Asians in C15 England

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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:37 pm

That fella Lord Rivers brought into Southampton to teach his people how to do double figure accounts had five fellow Genoans with him in the 1470's so he must have more than doubled the Italian population.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby behanner » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:53 pm

Dave B wrote:So perhaps a reasonable answer to the question 'were there coloured people in england in the middle ages' would be:

There were plenty of people of african origin in spain.


This would be misunderstood by most people that I know. Saying they are of African origin implies they are of sub-Sahara Africa origin, which isn't true. Peoples on the north African coast are mediterranian, which is traditionally considered to be caucasion. When you look at native people in Spain today do you consider them to be colored.

There were a reasonable number of sinti gypsies in germany and some other european countries in the 1400's


Once again are we really talking about people who would have been percieved as people of color.
Here is the earliest European portrait of a gypsy. http://www.wga.hu/art/b/boccacci/boccacci/gypsy_g.jpg I would not define her as colored.
Here are two more a bit later. http://www.wga.hu/art/c/caravagg/01/07fortun.jpg http://www.wga.hu/art/c/caravagg/02/11fortu.jpg
Now one of the earliest depictions of gypsies in NW Europe is from a Bosch painting. And while they are painted a darker skin tone then the gentlewoman they are next to they don't appear any darker then many of the other faces in the painting and the color tone of these aren't very good.
http://www.wga.hu/art/b/bosch/4haywain/03pcentr.jpg
http://www.wga.hu/art/b/bosch/4haywain/12ecentr.jpg


There may have been coloured sailors landing in british ports as ships came from many places.


It is probably more accurate to say that by the end of the 15th century there were probably colored sailors on Venician galleys which landed principly and possibly at Southampton, maybe London. There is a reference to a local man getting in to a fight with a blackman who was the drum player on a venician galley in the 1490s.

We cant be sure if any of these people came to or stayed in england, we do know that they did by tudor times.


With the alien levies we can actually be pretty sure although outside of a few of them they have not been widely studied.

If there were here they would have been rare.


Yes and most of the population would go their whole life without seeing one.



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby behanner » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:23 pm

Fox wrote: Do you know if this means people who were in those counties at the time of census, or people who were resident, or people who had re-settled?


These are residents that have not be "made citizens".


Benedict wrote: Are there reasons why there might be so few aliens appearing? Was the survey done for tax or toll purposes, so there might be an incentive not to feature? Does the survey just cover the countryside - ie foreigners were concentrated in towns (London, Bristol, York, Winchester for example), which would make sense in an trading/specialist artisan context? Does the survey only reflect important aliens - ie 1 Italian might be significant enough to be noticed, but the twenty others in his retinue didn't count? The 25 Channel islanders in Devon and 30 in Dorset don't fit very neatly with this.

It does rather suggest that foreigners and towns went closely together. It's also very interesting to see that Flemings and French were so common as to escape notice, while Channel Islanders appeared.


Those who I said were not included, were not included by me. They are covered in the survey in the article I just did not include them so I didn't have to type out the 3 page chart. It was a tax levied on foreigners living in the country. It does cover towns although as I said London was not covered because it was too much to cover in the artcle, hence the book mentioned above by someone else. The thing about Italians is this. The established population was not very large but when the main Venitian and Genoese fleets came to England there would be a large swell of Italians in Southampton and London.
So temporary population is not covered in it nor does the author think that a member of a great household would be listed. So if a Duke or what not had a foreigner in his household it was probably not included.



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby behanner » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:23 am

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:That fella Lord Rivers brought into Southampton to teach his people how to do double figure accounts had five fellow Genoans with him in the 1470's so he must have more than doubled the Italian population.


Well actually no. Particularly after the Cade's Rebelion and the anti-alien riots in London of the 1450s Italians gained a like for Southampton as the city protected the aliens. So not only did Italians become denizens but you might find Italian ships wintering in the port and what not. There are two articles you might look into. "Alien Hosting in Southampton in the Fifteenth Century" and "Alien Merchants in Southampton in the Later Middle Ages" But even those I'd say just give you an idea. I suspect someone could write a large book on Italians and Southampton in this period.



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Dickie » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:24 pm

[quote="
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Whist technically correct, we more importantly not from Bohemia either :wink:

Actually I'm not from Basingstoke either, in fact don't really live there :wasntme:


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:48 pm

That makes sense, the Mayor of Bristol wrote to Parliament in 1453 wanting to know what to do as there had been a number of cases of Italian men marrying local women as a way of avoiding extra taxation and obtaining some form of citizenship that might protect them and their interests from being seized as alien stock, I believe this was around the time when the Crown confiscated all Italain goods they could lay their hands on as punishment for a genoese fleet coming to French aid or the Italian bankers refusing to lend them any more money or something.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Matt Easton » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:06 am

behanner wrote:
Dave B wrote:There were plenty of people of african origin in spain.


