Before the time of Elizabeth the Ist of England and contemporary with her time, England was home to thousands of Moors, living peacefully, carrying on different types of profession and trade, and contributing to every fabric of society as they had always done in England since centuries earlier.
Then came the time of Elizabeth the Ist, and nuerosis of racism started to manifest virulently against the black English men famously known as the English Moors.
The letter re-produced above was written by Elizabeth, in the 1590s. Therein she promulgated the expulsion of the Moors of England from the land of their birth.
In 1596 she wrote to the lord mayors of major cities noting that there were ‘of late divers blackmoores brought into this realm, of which kind of people there are already here to manie…’. She ordered that ‘those kinde of people should be sente forth of the land’.
Elizabeth made an arrangement for a merchant, Casper van Senden, to deport Moors from England. In 1596 she licensed him to deport at least 89 Black people to Spain and Portugal. Hundreds probably thousands more were subsequently deported, sold, or exchanged for Albion English prisoner in the wake of Elizabeth the 1st’s proclaimation against black English people.
In 1601, Elizabeth issued a further proclamation expressing her ‘discontentment by the numbers of blackamores which are crept into this realm…’ and again licensing van Senden to deport Black people. This second proclamation only deepened the prejudice and consequent violence practiced against the Moorish nation of England. Many were seized, and sold as slaves to galley ships on their way to the Americas.
Her proclamation of 1601 claimed that Black people were ‘fostered and relieved here to the great annoyance of [the queen’s] own liege people, that want the relief, which those people consume’. The proclamation also stated that ‘most of them are infidels, having no understanding of Christ or his Gospel’.
This second proclaimation announced open-seasons on the Moors. The orgy of violence, rape, ethnic cleansing and enslavement and sale of Moorish people of England can best be imagined.
It seems that the queen was playing on the physical difference of the Moors from Protestant Albions to blame them for all manners of social ills.
It must be recognized that prior to this change in attitude the Moors were the lights of civilization and culture throughout Europe.
The Moors built the castles, the churches, and laid down the foundations of great cities and Universities, upon which modern Europe is built. The Moors taught Europe science and literature, as well as the seven arts of culture.
All that seemed to have become irrelevant at the time of Elizabeth the 1st, as racism and genocide had then waxed strong. The causes of this dramatic shift of attitude are somewhat multifaceted and nebulous. Yet, what is clear is that, at this point, the Moors were no more as powerful as in the past. Rather, they were being used as convenient scapegoats at a time of crisis and xenophobia.