AFRICANGLOBE – Black nobility in Europe? According to Black Dutch researcher Egmond Codfried and author of the book “Belle van Zuylen’s forgotten grandmother” there was Black nobility in Europe, but there history and images were later carefully tucked away. His claims are controversial, and of course not accepted by European historians and the man in the street.
Codfried has systematically studied hundreds of paintings of famous and less famous nobility. He regularly stumbled upon people who looked Black or coloured, or although they were White, clearly had African facial features.
About his work he writes:
“This study of historical sources and literature on Black and coloured historic persons was inspired by the chance finding of a portrait of Maria Jacoba van Goor (portraited in the picture).
We get a view of the problems and of the methods to identify these Europeans. This beautiful painting was also a reason to cast an afrocentric view at Belle van Zuylens life and her works, the biographies en the origin of her financial fortune.
Through her coloured grandmother, the Dutch Belle van Zuylen (1740-1805) also known as Madame de Charrière, joins the rank of writers as the Russian Alexander Pushkin, the French Alexander Dumas and Colette, the Britons Elizabeth Barrett and her husband Robert Browning. As well as the German classic composer Ludwig von Beethoven and Queen Charlotte of Britain.
These are Europeans of great merit, who had Black forefathers. Also we find that Belle was a friend of Pierre Alexander Du Peyrou (1729-1794), a brown coloured and wealthy Surinam plantation owner in Swiss. He is renowned as a close friend, benefactor and publisher of the most famous philosopher of the Enlightenment, Jean Jaques Rousseau.
The reason why he studies nobility has to with the fact that nobility has left traces in the form of portraits and writings.
Some of his claims:
Queen Charlotte Sophie of Mecklenburg Strelitz (1744-1818), Wife of George III
Described by others in her time as ‘a true mulatto face’ , ‘ brown’ or ‘ yellow.’ Her nose is to wide and her mouth shows the same description.
Maurits Huygens (painted by Rembrandt in 1632) the older brother of Constantijn Huygens. Constantijn was one the most famous poets in the Golden Century.
The way Black people were portraited
A painting of the French-Swiss painter Liotard (1702-1789) “Portrait of a young woman”. Liotard is also considered coloured by Codfried.