10 BLACKS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY

10-blacks-in-european-history

INTRODUCTION

Blacks in European history has been a debacle of debate from time to time,blacks have a long and vibrant history in Europe,even sometimes it turns out to be an argument and disputes between some prominent Europeans or whites,as to why people will say blacks had contributed immensely in European history,and of course any white person who is genuine and have deep respect and remorse for blacks will not doubt or question about how and why blacks has contributed in European history.Nowadays what most blacks face in Europe,America and other part of the world is prejudice,injustice and racism,all because blacks have been forgotten and wiped from history and now the usual notion for most Europeans or whites is that blacks are of a slave race whereby,there were slaves in every race.On the contrary,never forget that a lot of blacks also perished during the inquisition and the Theban legion,like when emperor Maximian ordered to murder the soldiers of Saint Maurice,after they refused the emperors order,(more about him later),and there were even blacks in European history who have been whitewashed or made to look like white or European.

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The Etruscan’s,the first Romans.

Since time immemorial,Africans has contributed immensely when it comes to world civilization but still black people have been continuously pressed down and even some of the ancient achievements of black people have been wiped out and the rest that can still be seen has been credited to the white man or other extra-terrestrial races,but the agenda is that,whether the white race or extraterrestrial race,they all used the black man for all their development and other major and minor works. Just travel the world and you can really testify about some of the wonderful things black people has done.

blacks-in-european-history
A ceramic bust of Socrates

Europe received black Africans regularly and in significant numbers from the mid-fifteenth century onwards,the Mediterranean in general is a cross-cultural and inter-ethnic grounds before typical Greece.Much of the history corresponding to blacks in European history is generally unknown to Black people as well as to some of the white people.The contribution of black people to European and world history is endless and there will be no room for me on this platform if we try to dissect it.Some of this contributions were achieved either on the African continent or other parts of the world.So therefore,it is my critical privilege to share this with you to know that,there were a lot of blacks in European history that no one is talking about or who have been forgotten.From Atlantis,Lemuria,Siberia,Australia,America and other unknown or undiscovered places on earth,there has been a black person behind some dynamic or tumultuous civilization.One thing that makes black people dont recognize their own was the changing of identity of the the black slaves,two great way to change someones identity is to change his or her name and language,just like what white slave masters/owners usually do when they purchase an African during slavery days,also this practice made a lot of Africans lost their identity,since the name will pinpoint exactly where one actually originates.

 

BLACKS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY

ST. MAURICE (250 AD- 287 AD)

St. Maurice or Mauritius was one of the blacks in European history that we are going to unleash.He was born in Egypt in AD 250 in Thebes,a city in Upper Egypt in the ancient times,other sources also suggest Nubia,however,in those days,all these names were used to depict anyone from Africa.He was a Roman soldier and was promoted because of his prowess and he rose to become the commander/General of the Theban legion,it was like in this modern world black soldiers in the USA,British,French etc army/military,it is said that the name Theban is derived from the name Thebes which is where Maurice was born and perhaps the soldiers recruited at that time to the Roman army were all of African decent,they were part of the soldiers sent by the emperor Maximian` Hereculeus to fight an uprising of the Gauls (France) known as “Bagaude” with an army of which one unit was the Thebian Legion of about 6600 men.According to some sources these branch of soldiers who were recruited from Egypt or Africa were good and devoted Christian that even under arms,they never forget to give what is to God to God, and to Caesar the things of Caesar.

st. Maurice
A figure of saint Maurice

In 287 AD,something remarkable happened and what happened was what made Maurice a venerated saint till today,significant to this is a town in Switzerland called saint Maurice,it was actually known in Roman times as “Aguanum”.The army group led by saint Maurice Theban Legion,comprising of Christian Roman soldiers in Egypt was commanded by Emperor Maximian Hereculeus (250 AD-310 AD) to march to Agaunum to clear the Great St. Bernard Pass across the Alps and he was issued an order that the whole army should join offering sacrifices for the Roman gods before going into battle for the success of their mission but they refused the emperors order as a faithful Christians,in actuality,they were either required to participate in pagan rites or to harass and kill local Christians,upon saint Maurice and his army discovering that those to be slaughtered are Christians and particularly he also see no reason to embark on a sacrifice that involves shedding an innocent blood to the Roman gods.

