By the end of the seventeenth century, black trumpeters and kettledrummers were employed at many courts of the Holy Roman Empire as symbols of princely magnificence. Their legal and social position within the court hierarchy, and within German society as a whole, has been debated among historians. According to a commonly held view, black performers who had been bought on the international slave market were considered legally free and fully integrated into German society once they had completed a two-year apprenticeship and entered court service. Membership in the Imperial Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Guild (requiring proof of free birth) is usually cited as evidence of their free legal status, social integration into German society, and privileged position at court. Drawing on insights from social, religious, and legal history, history of race, and music sociology, my article reevaluates the notion of the frictionless integration of black trumpeters and drummers into Germany's estate-based society by focusing on two case studies: Christian Real (fl. 1643–74) and Christian Gottlieb (fl. 1675–90). As my study of their little-known yet well-documented careers demonstrates, the social position of these black trumpeters was far more fragile than that of their white colleagues. The tension between their blackness, associated with their previous slave status, and their visible roles as court trumpeters associated with princely power sometimes led to conflict and even physical violence. Both case studies suggest that black trumpeters and drummers were more susceptible to discrimination and violence whenever they moved out of the courtly sphere in which they were privileged and protected.

Like other Western countries, Germany is currently experiencing a resurgence of nationalist, right-wing politics whose rhetoric attempts to establish German identity as essentially “white.”1 Much of this often blatantly racist rhetoric is directed against the African diaspora in Germany, a group that has significantly grown as a consequence of the recent European refugee crisis.2 As debates about the racial and cultural identity of Germany become more heated—in the 2017 election, the rightist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) became the third-largest party in the German parliament—it is important to remember that black Africans and their descendants, like other nonwhite people, have lived in Germany and contributed to German culture since medieval and early modern times.3 

Even though the African population in early modern Germany was very small,4 black Africans held important positions in courtly music institutions. For instance, the ducal court in Württemberg, a mid-sized Protestant state in the Holy Roman Empire, employed at least ten black trumpeters and kettledrummers throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.5 Such interest in African performers was not limited to Württemberg, but could be found at almost every court in early modern Germany. Social and cultural historians have studied these black court musicians, but musicologists have not yet included them in the historiography of German court music.6 

The history of black people in early modern Germany is inseparable from that of the princely court and its music.7 Black presence at European courts can be traced as far back as the Middle Ages. The court of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1194–1250) in Sicily was one of the first European courts at which black slaves were present, and they served as imperial guards, valets, and trumpeters.8 After the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade in the mid-fifteenth century, a growing number of European princes, among them King Henry VII of England and King James IV of Scotland, employed black servants, specifically trumpeters and drummers.9 

With the exception of the Electorate of Brandenburg, the states of the Holy Roman Empire were “slavery hinterlands”10 that did not own any colonies in Africa, but princes in German-speaking territories were nevertheless able to acquire black Africans—mostly boys and young men—through networks of agents on the international slave market. They were then made court servants—“Hofmohren,” or court Moors, in contemporary terminology11—and their otherness was exploited as a symbol of princely magnificence. Black court servants, among them a kettledrummer, appeared at the Bavarian court as early as the 1570s.12 By the mid-eighteenth century, court Moors had become “a commodity available in even the remotest territories” of the empire.13 Anne Kuhlmann-Smirnov has documented 380 black court servants present at German courts between the late sixteenth century and ca. 1800, representing a wide spectrum of courtly duties and hierarchies, ranging from lowly positions, such as stable boy and assistant gardener, to the elevated position of chamberlain, one who had a special relationship of trust with his princely patron.14 

