The medieval world was a much more diverse place than it is often given credit for. Some of the best evidence of this is in the illustrations and imagery from the period. Getty’s new publication, [The Fantasy of the Middle Ages], examines the artwork from the era to reveal a time period much more modern than “the Dark Ages” gives it credit for.\n\n\n : https://shop.getty.edu/products/the-fantasy-of-the-middle-ages-an-epic-journey-through-imaginary-medieval-worlds-978-1606067581 ### An African Magi\nDuring the Middle Ages, kingdoms across Europe and the Mediterranean witnessed the growth of cities, and connections to communities throughout greater Europe, Africa, Asia, and briefly North America.\n\nWorks of art like this 16th-century image of a Black king among the magi demonstrate the diversity of communities in the premodern world. ### Saint Maurice\nBlack Africans, like Saint Maurice pictured above, lived in Europe throughout the Middle Ages as soldiers in armies, ambassadors at court, clerics, pilgrims, enslaved members of households, and even venerable saints. \n \nBefore he became a patron saint of the German Holy Roman Empire, Maurice was an Egyptian leader of the legendary Theban Legion of Rome. This image of him was made for Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg to publicize the relics in his collegiate church. ### The Middle Eastern Middle Ages\nPeople in the Middle Ages also traveled extensively, as illustrated in this 10th-century illumination from the Khamsa of Nizami, Shiraz, Iran. \n\nIt depicts Alexander the Great and his encounters with Swahili coast warriors, an audience before the Great Khan of China, and a visit to the Kaaba in Mecca. ### Hua Mulan and Gender Expression\nThe idea that the Middle Ages were predominantly for and about fully abled, white, wealthy, Christian, heterosexual, cisgender men (and sometimes women) is a misperception of the period. \n\nThen, as now, people expressed their gender in myriad ways. After all Hua Mulan was a 5th century Chinese folk legend before she was the protagonist of the Disney movie. And it was in the Middle Ages that she dressed in men’s clothing and became a soldier, a role traditionally performed by men. ### A Black Knight of the Round Table\nMedieval storytelling was also a diverse place. Take the Arthurian legends—stories about King Arthur and the knights of the round table—for example. These stories were told all over Europe from about 500 to 1500 AD.\n\nSeveral of those stories feature Black Africans as key protagonists. The man depicted in this medieval image is [Sir Palamedes], a Muslim knight of the Rround Ttable from the French Arthurian legend Tristan and Palamedes.\n\n\n : https://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/theme/palamedes ### The Multicultural Worthies\nKing Arthur is just one of the Nine Worthies–heroes who personified chivalry–of the Middle Ages. And these stories also feature multicultural cast members as evidenced in this messenger’s casket from 16th-century France.\n\nEach cell of the print adhered to the lid of the casket features one of the Nine Worthies and their female counterparts. Among them are Black Africans “Jacques,” and Lampheto, and Penthesilea, a mythical Amazonian queen. ### A Global Aladdin\nSome stories of the Middle Ages have surprisingly multi-cultural origins. Take the story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp. Before it was a Disney movie, it was a story that took place in China, was popularized by Syrian Storyteller Hanna Diyab in the 17th century, but not added to the story collection of the One Thousand and One Nights (originally compiled in the 9th century) until the 18th century by French author Antoine Galland. If you’d like to hear more stories about medievalisms in Star Wars, kings in same-sex relationships, princesses with networks of local power, and other tales that paint the Dark Ages in a brighter light, pick up *The Fantasy of the Middle Ages* in the Getty bookstore.