I spoke last Friday Oct 19th at the British Library as part of their Readers Research program the evening’s topic was chosen to coincide with Black History Month – Blacks in Renaissance Britain.
|Miranda Kaufmann Presenting|
I was surprised and delighted to find the evening was a complete sell out – people had paid good money to hear me talk quite a novel experience; perhaps testament to the growing interest in Blacks in this period.
I spoke about my experience of writing my Open University Independent Essay in the summer of 2008 followed by an overview of the essay - essentially the history of this blog. You can read a transcript here and download my presentation.
Miranda‘s talk was intriguingly entitled:
135 Africans in a Bristol barn for week in 1590, or what I’ve Learned at the British Library...
It was both entertaining and interesting, as she revealed some of her findings from the British Library’s Archives. She presented these 135 ‘Neagros’ with some matter of fact detail of their stay in Bristol she'd teased from the archives . For example the budget for their ‘victualls and diett’ was 4d – four old pence about 1.67 new pence –per man per day. I discovered later that’s around £33 in today’s money . She also pointed out that this compared to 6d per day per man for the 32 ‘Portingales and Spaniardes’ taken into custody from the same ship at the same time.
The Q&A session raised a couple of issues I plan to consider further:
1 Questions around black history what is it and what it meansBoth will be the subject of forthcoming posts.
2 Why African Ambassadors were sent to Europe's courts during the period, no Kings or Queens followed on?
For more information about Miranda’s research see her web site. She has done some original and ground breaking work in discovering 350 Africans in Britain 1500 to 1640. Tantalizingly, I’ve had the privilege of access to parts of her doctoral thesis on those 350 Africans so, I very much looking forward to the book when it’s published.
One last point I discovered from Miranda’s presentation that she and I were doing our research at the British Library at the same time – Summer 2008 – yet didn’t actually meet till 2011. It would be quite useful if the British Library could find some way of bringing Readers on the same subject together – if they , the Readers, want to that is(!) – a cross between a Dating Agency and Friends Reunited site based on Readers Research subjects, maybe?
All in all a great honour and privilege to share my thoughts and ideas on Blacks in Renaissance Europe with an interested and engaging fellow presenter , chair and audience at the home of ‘the World’s Knowledge’.