However,when Maximian who is relaxing and spending his holidays at a place called Octudurum heard the news of the refusal,he became so furious that he ordered all the Theban soldiers to be decimated by dividing them into groups of ten and selecting one soldier from each group to be killed.When they continued to refuse the Emperor’s order,the remaining soldiers were again divided by ten with every tenth man selected for execution but the resilient and stubbornness of this soldiers and the encouragement of their commander made the emperor had the entire Legion killed.

The bravery and the martyrdom of these Theban or African soldiers 150 years later made the Church  declared Maurice a saint for his defiance of the Emperor’s orders.Saint Maurice is now venerated as a saint and widely worshiped in Europe and other part of the world on September 22 for Catholic and December 27 for orthodox,though the Germans still use the black image of him,which some researchers doubt the credibility of Saint Maurice being black as penned by Eucherius of Lyon.Even though  Switzerland,France,and Italy still depicts him as white.

CHARLOTTE OF MACKLEMBURG-STRELITZ (1744 -1818)

Well,I assume a lot of people think Meghan Markle is the first black in the British Royal Family,the way she is now a black in the British Royal family is the same way that facilitated Queen Charlotte to also become the Queen of Britain,she is our next black in European history.

charlote and maarkle
Queen Charlotte and Meghan Markle

Her real name is Sophia Charlotte and was born on the 19th of May 1744,she was the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Princess Elizabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen,a Quzana,though Charlotte was born in Mecklenburg-Strelitz a small northern German territory of the Roman Empire but she was directly descended from an African branch of the Portuguese Royal House,her mother was a black Moorish married into the Portuguese royal family.However,this secrete was kept quite until a story was done on her recently.She is the grandmother of Queen Victoria and the great-great-great-great-grandmother of the current Queen Elizabeth II of England,she was the wife of King George III and was betrothed to him when she was 17 when the king was 22.She had fifteen children,thirteen of whom survived to adulthood,The couple’s fourth eldest son was Edward,Duke of Kent,who later fathered Queen Victoria.Charlotte was also the mother of two future monarchs to the British throne,George IV and William IV,her children with King George are as follows; George,Prince of Wales (1762),Prince Frederick,Duke of York and Albany (1763),Prince William,Duke of Clarence (1765), Charlotte,Princess Royal (1766),Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1766),Princess Augusta Sophia (b.1768), Princess Elizabeth (b.1770),Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland (1771),Prince Augustus Frederick,Duke of Sussex (1773),Prince Adolphus,Duke of Cambridge (1774),Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776), Princess Sophia (1777) Prince Octavius (1779),Prince Alfred (1880) and Princess Amelia (1783).

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Portrait of Queen Charlotte,wife of king George III of Britain.

Queen Charlotte was a the first Queen to reside in the Buckingham palace,she speaks French and German but she was latter taught to speak English,she was also a lover of the arts,especially German composers like Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.Charlotte was also hailed for discovering another young artist,an eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.she was so fascinated in botany that explorer Captain James Cook always presents her an assorted plants from his journeys,according to sources she was the one who introduced Christmas tree to Britain.She founded orphanages and even became the patron of London’s General Lying-in Hospital now called Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in 1809,one of the first maternity hospitals in Great Britain.She was also the one who put up a town in North Carolina called Charlotte after her,during the later part of her reign,she became the legal guardian to her husband after King George was declared ill.

Unfortunately,the life of this adorable queen began to wobble as a result of the post she took as her husband advisor,she even fought with her son publicly as to who should be at the throne,she died sitting in an armchair at the family’s country retreat while her eldest son was there beside her,holding her hand and she was buried at the exact place Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married at the St George’s Chapel,Windsor Castle.

SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354 AD-430 AD)

Many people also doubt the credibility of St. Augustine’s being an African but whether agree or disagree,he was naturally a Berber from Algeria and a place called Tagaste (Souk-Ahras) Numidia,in North Africa.Augustine was born in 354 at Tagaste,Algeria,in North Africa and a bishop of Hippo,he is one of our famous blacks in European history,because many people even dont know that St. Augustine was from Africa,His father was called Patricius,his mother was a devout Catholic called Monica,he was such an important figure in the catholic fraternity and helped to redefine the catholic believe,one of his controversial quote include seeing marriage as a sin.Augustine is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Churches,his memorial celebration is on 28 August,the day of his death,his paternal ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia,so he got a privilege to become a Roman citizen,that is why he is a Roman,even now in Africa a lot of black people claimed to be Romans because of their church affinity.

