timballisto asked:

I'm writing a paper about the internalized racism in Shakespeare's Othello. Do you have any good sources about the Elizabethan interactions with people of color that can give me some context for this play? I asked my professor but he gave me the "there were no african peoples (Moors or otherwise) in England in this time period" spiel, but I'm sensing bullshit. Thank you!


Okay well your professor lied to you.

Actually there were so many Black British at that time that Elizabeth I tried to blame the realms ills on them and have them all deported. Twice. She failed, probably because you can’t deport your own citizens very well under most circumstances. It’s actually a pretty pivotal point in English history.

Here’s one of the letters from her own hand:


An open le[tt]re to the L[ord] Maiour of London and th’alermen his brethren, And to all other Maiours, Sheryfes, &c. Her Ma[jes]tieunderstanding that there are of late divers Blackmoores brought into the Realme, of which kinde of people there are all ready here to manie,consideringe howe God hath blessed this land w[i]th great increase of people of our owne Nation as anie Countrie in the world, wherof manie for want of Service and meanes to sett them on worck fall to Idlenesse and to great extremytie; Her Ma[jesty’]s pleasure therefore ys, that those kinde of people should be sent forthe of the lande. And for that purpose there ys direction given to this bearer Edwarde Banes to take of those Blackmoores that in this last voyage under Sir Thomas Baskervile, were brought into this Realme to the nomber of Tenn, to be Transported by him out of the Realme. Wherein wee Req[uire] you to be aydinge & Assysting unto him as he shall have occacion, and thereof not to faile.

You can read another one in its entirety here.

Elizabeth I tried to use Black British as scapegoats for some of the problems in English society during the Elizabethan Era, problems that led to the passing of the famous Poor Laws in 1597 and 1601.

From The British National Archives:

But while Elizabeth may have enjoyed being entertained by Black people, in the 1590s she also issued proclamations against them. In 1596 she wrote to the lord mayors of major cities noting that there were ‘of late divers blackmoores brought into this realm, of which kind of people there are already here to manie…’. She ordered that ‘those kinde of people should be sente forth of the land’.

Elizabeth made an arrangement for a merchant, Casper van Senden, to deport Black people from England in 1596. The aim seems to have been to exchange them for (or perhaps to sell them to obtain funds to buy) English prisoners held by England’s Catholic enemies Spain and Portugal.

No doubt van Senden intended to sell these people. But this was not to be, because masters* of Black workers - who had not been offered compensation - refused to let them go. In 1601, Elizabeth issued a further proclamation expressing her ‘discontentment by the numbers of blackamores which are crept into this realm…’ and again licensing van Senden to deport Black people. It is doubtful whether this second proclamation was any more successful than the first.

Why this sudden, urgent desire to expel members of England’s Black population? It was more than a commercial transaction pursued by the queen. In the 16th century, the ruling classes became increasingly concerned about poverty and vagrancy, as the feudal system- which, in theory, had kept everyone in their place - finally broke down. They feared disorder and social breakdown and, blaming the poor, brought in poor laws to try to deal with the problem

As you can see, Black people were a pretty important and pivotal part of English society at the time. Basically, the Queen tried to convince the people that they had to “give up” their cobbler’s apprentices and weavers and other various other workingpeople (the Black musicians in the court were of course exempt from the deportations) to the crown, on the basis that they were “vagrants” and “mostly infidels”. This was not only a wild exaggeration (most were Christian with working class jobs like ya do), but it’s not a very compelling reason to frigging report your next-door neighbor Bill the Mason to immigration. Because then who’s going to do your masonry?

So anyways, the Poor Laws had to be passed, because you can’t deport your citizens/workforce and no one would cooperate with something like that.

And it’s not like those people went anywhere. They’re still there. They were there before that! Some had been there since like, the 4th frigging century when that was part of the Roman Empire!

Also check the tag for England here. Plenty more on lots of different people of color in England throughout many eras.

* this generally refers to the “master” of a workshop or guildmaster, not necessarily the master of an enslaved person, FYI.


