Little Known Black History Fact: John Blanke, Black Trumpeter

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    John Blanke, a Black trumpeter, was a regular musician at the courts of both Henry VII and Henry VIII. His name was found in the Treasurer of the Chamber, the ledger that noted the payments of the court musicians. Several payments were recorded to quote “John Blanke, the black trumpeter.” John Blanke was paid $8 per day, first by Henry VII in November 1507 and then from 1509 by Henry VII.

    John Blanke was one of the earliest recorded black people in England after the Roman period. A painting on the Westminster Tournament Roll exists of Blanke performing at Henry VIII Westminster Tournament in 1511. The roll is an illuminated manuscript 60 feet in length that records the royal procession to the event in 1511. The event was held to celebrate the birth of a son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall, to Catherine and Henry VIII.

    In the roll’s depiction, John Blanke is the only trumpeter that wears a brown and yellow turban. He is seen twice in the roll. The second time he wears a green and gold head covering.

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