlain); "a city

of some one hundred thousand people, filled with gold and dazzling women.

One of the most fabled and exotic cities in the medieval world, the Sudanese

metropolis was celebrated for its luxury and gaiety."  Lerone Bennett Jr,

_Before the Mayflower_.  Its University of Sankore taught law and surgery

(cataract surgery was done there successfully), and among all the variety

of exotic trade items, the largest profit was in the book trade; "scholars

came from faraway places to check their Greek and Latin manuscripts." Ibid.

 

The black-dominated Muslim Moors not only created some of Spain's great

art and architecture during their rule, but their scholars sparked Europe's

Renaissance by preserving, expanding, and teaching arts and sciences that

Europe lost during the Dark Ages.  The forgotten classics were translated

back from Arabic into European languages, and the very names of scientific

terms -- algebra, algorithm, alchemy (chemistry), starnames like Algol and

Aldebaran -- still flaunt Arabic origins in that prefix "al-" ("the").

The Moorish trade routes extended from Spain to India and China when those

Oriental realms were only legendary to the little-travelled Europeans.

 

China, for instance, was a source of such wondrous items that European

explorers like the Polos and Columbus finally went to make more direct

contact than the relay of trade along the Spice Road permitted -- but when

Marco Polo brought back an accurate report of Kublai Khan's realm, he was

flatly disbelieved as an exaggerator, "Marco the Millions" -- while poor

Columbus knew so little about Asia that he thought he'd found it in 1492.

 

What is the effect on Western civilization of gunpowder, or of paper and

printing, to name just three Chinese inventions?  The Pony Express of the

1800's was a copy of the Mongol Empire's postal system of the 1300's.

Not until the turn of this century did Western societies recognize the

fingerprint as a mark of unique identity -- the Chinese did millenia ago.

 

| created breathtaking works of beauty,

 

The Bible, translated from Jewish religious literature, is counted as

one of the greatest contributions to *English* literature.  Go figure.

 

And I take it you know nothing of Asian literature or art.

 

| and made the desert bloom.

 

Both the Chinese and the Israelis did that.  The Chinese irrigation system

was one of the things Marco Polo reported, on so great a scale Europeans

could neither comprehend nor believe it -- for it was utterly beyond them.

 

(In case you think the land would have flourished without that irrigation,

all the Emperor had to do to subdue or punish rebellion was turn off the

water -- without irrigation, that region plunged into famine.)

 

| The technological achievements of our people,

| from the megalithic calendar of Stonehenge,

 

Which long predates the Celts, let alone the Anglo-Saxons.  Britain's

aboriginal population, the old lore says, was small and dark in color.

 

| to the moon-walk of the Apollo astronauts, are unequalled.

 

And those astronauts used equipment like the lunar surface ultraviolet

camera/spectrograph developed by Black physicist George E. Carruthers.

Or don't you count the contributions of all those White Gentiles,

Blacks, Jews, and Asians who actually *built* the Apollo program?

 

| We have devised sublime philosophies,

 

Ah.  And you exclude Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and the assorted

Jewish contributions to philosophy from the category of "sublime", right?

 

| conquered deadly diseases,

 

*Spread* deadly diseases, too.  Amerindians were decimated by diseases

brought by whites -- in some cases *deliberately*, as when white colonists

traded out blankets from smallpox-killed corpses.  Early bio-warfare!

 

Meanwhile, Dr. Daniel Hale Williams pioneered open-heart surgery in 1893,

Dr. William A. Hinton developed the Hinton and Davies-Hinton tests for

syphillis (whites helped spread *that* around the world), and Dr. Charles

Drew created the first blood bank.  All those men were Black.  As for Jews

and Asians:  Dr. Jonas Salk created the first polio vaccine, and the cover of

the 12/30/96 TIME shows "Man of the Year" David Da-i Ho at his AIDS research.

 

That hardly begins to represent all the Black, Jewish, and Asian doctors;

just a few examples picked out of over a century's medical advances.

 

| and performed soul-stirring acts of heroism and self-sacrifice.

 

As did all the others.  Often enough, White Gentiles gave them reason.

 

Take for example just Blacks in American history.

 

The first man to die for American freedom from Britain was Crispus Attucks

(1770).  The first blood shed in the Civil War belonged to Union volunteer

Nicholas Biddle (1861); 200,000 other Blacks served in the Union Army,

38,000 died in that war, and 22 won the Medal of Honor.  The first US Army

pilot to shoot down an Axis airplane was 1LT Charles Hall (1943); more than

a million Blacks were in the US Armed Forces during *that* war.  And so on.

| We are the race of Shakespeare,

 

Whose love sonnets appear to have been devoted to another man.

 

| DaVinci,

 

Apparently gay... are you trying to tell us something?

 

| Beethoven, & Homer.

 

Neither of whom were recorded as having married or sired children. Hmmm.