This would be misunderstood by most people that I know. Saying they are of African origin implies they are of sub-Sahara Africa origin, which isn't true. Peoples on the north African coast are mediterranian, which is traditionally considered to be caucasion. When you look at native people in Spain today do you consider them to be colored.


Whilst it is true that the Moorish population of Southern Spain was predominantly what we'd describe as Arabic, a significant number of excavated skeletons in Southern Spanish medieval cemeteries have been Sub-Saharan black. As I'm sure you know, Caucasion, Indian and Arabic type people have generally similar skeletons, whilst Sub-Saharan black peole usually have distinctly recognisable skeletons. So there were certainly black people in medieval Spain, because their skeletons remain.

The slave trade had been going for a long time and we also know that both black Africans and Europeans served in Mamluk armies in the 14thC.

Black people were also in England in the middle ages:
http://medievalnews.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... gland.html

Black people were certainly also numerous in France and Italy in the late-15thC. They also appear in art frequently:

Image

However, this thread isn't really about Sub-Saharan black people, it's about a person of Indian origin.

Given that we know both Italian and Portugese ships came to London in this period, and those both Italy and Portugal traded with various Asian ports, I would say that is your most likely historical justification, if you want one. Also let's not forget that immigrants have been lieing about their nationalities since the dawn of time. Just as Romanians today try to pass themselves as Italians in France, I bet a number of those 'Italians' recorded in England medieval records weren't actually Italian at all. Even one of the most famous Italian medieval families the Medici had African blood!

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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Brian la Zouche » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:02 pm

James The Archer wrote:Ignor it! or she comes from Spain and is an ex -more, we shuld not stop anyone enjoying our periode due to skin colour, and NO I'm NOT PC :D



well said ( but personaly id not even comment of the justification )

after hearing a 1st texas cavalry man speak geordie i cant see why EVERYONE cant enjoy themselves

so HOO rah !! james


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby behanner » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:50 pm

Matt Easton wrote: Given that we know both Italian and Portugese ships came to London in this period, and those both Italy and Portugal traded with various Asian ports, I would say that is your most likely historical justification, if you want one.


See now you bring up the real issue. What is acceptable historical justification. At some point you really aren't talking about historical justification but about individuals who are exceptional. You end up doing something as rare as portraying a duke. We are talking 1 in a million or at best 1 in a 100,000. When you get to that point you aren't talking historical justification you are talking historical evidence because the history of it is in the details and not in the generalities.



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:27 pm

Which is why I think it would be best to just ignore any question of developing a "backstory" (something so beloved by the SCA-not that I think there is much difference between LH in the UK and SCA stuff to be honest.)


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Brian la Zouche » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:01 pm

maybe insted of trying to find out what roles she ''could'' do, you should find out what role she ''wants'' to do, then if you still feel the need to find historical data , you can narrow your search down to her chosen role


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby behanner » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:21 am

Brian we aren't really even talking about her. We are talking about historical facts and how they are interpreted. What she and her group do are up to them and those that they are involved with. I don't think anyone has suggested that she be bound to a narrow portrayal due to her skin color. Reality is that the question is almost certainly going to come up so she and her group might as well be prepared for it.

I both agree and disagree. While the idea of a story perse is a little trite but the more specific of a portrayal you do the more you need to be aware of the details that got your portrayal where you are. If your a farmer then you can be from lots of different places in England. But if your an Italian _______ then there are usually specific things that go you where you are in England.



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Brian la Zouche » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:16 am

ah yes , I see, My bad, I took it they were looking for justification to allow someone to take part, due to skin colour, but I see it is.... were people from india in england ? and what did they do ?


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Dave B » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:36 am

I'm interested that you don't think that gypsies in europe at the time would look foreign. I have to be carefull here, but to me roma / Sinti gypsies look a bit indian now, maybe 35 - 40 generations after leaving india, and presumably occasionaly interbreeding with other populations. I'd have thought it common sense that they would look more indian only about 12 or 15 generations out of india?

