Black Tudors

Pages: 384
Subject: History
Imprint: Oneworld
Illustrations: 8-page colour plate section, 10 integrated greyscale images

Black Tudors

The Untold Story

Miranda Kaufmann

A transformative history - in Tudor times there were Africans living and working in Britain, and they were free
9781786071842 (5 Oct 2017)
RRP £18.99 / US$27.00

The Book

A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A Moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England…

They were present at some of the defining moments of the age. They were christened, married and buried by the Church. They were paid wages like any other Tudors. The untold stories of the Black Tudors, dazzlingly brought to life by Kaufmann, will transform how we see this most intriguing period of history.

Additional Information

Subject History
Pages 384
Imprint Oneworld
Illustrations 8-page colour plate section, 10 integrated greyscale images


About the Author

Miranda Kaufmann is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of London's Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She has appeared on Sky News, the BBC and Al Jazeera, and she's written for The TimesGuardian and BBC History Magazine. She lives in Pontblyddyn in North Wales.


‘In a work of brilliant sleuthing, engagingly written, Kaufmann reclaims long-forgotten lives and fundamentally challenges our preconceptions of Tudor and Jacobean attitudes to race and slavery.'

- John Guy, bestselling author of Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years

‘This is history on the cutting edge of archival research, but accessibly written and alive with human details and warmth. Black Tudors is a critical book that allows us to better understand an era that fascinates us like no other.'

- David Olusoga, author of Black and British: A Forgotten History

‘Who knew that a diver from West Africa worked to salvage Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose? Based on a wealth of original research, Miranda Kaufmann's Black Tudors restores the black presence to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England in all its lively detail. Africans lived and worked not as slaves but as independent agents, from mariners to silk weavers, women and men, prince and prostitute. Black Tudors challenges assumptions about ethnic identity and racism in Tudor England. It will be required reading for anyone interested in new directions in Tudor history.'

- Dr John Cooper, Senior Lecturer in History, University of York, and author of The Queen’s Agent

‘Miranda Kaufmann has written a superb antidote both to the cliches of Tudor history and to the assumption that Black migration to Britain began with the Windrush. Her vivid portrait of Black Tudor lives sweeps readers around the world in the company of Diego, manservant to Sir Francis Drake, and back to the life of single woman Cattelena in the Gloucestershire countryside. Grounded in precise and detailed historical research, Black Tudors promises to change perceptions of a period at the heart of Britain's national identity.'

- Catherine Fletcher, author of The Black Prince of Florence

‘The book is based on impeccable research in a rich array of sources. But Dr Kaufmann wears her learning lightly and she tells a series of fascinating stories with an elegance and wit that should appeal to many readers.'

- Clive Holmes, Emeritus Fellow and Lecturer in History, University of Oxford

‘A brilliant example of how to use the most detailed kind of archival data to present a broadly accessible picture of the past, and one which has enormous relevance to the present controversies about immigration and diversity.'

- Paul Kaplan, Professor of Art History, State University of New York, Purchase

‘The very concept of black Tudors may sound unlikely, but in this highly readable yet intensively researched book, Kaufmann…makes clear that people of African descent were residing in England centuries before the postwar Windrush generation and were not necessarily enslaved. By examining in detail the lives of 10 previously obscure men and women, Kaufmann depicts the great diversity of their experiences in 16th- and early-17th-century England… Kaufmann also persuasively argues that the enslavement of Africans emerged as a response to the socioeconomic conditions of England's Caribbean and North American colonies, rather than as an inevitable result of a supposedly inherent racism within early modern English culture. Kaufmann's crucial contention, in conjunction with her lively prose and fascinating microhistories, should draw some well-deserved attention.' 

- Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘An eminently readable book that offers contemporary readers valuable insights into racial relations of centuries past.'

- Kirkus