Africans have been present in Europe from classical times.
Moor women were also mentioned in the Treasurer’s accounts. It is unclear whether or not they were servants, since they were showered with items such as gowns of satin, ribbons, slippers and gloves, paid for by the king.
Entries that refer to Moor women include:
‘Blak Elene’ or ‘Elen More’ was given five French crowns in 1512.
A ‘blak madin’ who attended Queen Margaret was given four-and-a-quarter ells (just over five yards) of French russet.
‘Blak Margaret’ was given a gown costing 48s in 1513.
‘Two blak ladies’ staying at the Scottish Court were presented with 10 French crowns as a New Year gift at a cost of £7.
In 1527, one item simply said ‘ to Helenor, the blak moir – 60 shillings’ .
–More facts less fiction A portrait of an African Man (Christophle Le Moor), Jan Mostaert, c. 1525-1530, oil panel.
After their marriage, the king’s Lord High Treasurer’s accounts provide numerous entries to show how much he enjoyed lively entertainment, employing foreign minstrels from Italy and elsewhere. King James was generous to all kinds of people, including Black Moors.
King James IV of Scotland came to the throne in 1488. He was an able and visionary monarch whose administration united and maintained order in the Scottish highlands and lowlands. He encouraged manufacturing and shipbuilding, and created a navy. James IV also renewed Scotland’s alliance with France, although in 1503 he took an English wife, Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England.
James was a popular, fun-loving king with many interests. Many Black Moors were present at his court. Some worked as servants or (possibly) slaves, but others seem to have been invited guests or musicians. We know that he courted Margaret with lute and clavichord recitals and took her out hunting and playing sports.
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Roman soldiers of African origin served in Britain, and some stayed after their military service ended.
According to the historians Fryer, Edwards and Walvin, in the 9th century Viking fleets raided North Africa and Spain, captured Black people, and took them to Britain and Ireland.
From the end of the 15th century we begin to see more evidence for the presence of Glossary – opens new window Black Moors in the accounts of the reign of King James IV of Scotland, and later in Elizabethan England.