 

| We are the sons & daughters of Leif Ericson,

 

Whose colony in Vinland disappeared without a trace -- leaving no

"sons & daughters" behind -- so you can hardly be any of those.

 

Hey, you really might want to read this article from the 7/7/92 New York

Times, section C (The Science Times), pages 1 and 10, by John Noble

Wilford... look it up in your local library's microfiche.  Main article:

"Norsemen in America flourished then faded."  Sidebar: "Case for other

pre-Columbian voyagers."  Pay special attention to that sidebar.

 

The same sort of "circumstantial evidence" that indicates Norse

settlements also indicates trans-Atlantic visits by Irish, Welsh,

Phoenicians, Jews, and Africans, and trans-Pacific visits by Chinese and

Japanese.  It's just that the *lasting* contact was finally made by...

 

| Columbus,

 

Whose ships and financial support came, not from his Italian homeland, but

from a Spain which had lingering effects of past Moorish (Black) dominance.

Black members of the expedition included the owner, captain, and navigator

of the Nina, the pilot of the Santa Maria, and the first man to sight shore.

The linguist/interpreter was a converted Jew -- *unconverted* Jews had been

expelled from Spain just earlier that year.  There were one or two Irishmen

and one lone Englishman in the crew... and no other Northern Europeans.

 

| Sir Francis Drake,

 

The famous bowler, yes.  Alas, the Spanish balls scored the final strike.

 

| and Magellan.

 

Ferdinand "Long Pig" Magellan, a man of excellent taste.

 

| We are the folk of Alexander,

 

Whose empire fell to pieces when he died.  Oh, good workmanship!

 

| Caesar,

 

Killed after overthrowing his homeland's elected government by force,

treacherously misusing the army entrusted to him for its defense.

 

| Napoleon,

 

Defeated and exiled after overthrowing his homeland's elected government.

 

| Washington,

 

A *successful* rebel, whose army included 5,000 Blacks, e.g. Peter Salem

-- who shot and killed the British commander at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

 

| and Robert E. Lee.

 

Defeated while rebelling against his homeland's elected government.

 

My goodness, there is a trend here, isn't there?

 

Is that a clue to your own grand ambitions?

 

| We are the descendants of Pythagoras,

 

Oh?  Did he have descendants?  I thought he abstained, at least from women.

 

| Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, and Darwin.

 

And here I would have thought you were descended from those who fought

*against* these pioneers, tooth and nail, every step of the way -- the

ignorant self-appointed guardians of the blind dogmas of their times.

 

| Just to list the great accomplishments of the white race

| would require the work of a lifetime!

 

Ditto the great accomplishments of Jews, Asians, and Blacks.

 

| Below, are the accomplishments of Jews & non-whites:

 

[nothing follows; that is the end of Cage's post]

 

Your argument only offers your massive ignorance of history as proof.

 

At least the examples I've given above remove any excuse you might have

for staying ignorant; from now on, to make this claim you must *LIE*.

 

One thing all the great explorers and discoverers had in common is that

they were open to new knowledge and actively sought it out -- instead

of staying bitterly resistant to it and determinedly ignorant ("don't

confuse me with the facts").  But you seem to have the latter attitude.

 

That's why these Black, Asian, and Jewish astronauts are among the true

successors of those great pioneers -- risking their lives (and sometimes

dying) to go into space for the sake of *all* humanity, not for just one

single color on the racial spectrum.

 

Meanwhile *you* stay on Earth, discovering nothing, contributing nothing,

only taking credit for the deeds of people who have nothing in common

with you but the color of their skins... and in many cases, not even that.

 

-- Raven                     | "Forgive no error you recognize; it will

                             |  repeat itself, increase,  and afterward

   raven  at  solaria.sol.net   |  our  pupils  will  not  forgive  in us

                             |  what we forgave."   Yevgeny Yevtushenko

 

 

From: David Friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 17:42:28 GMT

 

raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven) wrote:

> Earlier in that rebuttal, I had said more clearly that the Moors were

> "black-dominated", not that each and every individual Moor was black.

>

> Thus the paragraph you quote is again stressing that Moorish dominance

> amounted to Black dominance (Blacks dominated the Moors who dominated Spain),

> not that Blacks constituted each and every one of those Moors.

>

> "Black-dominated" is more expressive of Moorish culture than might be inferred

> from "there were *some* black moors". (Please capitalize "Moor".)  Blacks

> were not a minority in power or influence, but a prominent and dominant part

> of Moorish *leadership*; enough that Black was considered *more* beautiful

> than White (unlike later conditions in the New World, black skin was the mark,

> not of probable slavery, but of probable nobility); enough that a Moor was

> presumed to be Black unless otherwise specified (Shakespeare's Othello was

> a Moor, and this is enough information to have him appear onstage as Black);

> enough that the English word "blackamoor" exists, and referred even to Blacks

> who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire.  The absorption into the more

> "Mediterranean" population they dominated has changed that appearance, rather

> as modern Mongols appear more Chinese now than they did before ruling China,

> but please don't back-project later (or New World) ideas of Black roles.