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St-Augustine-of-hippo

He was sent to a Roman school at the age of 11,at Madaurus a city about 31 km south of Thagaste,during this time,he became vexed in Latin and other African (pagan) beliefs and practices,mostly the Europeans Christians who came to Africa termed Africa’s indigenous religion as pagan,he also studied in Carthage at the age of 17,he had a son called Adeodatus (372–388) with a Carthage woman but he later married his 10 years old heiress,for which he has to wait for another 2 years to be legally ripe for marriage.Following his studies in Tagaste and later in Carthage,Augustine became a teacher of rhetoric,first in his native town,then later in Rome and finally in Milan but He was baptized at the age of 33 by Bishop Ambrose of Milan.

Augustine,fell sick in the year 430,sources said that,he made them wrote Psalms on a wall in his room so that he could read,pray and meditate with it.He died on August 28th,during the time the city of Hippo was being sacked and ransacked by the Germanic Vandals.He was canonized and recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1298 by Pope Boniface VIII.He was laid to rest in Hippo but was later taken to Sardinia for safe keeping and finally to Pavia in Northern Italy,where it now rests in the Basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro.

SAINT MARTIN DE-PORRES (1579-1639)

Saint Martin De Porres or his full name Juan Martín de Porres Velázquez was born on 1579 in Lima,Peru. His father was a Spanish grandee called Don Juan de Porres and mother was free black woman called Ana Velázquez from Panama,he was raised in absolute poverty,after the father abandoned the family shortly after the birth of his sister,his mother undertook laundry work for a leaving,he was sent to a primary school for 2 year but circumstances and the hardship of living forced him to leave,he was later placed under the care to study with a barber-surgeon,where he learned bloodletting and the administration of medicines.Because of his upbringing,he mostly spent time in prayers and in meditation.

San-Martín-de-Porres
Saint-Martín-de-Porres

During his time in Peru,the segregation and the pending slave trade was so severe that Under Peruvian law,descendants of Africans and Native Americans were not allowed to become full members of religious orders but because of his desire to serve humanity and the poor in general he volunteered to become part of the the Dominicans at age 15,so that he can get the chance to care for the sick in the monastery,he and later became the one who dispatches money and other materials to the poor.With the exception of his barbering and work with the Dominicans,he also took on kitchen work,laundry and cleaning services,this is a typical life of people born to Africans in the Americas and Europe during the slave era.Martin was subjected to a lot of racial abuse in the holy Rosary,after he was promoted by Juan de Lorenzana to become a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic.One of the novices scolded him and called Martin a “mulatto dog”, while one of the priests mocked him for being illegitimate and descended from slaves but all this never stop him to become the father of the poor,he was later given a chance to work in the infirmary as a lay monastic in 1601 when he was 34,he worked in the infirmary to care for the sick,until his death at the age of 59.

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Saint-Martin-de-Porres

He was known for his healing prowess especially with a glass of water outside his convent,he also feed 160 poor persons every day as well as distributing money every week to the African slaves whom he mostly preach to,he once saw  an aged beggar one day,covered with ulcers and almost naked,he asked for help and Martin took him to his own bed,one of his brethren at the convent wasn’t happy but Martin replied:“Compassion my dear Brother,is preferable to cleanliness.”He was later forbade by the authorities to help the poor at the convent so his sister gave him a house to continue to care for the poor,one day he took in a man who was dying on the street to his home and cared for him,when the authorities heard it again he was severely punished for disobedience,afterwards he reply them by saying,Forgive my error and please instruct me,for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity,upon saying this he was later allowed to go on to do what he loves to do.He established a school to care for orphans and abandoned children in the city of Lima.

