James IV Resources

The play includes a recitation of ‘Ane Blak Moor’ (A Black Moor) by William Dunbar, one of the earliest documented instances of a poem using racialised and discriminatory language in Scotland. 

The poem is believed to have been written between 1490-1513 about one of two Moorish women, ‘Margaret’ and ‘Elene' (Helenor) who arrived in Edinburgh in 1504 and formed part of the household of James IV’s wife Queen Margaret Tudor. One of these women participated in the pageant of an opulent jousting tournament of the ‘Black Lady and the Black or Wild Knight’ (the latter played by the king himself). The poem uses ethnic slurs to describe the subject’s skin complexion, hair texture and body shape. 

We have worked closely with academics who experience racism to ensure the historical accuracy of the modern translation included in the play. We have also offered anti-racism training to all cast members and creatives working on the production.

Further information on the poem, the historical context for the play and the creative process for James IV – Queen Of The Fight can be found in the James IV Programme.


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