 

The problem is that it isn't true. "Blackamoor" means a black moor, just

as "Polish-American" means an American whose ancestors came from

Poland--in both cases there is no implication that most of the

population, or the dominant part, is from that group.

 

The Berbers were a mediterranean people two thousand years ago, when

Mauritania was a Roman province. Roughly speaking, the dividing line

between mediterranean and black was the Sahara desert, although there

was, of course, a good deal of mixing.

 

If you read medieval Islamic literature, it is clear that although there

were high status blacks--Ziryab in al-Andalus and Ibriham Ibn al Mahdi

in the Middle East are striking examples--they were the exception, not

the rule. Blacks most often appear as slaves--see the 1001 Nights for

lots of examples.

 

So far as the "Moorish Empire," there wasn't one. The North African

Berbers were conquered by the Arabs and mostly converted to Islam early

in Islamic history. Spain was then conquered by a mixed Arab-Berber

force owing allegiance to an Arabic Caliph. The point at which you get a

more or less independent polity made up of Spain and parts of North

Africa is when the Abbasids seize the Caliphate and the last surviving

Umayyad prince succeeds in establishing himself in al-Andalus and

founding what becomes the Western Umayyad dynasty. Abd er Rahman was an

Arab, a descendant of the fifth Caliph, Muawiyya, not a black.

 

The closest you come to a "Moorish Empire" would be the Almoravid and

Almohad periods, when religious movements among the Berber tribes of

Northwest Africa resulted in the temporary creation of a unified force

sufficiently strong to push back the Christian incursions in Spain.

 

Perhaps you could describe more precisely what you mean by a "Moorish

Empire," when you are talking about, and what reason you have to think

that blacks were either dominant or particularly high status.

--

David/Cariadoc

http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html

 

 

From: raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: 20 May 2001 08:33:11 -0500

Organization: Solaria Public Access UNIX - Milwaukee, WI

 

Cariadoc of the Bow / David Friedman <ddfr at best.com> wrote:

| Raven <raven at solaria.sol.net> wrote:

|> Earlier in that rebuttal, I had said more clearly that the Moors were

|> "black-dominated", not that each and every individual Moor was black.

|>

|> Thus the paragraph you quote is again stressing that Moorish dominance

|> amounted to Black dominance (Blacks dominated the Moors who dominated Spain),

|> not that Blacks constituted each and every one of those Moors.

|>

|> "Black-dominated" is more expressive of Moorish culture than might be inferred

|> from "there were *some* black moors". (Please capitalize "Moor".)  Blacks

|> were not a minority in power or influence, but a prominent and dominant part

|> of Moorish *leadership*; enough that Black was considered *more* beautiful

|> than White (unlike later conditions in the New World, black skin was the mark,

|> not of probable slavery, but of probable nobility); enough that a Moor was

|> presumed to be Black unless otherwise specified (Shakespeare's Othello was

|> a Moor, and this is enough information to have him appear onstage as Black);

|> enough that the English word "blackamoor" exists, and referred even to Blacks

|> who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire.  The absorption into the more

|> "Mediterranean" population they dominated has changed that appearance, rather

|> as modern Mongols appear more Chinese now than they did before ruling China,

|> but please don't back-project later (or New World) ideas of Black roles.

|

| The problem is that it isn't true. "Blackamoor" means a black moor, just

| as "Polish-American" means an American whose ancestors came from

| Poland--in both cases there is no implication that most of the

| population, or the dominant part, is from that group.

 

Once again, please capitalize "Moor".  I ask this because I don't think

that you intend to convey an insult, which is usually the intent of those

who omit capitalizing the names of peoples (e.g. "jew" instead of "Jew").

 

I wonder in what dictionary you find that "'Blackamoor' means a black Moor",

given that those I searched gave it as referring to any "black" person.

 

American Heritage, 4th ed (2000): "[Offensive] A dark-skinned person,

especially a person from northern Africa."

http://www.bartleby.com/61/28/B0292800.html

 

Webster's Revised Unabridged (1913): "A negro or negress."

http://machaut.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/WEBSTER.sh?WORD=blackamoor

 

Merriam-Webster Online: "a dark-skinned person; especially : BLACK 4a"

[I think the intended reference was renumbered 2a in the BLACK entry.]

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&;va=blackamoor

 

Other citations omitted.

 

But you're correct in one way:  the word "Moor" itself has *also* been

used to refer to any "black" person, making "blackamoor", "black", and

"Moor" all equivalent terms *in that one sense*.

