Black Tudors: The Untold Story

Miranda Kaufman. Oneworld, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-78607-184-2
The very concept of black Tudors may sound unlikely, but in this highly readable yet intensively researched book, Kaufmann, senior research fellow at the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies, makes clear that people of African descent were residing in England centuries before the postwar Windrush generation and were not necessarily enslaved. By examining in detail the lives of 10 previously obscure men and women, Kaufmann depicts the great diversity of their experiences in 16th- and early-17th-century England. John Blanke, a trumpeter to Henry VII, lived at the Tudor court and earned twice the annual wage of a white agricultural laborer, while mariner John Anthony’s travels took him to Virginia just as the first enslaved Africans arrived in the colony. The exotically named Cattelena of Almondsbury was an unmarried African woman who managed to make a life for herself in rural Gloucestershire. Kaufman also persuasively argues that the enslavement of Africans emerged as a response to the socioeconomic conditions of England’s Caribbean and North American colonies, rather than as an inevitable result of a supposedly inherent racism within early modern English culture. Kaufmann’s crucial contention, in conjunction with her lively prose and fascinating microhistories, should draw some well-deserved attention. Agent: Charlie Viney, Viney Agency. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-726-1
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