Europe is significantly closer to the Continent of Africa than any
part of South America, and certainly closer than Peru. The distance between Medieval Europe and northern Africa was one sea – a well-known, well-traveled sea. Moors (northwestern African Muslims of mixed Berber and Arab descent) came across the strait of Gibraltar and made it
nearly all the way over the Pyrenees into France before being stopped by
Charlemagne’s grandfather Charles Martel, and for 700 years they ruled most of the Iberian peninsula.
Moors from what is now Morocco were part of the Roman garrison in Britain at Hadrian’s Wall, and were
found in many other parts of Europe as well. Some mixed with the local
population and stayed after they finished their service; genetic
evidence indicates those Roman soldiers may still have descendants in
the modern population of north-east England and Wales.
So, yeah, Black people should totally exist in your quasi-Medieval European fantasies. And in your quasi-Arthurian fantasies, too.
I know someone who told me she couldn’t take BBC Merlin seriously because Guinevere is Black. Out of all the things to take issue with in a queerbaiting show featuring a talking dragon, it’s the historically-possible appearance of a Black woman that makes you want to bail?
Now whenever I see a white Gwen I’m momentarily confused because the Gwen I spent five years rooting for is Black, and for a generation of kids, Gwen is Black for them too. That’s pretty awesome and I’ll admit to having super little patience for people who want to prevent POC from being in historical fantasy – they’re often the same people who think a diverse modern show is unrealistic and a diverse futuristic sci-fi show is a threat. Super side-eying any of that shit.
Why do people always assume that POC didn’t exist in Medieval Europe? They literally took over half the continent. Does no one know about the Ottoman Turks? The Golden Horde? The Moors of Moorish Spain? Does no one recall that there was a very in depth spice trade all the way through Asia, India, and also, to North Africa as of the 1200′s?
Those things happened. Europeans had odd notions about them, but they did know they existed. They were seen. They did visit. Hell, they owned part of it.
Potatoes, however, are a factual inaccuracy. God, what I would have given for a potato. We had some beans, some onions, some leafy greens, herbs, root vegetables. No potatoes. None.
In summation: Medieval Europe: Bereft of Potatoes, partly owned by POC, fed by POC, visited by POC.