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Mixed-race Royals in Europe

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  • Philippa of Hainault was born on this date in 1310. She was the first alleged Black Queen of England.

Philippa was of Black Moorish ancestry, born in Valenciennes in the County of Hainaut in the Low Countries of northern France. Her parents were William I, Count of Hainaut, and Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainaut, granddaughter of Philip III of France. Philippa was one of eight children and the second of five daughters and becamethe wife of King Edward III. Her eldest sister Margaret married the German King Louis IV in 1324; and in 1345, she succeeded their brother William II, Count of Hainaut, upon his death in battle.

A later annotation says it describes Philippa as a child, but historian Ian Mortimer argues that it is actually an account of her older sister Margaret.[10] The description runs:

The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown... Her face narrows between the eyes and its lower part is more narrow than her forehead. Her eyes are blackish-brown and deep. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and flattened, and yet it is no snub-nose... Her lips are full, especially the lower lip... Her lower teeth project a little beyond the upper; yet this is but little seen... All her body is well set and unmaimed; and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, much like her father. And she will be of the age of nine years on St. John's day next to come, as her mother said. She is neither too tall nor too short for such an age; she is of fair carriage. The damsel is well taught in all that becometh her rank and highly esteemed and well beloved by her parents and of all her meinie, in so far as we could inquire and learn the truth. In all things, she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us.[11]

                                                                                               The original document is written in Norman French. This is the translation derived from The Register of Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter, 1307–1326, ed. F. C. Hingeston-Randolph (London, 1892), p.169. It is used in several books of the 1950s–60s, including G. G. Coulton, Medieval Panorama: The English Scene from Conquest to Reformation, Meridian Books, New York, 1955, p.644.; W. O. Hassal, How They Lived: An Anthology of Original Accounts Written before 1485, Blackwell, Oxford, 1962, p.95. However, Michael Prestwich's 2005 summary translates the description of the hair as "between blonde and brown" (the original is "entre bloy et brun"); Plantagenet England, 1225–1360 Clarendon, Oxford, 2005, p.215 .

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