Six different lines can be traced from English Queen Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, in a gene pool which because of royal inbreeding was already minuscule, thus explaining the Queen's unmistakable African appearance.
The Negroid characteristics of the Queen's portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate undesirable features in a subjects's face.
Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits. Ramsey was an anti-slavery intellectual of his day.
He also married the niece of Lord Mansfield, the English judge whose 1772 decision was the first in a series of rulings that finally ended slavery in the British Empire. It should be noted too that by the time Sir Ramsay was commissioned to do his first portrait of the Queen, he was already, by marriage, uncle to Dido Elizabeth Lindsay, the black grand niece of Lord Mansfield. Thus, from just a cursory look at the social awareness and political activism at that level of English society, it would be surprising if the Queen's negroid physiogomy was of no significance to the Abolitionist movement.
Lord Mansfield's black grand niece, for example, Ms. Lindsay, was the subject of at least two formal full sized portraits. Obviously prompted by or meant to appeal to abolitionist sympathies, they depicted the celebrated friendship between herself and her white cousin, Elizabeth Murray, another member of the Mansfield family. One of the artists was none other than Zoffany, the court painter to the royal family, for whom the Queen had sat on a number of occasions.
It is perhaps because of this fairly obvious case of propagandistic portraiture that makes one suspect that Queen Charlotte's coronation picture, copies of which were sent out to the colonies, signified a specific stance on slavery held, at least, by that circle of the English intelligencia to which Allan Ramsay, the painter belonged. For the initial work into Queen Charlotte's genealogy, a debt of gratitude is owed the History Department of McGill University.
It was the director of the Burney Project (Fanny Burney, the prolific 19th century British diarist, had been secretary to the Queen), Dr. Joyce Hemlow, who obtained from Olwen Hedly, the most recent biographer of the Queen Charlotte (1975), at least half a dozen quotes by her contemporaries regarding her negroid features. Middle left, Earl of Annesly coat-of arms
Because of its "scientific" source, the most valuable of Dr. Hedley's references would, probably, be the one published in the autobiography of the Queen's personal physician, Baron Stockmar, where he described her as having "a true mulatto face."Perhaps the most literary of these allusions to her African appearance, however, can be found in the poem penned to her on the occasion of her wedding to George III and the Coronation celebration that immediately followed.
Descended from the warlike Vandal race, she still preserves that title in her face. Tho' shone their triumphs o'er Numidia's plain, and and Alusian fields their name retain; they but subdued the southern world with arms, She conquers still with her triumphant charms, O! Born for rule, - to whose victorious brow the greatest monarch of the north must bow. Finally, it should be noted that the Royal Household itself, at the time of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, referred to both her Asian and African bloodlines in an apologia it published defending her position as head of the Commonwealth. Bottom right, Alenssandro de Medici, Duke of Florence Italy.
More about Research into the Black Magi: In the Flemish masterpieces depicting the Adoration of the Magi, the imagery of the black de Sousas had been utilized as both religious and political propaganda to support Portugal's expansion into Africa.
In addition, the Flemish artists had drawn from a vocabulary of blackness which, probably due to the Reformation and the Enlightenment, has long since been forgotten.
There was a wealth of positive symbolism that had been attributed to the black African figure during the middle Ages. Alessandro de' Medici, called “Il Moro” (“The Moor”), was born in the Italian city of Urbino in 1510. His mother was an African slave named Simonetta who had been freed. Alessandro’s paternity is uncertain. Most sources name Lorenzo de' Medici, ruler of Urbino. But Alessandro might also have been the son of Pope Clement VII, the brother of Lorenzo II who became the head of the Medici family after Lorenzo's death.
Clement VII chose the nineteen-year-old Alessandro to become the first Duke of Florence in 1529. Pope Clement at that time was at odds not only with the Florentines who had driven out the Medici family in 1497, but also with the emperor Charles V.
To solidify the allegiance that the papacy owed to the Holy Roman Empire, Alessandro was named Duke of Florence and promised the emperor's daughter Margaret. With the help of Charles V, Clement could restore the rule of the Medici family in Florence in 1530 and make Alessandro the first reigning Duke. Supported initially by the best families, Alessandro became an absolute prince, overthrowing the city’s’ republican government.
According to most historians the young duke’s reign did not begin very well.
His arrogant personality, the bad behavior of his entourage, and his licentiousness -- with both women and feasting -- soon gave Alessandro an unsavory reputation.
Directly above: Marie de Medici Queen of France, descendant of Alenssandro Dei Medici, Duke of Florence Italy. Source; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.
In addition, he made some highly unpopular political decisions including limiting the number of remunerative positions in his government.
This decision alone forced many patrician families to go into exile and become enemies of his rule.
Alessandro’s situation grew worse when his protector and benefactor Clement VII died in 1534.
In response he took more repressive measures against his enemies, probably due to his growing fear of them and uncertainty of his support.
Meanwhile, resistance against Alessandro's reign grew among the exiles and even his cousin Ippolito plotted against the Duke.
When Ippolito died unexpectedly in 1535, speculations arose that Alessandro had poisoned him.
In June 1536, however, Charles V visited Florence and married his daughter to Alessandro, consolidating the Duke's position.
Nonetheless one year later, Alessandro was murdered by his own cousin Lorenzino, who fled to Venice and was hailed among the exiles as the “New Brutus.”