ART - When Pop Culture and superheroes meet classical Flemish painting : “Super Flemish” by Sacha Goldberger
The excellent Super Flemish project of French photographer Sacha Goldberger, who transports the Pop Culture and superheroes into classical Flemish painting and fashion of the Elizabethan era… Some gorgeous retro versions of Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Darth Vader and so on! l Via Ufunk.

Some Little Things i Like : Tumblr l Facebook l Twitter


On this day in history, November 17th, in the year 1558, a weak and ill Mary I died at St James’s Palace. She had experienced at least two false pregnancies, but left behind no child to rule after her.

Instead, her half sister Elizabeth succeeded her to the throne, and would go on to rule England for nearly 45 years, giving her name to an era and becoming one of the most famous and influential monarchs in British history.

YOU spotted snakes, with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms do no wrong,
Come not near our fairy Queen!

Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence. 

Philomel, with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby, Lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm
Nor spell nor charm
Come our lovely lady nigh:
So, Good Night, with lullaby.

Songs from Shakespeare

This captures the moment Sir Francis Walsingham, the spymaster for Queen Elizabeth, was able to present to her conclusive proof that her cousin and the next heir to her throne was conspiring to overthrow her.

This was a moment of triumph for Walsingham. Queen Elizabeth was surrounded by plotters and always nervous about her Protestant island encircled by Catholic nations. But she was notoriously reluctant to fund a spy department. Walsingham was forced to sink much of his own fortune into protecting his queen. Why?

While ambassador in France, he witnessed firsthand the massacre of Protestants, less than a decade after the country had celebrated the king’s Catholic sister marrying a Protestant, the ceremonial end to France’s wars of religion. As a highly-placed Protestant, Walsingham had much to lose should anything similar happen in England. By handing Queen Elizabeth her cousin, he was able to remove the most prominent and most legitimate Catholic threat to his queen.


This ring was created around 1575 by Elizabeth I’s personal jeweler. It is solid gold, covered with mother of pearl and encrusted with precious jewels. A hidden clasp opens the locket ring to reveal a portrait of Anne Boleyn on one side and Elizabeth herself on the other.

The ring was given to the Home family by King James I, the family donated it to the Trustees of Chequers house, the country residence of the Prime Minister. Recently the ring was on display at the Greenwich Museum, which was its first public display.

Your Most Regal and Gracious Majesty,

Submitted for your approval are these, some superstitions from the reign of the great Maiden Queen Elizabeth. During the era of my youth it was most important these be followed at all times.

1. One must always say “God bless you” when one wouldst sneeze or else the devil would enter ones body and possess it while the mouth was open.

2. The seventh son of a seventh son possessed great magical properties. If Your Majesty is familiar with the writings of the great contemporary author Miss Joanne Rowling, one wouldst be aware she borrowed this belief though in her literature. It did not apply only to sons but daughters also and the great witch Ginevra Weasley was the seventh child of a father who was a seventh son.

3. Peacocks are ill omens, and the eye on the peacock feather is the evil eye of Satan or one of his foul minions.

4. Trees are filled with magick and one can guard against ill omens like the dreaded peacock feather by touching an object made of wood.

5. One must never put one’s shoes on the table for this shall bring death upon one’s household.

6. If one should spill salt or pepper this is a great ill omen and a great misfortune, for such spices are extremely expensive.

7. The greatest and most wicked of all ill omens is the eclipse. If such a horrible malfunction of the heavens is to occur, it shall bring death, destruction, and poor manners upon the kingdom. Even the great noble houses shall not be immune to its ill effects. One must always be wary of this time of great peril!

Great thanks to Your Majesty for allowing a meager and humble subject such as myself to send you this information I have gathered. May your glorious reign last forever. 

Your most loyal subject,

Sir Cecil 

Post scriptum: Here is a source I used to refresh my recollection. 

The Oddment Emporium: This is absolutely marvellous and sourced (which is my favourite thing in the world)! Do you not have a Tumblr of your own!? Thank you very much indeed! :)