He died on 3 November 1639,it was said that the miracles that one receive when he is invoked is massive and exceptional,this made the authorities exhumed his body for 25 years and said to be found intact,he was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on the 29th of October 1837 and was also canonized by Pope John XIII on May 6,1962.He is best patron saints for people of mixed race, and of innkeepers,barbers,public health workers and many more and also known as Papa Candelo by the Africans in the Caribbean islands,his feast day is on November 3rd.He is also sometimes portrayed to be holding a broom,since he considered all work to be sacred,no matter how small,he is sometimes shown with a dog,a cat and a mouse eating in peace and harmony from the same dish.

ALLESANDRO DE- MEDICI (1510-1537)

The life of this noble man was very short but the name still lingers in Italian history as he is our next black in European history. Allesandro was born in Florence on the 22 of July 1510,his father was Lorenzo di- Medici and according to Christopher Hilbert,his mother was a domestic worker of African decent in the Di-Medici household called Simonetta da Collevecchio,though other researchers dispute this to be false but all the same he was known to be black or a mulatto.

Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence
Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence,Italy.

Allesandro was sometimes known as Il Moro due to his dark complexion,he was the Duke of Penne and also Duke of Florence from 1532 and also a ruler of Florence from 1531 to his death in 1537 at the age of 26,he was chosen by Clement VII to be the Duke of Florence when he was 19 years,he married the daughter of Charles V called Margaret of Austria,duchess of Florence and Parma,Allesandro’s rule was described as incompetent and harsh but it is still a matter of debate by historians.

Unfortunately,Allesandro was assassinated by his cousin called  Lorenzino de’ Medici in 1537,he left behind two children dubbed Giulio de’ Medici and Giulia de’ Medici.His assassination was a very tragic incident indeed,he was lured by his cousin Lorenzo,after deceiving him to have sexual encounter with a married woman who is sad to be sister of Lorenzo called  Laudomia,he was stabbed by a hired villain called Scoronconcolo before cutting his throat.

 

ANTON WILHELM AMO (1703-1753)

Next person to talk about is a person who many people dont know,with the exception of those who are Dutch and know a lot about Dutch history,His name is Wilhelm Anton Amo or Antonius Guilielmus Amo.He was born on 1703 in Axim,a coastal town in the western part of Ghana,and was of an Nzema tribe,he was the first black man to study and teach philosophy at the university of Helmsted,he was a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Arts.As for how he got to Europe is still a matter of debate,some say he was captured and sent there as a slave,other sources also says he was presented to the Duke Anton Ulric who later gave him to his son August Wilhelm and was treated as a member of their family,he got to Europe (Amsterdam) by the expense of the Dutch West India Company at the age of four,the initial idea was to be trained in Dutch Reformed Church to become a minister,also the fact that he stood by his African name shows how he was free from brutality and prejudice growing up,indeed he suffered racism and prejudice when his patron and God father died.Upon all the skirmishes he had and hard life that he faced after the death of his patron,he was also a staunch advocate of the slave trade.

Wilhelm Aton Amo
A sketch of Wilhelm Aton Amo

He studied in Halle and in Wittemberg,he was a master of logic,metaphysics physiology astronomy, history,law,theology,politics and medicine and he was a perfect speaker of six different languages including Hebrew,Greek,Latin,French,German and Dutch,one of his philosophical quotes about the mind,soul and the body is below:

Whatever feels lives,whatever lives depends on nourishment; whatever lives and depends on nourishment grows; whatever is of this nature is in the end resolved into its basic principles; whatever comes to be resolved into its basic principles is a complex; every complex has its constituent parts; whatever this is true of is a divisible body. If therefore the human mind feels, it follows that it is a divisible body.

Furthermore,after Amo left to Halle,he took up a post in philosophy at the University of Jena after the death of The Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel but he was subjected to an unpleasant ambiance by those who opposes him as a black person,the death of his benefactor made life difficult and unbearable for him as well,what made life most difficult for him was when he published the “Tractatus de arte sobrie et accuarate philosophandi”,a book which talks about logic and psychology of knowledge.He was expelled shortly after the publication when the authorities cited his views,all those who could made life better for him and protect him were all gone,worse of it all was the racial abuses he suffered so in 1747 he returned to Axim,his native land.

