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Medieval Misinformation: Diversity in the Middle Ages

Illumination of king on throne

 

 

Diversity in the Middle Ages has been traditionally underrepresented in modern media and representations of the medieval period from any time after the medieval era. On this page you will find examples of media set in the Middle Ages, both diverse and not, as well as information and articles about diversity in the Middle Ages.

Whatever You're Picturing, It's Probably Wrong

Modern perceptions of the Middle Ages are often heavily influenced by what we see in movies and on TV and what we read about in books. The problem? Most of these depict a Middle Ages that is overwhelmingly white and male.

So Where Is It Right?

Unfortunately, very little media (movies, television, books, etc) features racially diverse characters. Movies and television series in particular have faced much criticism in recent years for their lack of diversity. While there are a few book series set in fantasy versions of the Middle and Far East, the European Middle Ages-inspired fantasy remains very white.

Diversity in Scholarship

Diversity in all its forms - gender, sexuality, racial, ethnic - was part of medieval society. These readings offer insight into what diversity in the Middle Ages means and what it looked like.

Sources

Image in header: Illumination of Ramiro II of León, king of León from 931 until his death. Beatos de Fendinando I y Sancha (1047). Image courtesy: Medievalpoc.

Game of Thrones. (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944947/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Vikings. (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2306299/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved April 17, 2020 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120737/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Black Knight. (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved April 17, 2020 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265087/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Galavant. (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved April 16, 2020 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3305096/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

The Letter for the King. (n.d.) IMDB. Retrieved April 17, 2020 from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8741648/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

Ghosh, P. (2015, November 23). DNA study finds London was ethnically diverse from start. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34809804

Talbot, M. (2018, October 22). The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/29/the-myth-of-whiteness-in-classical-sculpture

Siede, C. (2016, April 22). Westeros Has a Race Problem. Quartz. https://qz.com/667326/westeros-has-a-race-problem/

Vernon, M. (2018, October 23). Whose Middle Ages? Remembering Early African-American Efforts to Claim the Past. The Public Medievalist. https://www.publicmedievalist.com/whose-middle-ages/

Simmons, A. (2017, April 27). Uncovering the African Presence in Medieval Europe. The Public Medievalist. https://www.publicmedievalist.com/uncovering-african/