David Gelber

Filling in the Blanks

Black Tudors: The Untold Story


Oneworld 376pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

On 19 July 1545, the 91-gun Mary Rose, the flower of the Tudor navy, embarked from Portsmouth with five hundred men on board to confront a French fleet that was sailing towards the Solent. Just two kilometres out to sea, still in sight of the shore and before even encountering the enemy, the carrack began listing, water pouring through its gun ports. Within minutes it had dropped to the sea floor, dragging all but a handful of its crew with it. While it would prove hard to salvage any pride from this humiliation, Henry VIII was determined to recover something from the wreck. A Venetian named Peter Paulo Corsi was charged with assembling a team of divers from across Europe to bring the prized ordnance to the surface. One of these was a black man named Jacques Francis, probably born in West Africa, where he had mastered the art of free diving, a talent surprisingly not found in Tudor England.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Here's reviewing Rachel Kushner's novel about a woman caught in the injustice of the US prison system,… ,
    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,