In Ghana,the problem and what Amo went through was unknown but the little we have was that he came to meet his father and sister still living in Ghana,but the other personality of him as an African raised in Europe at the age of four also sparked another challenge for him,since he was naturally African but culturally European,things begun to twist,the difference in comparing and sharing his views was always seen as something which goes opposite to the culture and norms of his people.He was living as a sage and a soothsayer during his return,his way of thinking and understanding was also contrary to his people views and undersnating of things,this little problems forced Amo to live like a hermit or a monk in the Dutch Fort San Sebastian in Shama in 1750,he lived in the fort till his death,however,there is no concrete date about his death but he was buried in the same fort.

His works was suppressed in Germany by Schiller,Fichte,Schelling,Hegel and other universities he taught but his views and ideas was rekindled by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and William Abraham in 1960,later the German institutions began recognizing the figure and scholarship of the philosopher of African and Ghanaian decent.

ABRAM PETROVICH GANNIBAL/HANNIBAL (1696-1781)

Abram was born on 1696,like most of our blacks in European history,the exact place he was born is also a matter of debate but from what his grandson called Pushkin left for us shows that he was born in the Central African Republic or a place in modern day Cameroon.He was the son of a king and a Prince of Logon in Cameroon,the capital of the ancient Kotoko kingdom of Logone-Birn,he was captured and sold into slavery to Constantinople or Turkey,his sister called Lagan was drowned in the sea when trying desperately to save her brother from taken away into slavery,imagine the agony,wailing and tragedy that happened when this little prince was taken away.He was first sent to the household of sultan Ahmed III of the Ottoman Empire but was later discovered by Russian ambassador called Sava Vladislavich-Raguzinsky who was looking for a clever,intelligent,smart and strong African child to adopt,this propelled the boy to be sent to the court of Czar Peter I also known as Peter the Great when he was eight years,you could ask yourself,why do a man like Peter the Great,a Russian looking for a black boy in his court?

Abram (Ibrahim) Petrovic Gannibal
Abram Petrovic Gannibal

Abram later became one of the most educated men in Russia and royal favorites and a general-in-chief,the Czar took him to Metz,France in 1716 to study engineering,geometry and mathematics at a military school and later to the royal artillery academy at La Fère in 1720.Two years later,he joined the French army and fought in the war against Spain,he was captured during this war but later released to continue his education,it was also in France that he took the name Gannibal as in Hannibal of Carthage,afterwards,he returned to Russia in January 1723,the king traveled extensively with Hannibal in most of his military campaign,acting in full capacity as the general in chief of the Russian Army.He also befriended some great personalities of that time,such as Baron de Montesquieu and Voltaire,it was said that Voltaire used to call Gannibal the”dark star of the Enlightenment”.He also taught mathematics in one of Tsar’s private guard units.

Unfortunately,his Godfather and protector Peter the Great died in 1725 and just like Amo,Gannibal faced prejudice after the kings death,he was sacked from his duty as a general in the black artillery as a  lieutenant by the royal advisor Prince Menshikov as he is not fond of him,he was assigned to Siberia and later to China.Surprisingly,things turned around in 1741,when Empress Elisabeth took the throne and Hannibal was allowed to officially return from his exile,He married his second wife Christina Regina von Schöberg,the daughter of a Swedish army captain,he bore eleven children with her and one of his sons named Osip was the grandfather of the poet Alexander Pushkin.He rose to the rank of major-general, and became superintendent of Reval which is now in Tallinn,Estonia between 1743 and 1751 and by 1760,he had been promoted to the rank of a full general,he supervised many projects in Russia such as the construction of the Ladoga Canal and Russian fortresses,he died on April 20, 1781, as one of the leading pioneers of his country and probably the first outstanding engineer in Russian history and a famous black in European History. Gannibal’s noted and oldest son Ivan Petrovich Gannibal also became an accomplished naval officer who helped found the city of Kherson in 1779 and rose to the rank of General-in-Chief,the second highest military rank in imperial Russia.

