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Black Africans in Renaissance Europe
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  • 67 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 434 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 1.115 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 305.896/04/09024
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: D233.2.B44 E26 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Blacks--Europe--History--To 1500
    • Blacks--Europe--History--16th century
    • Europe--Ethnic relations--History--15th century
    • Europe--Ethnic relations--History--16th century

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521815826 | ISBN-10: 0521815827)

DOI: 10.2277/0521815827

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published May 2005

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 (Stock level updated: 02:21 GMT, 10 October 2015)


This book, first published in 2005, opens up the much neglected area of the black African presence in Western Europe during the Renaissance. Covering history, literature, art history and anthropology, it investigates a whole range of black African experience and representation across Renaissance Europe, from various types of slavery to black musicians and dancers, from real and symbolic Africans at court to the view of the Catholic Church, and from writers of African descent to black African 'criminality'. The main purpose of the collection is to show the variety and complexity of black African life in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe, and how it was affected by firmly held preconceptions relating to the African continent and its inhabitants. Of enormous importance for both European and American history, this book mixes empirical material and theoretical approaches, and addresses such issues as stereotypes, changing black African identity, and cultural representation in art and literature.

• The first study of black Africans in Renaissance Europe • Features contributions from experts in the fields of history, literature, art history and anthropology • Of great importance for the later history of slavery in the United States


Introduction: the black African presence in Renaissance Europe Kate Lowe; Part I. Conceptualising Black Africans: 1. The stereotyping of black Africans in Renaissance Europe Kate Lowe; 2. The image of Africa and the iconography of lip-plated Africans in Pierre Desceliers's World Map of 1550 Jean Michel Massing; 3. Black Africans in Renaissance Spanish literature Jeremy Lawrance; 4. Washing the Ethiopian white: conceptualising black skin in Renaissance England Anu Korhonen; 5. Black Africans in Portugal during Cleynaerts's visit (1533–8) Jorge Fonseca; Part II. Real and Symbolic Black Africans at Court: 6. Isabella d'Este and black African women Paul H. D. Kaplan; 7. Images of empire: slaves in the Lisbon household and court of Catherine of Austria Annemarie Jordan; 8. Christoph Jamnitzer's 'Moor's Head': a late Renaissance drinking vessel Lorenz Seelig; Part III. The Practicalities of Enslavement and Emancipation: 9. The trade in black African slaves in fifteenth-century Florence Sergio Tognetti; 10. 'La Casa dels Negres': black African solidarity in late medieval Valencia Debra Blumenthal; 11. Free and freed black Africans in Granada in the time of the Spanish Renaissance Aurelia Martín Casares; 12. Black African slaves and freedmen in Portugal during the Renaissance: creating a new pattern of reality Didier Lahon; 13. The Catholic Church and the pastoral care of black Africans in Renaissance Italy Nelson H. Minnich; Part IV. Black Africans with European Identities and Profiles: 14. Race and rulership: Alessandro de' Medici, first Medici duke of Florence, 1529–37 John K. Brackett; 15. Juan Latino and his racial difference Baltasar Fra-Molinero; 16. Black Africans versus Jews: religious and racial tension in a Portuguese saint's play T. F. Earle; Bibliography; Index.


'At each turn of the page, Black Africans in Renaissance Europe unravels some of the intrigues and hidden nuggets captured in the literature and artwork of the Renaissance period about black Africans. With the inclusion of a wealth of drawings, paintings, Latin, Italian and Portuguese texts of poetry, letters and inscriptions, it is impossible to do the book justice in a mere review.' Runnymede's Quarterly Bulletin

'… we must be grateful for the important dimension Black Africans in Renaissance Europe contributes to a larger subject: the embrace of human slavery which, though certainly not unique, has nevertheless sullied the history of the West.' The Times Literary Supplement

'This is an exceptionally rich anthology, well written, handsomely illustrated, and containing much of value for both specialists and a more general public.' Allison Blakely, Boston University

'This book's complex picture of black life across Europe makes it an important read not only for Renaissance scholars, but for all scholars of the early Atlantic world … a valuable book …' Catherine Molineux, H-Atlantic

'… the quality of the individual contributions is uniformly excellent. Each piece is carefully researched from both manuscript and printed sources, and each is an original contribution to scholarship … the works gathered together in this fine volume are likely to be cited and quoted for some time to come.' John Thornton, The International Journal of African Historical Studies

'This excellent volume is a striking testament to what can be achieved in uncovering the black presence in Western Europe and serves as a stirring inspiration for future work.' Philip Morgan, Princeton University

'… the volume offers an array of insights into a subject that has long deserved more attention than it has received.' Liz Horodowich, Renaissance Quarterly

'… the collection is valuable for the excellent essays it does provide and especially for the insights into attitudes toward Otherness, especially that racial biasses are the product of one's particular social and political situation, and the discourses that are constructed around them.' Mary C. Olson, Sixteenth Century Journal


Kate Lowe, Jean Michel Massing, Jeremy Lawrance, Anu Korhonen, Jorge Fonseca, Paul H. D. Kaplan, Annemarie Jordan, Lorenz Seelig, Sergio Tognetti, Debra Blumenthal, Aurelia Martín Casares, Didier Lahon, Nelson H. Minnich, John K. Brackett, Baltasar Fra-Molinero, T. F. Earle

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