OK you've posted those portraits that show them looking very european, but I think you have to accept that they are 'courtly' portraits, and that there was a definite trend to paint portraits to emphasise the fashionable rather than to be totaly photorealistic.

btw, did you know there was an independant roma fiefdom in corfu in the 14thC - just picked that snippet up.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Matt Easton » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:26 am

behanner wrote:
Matt Easton wrote: Given that we know both Italian and Portugese ships came to London in this period, and those both Italy and Portugal traded with various Asian ports, I would say that is your most likely historical justification, if you want one.


See now you bring up the real issue. What is acceptable historical justification. At some point you really aren't talking about historical justification but about individuals who are exceptional. You end up doing something as rare as portraying a duke. We are talking 1 in a million or at best 1 in a 100,000. When you get to that point you aren't talking historical justification you are talking historical evidence because the history of it is in the details and not in the generalities.


Sorry, but I just don't really think this is important.
The fact remains that if this lady wants to have a historical background then she can, if she doesn't then it doesn't matter... it's only reenactment and everyone talks modern English, is on average over-weight, over-tall, has too good health, is too unfit, is too clean and has unhistorical teeth.

Y-chromosome testing in the UK has shown that in every few hundred men you get a residual, like the Scotsman with a typically Scottish name who had a Mongolian y-chromosome (he turned up whilst they were doing the Anglo-Saxon/Welsh mapping when I was studying archaeology at UCL back in about '99).

We don't even know how many African slaves there were in England in the 18thC, we certainly don't know how many non-English there were in England in the 15thC. We only know very approximately what the population size was...


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Frances Perry » Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:18 pm

Damn, I knew I shouldn't have got rid of that book!

If anyone has a copy of: The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Kitche ... 758&sr=1-2

There is a very interesting colour plate of a coloured lady in what appears to be a domestic setting with a husband in a home cooking - okay France or Italy, but it shows that more than white people were around in Europe at this time, and perhaps co-habiting / marriage as well. I'm afraid that I don't have the book any more so I can't find the reference...grrr...


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:17 pm

There are any number of images of coloured women in Italy in a domestic setting-Florence, Genoa, Venice all had small black populations of slaves, former slaves and Christianised bastard offspring of slaves. I would have thought it more liekly to be a Italian then French picture.
Its a hazy image of alien population in England I portray an Italian who has married an English woman an sought denizionship to avoid the extra taxation and restrictions upon trade beacuse I was able to focus on research into medieval Bristol, London and Southampton.
When a former poster wanted to portray a Spanish nobleman I tried to sway him to do otherwise because I just couldn't find much to support this representaion-a student at Oxford in Orders, a few cast away sailors in Southampton and an odd Portugese merchant was about it.
If you are trying to portray an Asian woman in England then I cannot find anything to support that, so you would either need to make up some weird backstory invloving slavery and trade winds, say that the lassie isn't Asian but of another racial stock or ignore it. To me the former seems silly the second patronising and the third while not ideal the best.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby behanner » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:49 am

[quote="Matt Easton]
Sorry, but I just don't really think this is important.
The fact remains that if this lady wants to have a historical background then she can, if she doesn't then it doesn't matter... [/quote]

Actually it is up to her group, those groups that affiliate with her group, and those that hire her group for events. If you claim to do history then you can not just do whatever you want because that isn't history. You are right if she just wants to portray an english woman then it is a moot point, because just like height and weight is skin color.

Dave, I honestly don't know that I have ever seen Roma person. Do I think they would stand out in a crowd of English, yes. However I am not sure I or many people could distinguish them from peoples of the Mediteranian. As to changes over generations you might be surprised. When a population is persecuted some of those who can pass as not being part of the group they were born will join the main population. So depending on how common that was it could have an impact on the population. I am not saying this happened or that it is the reason why the paintings are different from the modern population but sometimes the effects of things are not what we might expect.

It was not uncommon for gentlemen of other kingdoms to spend some time in English service. I believe Hicks puts forth the idea that a hispanic gentleman may have influenced Richard's charge at Bosworth. They are simply going to be found in a very different set of records and you are dealing with one in a million and so details are important. I don't think there is necisarily anything wrong with portraying these people but they are specific people.



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby zauberdachs » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:02 am

Just an observation, but if something is a one in a million occurrence but it's is attested in history then it is still historical. It might not be generic to the time period but it's still historical and provable.

Interesting though about the underlying point that Re-enactment should focus on the generic as this gives the most accurate impression of the time period and is therefore more historically accurate.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:28 am

zauberdachs wrote:Interesting though about the underlying point that Re-enactment should focus on the generic as this gives the most accurate impression of the time period and is therefore more historically accurate.


