Mythology with attitude? A black Christian's defence of negritude in early modern Europe

Glyn Redworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines what may be the earliest post-classical letter from a Europian person of colour. From a black Christian to a community of unidentified religious women, it deals with an episode of racial abuse before providing a defence of blackness. This article stresses the rarity of any text dealing with early modern racialism. Moreover, differences between peoples are historigraphically ascribed to religious and not so-called ethnic reasons, i.e. Christian/non-Christian rather than black/white, with some authors even asserting that racialism was the product of the subsequent and capitalistic exploitation of slave labour. Challenging both these views, this text indicates that racialism based on colour pre-dates the industrialized slave-trade. The letter is further analysed to see if it is an obviously literary or fictive text and whether it was possible for people of colour in early modern Spain to be formally educated to the extent that they could compose this letter. It is documented that Golden Age Spain was home to many people of colour, often but not always manumitted slaves or their descendentans, who easily achieved the required degree of education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-66
Number of pages17
JournalSocial History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


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