JACOBUS ELISHA JOHANNES CAPITEIN (1717-1747)

Another interesting personnel to talk about in our blacks in Europeans history is a man born in Ghana and later taken to Holland similar to Amo and Gannibal. Jacobus was born on 1717 in Ghana,he was forcibly taken and sold as a slave in 1725 to Dutch sea captain Arnold Steenhart at the age of 8,usually Europeans are fond of forcibly taken blacks who are perceived to be witty,a trader with the Dutch West India company was fond of him and received him from Steenhart as a gift later that year,he also adopted the first name of his new master and was issued the last name Capitein,Dutch for”captain,”corresponding to the captain who gave him to his new master and Godfather Jacobus van Goch.He was 11 when his new master took him to Holland,The Hague.In Holland,he was treated as an adopted son,he was taken to school and graciously excelled in the study of painting,reading,writing,mathematics,cyphering and the classical languages.He therefore decided to come back to Africa,Ghana to continue his work as a missionary so he was sent to University of Leiden to study theology.

Jacobus Capitein
Jacobus Capitein

He also defended and questioned about the slave trade and Christianity,at Leyden University on 10 March 1742,he delivered an oration in Latin on the question,Is slavery contrary to Christian freedom or not?He even argued that though Christian love prevented Christians from treating their slaves with cruelty and allowed that after some time freedom should be allowed to the slave,there was no express command in the Gospel to that end,nor was slavery contrary to Christian freedom.He also wanted to come to Africa to teach his people but the Dutch dont care to convert the ” heathen or the local people also the Dutch authorities and missionaries as well as the traders also detested a black man preaching their gospel.

On the 8 of October 1742,at the age of 20,he returned to Africa,Elmina his native land to become a missionary for the Dutch Reform Church,since there was no chaplain for previous 8 years and also the previous chaplain Pastor Isaacus Ketelanus had been dismissed because of the bad life he had been leading.In Elmina,he was met and welcomed by the Director General Jacob de Pettersen,he liked his sermons that he gave Jacobus a large room for a school.Within 2 weeks of arrival Capitein had placed a number of black and mulatto boys under supervision of Abraham Zuurdeeg,the Dutch reader in the castle,he also taught the children alphabet and other christian principles,he was also credited for translating”The Lords Prayer and the Ten Commandment”into Fanti language,the enrollment later raised to 45 after speaking to the chiefs and people of Elmina about his mission and plans for them.The Asantehene Opoku Ware I sent 12 boys and 2 girls to be taught how to read and write. However,one of the King’s son called Gyakye,was sent on a diplomatic mission to Holland carrying 10 elephant tusks to pay for his education.To cut a long story short,during the pinnacle of his career as a minister,he faced a lot of financial crisis and setbacks,also the lack of support by the West Indian Trading Company and his church in Holland made him sad and felt Embittered,he was in constant debt,his contact with the locals were also not accepted because he had become too of a Dutch than Fanti or an African,amid all this problems,he also openly opposed the extramarital affairs in which a number of white Dutch traders engaged in Africa,this factors also made him become enemy to the traders.He also wanted to marry a local girl but the Dutch authorities did not approve so they rather offered him a white lady called Antonia Ginderdros,they had the first European weeding in Elmina in 1745,Jacobus Capitein died on 1st February 1747 in his early 30s.

JOHN EDMONDSTONE (1700s)

Charles Darwin was one of the most recognized and revered scientist in history but what about the person who taught Darwin,the man who enlightened the world vividly about natural science,botany and evolution,dont let it baffle you when I tell you that,the one who taught Darwin taxidermy was a black man,he is called John Edmondstone and he gave Darwin precepts and encouraging accounts of tropical rain forests in South America,with the exception of teaching him taxidermy.

charles-darwin
Edmonstone and Darwin

He was born in Demerara,British Guiana in 1700,other sources also says 1793,he spent most of his time working on his masters plantation in Demerara.a region in present-day Guyana, South America.His owner is called Charles Edmondstone,a Scottish politician and plantation owner,this means he took the surname of his master.He often shows great intelligence and always eager to learn so his owner allowed him to learn how to read and write.During the early 1800s,Edmonstone’s owner was visited by his friend and future son-in-law Charles Waterton,who married Charles daughter,Anne Edmonstone,he was also a renowned naturalist and explorer,he expressed great affection for Edmondstone,so therefore,he later taught him taxidermy or ‘the proper way to stuff birds.’ The two got on well and traveled extensively together on expeditions into the rainforest,that was where Edmondstone learnt the skills that propelled him to go on to teach Darwin.He gained his freedom shortly after travelling with his master to Glasgow,with his new skills and a new life in the UK,he fortunately start to earn a living by stuffing birds at the Natural Museum and teaching taxidermy to students at the University,that was where 16 year old Darwin heard about Edmonstone in 1825,Darwin was living with his brother Erasmus on Lothian Street whiles studying at the university of Edinburgh and his future teacher was also living just a few doors away.

