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Black History Lectures: Sir Morien The Black Knight at King Arthur’s Table
26 May, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Join the Museum of Cambridge for a fascinating evening with Carol Brown-Leonardi.
Carol, a researcher in the British Windrush generation and Caribbean Folklore, will share her research on topics of Black British History at the Museum of Cambridge. In a series of in-person lectures on the last Friday of the month, Carol will explore Black History from the Romans to the Tudors. Her first lecture will discuss Sir Morien, a Black knight at King Arthur’s round table. Carol summaries her talk below:
“We are all familiar with the legend of King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone. The story tells the tale of the young boy validated as the true King of England for pulling the sword from the stone, unlike the stronger and older men who fail again and again. The legend of King Arthur and his knights at the round table was written in detail by the Anglo-Norman cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth between 1100 – 1154. This literature captured Europe’s interest and imagination, leading to a series of poems and works written by the French writer Christen de Troyes between 1155 – 1185.
In her article ‘not all knights at the round table were white’, Eveleth (2014) discusses how knights of colour have been excluded from the more recent productions of King Arthur’s tales. In the tale of King Arthur, the 14-year-old Dutch Knight Sir Morien, one of six knights of colour, occupies a seat at King Arthur’s round table. The talk will shine a light on this story. His quest to find his father, who deserted him and his mother, a Moor Princess, when he was two years old. During Sir Morien’s search he forms a friendship with Sir Lancelot with whom he has many adventures. The story is completed with him finding his father and regaining his inheritance as ruler in his land. The tale captures the essence of the Crusades in the comradery and friendship between Sir Morien and Sir Lancelot.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated and supported by the Medieval Latin Church from 1096 to 1453. The most familiar crusade campaign is the war over the Holy Land in the period between 1095 and 1291, which successfully recovered Jerusalem and the surrounding area from Islamic rule. The presentation will explore the African presence in Medieval Europe and the Sub-Saharan African presence in Medieval England. It will examine historical accounts of the black African Christian Kingdoms that thrived in northeast Africa during the Middle Ages. We will explore the existence of Sub-Saharan Africans living in medieval England. Illustrating the African presence in medieval Britain is the excavation by Professor Sue Black and her team (1993 – 2006), who discovered a skeleton during an archaeological dig in the Greyfriars monastery cemetery in Ipswich, Suffolk.
Nine skeletons of Sub-Saharan African origin were found at the grave site. It is believed that these Africans may have been involved in the Crusade wars. This African Crusader is known as the ‘Ipswich Man’ at around 1225-1285. It is believed that he was brought back by returning crusaders at around 1270.”
Join Dr Carol Brown-Leonardi and the Museum of Cambridge for a Friday evening exploration of Black History in the medieval world. Refreshments will be provided. Tickets are available at the door for £5.
Dr Carol Brown-Leonardi
Dr Carol Brown-Leonardi works at the Open University. Since 2000 Dr Brown-Leonardi has carried out long-term fieldwork and research projects on political discourse and non-renewable resources in the Mackenzie Valley, Canada and research on reindeer racing and training race reindeer in Northern Finland. Her current research investigates how Britain’s exit from the European Union has affected the perceptions and decision-making of mixed-nationality couples (British and Finnish) to stay and live permanently in Finland or the United Kingdom. Carol’s most recent work focuses on the Windrush deportee’s experience following the hostile environment policy to understand the levels of inclusion and exclusion experienced in both British and Caribbean society. Carol is interested in local history and contributed to the research for the Equiano Bridge Project.
Tickets are available for £5 at the door or via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-history-lectures-sir-morien-the-black-knight-at-king-arthurs-table-tickets-637501101957
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