 

This ambiguity in "Moor" is why I specified that "'blackamoor'... referred

even to Blacks who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire" -- thus making

clear that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

 

Etymologically,  "Moor" *does* means "Black".  It is cognate with Spanish

and Italian "Moro", which translates into English as either "Moor" or

"Black".  (Our local Catholic church named for "St. Benedict the Moor",

a Black saint, could be named "St. Benedict the Black", translating "Moro"

the other way; Benedict's parents were African slaves, but not from the

Moorish tribes -- he was a Moor only in the broad sense of Moor=Black.)

"Moor" and "Mauretania" come from the Latin "maurus" and Greek "mauros",

both of which *also* mean "black".  In heraldry, which retains medieval

meanings of many terms, the charge of "a Moor" is shown as a Black person,

often on the armorial achievements of people surnamed Moore or More -- see

for instance the Moor's-head crest of Sir (and Saint) Thomas More.

 

To suggest that Moors were rarely (or only in a subjugated minority) Black

requires ignoring the very reason those people were *called* Moors by the

Europeans.  (It was not their name for themselves, just as "Persia" is not

what Iranians called Iran, "Germany" vs Deutschland, etc.)

 

The Spanish *knew* that not all Muslims were Black; they weren't making

an ignorant racist error by using the term "Moro" which *means* Black;

they also knew of Arabs with light-colored skin, and made the distinction.

 

See the in-period illustrations on the manuscript of the Book of Games

(Libro de los Juegos), commissioned between 1251 and 1282 by Alfonso X,

King of Leon and Castile. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154

 

Contents at http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/Content3.htm

 

Problem 13 shows three Arabs consulting manuscripts on a chess problem;

their skin tone is pale flesh.

 

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob13.html

 

Problem 103 shows a Spaniard and an Arab playing chess in a tent; their

skin tone is pale flesh.

 

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob103.html

 

Problem 25 shows two Moorish nobles playing chess, as three servants tend

to them.  The servant holding a ewer and bowl is medium-pale in tone; the

servant talking with him is black; the harper is black; the two nobles are

black.  In this, the Moors are clearly distinguished from the paler Arabs.

 

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob25.html

 

Does that address your desire for contemporary documentation?

 

How about this medieval depiction of Moorish king Marsile, "enemy of

Christendom" in the Charlemagne epics?

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/16.gif

 

"And he is black, as black as melted pitch.  ...  Broad in the nose they are

and flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in his company.  When Roland sees

that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink

-- no shred of white on them except their teeth."  ("The Song of Roland")

 

| The Berbers were a mediterranean people two thousand years ago, when

| Mauritania was a Roman province.

 

Then why did the Romans give the "Maures" of MAURI-tania a name *meaning*

"black"?  Why did Procopius call them "black-skinned" as distinct from

other peoples of north Africa?

 

| Roughly speaking, the dividing line between mediterranean and black was

| the Sahara desert, although there was, of course, a good deal of mixing.

 

One, the Sahara hadn't yet spread as far south as it has now.  Two, "mixing"

covers a range from a-few-blacks-among-mostly-whites to the opposite, from

white-dominant to black-dominant, or, in short, from Persia to Mauretania.

 

| If you read medieval Islamic literature, it is clear that although there

| were high status blacks--Ziryab in al-Andalus and Ibriham Ibn al Mahdi

| in the Middle East are striking examples--they were the exception, not

| the rule.

 

Consider the ninth-century Muslim scholar Uthman' Amr ibn Bahr al-Jahiz,

and his "The Superiority of the Black Races over the Whites" -- in which

he counts the Berbers (Moors) among the Blacks.  (James Brunson and

Runoko Rashidi, "The Moors in Antiquity", in _Golden Age of the Moor_,

edited by Ivan Van Sertima, 1992.  See also in that volume, "African

Heritage and Ethnohistory of the Moors".)

 

| Blacks most often appear as slaves

 

To take the occurrence of Blacks among slaves as denying the occurrence

of Blacks among leaders, well, makes as much sense as replacing the word

"Blacks" with "men".  Men were often slaves, therefore men cannot also

have been leaders, nobles, prominent and even predominant in rulership?

 

Of the term "slave" when referring to the Muslim military, Richard Fletcher

(in _Moorish Spain_) says "slave is perhaps a misleading term, since by no

means all such soldiers were unfree.  Mercenary or simply 'professional'

might be more approriate."

 

"Black Moors are not always presented as servants or captives; indeed,

according to medieval illuminators, they seem to have held prominent

positions in Moorish society, particularly the military." "[B]lacks

also figured among the Moorish aristocracy."  (Miriam DeCosta,

"The Portrayal of Blacks in a Spanish Medieval Manuscript")

 

| --see the 1001 Nights for lots of examples.

 

The Thousand Nights and a Night were told, and often set, at the far eastern

end of the Mediterranean, around the area of modern Iraq and Iran, whereas I

was referring to the status of Blacks among the *Moors*, over at the far

*western* end of the Mediterranean, places like Spain and northwest Africa.

 

You might as well have brought up the Turks, Egyptians, Bedouins, or Tuareg.

 

Do you really think that racial attitudes were uniform across Dar al-Islam?

