Weeks ago, Cartoon Network posted a video mentioning black medieval knights.
Black inventors, heroes, and leaders are often left out of history. Ask yourself as you’re learning…who is the focus? Why? Question the story ✊🏿✊🏼✊🏾✊✊🏻✊🏽💖— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) December 3, 2020
The Crystal Gems say BE ANTI-RACIST! Visit https://t.co/5ukinriWYO to learn more. pic.twitter.com/gNLYLO9PER
I cheered when I saw this. In the post Myths about Medieval Europe, I mentioned that people have some interesting views about that time period. It affects books, movies and TV shows, especially in the fantasy genre. Writers justify their all-white, straight cast by saying “that’s just how it was back then.” Was it really like that back then?
I have 2 master’s degrees, neither in Medieval Studies. However, my first degree is in Information and Library Science. At its core, that degree is about locating, vetting and organizing information/data. I’m a trained researcher.
For months, I’ve been searching academic journals on minorities during medieval times. It’s been a struggle. People have published a lot of articles on the Middle Ages. They mostly avoid race. Honestly, people viewed race differently back then. It’s probably not an easy topic to research. But also…
“Medieval studies in general has been the last humanities-based discipline to welcome new perspectives, whether it’s research perspectives or theoretical perspectives,” said [Dr. Adam] Miyashiro. “It was previously dominated by White men and for that reason, questions surrounding race in the Middle Ages were often ignored.”Ruf J. Diversity and the Middle Ages. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. 2020;37(1):15-17. Accessed December 27, 2020. http://search.ebscohost.com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,cpid&custid=nypl&db=aph&AN=142076355&site=ehost-live
Black Medieval Knights
Were there black medieval knights?
More than likely. Medieval Europe probably wasn’t as diverse as our modern world but it wasn’t all white either. Black/brown people weren’t simply slaves or servants or just invisible all togther.
One name keeps popping up. Sir Morien, the black knight of the roundtable. According to Smithsonian Magazine,
“six percent of the Knights of the Round Table were men of color.”Not All the Knights of the Round Table Were White
Then there’s Saint Maurice. In artwork, he’s shown as a black-skinned knight. However, some sources aren’t sure he existed or even if he had black/brown skin. According to research, he was the “first artistic depiction of a black African in Medieval Europe.”
My research is still ongoing. I’d like to read some of the books I found. A lot of experts, at least the people of color, believe Medieval Europe wasn’t as white as people claim. I hadn’t known about Sir Morien. Generally, I avoid Arthurian tales because they’re so white. Turns out, there were probably black knights of the roundtable. I’d read that story.
–Ruf J. Diversity and the Middle Ages. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. 2020;37(1):15-17. Accessed December 27, 2020. http://search.ebscohost.com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,cpid&custid=nypl&db=aph&AN=142076355&site=ehost-live
–Lampert, L. (2004). Race, periodicity, and the (neo-) Middle Ages. Modern Language Quarterly, 65(3), 391+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A120354295/AONE?u=nypl&sid=AONE&xid=7f2282aa
–Noble Ingram Staff writer. History lesson: Scholars take aim at racist views of Middle Ages. Christian Science Monitor. September 12, 2018. Accessed December 27, 2020. http://search.ebscohost.com.i.ezproxy.nypl.org/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,cpid&custid=nypl&db=aph&AN=131736621&site=ehost-live