Historian and soon-to-be author Miranda Kaufmann will be visiting Paddington Library this evening as part of the Paddington Book Festival and Black History Month in Westminster Libraries. She will discuss the fascinating but little known history of Africans in Tudor, Stuart and Georgian Britain.
Here, Miranda answers some questions about her research.
Why made you focus on Africans in Tudor and Stuart Britain for your research?
It’s a story that’s not often told, and gives us a different perspective on Tudor & Stuart society. It makes a change from established narratives such as Henry VIII’s marital difficulties, the Reformation, and the Civil Wars.
What we can learn about the role Africans played in Tudor and Stuart London?
There are hundreds of church register entries showing which London parishes Africans were baptised, married and buried in, which give us an idea of where they lived. We can also get some idea of the work they did, how they got here, and how they were treated, using a range of sources from visual images to court records. Different individuals of course played different roles. We learn of John Blanke, who played the trumpet at the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, the Moroccan ambassadors to the court of Elizabeth I, of Reasonabel Blackman the Southwark silkweaver, of sailors, musicians, domestic servants and more.
What relevance do you think your research has to 21st century Britain?
I think it is very relevant to contemporary debates around race and immigration. It’s important to show that Britain has a diverse history stretching back hundreds of years.
For more information, visit Miranda’s blog: http://www.mirandakaufmann.com/blog