 

| So far as the "Moorish Empire," there wasn't one.

 

Here you change the meaning of my words by capitalizing.  If I were to

refer to a lesser Saxon king and the little kingdom he ruled, it would not

be a fitting rebuttal to say there was no realm named The Little Kingdom.

 

I did not capitalize the E in "empire", because I was not giving a name

but a description, referring to the area ruled by the Moors -- and I

think you must admit they *did* rule an area -- in order to make clear

that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

 

| The North African Berbers were conquered by the Arabs and mostly

| converted to Islam early in Islamic history. Spain was then conquered

| by a mixed Arab-Berber force owing allegiance to an Arabic Caliph.

 

I think you're trying to drive at a point which I did not in fact make,

presumably about the term "empire" implying independence from others.

 

Call it a suzerainty or a fief if you like.  *My* point was to clarify

that I was not referring to "Moors" in the broad sense of all Blacks,

but to those Moors who comprised a specific group of peoples and ruled

a specific area.

 

Otherwise someone who wanted to play word games *might* argue that

"blackamoor" referred only to "Moors" in the sense that *both* words

can be taken to refer to all dark-skinned people.

 

| The point at which you get a more or less independent polity made up of

| Spain and parts of North Africa is when the Abbasids seize the Caliphate

| and the last surviving Umayyad prince succeeds in establishing himself

| in al-Andalus and founding what becomes the Western Umayyad dynasty.

 

But too small an area for you to call even this an "empire"? Yet we refer

to a type of corporate politics within one office as "empire-building" --

and that doesn't even require being independent of higher officials. The

ordinary (non-technical) usage doesn't have all the meaning you load onto it.

 

| Abd er Rahman was an Arab, a descendant of the fifth Caliph, Muawiyya,

| not a black.

 

Yet his son Al-Hakam II was described as "tall, thin, haughty, and strikingly

dark in complexion".  (Hugh Kennedy, _Muslim Spain and Portugal_)

 

| The closest you come to a "Moorish Empire" would be the Almoravid and

| Almohad periods, when religious movements among the Berber tribes of

| Northwest Africa resulted in the temporary creation of a unified force

| sufficiently strong to push back the Christian incursions in Spain.

 

And Yusuf ibn Tashfin, leader of the Almoravid forces, was "a brown man

with wooly hair", according to the Arab chronicler Al-Fasi. (per DeCosta)

 

| Perhaps you could describe more precisely what you mean by a "Moorish

| Empire,"

 

I think by now I have: namely, that I didn't use the capital-E word, and

simply meant the area they ruled.  In other words, you're overinterpreting.

 

| when you are talking about,

 

I should think the entire 700-year span, since my sole purpose in using

the term was to distinguish *these* Moors from the broad sense of "Moors"

(everyone with a dark skin), i.e. I wasn't referring to the whole southern

bulk of Africa, let alone more distant dark-skinned peoples in India or

Australia, I was referring to the type of "Moors" that once ruled in Spain.

 

| and what reason you have to think that blacks were either dominant

| or particularly high status.

 

I think by now you have seen some of those reasons.

 

Your study seems to have been among the NON-Moorish Muslims, who often

expressed hostility toward Blacks.  Consider the possibility that you've

learned a whitewashed version of history.  I've listed some alternatives.

 

Thanks to "Laz" who posted "Black History Month Facts" on the B-GLAAD

Yahoo Group; a number of good quotes or links came from those postings.

 

I'll be on the road and out of state for a bit over a week, will try to

catch up afterwards.

--

   Raven                    

 

 

From: David Friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 19:11:42 GMT

 

raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven) wrote:

> Cariadoc of the Bow / David Friedman <ddfr at best.com> wrote:

> | The problem is that it isn't true. "Blackamoor" means a black moor, just

> | as "Polish-American" means an American whose ancestors came from

> | Poland--in both cases there is no implication that most of the

> | population, or the dominant part, is from that group.

 

> Once again, please capitalize "Moor".  I ask this because I don't think

> that you intend to convey an insult, which is usually the intent of those

> who omit capitalizing the names of peoples (e.g. "jew" instead of "Jew").

 

> I wonder in what dictionary you find that "'Blackamoor' means a black Moor",

> given that those I searched gave it as referring to any "black" person.

 

That's the modern meaning; I was talking about where the word came from.

 

> But you're correct in one way:  the word "Moor" itself has *also* been

> used to refer to any "black" person, making "blackamoor", "black", and

> "Moor" all equivalent terms *in that one sense*.

>

> This ambiguity in "Moor" is why I specified that "'blackamoor'... referred

> even to Blacks who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire" -- thus making

> clear that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

>

> Etymologically,  "Moor" *does* means "Black". It is cognate with Spanish

> and Italian "Moro", which translates into English as either "Moor" or

> "Black".  (Our local Catholic church named for "St. Benedict the Moor",

> a Black saint, could be named "St. Benedict the Black", translating "Moro"

> the other way; Benedict's parents were African slaves, but not from the

> Moorish tribes -- he was a Moor only in the broad sense of Moor=Black.)

