Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, their Presence, Status and Origins written by Onyeka, is a 2013 book about the African population present in England during the Tudor period.
The book was officially launched at the House of Commons on 6 November 2013. Stella Creasy MP, Chi Onwurah MP and Councillor Lester Holloway delivered statements of support.
The book argues the presence of Moors was prevalent in Tudor England through documents such as personal letters, rare images and written descriptions including references to status and complexion.
Onyeka argues that evidence about Moorish presence in England at this time largely comes from “personal letters sent between individuals or other correspondence not written for publication.”
In the Introduction Onyeka states: ” Some Africans who were present in Tudor England were born in Africa and others were of Black African descent. I use the word African to describe both sets of people, but I acknowledge that in Tudor records these people are described by terms such as ‘Blackamoores,’ ‘Moor’ and ‘Negar.'” (page XIII)
He cites a letter written in 1501 by “Tudor politician Thomas More to his friend John Holt” talking about the Moorish presence in England. (page 39)
“In Europe during the medieval and early modern period, however the word ‘Moor’ could be used to describe Africans without the adjective ‘Black.’ …So the use of these words [Black and Moor] by sixteenth century writers is not just a reflection of their inability to follow modern rules of grammar. Rather, I suggest these words when used in parish records or other documents reflect the word Moor’s linguistic and rich cultural heritage, and this is why its variants were used to describe Africans: including dark-skinned or ‘Black-Africans’ in Tudor England.” (page 42)
Onyeka with his book Blackamoores: Africans In Tudor England, Their… at Nubian Bookstore
Onyeka also claims that Moors came to English cities such as London, Plymouth, Bristol and Southampton from all over continental Europe.
He claims “there is evidence that some of the Moors who were present in London at the end of the sixteenth century were from Iberia and congregated in specific areas of the city operating as a self-sufficient community.”
The book also explains that “some of these Iberian Africans [Moors] were skilled artisans, and had professions, trades and knowledge which were acknowledged by the royalty of Europe including members of England’s aristocracy.” (page 241)
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