James IV: Queen of the Fight

Information on the show's themes and content

James IV: Queen of the Fight 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 to ensure the historical accuracy of the modern translation included in the play. We have also offered training around understanding racism and its impacts to all cast members, creative team, and staff members 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 Souvenir Programme.

The play also includes a depiction of infant death.
If you have been affected by infant death help and advice is available at:

Sands Helpline - 0808 164 3332 

The Sands National Helpline provides a safe, confidential place fro anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby. Whether your baby died long ago or recently we are here for you. The telephone helpline is free to call from landlines and mobiles or email on helpline@sands.org.uk Visit the website www.sands.org.uk  where different channels are available through which they can support you.