Although writing can help decipher history, it’s our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Africans in Medieval Europe

I was watching Nat Geo's "The Decrypters," and was awestruck by the founding and research of an African male in Medieval Britain. 

Quickly a flashback of Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Theives entered my brain.  And even though the ear-cringing dialect that Kevin painstakingly tried to articulate, (no offence, Mr. Costner, I do still love you in Dances with Wolves,) the one interesting subject was Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Azeem, a Moor who traveled to Britain during the Third Crusade.  Now that made a more provocative story-line. 

Then I thought about William Shakespeare's Othello.  Even though the play was written at the turn of the 15th Century, but it was actually inspired by an Italian poem forty years prior.   So now that leaves me to contemplate the influences of Africans in Europe before the slave-trade became such a horrific commodity.   

To recap on the very brief history of "The Decrypter's" episode, the skeletal remains found in England was remarkably buried in a Franciscans friars cemetery.  The natrual question to ask is, "What was an African, more likely a Moor, doing in  Medieval  England?"  First off, there was much trading from around the world for spices, exotic food and furs, gold and silver, etc. which could provide a reason; however, his remains were discovered in a Christian burial.  So, option number two reasons that quite possibly it was during the time of the Crusades.  Considering this particular African, according to DNA and isotopes carbon dating, (how I adore modern science,) he was from North Africa during the period of the last Crusades, age range between 40-60 years, who died from an infection in the spine. In order to have been buried with the friars is a strong indication that he converted religion but DID NOT become a friar himself since he was also buried with a belt. Only friars were buried with their habits and no property as in accordance with their religion.  

This is why I love history.  There are so many unfamiliar stories that need to be recognize out of necessity to understand our development of humanity and what it means to be, quite simply, human.  Peace out!

To read more about Africans in Europe, click onward below:

1241 Doomsday Book: Only known image of an African image

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Even though I am from Kansas, I enjoy venturing into other worlds from around the globe which is why my writing focuses on diversity. With fluid accessibility to modern media and traveling opportunities, my Midwestern world can expand and explore beyond my own backyard. In addition to studying cultures, I take pleasure in studying history. Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, over our society’s past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

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