Medievalpoc, in the face of harassment, states the position of the *ahem* "opposition"
Apparently, answering a question that someone asked me about a video game project on kickstarter is a big, scary no-no among certain fringe contingents of the internet.
I will make their argument clear-no people of color of ANY kind in 15th century Bohemia!!! (If you read the link above, you can see screencapped replies from the game developers themselves-all “ethnicities” were excluded.) Therefore, everyone in their game can, and apparently, SHOULD be what we would consider “white” today.
Here is a fairly salient passage that was apparently beyond the reaches of those crying “debunkery!”:
Although many of these Bohemian images seem to reproduce or extend external approaches first developed at the time of the Hohenstaufen, in one respect there is a substantial difference in these two eras. There is no evidence of the actual presence of black people of African descent at the court of Charles IV or in Bohemia. Instead, part of the appeal for Charles, and for Bohemian artists and audiences, may have rested in the notion that the Czechs, like the Ethiopians, were a group on the edge of the Christian world. The fair skin and golden hair of the Czechs, emphasized by Giovanni dei Marignolli, one of Charles’ court intellectuals, may have been seen as defining one extreme of human beauty, just as the Black Ethiopians represented the other extreme.
The Image of the Black in Western Art v. II Part II: From the Early Christian Era to the Age of Discovery; From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood by Bindman, Gates, and Dalton, p. 19.
This seems to support the concept of an all-white Medieval Bohemia pretty strongly! Let’s explore this, especially in light of the CONTRAST made in the above passage, that in that court there was no evidence of Black people, while in another previous court in the Holy Roman Empire, there WAS.
The House of Hohenstaufen, mentioned above, were a dynasty of German/Holy Roman Empire rulers who conquered areas of Sicily and surrounding areas, specifically, a great deal of “Black Moslems”. This major shift in demographics and the way that it was represented in Hohenstaufen imagery is detailed and explored in Black Africans in Hohenstaufen Iconography by Paul H.D. Kaplan (Wake Forest University). <–that’s behind a JSTOR paywall, but you can read the first page at the link which gives a decent abstract.
But you can also see that the influx of immigrants from Germany, which I already mentioned before in this source [ Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c. 900-c. 1300 by Nora Berend, Przemysław Urbańczyk, Przemysław Wiszewski, Chapter 5: Society and Economy (p. 250), and Chapter 7: New developments of the 13th Century (The Mongol Invasion; p. 244).], would have probably changed the ethnic or “racial” makeup of Bohemia and central Europe significantly at that time. This influx was so massive they actually referred to it as “proto-colonization”, as I frigging mentioned before.
The German influence on Bohemia continued into later centuries, even after the waxing (and waning) of French influence on art and culture.
Although in many things, Charles of Bohemia followed his the example of his uncle, Charles V of France, in this instance he broke with French tradition, which had always depicted Saint Maurice as white; at Karlstejn the Magdeburg model was adopted. To decorate the chapel, Charles IV called upon a painter named Theodoric, who may have come from western Europe but was steeped in local tradition.[…]Probably painted before 1367, Maurice is a Black man characterized not only by color but by the hair and facial traits; he carries the sword, the banner, and the shield with heraldic bearings. So far as we know, this was the first picture of the martyr of Aguanum painted on a panel, and like the Magdeburg statue, it was a brilliant stroke.
The Image of the Black in Western Art v. II Part II: From the Early Christian Era to the Age of Discovery; From the Demonic Threat to the Incarnation of Sainthood by Bindman,Gates, and Dalton, p. 155.
Here’s an example of some of the Bohemian art influenced directly by images out of Germany, specifically in the style of images from Madgeburg, which made a rather large impression on the Bohemian gentry and royalty:
Enameled glass feat. Saint Maurice w/ armorial bearings of Magdeburg, Bohemia, 1568.
These disturbances and their influence on art and culture are corroborated and documented in Kymberly N. Pinder’s Race-ing Art History: Critical Reading in Race and Art History p. 44; 59 (Article by Jean Devisse; originally published in Image of the Black in Western Art, but more is visible/accessible in the preview ebook)
Now, does this necessarily mean “Medieval Bohemia was full of Black Moslems”?
No, not particularly. But it *does* allow for their presence. And that’s what I’m doing here: I’m opening doors instead of closing them.
As for the Mongolian invasions, Here’s a bit more on the History of the Battle of Legnica from The Mongol Conquests in World History by Timothy May p. 47-48:
ANYway. Toward the end of the Empire, cities like Karakorum (the capital in the 13th century) became hubs of trade and wealth from all over Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. As described by Timothy May (p. 114-115):
Here you can read the full account of William of Rubruck (a Flemish man, who lived farther away by a good deal than Bohemia) and his opinions about Karakorum, and the people who lived and/or traded there.
If you want accounts that connect Bohemia and the Silk road as well as Medieval intercontinental travel, here’s some bits and bobs which spent centuries apparently ignored for whatever reason:
Henry Yule and Henri Cordier, tr. and ed., Cathay and the Way Thither, Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, III (London, 1916; repr. 1998), 209-269, preceded by a useful introduction, 177-207.
^ That’s a primary source, so it ban be a bit thick. But the best part? This is the account of Giovanni (John) dei Marginolli, the “court intellectual” of Charles IV mentioned in the first paragraph of this post.
There is more evidence about Central Europe and other regions, including massive movements of various people, at the Fordham University Internet Medieval History Sourcebook.
There’s also the connection between the Duchy of Bohemia and the Byzantine Empire, which is full of rather intricate and confusing politics but forms another connection: that of any empire with travel, movements of the population, assimilation AND diversity. It’s another open door, rather than a closed one.
Now, every last person who reads this can feel free to disagree with it, ignore it, or choose to ally themselves with other sources that state THEIR position more to their satisfaction. As I have said over and over again, there is evidence, and there are interpretations.
The creators of the game have made it their prerogative to exclude any people of color whatsoever from their video game. And guess what? They can do that. Their game is already funded. I assume it will, in fact, be made. And I’m sure many of the white men who funded it will enjoy playing it very much. As for women and/or people of color, maybe not so much.
Playable female characters are optional and less important than two different types of music for the game; people of color have been purposely excluded. I’m not making that up, that’s all right there for anyone to look at, from the developers themselves.
The only thing that seems to be under debate is whether or not this exclusion is “historically accurate” or not. The problem is that apparently this is perceived as something that would absolve the game developers and their choices, which it was never meant to be. This blog was created as a frame to work from to counteract assumptions, namely that “historical accuracy” absolves anyone creating media that is all-white, for whatever reasons given.
Read these, or don’t. Play the game, or don’t.
But this entire conversation, the reaction of the developers, my response, and its subsequent backlash just go to show that perhaps this game was only meant for white men to play and enjoy. Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way. But I don’t know, the message seems pretty clear: stay out of “our” history, stay out of our Middle ages, stay out of our game.