> "Moor" and "Mauretania" come from the Latin "maurus" and Greek "mauros",

> both of which *also* mean "black".  In heraldry, which retains medieval

> meanings of many terms, the charge of "a Moor" is shown as a Black person,

> often on the armorial achievements of people surnamed Moore or More -- see

> for instance the Moor's-head crest of Sir (and Saint) Thomas More.

 

My Webster's says that the Greek word means black or dark--someone can

be darker than a Greek without being what we call a black.

 

It also gives as the first meaning of the word "Moor" "A native of

Morocco, or neighboring North African states, of Arab or Berber blood or

of a mixture of the too."

 

The second meaning is:

 

"A Moslem of one of the native North African races or of the immigrant

Arabs settled in North Africa; esp., one of the Saracenic invaders of

Spain or their descendants."

 

None of the definitions corresponds to what we call black--i.e. someone

of subsaharan African ancestry.

 

My 11th edition Britannica has a long article on the berbers:

 

"Though considerable individual differences of type may be found in

every village, the Berbers are distinctively a "white" race, and the

majority would, if clad in European costume, pass unchallenged as

Europeans. Dark hair and brown or hazel eyes are the rule; blue-eyed

blonds are found, but their frequency has been considerably overstated.

..."

 

A more recent Britannica has a much shorter and less detailed article,

but one that does mention the existence of some black Berbers.

 

> To suggest that Moors were rarely (or only in a subjugated minority) Black

> requires ignoring the very reason those people were *called* Moors by the

> Europeans.  (It was not their name for themselves, just as "Persia" is not

> what Iranians called Iran, "Germany" vs Deutschland, etc.)

 

Or in other words, you are arguing that the Mauritanians of classical

antiquity were Blacks rather than Berbers? That is presumably where the

word "Moors" came from.

 

> The Spanish *knew* that not all Muslims were Black; they weren't making

> an ignorant racist error by using the term "Moro" which *means* Black;

> they also knew of Arabs with light-colored skin, and made the distinction.

 

At what point did "Moro" mean "black" rather than "Muslim of North

African descent" in Spanish? In other words, are you describing the

meaning of the word at the time when the Moors still occupied much of

Spain, or after the expulsion?

 

> See the in-period illustrations on the manuscript of the Book of Games

> (Libro de los Juegos), commissioned between 1251 and 1282 by Alfonso X,

> King of Leon and Castile. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154

>

> Contents at http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/Content3.htm

>

> Problem 13 shows three Arabs consulting manuscripts on a chess problem;

> their skin tone is pale flesh.

>

> http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob13.html

>

> Problem 103 shows a Spaniard and an Arab playing chess in a tent; their

> skin tone is pale flesh.

>

> http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob103.html

>

> Problem 25 shows two Moorish nobles playing chess, as three servants tend

> to them.  The servant holding a ewer and bowl is medium-pale in tone; the

> servant talking with him is black; the harper is black; the two nobles are

> black.  In this, the Moors are clearly distinguished from the paler Arabs.

>

> http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob25.html

>

> Does that address your desire for contemporary documentation?

 

It demonstrates that there were people of subsaharan ancestry in Muslim

Spain, which I already knew. To demonstrate that Alfonso used "Moor" to

refer specifically to such people and "Arab" to refer to lighter skinned

mediterranean people, you need two more things:

 

1. The titles for the pictures. Assuming the titles given on the web

site are correct, they do not entirely support your interpretation.

Problem 25 is labelled "Five Moors, one playing harp." As you point out,

one of the four is "medium pale" in tone. And that is the only picture

on the site that provides support for your position, since it is the

only one that refers to Moors.

 

Also, I don't know whether the titles are from the manuscript or are

provided by the web page. Do you? I looked around the web for as

translation of the book, but there doesn't seem to be one webbed yet.

 

2. You need to look through as wide a range of labelled pictures from

the period as possible to determine whether some, most, or all of the

people labelled "Moors" are Blacks.

 

> How about this medieval depiction of Moorish king Marsile, "enemy of

> Christendom" in the Charlemagne epics?

>

> http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/16.gif

>

> "And he is black, as black as melted pitch.  ...  Broad in the nose they are

> and flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in his company.  When Roland sees

> that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink

> -- no shred of white on them except their teeth." ("The Song of Roland")

 

I don't know what translation you are quoting. From Moncrieff's (verse

CXLII, webbed at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Roland/r88-161.html):

 

But what avail? Though fled be Marsilies,

He's left behind his uncle, the alcaliph

Who holds Alferne, Kartagene, Garmalie,

And ethiope, a cursed land indeed;

The blackamoors from there are in his keep,

Broad in the nose they are and flat in the ear,

Fifty thousand and more in company. ...

