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Moriaen (also spelled Moriaan, Morien) is a 13th-century Arthurian romance in Middle Dutch. A 4,720-line version is preserved in the vast Lancelot-Compilatie, and a short fragment exists at the Royal Library at Brussels. The work tells the story of Morien, the Moorish son of Aglovale, one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table.The author tries to synchronize the romance with episodes from Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval, the Story of the Grail and the Lancelot-Grail. He or she notes at the beginning that some versions of the story have Percival himself as Morien’s father, but decides to follow convention that Percival died a virgin. 

 

The circumstances of Sir Morien’s birth are similar to Gahmuret and Belacane’s conception of Feirefiz in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival; like the Lancelot-Compilatie, Parzival is also based on an earlier version of the Grail story. In this case, Gahmuret is Parzival’s father, making the half-Saracen Fierefiz the Grail knight’s brother rather than his nephew or son. The blog Elodie Under Glass points out that six percent of the Knights of the Round Table were men of color. Granted, that’s only three out of 49 men, but the entire expanded United States Congress is hovering around 13% people of color and only has one black Senator.  See Not All the Knights of the Round Table Were White 

tumblr_mpxkioudlr1ssmm02o2_500Quotes from the translated saga of Morien: He was all black, even as I tell ye: his head, his body, and his hands were all black, saving only his teeth. His shield and his armour were even those of a Moor, and black as a raven… Had they not heard him call upon God no man had dared face him, deeming that he was the devil or one of his fellows out of hell, for that his steed was so great, and he was taller even than Sir Lancelot, and black withal, as I said afore… When the Moor heard these words he laughed with heart and mouth (his teeth were white as chalk, otherwise was he altogether black)… Morien’s saga ends when he finds his father (Sir Agrovale of the Round Table) and convinces him to return to Africa and marry Morien’s mother, thus making an honest woman of her and a legitimate son of Morien. Sir Agrovale goes “OH, hey, yeah, I completely forgot I was going to do that! Sorry, son!” and they get married and Sir Morien can therefore legally inherit his mother’s kingdom and gets to be a king.

lancSinqua Walls (born April 6, 1985) is an American actor and former college basketball player for Cal Poly Pomona and the University of San Francisco.Walls played a guest role on the second season of the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, as Sir Lancelot. He played the role of Shawn in the TV series Power. In 2015, it was revealed that Walls will return as Sir Lancelot as a guest star on the fifth season of Once Upon a Time. Roman records mention an African soldier who served in 3 rd century England(Snowden, 142 & 303). Scobie notes that Julius Caesar brought African legions toGermany (Scobie, 197). And Keita concludes that the Roman Empire “counted a significant number of Africans among its men-at-arms, a large and visible contingent of whom were stationed in Britain” (72)  Researchers from the University of Reading have determined that skeletal remainsfrom the 4th century Roman legionary fortress in York were possibly those of a black or mixed-race woman from North Africa whose rich grave goods indicate she was affluentand possibly a Christian (Leach, 134- 5).

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The study’s authors note that “North Africans are well documented in the epigraphic record of Ro man Britain” (Leach, 137). Researchers from the University of Dundee determined that a 13 th century skeletonburied on the grounds of a former Carmelite priory in Ipswitch was that of a manoriginally from Tunisia. He “would have had to been [sic.] of some note to be buried inthe friary,” said researcher Xanthe Mallett (“Medieval African Discovered”, 2010).  The Abbreviatio Domesday Book of 1241 includes an illustration of a black man from an account for Derby (“Africans in Medieval Britain”).  The Times of London reported tax records from 15 th century England identifying three people as black Africans (“Medieval African Discovered”, 2010). 3  Roman records mention an African soldier who served in 3 rd century England (Snowden, 142 & 303).

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Scobie notes that Julius Caesar brought African legions to Germany (Scobie, 197). And Keita concludes that the Roman Empire “counted a significant number of Africans among its men-at-arms, a large and visible contingent of whom were stationed in Britain” (72). Researchers from the University of Reading have determined that skeletal remainsfrom the 4 th century Roman legionary fortress in York were possibly those of a black ormixed-race woman from North Africa whose rich grave goods indicate she was affluent and possibly a Christian (Leach, 134- 5). The study’s authors note that “North Africans are well documented in the epigraphic record of Ro man Britain” (Leach, 137).  Researchers from the University of Dundee determined that a 13 th century skeleton buried on the grounds of a former Carmelite priory in Ipswitch was that of a man originally from Tunisia.

st-maurice-under-the-germany-imperial-eagle-photo-by-runoko-rashidiHe “would have had to been [sic.] of some note to be buried inthe friary,” said researcher Xanthe Mallett (“Medieval African Discovered”, 2010). The Abbreviatio Domesday Book of 1241 includes an illustration of a black man from an account for Derby (“Africans in Medieval Britain”). The Times of London reported tax records from 15 th century England identifying three people as black Africans (“Medieval African Discovered”, 2010). While not shown to be present in large numbers, these cases prove that there were Africansliving in Britain during both the Roman and Medieval periods, and that they occupied varioussocial positions, including some of considerable social standing.Saint Maurice (also known as Saint Mauritius) is remembered as a 3 rd century Roman soldierfrom Egypt who chose martyrdom rather than attack fellow Christians.

“The Latin word Mauritius meant ‘black African’ or ‘Moor,’ which might suggest that Mauritius… was acomposite person of legend rather than a single individual” (“Christian Warrior Saints,” 2011).The Germans of Magdeburg so revered St. Maurice that they invented a sister for him who they named Fidis, or “faith” .Africans were present, then, in reality and imagination, in the very countries where Arthurian legends and romances developed. It is understandable, then, that some dark-skinned knights and ladies were included in the medieval legends of King Arthur.

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