Any comprehensive account of the African presence in early Europe should include England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Scandinavia. The history and legends of Scotland confirm the existence of "purely Black people." We see one of them in the person of Kenneth the Niger. During the tenth century Kenneth the Niger ruled over three provinces in the Scottish Highlands.
The historical and literary traditions of Wales reflect similar beliefs. According to Gwyn Jones (perhaps the world's leading authority on the subject), to the Welsh chroniclers, "The Danes coming in by way of England and the Norwegians by way of Ireland were pretty well all black: Black Gentiles, Black Norsemen, and Black Host." There is also strong reason to suggest an African presence in ancient Ireland. We have, for example, the legends of the mysterious "African sea-rovers, the Fomorians, who had a stronghold on Torrey Island, off the Northwest Coast." The Fomorians, shrouded deep in mist, came to be regarded as the sinister forces in Irish mythology. Bottom left, "Negro" Roman ambassador of the Flavian period, Rome Albani, 209, Deutches Archaologisches Instituto, Rome and bottom left Family crest of; Bownell, Buckworth, Haliburton, Hallyburton, Soames and Stewart.
A prominent Viking of the eleventh century was Thorhall, who was aboard the ship that carried the early Vikings to the shores of North America. Thorhall was "the huntsman in summer and in winter the steward of Eric the Red. He was, it is said, a large man, and strong, black, and like a giant, silent, and foul-mouthed in his speech, and always egged on Eric to the worst; he was a bad Christian." Another Viking, more notable than Thorhall, was Earl Thorfinn, "the most distinguished of all the earls in the Islands."
Thorfinn ruled over nine earldoms in Scotland and Ireland, and died at the age of seventy-five. His widow married the king of Scotland. Thorfinn was described as "one of the largest men in point of stature, and ugly, sharp featured, and somewhat tawny, and the most martial looking man. It has been related that he was the foremost of all his men." Top right, marble head of "Negro" Roman, found at Agora, Trajonic period. The excavation of the Athenian Agora Twelfth Season, by H A Thompson 1947. We should not lose sight of the fact that connections between North Africa and Spain were in existence centuries before the birth of Muhammad. It would not even be presumptuous to suggest that very early blood ties may have connected the regions.
The fact that Blacks had lived in some of the same Iberian regions later occupied by Islamic Moors suggests this.
In 937, Ibn Hawkal noted that Blacks were very common in Palermo. Regarding one of the city's main entrances, Hawkal wrote that it was called the "Bab es Soudan," or "Gate of the Blacks," so named after its ebony-hued residents. Bottom left, Negroid English/Saxon coins, minted in England, between the 10th and 11th centuries and right, Negroid gold coin pendant, about 590 A.D., found near St. Martin’s church, Canterbury.
Pope Leo III referred to these Blacks variously as Moors, Agareni, and Saracens. Islamic encroachment on the European mainland took place around 846. When "Saracens" landed at the mouth of the Tiber River and besieged Rome. Of this invasion, the German historian Hincmar (875 A.D.) wrote that:
The Arabs and Moors assaulted Rome on the Tiber, and when they laid waste to the basilica of the blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, and carried off all the ornaments and treasures, with the very altar which was situated above the tomb of the famous prince of apostles, they occupied strongly a fortified hill a hundred miles from the city.
In the invasion of Rome, Pope John VII agreed to pay an annual tribute of 25,000 marks of silver to the Saracens to retreat. Frederick It (1197-1250 A.D.), of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, developed especially close relationships with the remaining Blacks in Sicily, and retained a , Moorish chamberlain who was constantly in his presence. While admittedly breaking the Islamic powerbase, he also solicited the aid of the Moors from Palermo in his intense struggle with the papacy. After resettling conquered Muslims on the Italian mainland at Lucera, the monarch recruited an elite guard unit of 16,000 Black troops.
One of the independent sovereigns of Moorish descent with whom Frederick II came into contact was Morabit, a name whose attachment may be found with the Sanhadja Berber tribes known as Murabit.
Growing conflicts and rebellion against the expansionist policies of Frederick II eventually led to the death of Morabit.
In 1239 A.D., however, another Black man, Johannes Maurus, attained a position of considerable authority at the Hohenstaufen royal court. "In South Italy and Sicily," writes Paul Kaplan, "dark-skinned Moslems had already been visible for several centuries.
Spain and Portugal, a real renaissance, when other parts of Europe were spending a thousand years passing through the dark age which the destruction of Rome by the Barbarians.
Moorish domination extended to parts of Italy.
In 846 A.D., they held the city of Rome in a state of siege while in 878 they captured Sicily from the Normans.
Twenty years later the Moors took control of Southern Italy by defeating Otto II of Germany.
As in Spain and Portugal, miscegenation took place on a wide scale between the Moors and the Italians.
The Italians at that time had large infusions of Germanic blood due to the invasion of the Goths and Like Portugal and Spain the blood of Africa permeated through all Italian society.
And Africa blood found its way into the leading families, including the most illustrious royal family of the times-the Medicis.