Darwin and his friends later hired him to take them through the course to teach them to become a naturalist after Darwin couldn’t excel in medicine,he struggled to sit through surgeries,which in those days were still performed without anesthesia.These are some quotes about him from Darwin’s memoir;

By the way,a negro lived in Edinburgh,who had traveled with Waterton and gained his livelihood by stuffing birds,which he did excellently; he gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him, for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man”.

Darwin paid Edmosntone one guinea a lesson,he also told Darwin stories from his homeland about lush tropical rainforests and exotic flora and fauna(fossils),within five years,Darwin has acquired a great knowledge from a black man and this knowledge help him to secured a place aboard the H.M.S. Beagle as the ship’s naturalist,during its famed voyage in 1831.Those skills he gave Darwin proved vital and indispensable throughout the historic voyage and help Darwin form his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Very pathetic thing about Edmonstone is that,after all this feats and great impact he made to Darwin’s life,nothing is heard from this great black man,even if it wasn’t Darwin who mentioned him in his autobiography,we might never have even learnt of his existence,also there is no trace about how and where he spent his later years,death and burial.

JUAN LATINO (1518 – 1594)

Juan Latino is an important personality when we talk about some of the famous blacks in European history,he was such a great poet and a scholar who taught in Granada,Spain.His real name is Juan de Sessa and was born in  Baena in 1518,his real name suggest he is the son of the Duke of Sessa,as it was told by his literally and fiercest enemy,León Roque de Santiago,so he was the son of an African slave woman and the Duke of Sessa,Luis Fernández de Córdoba,the famous Spanish war hero,other sources also suggest that Latino was only educated together with his master’s son Gonzalo II Fernández de Córdoba,the Duke of Sesa,he studied letters in the Cathedral school for which he was taught by Pedro de Mota,Latino became great and excelled in Greek,Latin languages and music,he soon started to write his own poems in Latin.

juan-latino
Juan Latino,one of the greatest poet and scholar in Spain.

He moved to the University of Granada in 1546 where he received his Bachelor Degree in the presence of the Archbishop Pedro Guerrero and the listener of the Real Chancery, Conde de Tendilla,when he was 28 years old at that time.With the help of protector the Archbishop,he got an employment as a lecturer in grammar and Latin language at the Cathedral school that was when his old teacher Pedro de Mota died in 1556,now a freed man and in new institution,Latino held that post for 20 years.His profound knowledge in Latin,poetry and music gave him access to mingle with the elite in Granada,through teaching children of the elites in Granada,he came across the daughter of Licenciado Carleval,the Duke’s administrator,she was the most beautiful maiden and famous in the city,she was called Ana Carleval,whom he married in 1547 and 1548.

However,in 1573 and 1585,Latino published three volumes of Latin poems in which he point out the critical and inhuman conditions of blacks,he negated the validity of any religious justification for slavery of Africans.His most famous poem is the “Austrias Carmen,”which was dedicated to Juan de Austria,the hero of the sea battle of Lepanto. The great scholar in Classical Arts and music died on an unknown date 1594,there is no accurate record about his children with Ana for which i believe they had children during their marriage life.

EDITORS NOTE:

There are numerous Blacks of African decent who had contributed to European and world history that we couldn’t mention or write about,I hope you will forgive us(team) if we did not mention any of your favorite blacks in European history,we are working tirelessly on our research to give you more.

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4 comments on “10 BLACKS IN EUROPEAN HISTORY

  1. I just wonder if John Edmonstone was born in the late 1700s in order for him to meet Charles Darwin in the 1820s?

    1. Some sources says 1793 other sources also says 1763,that is why we wrote 1700s,most of the records that bears such prominent date for blacks were not handled well because of the influx of invasions,ransacking by the Europeans and the slave trade,so most of the dates were kept by the slave masters…Akwaaba!!!

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