In  Race, Colour and the Processes of Racialization: New Perspectives….we find the following:

Another instance of something becoming retrospectively black begins in antiquity with the Greek word nekromanteia which means divination by the dead. However, by the thirteenth century it was corrupted to nigromantia, black divination’ (James 1981:23). I would suggest that it is the historical fact of the crusades that encourages this slippage to take place. This gave rise to the contemporary phrases ‘black art’ and ‘black magic’. Another instance occurs with the son of Edward III, who lived in the fourteenth century. He was not called the Black Prince until the sixteenth century by Grafton in 1569 (OED: 251) as a way of signifying his malignancy.”

“And by the seventeenth century the phrase Black Prince had become even more evil by becoming another name for the Devil. In tracing the pictorial representation of the devil in west European art, James found that the devil was not regularly coloured black until the Fourteenth century. Before then he is often painted red, but ‘also green, blue, brown, multi-coloured (1981:23). Blackbird meant originally and literally a black bird. By the 1880s it had gained a more sinister manning,that of ‘a captive negro or Polynesian on board a slave or pirate ship….hence Blackbirder, man or vessel engaged in slave traffic’,”


“Blackamoor was initially used without ‘depreciatory force (OED), it meant literally black Moor. But by 1663 it had become a synonym for devil. The citation in the OED is ‘He’ is dead long since and gone to the blackmores below’. In the seventeenth century it comes to mean ‘vagabond, loafing, or criminal class of a community, and by the eighteenth century it has increased its forcefulness to mean ‘One of the idle criminal class, a rough; hence, a low worthless character addicted to or ready for crime, an poen scoundrel ( A term of utmost opprobrium)…..pertaining to the dregs of the community; of low, worthless character; brutally vicious or scurrilous’ (OED).”

Source: Race, Colour and the Processes of Racialization: New Perspectives f…

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