The social position of such black court servants differed significantly from that of black people living in Portugal and Spain, where they were frequently slaves or low-wage workers in agriculture and noble households,15 and from the brutality of chattel slavery in the Americas.16 Since court Moors in Germany symbolized the prestige and social status of princes and were incorporated into the well-defined hierarchies of the courtly personnel, they had some opportunity for social integration and agency: they received salaries, married (often local German women, frequently from families of other court servants), and were occasionally able to purchase property.17 This relatively advantageous social situation does not, however, necessarily imply that all were automatically freed after their arrival on German soil. Since there was no binding legal regulation for slavery in the Holy Roman Empire, their legal position remained ambiguous. In view of this legal uncertainty, Rebekka von Mallinckrodt has recently proposed that the terms “freedom” and “slavery” should be applied on a case-related basis, taking into consideration legal gray areas in which an explicit confirmation of slave status was the exception.18 

Musicians make up a significant group among these black court servants: drawing on both Kuhlmann-Smirnov's work and my own research, I have been able to identify ten court trumpeters, twenty-one kettledrummers, and nearly one hundred military pipers and drummers (“Tambours”) at the courts of German-speaking states between 1573 and 1818. It is very likely that future research will uncover further black court and military musicians active in the Holy Roman Empire who are currently unknown. Like their white colleagues, black trumpeters and drummers were trained in professions regulated by an organization often referred to as the Reichszunft der Trompeter und Pauker (Imperial Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Guild) that was specific to the territories of the Holy Roman Empire.19 Their membership in this organization is usually mentioned as evidence of their free legal status and privileged social position, since one of the organization's requirements for an apprenticeship was that of having “honest parents” and being a “free person, and not a serf.”20 A number of historians, in particular Monika Firla, Andreas Becker, and Kuhlmann-Smirnov, have cited black court trumpeters and drummers in order to demonstrate that successful integration into early modern German society was possible for black Africans.21 Both Firla and Kuhlmann-Smirnov assert that black trumpeters and drummers were not only legally free but also socially privileged because of their guild membership and positions at court,22 and “seem to have been fairly well integrated into German society; many married local women, and their social standing was sufficiently independent for them to negotiate interests.”23 Kuhlmann-Smirnov, whose methodology is informed by the history of early modern courts and estate-based society,24 emphasizes that blackness was no obstacle to the integration and professional advancement of black Africans in a courtly environment: “dark skin,” she asserts, “did not determine their social rank.”25 Becker further claims that Christian baptism guaranteed their full legal and social equality.26 

Without denying that black people in early modern Germany had opportunities for social integration and professional advancement, I contend that this depiction nevertheless warrants critical examination on account of its overtly generalizing character: it fails to account for (and theorize) individual experiences of violence and discrimination, does not consider negative theological views on blackness or the possibility of premodern forms of racism, and plays down the fact that black court servants were exoticized by early modern princes because of their black skin.27 Moreover, this generalizing narrative tacitly assumes that the former slaves' new position of privilege and legal freedom was universally acknowledged and undisputed within wider German society.

This article investigates how black trumpeters and drummers experienced and navigated the tension between their previous slave status and their later position of privilege by examining the cases of two black court and military trumpeters in seventeenth-century Germany, Christian Real (fl. 1643–74) and Christian Gottlieb (fl. 1675–90). Was their previous status as slaves who had been sold and trafficked simply forgotten, replaced by a new position of freedom and privilege, and by social integration? Or were various forms of “differentiation, prejudice and discrimination,” which Kate Lowe has observed for black Africans in early modern Portugal, Spain, and Italy, where blackness was often associated with slavery and servitude, a social reality also for these privileged black Africans in early modern Germany?28 

