History KS3 / GCSE: The story of Black migrants in England in Tudor times

A short film, presented by David Olusoga, which explores the lives of some of the hundreds of Black migrants who were in England during the Tudor period of the 1500s.

Olusoga visits The National Archives in Kew, where he meets Dr. Miranda Kaufmann.

They discuss John Blanke, a trumpeter in the court of Henry VIII, who was so well established that he actually submitted a request for a pay rise, and a diver, Jacques Francis, who gave evidence in a court case.

Dr. Kaufmann concludes that some Black people in England were accorded greater privileges than many white English people at the time.

This short film is from the BBC series, Migration.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 3

Start by showing students an image of John Blanke with his fellow trumpeters and discuss what we can tell about him from this picture.

This short film could be used to ensure students understand that there were free Black people living here before the Transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans.

Within a study of life in Tudor England, it could be used to show the presence and likely status of Black people.

It could also help students understand how we know about ordinary lives in the past, and the power of contemporary documents.

It offers an interesting take on the story of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon as the Westminster Tournament Rolls were created to record celebrations at the birth of their son who later died in infancy.

Key Stage 4

This short film could be used to introduce lessons on Africans in Tudor England.

Students could discuss how historians and archaeologists discover the presence of migrants in that period from parish and court records, tax returns, human remains, etc.

Before seeing the film, students could examine the documents about Blanke and Francis and discuss what they tell us, then see what Dr Kaufmann concludes.

The conclusion that Black people were accepted could prompt comparison with other migrant groups at the time.

Students could look at other contemporary documents to consider what they suggest about attitudes to Black people.

The film mentions the reconquest of Spain from the Moors and attacks by English privateers on Spanish and Portuguese slave ships: how might these have been causes of migration?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching history at KS3 and KS4/GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Fourth Level and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

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