Black knights in Europe

Ever heard of the Black Knight? No, I don’t mean that unfunny film with Martin Lawrence in it. I mean “The black Knight”? Did you ever stop to think where the tale of the black knight came from?

Well, many historians have dismissed the stories as a knight who had a black banner, or the knight who wore black armour, or the knight who had black hair. The truth is these men probably all were known as the black knight. After all, surely they couldn’t mean African knights, because there weren’t any Africans in medieval Europe, right?

Wrong! Whilst there may not have been armies of African knights charging around Europe in the middle ages there are noted examples which deserve further scrutiny.

Africans were first described in medieval texts as descriptions of “moorish invaders of southern Europe became popular. Whilst the majority of the Moslems who invaded Southern Europe would of been of North African Stock there would certainly have been a high percentage of mixed race warriors and Black Sub saharan Africans too.

Black Knights and Saints

As well as invaders, Africans featured as heros and even saints in Medieval Europe. These images show Saint Maurice. We cannot be sure that Maurice was actually of African origin but Maurice is derived from the name “Moor” and he was the leader of the Roman “Theban” Legion. Thebes being one of the Principle Cities in ancint Eygypt. Maurice has been depicted as an african since the 12th century, however with the african slave trade coming to prominence around the 16th century such images ceased to be the norm around that time onwards.

The moors even appear the tales of King Arthur, even though these are now proven to be fictional writings one of Arthurs knights was called Morien, again derived from “Moor”.

Black Knights in King James Court

My final image shows “A black knight and his Lady” . I have tried unsuccessfully to find the source for this image.

It was part of a clipping I collected years ago. I thought it may be a reference to King James of Scotland around 1507. James had several Africans in his court, and held a tournament in honour of one of the black maidens known as Ealenor. This image may bear reference to it. If you know different please inform me.


UPDATE 22/05/2015 – Rashidi-

Plate1. Black Norman Knight and his Lady. “So late as the tenth century three of these provinces were wholly black and the supreme ruler of these became for a time the paramount king of Transmarine Scotland.” Macritchie (photo from the Preston Collection).

So, as you see the reference to the black knight isn’t quite as light hearted as you may have previously thought. It is deep rooted in the history and mythology of Europe.


Saint Maurice:
Journal of Negro History:
Theban Legion:

Another example of the same image.
Negro Norman Knight with his Lady

Unnamed site:

Google Search terms: Africans in medieval europe

19 thoughts on “Black knights in Europe

    • 19th January 2015 at 2:29 am

      I presume you may feel that the African race had never done an oz of work in there life.

      I put this abruptly to you, just as you abruptly started your dismay and ended your sentence just as you started.

  • 23rd June 2010 at 12:50 am

    jmac88 is clearly another racist, internet know-nothing moron. Even the fact that his username ends in”88″ would suggest some allegiance to the failed and idiotic Nazi ideology.

  • 1st December 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Look up the word, swarthy and see if that code word unlocks anything for you. Knowledge is power, ignorance is admitting to failure and truly is a result of laziness. Ignore ignorance

  • 13th October 2011 at 4:09 am

    There is a lot of African history removed/destroyed/watered down/………..

  • 12th December 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Excellent write up, friend. I’ve often seen movies with depictions of Racially Black knights and wondered how true any of it was. Till this point I was under the impression that “Sub Saharan Africa” wasn’t ‘discovered’ at the time of Medieval Europe and believe that many of the “Moors” were of the North African/Persian/Middle Eastern decent.

    I have heard historians talk about historical figures like “Cleopatra” and “Hannibal” being ‘black’ from some dated accounts — but you put this all together very well. An informative piece, good work.

    To note, I am Caucasian and from America — but have a strong interest in European history.

    • 24th October 2015 at 1:26 am

      How could white people “discover” Sub-Saharan Africa when people had been traveling back and forth between Africa and Europe for millennia? If I were white, I would be angry with white supremacists because, in their devious efforts to whitewash Europe, they deny white people the truth about themselves as much as they cripple black people’s ability to define themselves.

  • 11th September 2014 at 11:04 pm

    King James himself was a Moore. His birth name is Yacobas.
    He became king of Britain after the death of his sister.

    • 12th May 2015 at 2:23 am

      No – try again James was born in Edinburgh castle to the Scottish line of the English island

      • 24th October 2015 at 1:29 am

        And we all know that there were absolutely no Moors in Scotland. *sigh*

  • 23rd September 2014 at 10:43 am

    When I searched for “Black American History Began in Europe”, the results were of over a dozen sites which point to the ever fictitious Middle Passage story, published by sites that claim to inspire an accruate story of Aborigional Peoples. For the Aboriginal it seems, he must look into the house of his enemy to find the spoils of his true origins; pictures of Moorish Knights and popes were simply left out of the history books. Sadly, the so-called, black leaders (Black Caucus, NAACP and others) cannot be deferred to as a source of truth for the aboriginal male as they are proliforators of the lie and work to keep the aboriginal male in the dark about his own origins. For the aboriginal male, the search for his truth must start in the most unlikeliest of places.

  • 24th July 2016 at 4:37 pm

    I see no reason to doubt the presence of black residents in Europe. A percentage fighting men. The Roman legions had many black legenaries. Once their service had been fulfilled they were given tracts of land. They usually remained where they were last posted. Why wouldn’t there be black knights?

  • 27th March 2017 at 9:34 pm

    A lot of paintings which had black faces were painted over during the Renaissance after 1453 after the fall of the Roman Empire​, it causes a lot of confusion


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