That's a complicated argument.
The most representative thing to do in the medieval period is various forms of social history, mostly based around agriculture and other rural living.

However, representing influencial things is also very valuable, even though [and possibly because] those events are often a-typical and unusual.

What's important, in my opinion, is to know the difference.

So getting back to this thread I feel there is real value in Asian lady in question actually knowing something about travel, trade and foreigners in England in the period, because people will ask those questions and knowing the answers is an opportunity to share knowledge with an interested public.
But let's let her get her feet under the table first....



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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby GuyDeDinan » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:31 am

From a personal (SCA) point of view, I'd keep it simple, otherwise the lass and her group are going to get tied up in knots in the presentation. It is a fairly basic one, but I would think along the lines of coming alongside the spice trade via Genoa or Venice, into Bristol or Southampton (not London - that was dominated by the Hanse). Depending on her choices of status (and thus kit), I'd think anything up to an association with the Merchant Adventurers perhaps - again something to negotiate within the group. Such protection would be needed, considering the xenophobia of the time, though most of that was reserved for Flemings, French and Spaniards. Women in trade and reasonably independent means seems to have been more prevalent in this time than during the later Tudors.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby GuyDeDinan » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:42 am

Thinking further, why not invite her on to here, cos we're playing around with a lot of assumptions on her ideas and interests?


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:47 am

Italian interfence in the wool trade especially in the way they were able to side step established guilds and routes and go directly to the markets in the Cotswolds and Welsh Marches were a huge annoyance to the London and Bristol markets.
The term Lombard was freely used , not only to indicate the region of Italy (the poeple themselves generally used it donate if they came from North Italy, Umbrian for central Italy, Roman - go figure, or Neoplalitan for the south) but as a racial slur. There are letters from "disgusted of..." deploring the way that those Lombards pervert good englsih men with their clothes, fancy foods, customs etc.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:49 am

"Come over 'ere, stealing our jobs and wimmin."
(Come to think about it I have had the same thing said to me!)


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby zauberdachs » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:57 am

Fox wrote:That's a complicated argument.


It's an interesting thought and an assumption I realise I often make and, now I think about it, not something I necessarily agree with. Probably worth it's own thread.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Brian la Zouche » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:04 am

as i see it there are 2 points here

1, is there historical evidence of an asian in england at this time period
2, can an asian take part with no historical evidence to back up the intended role

1 i cant speak for as i have no knowledge
as for the 2nd point, i would think its treading on really thin ice for any society/ organiser to say '' you cant take part because you are asian''

40 years a go maybe. but nowadays ?? maybe i'm wrong maybe EH would say '' sorry only people of accepted colour are allowed to take part''

or maybe the laws of this great land i live in would say otherwise

I'm not PC, but i can not agree with anyone having to ''justify'' them selves for any reason their race/ creed or colour


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby GuyDeDinan » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:27 am

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:That makes sense, the Mayor of Bristol wrote to Parliament in 1453 wanting to know what to do as there had been a number of cases of Italian men marrying local women as a way of avoiding extra taxation and obtaining some form of citizenship that might protect them and their interests from being seized as alien stock, I believe this was around the time when the Crown confiscated all Italain goods they could lay their hands on as punishment for a genoese fleet coming to French aid or the Italian bankers refusing to lend them any more money or something.


It was in revenge for the Genoese sinking the Bristol expedition of Robert Sturmy, one-time Mayor of Bristol. They didn't like the challenge to their monopoly in the Med, so they wiped his crews out as a warning. The next Mayor then sued all Genoese he could identify and eventually got £6000 for it. Took a while though, and left Bristol less than impressed with Henry VI.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Matt Easton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:27 am

Not to mention the fact that a large number of white people in England are far from being entirely English. Round Liverpool it would be hard to find many white people whose ancestors were not living in Ireland in the 15thC, and London has been getting large influxes of Irish, Scots, French, Dutch and various other nationalities for hundreds of years.
Very few of us are 'historically accurate' when it comes to 15thC English people...

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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Dave B » Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:36 am

If EH did say they wen't happy with a group because it had coloured people in it I think they would regret it.


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Re: Asians in C15 England

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:50 pm

Dave B wrote:If EH did say they wen't happy with a group because it had coloured people in it I think they would regret it.


While there is a legal 'allowance' for it (similar to employing Chinese waiters in a Chinese resteraunt), I don't think that anyone would want to volunteer for that test-case.

To be honest, I'm surprised that EH haven't backed down on the cross-dressing thing, for fear of Equal Opertunities legislation.


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