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Aug 2, 2007

Black History Month in Europe

I know I am six months late with this but I just got a message from Bill at Jewels in the Jungle about my BEST post and he invited me to check out his blog. Well not only did I check it out, I devoured it, and I want to share it with you, starting with this post about Black History Month in Europe.

He also told me this: I just found some new stuff online today in re: to what happened to Amo's Ghost (Anton Wilhelm Amo (1704-1784), the first black African 18th Century philosopher and medical doctor to be educated at university in Europe and to instruct at two famous German universities as a full professor). There is a new book coming out soon about the life of Amo and I had a chance to get a sneak preview of a few excerpts. Shocking stuff!

I know what I'll be researching today!

Thanks Bill!

3 comments:

Black River Eagle said...

You are very welcome. I will be sure to keep in touch with you as we roll out our follow-on series of posts about Africans in European History. You are certainly welcome to join us in our group efforts as there is plenty of information on the subject to go around.

The Scandinavians had some very interesting first encounters with North Africans around 850 A.D. if I'm not mistaken and the Vikings may have had contact with Africans as they invaded the British Isles during that same period. The Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala may have more information on that chapter of Scandinavien and African history.

Keep warm and dry up North in Sweden and looking forward to your visits and commentary at Jewels. Good luck with your writing at Black Women in Europe.

Black Woman in Europe said...

Here's what someone just told me about the Vikings and their early encounters with Africans: on their trade routes the Vikings met Africans that were very dark and called them blue men because of the blue-ish tint to their skin. Mr. Diakie of The Lundian has written "An Unfinished History" of the African Diaspora in Sweden.

Black River Eagle said...

I can't seem to find anything online about the document referenced by Mr. Diake of the Lundian. Do you have a URL (link) to a website where I can read it?

If the Vikings refered to black Africans as "the blue men" then they must have come into contact with sub-Saharan Africans or people living in the Sahel or at the Horn of Africa (i.e. Sudan's Dinka people). The Norsemen's range during the Viking Age was pretty widespread across Europe, North Africa, and even extended eastward to Alexandria and Jerusalem. Here is an excerpt from an article I found online at Luleä University:

'The same year the heathens arrived from the north to Brittany with a fleet of ships. They were like stinging wasps, and they spread in all directions like horrible wolves, wrecking, robbing, shattering and killing not only animals but also priests, monks and nuns. They came to the church of Lindesfarne, slayed everything alive, dug up the altars and took all the treasures of the holy church'. The Vikings had arrived.

The attack wasn't the first. Numerous smaller attacks had been made earlier. However, they tended to be rather sporadic. This was something completely different. The attack came as a shock to the rulers of Brittany and the rumours about the fearless Nordic men spread over Europe.

The French king Karl the Great had an English adviser by the name of Alcuin. As soon as he heard of the attack on Lindesfarne, he wrote: 'In nearly 350 years we and our forefathers have been living in this the best of countries and never before has such terror struck Britain as the one we now have to suffer from this heathen race. Nor was it thought to be possible that such an attack could be carried out from the sea. Look at S:t Cuthbert's church sprinkled with the blood of the holy priests, deprived of it's decorations, a room more venerable than any in Britain given as spoils to this Heathen race'.

The next year the Vikings returned and plundered the convent in Jarrow, just a few miles from Lindisfarne. This was the real start of the Viking Age. The Vikings were to be the first Europeans who passed the winter in Labrador and New foundland. They populated Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands, Orkney, the Hebrides and the Isle of Man. They founded states in Ireland and in Britain. They conquered Normandy in France and founded a dynasty which lived and ruled far into the Middle Ages. They built merchant towns in Birka (Sweden), Hedeby (Denmark) and Kaupang (Norway). They even founded the first colony in America long before anyone else in Europe even thought that there existed land that far westwards.

Vikings also founded kingdoms in Russia and built trade stations along the rivers all the way down to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. They went to Constantinople and Bahgdad, Gurgan and Chorezm. They even came into contact with Byzantium and they formed a feared elite regiment for the East Roman Emperor, a guard which existed for some hundred years. They conquered London, besieged Lisbon, burnt Santiago, assaulted Seville, attacked Mallorca, and sold European slaves in North Africa. They terrorized Paris (on numerous occasions) and burnt Hamburg and many other German cities. They even went to Jerusalem and possibly also to Alexandria.

During a quarter of a century, from 8th June 793 until 15th October 1066, these men would come in waves, often young and seeking a fight, and extremely skilled as sailors and warriors. Their activities left traces for eternity.'

END Excerpt

Doesn't sound like they were doing too much trading to me. I found the fact that they were selling European slaves to North Africans rather interesting. I wonder what happened to these slaves over the centuries? Did they evolve into the people that we call the Tuareg? To this very day the centuries old practice of human slavery continues across the Sahel in Niger, Mali, and Mauritania.

That statement about the Vikings founding the first colony in America is incorrect of course. Native American tribes were about 25,000 years ahead of the Norsemen. The Indian tribes living near the coast of Newfoundland allegedly ran Lief's boys out of North America and the Inuit people followed them across the sea (and ice floes) all the way back to Grönland. Norse colonies in Grönland (Greenland) mysteriously perished during the late 14th Century due to a number of factors that are described in Professor Jared Diamond's excellent book "Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed".

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