 

This is not a description of Marsile (who earlier in the poem has turned

white with anger, suggesting that he is not black skinned, and who has

fled the field in the previous verse). It is not even a description of

his uncle. It is a description of the part of the army from ethiopia--a

force of fifty thousand--made up of blacks. Marsile has fled with a

hundred thousand in the previous verse. Earlier Marsile's army is said

to have four hundred thousand men in it, so the Ethiopian contingent is

a small part of his army. The fact that the author makes a point of

their appearance implies, not that all Moors were black, but that blacks

were exceptional.

 

Note that in the next verse,

 

"When Rollant sees theose misbegotten men,

Who are more black than ink is on the pen

With no part white, only their teeth except,

Then says that count: "I know now very well

That here to die we're bound ...." "

 

The battle has been going on for quite a while at this point, and these

are the first blacks Roland has seen. And they are described as from

Ethiopia, not as "Moors."

 

So the passage you refer to is evidence against your position, not for

it. I am curious where you got the idea that the description has

something to do with Marsile, given that he has already left the

battlefield at that point. Or is the reference to Marsile only with

regard to the picture, and not to the quote immediately after it?

 

> | The Berbers were a mediterranean people two thousand years ago, when

> | Mauritania was a Roman province.

 

> Then why did the Romans give the "Maures" of MAURI-tania a name *meaning*

> "black"?  

 

It isn't clear that they did. Websters agrees with your etymology, save

that the word means black or dark. But the OED is sceptical, suggesting

that the word may have originated with some North African language.

 

On the other hand, the OED does support your position to the extent of

saying that in the Middle Ages and into the 17th century, Moors were

commonly assumed to be mostly black or swarthy. The implication of the

passage is that the assumption was mistaken, however. And "swarthy"

doesn't imply "black."

 

> Why did Procopius call them "black-skinned" as distinct from

> other peoples of north Africa?

 

I don't know; I haven't seen the relevant passage. What's the cite?

 

> | Roughly speaking, the dividing line between mediterranean and black was

> | the Sahara desert, although there was, of course, a good deal of mixing.

>

> One, the Sahara hadn't yet spread as far south as it has now. Two, "mixing"

> covers a range from a-few-blacks-among-mostly-whites to the opposite, from

> white-dominant to black-dominant, or, in short, from Persia to Mauretania.

 

I agree--except for the final word.

 

> | If you read medieval Islamic literature, it is clear that although there

> | were high status blacks--Ziryab in al-Andalus and Ibriham Ibn al Mahdi

> | in the Middle East are striking examples--they were the exception, not

> | the rule.

 

> Consider the ninth-century Muslim scholar Uthman' Amr ibn Bahr al-Jahiz,

> and his "The Superiority of the Black Races over the Whites" -- in which

> he counts the Berbers (Moors) among the Blacks.  (James Brunson and

> Runoko Rashidi, "The Moors in Antiquity", in _Golden Age of the Moor_,

> edited by Ivan Van Sertima, 1992.  See also in that volume, "African

> Heritage and Ethnohistory of the Moors".)

 

I found the following quote from al-Jahiz at:

http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/jahiz.html

 

"The Ethiopians, the Berbers, the Copts, the Nubians, the Zaghawa, the

Moors, the people of Sind, the Hindus, the Qamar, the Dabila, the

Chinese, and those beyond them...the islands in the seas...are full of

blacks...up to Hindustan and China."

 

That sounds as though he had a pretty expansive definition of "Black."

 

> | Blacks most often appear as slaves

>

> To take the occurrence of Blacks among slaves as denying the occurrence

> of Blacks among leaders, well, makes as much sense as replacing the word

> "Blacks" with "men".  Men were often slaves, therefore men cannot also

> have been leaders, nobles, prominent and even predominant in rulership?

 

That isn't what I said. I said "most often appear as." As I already

pointed out, there were some prominent blacks. One of the sources I

found today while browsing the web suggests that Yusuf the Almoravid may

have been at least partly black. But if you read the literature, you

will see blacks in low status positions much more often than in high

status positions.

 

> Of the term "slave" when referring to the Muslim military, Richard Fletcher

> (in _Moorish Spain_) says "slave is perhaps a misleading term, since by no

> means all such soldiers were unfree.  Mercenary or simply 'professional'

> might be more approriate."

>

> "Black Moors are not always presented as servants or captives; indeed,

> according to medieval illuminators, they seem to have held prominent

> positions in Moorish society, particularly the military." "[B]lacks

> also figured among the Moorish aristocracy."  (Miriam DeCosta,

> "The Portrayal of Blacks in a Spanish Medieval Manuscript")

 

I agree. But note that "not always presented as." The implication is

that they are most often presented as servants or captives, but

sometimes as important people, especially in the military.

