Review of Week 6
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To wrap up the course this week, we’ve asked a number of big questions raised by the stories of the Black Tudors and Stuarts we’ve investigated over the last six weeks, and looked at how their experiences throw light on some related topics and wider debates.
In this concluding video Dr Miranda Kaufmann and Professor David Olusoga review the debates we’ve examined this week and the significance of the Black Tudors and early Stuarts in the wider context of Black History.
Throughout the course, we’ve explored the lives of Black men and women living in England in the 16th and early 17th centuries. We’ve examined the original documents to find out how and why they came to England, how they were treated by the legal and religious authorities, what sort of work they did and how they lived, loved and died. We’ve engaged with debates about to what extent they lived freely.
This week we’ve also asked if they encountered individual or institutional racism in their daily lives. We’ve looked to Shakespeare and the literature of the period, and asked if contemporary fiction and art can play a role in bringing history alive.
As we considered what happened next in the seventeenth century, this week we’ve examined the establishment of English colonies, the growth of the English trade in enslaved Africans and the emergence of racial enslavement especially in Barbados and Virginia. We’ve considered how this impacted on Africans living in England after the Tudor and early Stuart period.
As a focus for some of the themes of the week we’ve introduced the story of John Anthony, a free waged African mariner from Dover. His voyage to Virginia in the Silver Falcon in 1619 occurred in the same historic year that the first enslaved Africans arrived at Jamestown.
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Black Tudors: The Untold Story
Although in the end his ship turned back, his story highlights the contrasts between free Africans in Tudor and early Stuart England, and the enslavement emerging in the 17th century colonies.
As Miranda Kaufmann argued in her doctoral thesis which formed the basis for her book Black Tudors: The Untold Story.
“This previously undiscovered history of the experience of Africans in Britain in the century before the English became fully involved in the world of colonies and slave trading provokes larger questions. The encounter between White and Black was not as sudden as has been previously thought.
And if this encounter, which took place on English and Scottish, rather than just on African soil, did not immediately lead to racism and subjugation, then what was it about the circumstances in the colonies that caused that terrible outcome? “
Review and Reflect
As you’ve worked through the course and explored the stories of the ten Black men and women, you’ve also been introduced to the original historical evidence and developed your skills in historical methods.
You’ve explored images of many of the manuscript primary sources and evaluated transcripts from parish records, household records and court records.
As we’ve seen, these records have raised the question of some of the challenges of reclaiming Black history from archives written by White men.
One of the learning objectives introduced at the beginning of the Black Tudors course was:
- Question preconceptions in narratives of the past, informed by historical evidence in Black History
We very much hope that the course has allowed you to find out more about the lives and experiences of Black Tudors, and to start to ask your own informed questions based on the historical evidence.
- What part of Week 6 did you find most interesting or insightful and why?
- Which of the records and primary sources in the course as a whole have most interested you? How has your awareness of historical records and skills in historical methods developed since starting the course?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Black Tudors: The Untold Story
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