Old worlds, new immigrants
in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Chapter 8 addresses the evidence for the presence of people from religious and racial minorities in England between 1300 and 1550. While stressing that the numbers of people who can be thus identified remains very small, it urges a corrective to the body of scholarship that supposes the general absence of minorities (including black people and Muslim people) in England before the middle of the sixteenth century. The chapter includes an assessment of the 1290 expulsion of the Jews from England and the wider impact of this measure on attitudes to minorities in the centuries that followed, before going on to identify examples of ‘Saracens’, ‘Moors’ and people of ‘Inde’ in the English records of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The chapter concludes with a reassessment of the supposedly racist tendencies of sixteenth-century English governments and provides a case study of the ‘mass denization’ of French people resident in England (and some others) during the reign of Henry VIII.


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