 

We aren't arguing about whether some blacks had high status

roles--Ibriham ibn al Mahdi was the son, brother, and uncle of Caliphs,

and briefly an unsuccessful pretender to the caliphate himself. He was

also famous as a musician and some recipes attributed to him have

survived. The question is whether it was a society dominated by blacks,

which was your claim, or a society in which blacks were a minority,

largely although not entirely low status.

 

> | --see the 1001 Nights for lots of examples.

>

> The Thousand Nights and a Night were told, and often set, at the far eastern

> end of the Mediterranean, around the area of modern Iraq and Iran, whereas I

> was referring to the status of Blacks among the *Moors*, over at the far

> *western* end of the Mediterranean, places like Spain and northwest Africa.

 

You hadn't specified what you meant by the "Moorish empire," and I have

seen arguments along the lines you are making which claimed most of

al-Islam for "the Moors."

> I did not capitalize the E in "empire", because I was not giving a name

> but a description, referring to the area ruled by the Moors -- and I

> think you must admit they *did* rule an area -- in order to make clear

> that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

 

Whether "Moors" ruled an area is a bit tricky, because the society was

largely dominated by Arabs and Arabicized Berbers. There must have been

places in North Africa where at various times everyone, including the

ruling house, was Berber, but not large areas.

 

Of course, "Moor" is sometimes used in a sense that includes the Arabs

in Spain as well as the Berbers. In that broad sense, North Africa and

much of Spain was ruled by Moors from the conquest of Spain until the

Reconquista. But the top figure, at least in the early centuries, was an

Arab--the Umayyad Caliph.

 

> Call it a suzerainty or a fief if you like.  *My* point was to clarify

> that I was not referring to "Moors" in the broad sense of all Blacks,

> but to those Moors who comprised a specific group of peoples and ruled

> a specific area.

 

But "those Moors" is not limited to blacks, correct?

 

> | The point at which you get a more or less independent polity made up of

> | Spain and parts of North Africa is when the Abbasids seize the Caliphate

> | and the last surviving Umayyad prince succeeds in establishing himself

> | in al-Andalus and founding what becomes the Western Umayyad dynasty.

>

> But too small an area for you to call even this an "empire"?

 

I am not objecting to describing the Umayyad Caliphate as an empire. My

point is that if that was what you meant, it wasn't ruled by Moors but

by Arabs--the Umayyads.

 

> | Abd er Rahman was an Arab, a descendant of the fifth Caliph, Muawiyya,

> | not a black.

 

> Yet his son Al-Hakam II was described as "tall, thin, haughty, and strikingly

> dark in complexion".  (Hugh Kennedy, _Muslim Spain and Portugal_)

 

The Caliph al Mahdi was an Arab too--and Ibriham ibn al Mahdi was his

son, by a black mother. Besides, "strikingly dark in complexion" may or

may not imply African ancestry.

 

> | and what reason you have to think that blacks were either dominant

> | or particularly high status.

 

> I think by now you have seen some of those reasons.

 

I don't think so. We have evidence that two prominent political figures

over those seven hundred years (Al-Hakam and Yusuf) may have been partly

black. We have evidence that a Frankish poet described one part of the

Moorish army as Blacks from Ethiopia, clearly distinguishing them from

the rest of the army. We have other evidence that blacks in Muslim

Spain, in addition to being portrayed as servants and captives, were

also sometimes portrayed as important people, especially among the

military.

 

None of that adds up to a society dominated by blacks, or even close to

it. It all sounds like a society dominated by (Arab and Berber)

non-blacks, with a significant black minority including some important

people.

 

> Thanks to "Laz" who posted "Black History Month Facts" on the B-GLAAD

> Yahoo Group; a number of good quotes or links came from those postings.

 

If Laz is your source for what you wrote about the Roland, you may want

to reconsider the reliability of that particular source of information.

 

> There's quite a lot of detailed stuff on blacks in Muslim Spain at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bglaad-college-world/message/2292

 

Yes--I found that today while doing a Google search. But I think if you

read it more carefully, you will find that it supports my view, not

yours. The author isn't arguing that blacks dominated the society,

either numerically or politically--merely that they were more important

than other writers (who saw them almost entirely as slaves or soldiers)

thought.

--

David/Cariadoc

http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html

 

 

From: Andy Dingley <dingbat at codesmiths.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Mixed-race family at Pennsic...?

Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 19:44:35 +0000

Organization: Codesmiths, UK

 

On 23 Dec 2004 06:51:36 -0800, "Elizabet Van Wilgenmoeras"

<missvelveetah at yahoo.com> wrote:

 

>I will be attending ny first Pennsic this year with my two children

>(ages 6 & 7). I am Caucasian and my children are African American.

 

They're offspring of English aristocracy ?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/royalfamily.html

 

OK, so 1300 is stretching things - Europe's great age of worldwide

trade and colonialism was still in the future, but Europe was never as

"white" as simple histories make out.  In this period though, they'd

be more likely to have some Spanish connection than Dutch.

 

<the end>



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