In previous debates on the social situation of black Africans in Germany between the sixteenth and early eighteenth centuries, historians have largely focused on the aspects of rank, status, and religion as the most defining characteristics of early modern estate-based societies,29 arguing that blackness as an othering racial category did not yet have the importance that it later assumed with the formulation of race theories in the late eighteenth century.30 I contend, however, that the category of blackness cannot be neglected, since its perception in early modern German society was indeed connected to social status.31 Through a close reading of Real's and Gottlieb's lived experiences,32 I demonstrate that the social position of these black trumpeters and drummers was far more fragile than that of their white colleagues. Neither their previous slave status nor their blackness was erased by their integration into German society, but rather led to conflicts once they became courtly servants associated with princely power. These tensions were particularly apparent whenever black trumpeters and drummers moved out of the courtly sphere in which they were privileged and protected. They manifested themselves not only in acts of physical violence (in the case of Real) and verbal violence and discrimination (in the case of Gottlieb), but also in the language used in early modern archival documents denoting rank and status.33 Despite their guild memberships and positions at court, black trumpeters and drummers were frequently referred to simply as “Mohren,” indicating persons with dark skin and/or (often lower-ranking) black court servants, rather than being given their rightful professional titles “Trompeter” and “Pauker,” as were their white colleagues.34 

My understanding of blackness in an early modern European context draws on the work of historians and literary historians such as Kim Hall, Kate Lowe, and Anu Korhonen. Like them, I view blackness as a social construction of difference and exclusion that emerged within the context of European colonialism parallel to the construction of whiteness, and ultimately served the self-affirmation of European colonizers. Even though, as Hall has noted, the use of the term “black” runs the risk of homogenizing an ethnically and culturally diverse group of people, it can be used productively “as a term that … foregrounds the role of color in organizing relations of power.”35 

My study is informed by findings and methodologies in the fields of social and legal history, microhistory, cultural anthropology, the history of race, and the history of musical institutions and professions. This interdisciplinary approach is a risky undertaking and I do not claim to present definitive answers to the questions raised. Rather, I see the article as a preliminary exploration of a relatively new area and hope that it will lead to further research on the role of the African diaspora and other minorities in early modern German music. This is one of the first English-language studies to shed light on the migration, lived experiences, professional background, and patronage of black performers in seventeenth-century Germany, on the basis of a wealth of German archival documents. It illuminates their roles within courtly music institutions and the production of courtly musics and soundscapes, their standing within the legal systems of court and city, and their membership in their own professional organization, the Imperial Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Guild.36 The article responds to Olivia Bloechl's recent call for new historiographies of early music that “reorient our knowledge” by considering the “difference of coloniality” and “difference of subjugated European early modernities,” and that subvert notions of an essential whiteness of Western music by focusing on “the presence and creative activity of racially marked people.”37 This reorientation should lead to a broader exploration of the global connections of early modern German music institutions, their musicians, and their princely or civic patrons.

Beyond music-related issues, this article also seeks to examine processes of identity and race formation in seventeenth-century Germany, following an approach that highlights, in Bloechl's words, the “historical differences of pre-modern racial thinking … while also stressing its inseparability from past power structures and politics, and its genealogical connections with modern race and racism.”38 The first part of the article discusses the issues of blackness and social status with a specific focus on early modern Germany. This discussion provides a framework for the following two case studies on Real and Gottlieb, in which I analyze the interconnectedness of blackness and social status in cases of conflict.

Courtly Imaginings of Blackness

Medieval German views on black Africans derived, for instance, from religious iconography, practices, and beliefs range from stereotypical notions of the “black devil” to that of the “noble Moor,” to quote from the title of Peter Martin's book.39 These views slowly shifted from religious interpretations of blackness to pseudoscientific race theories that emerged in late eighteenth-century Germany.40 A comprehensive study of blackness in early modern Germany prior to the advent of these race theories is still lacking and long overdue.41 

For instance, the German term “Mohr” warrants clarification. As Kuhlmann-Smirnov and others have noted, the term is imprecise with regard to geographic origin, since it often but not always referred to people from sub-Saharan Africa.42 Particular meanings can be determined only when individual contexts (such as the time and location) of its use are considered.43 Despite this semantic ambiguity, however, it seems to have been associated more specifically with black Africans and the color of their skin during the seventeenth century, when “Mohr” and the feminine “Mohrin” were regularly used for a type of court servant who held a position as a member of a princely household, and who had been employed (or acquired) specifically because of his or her blackness. A sermon given at the baptism of a black African in 1657 entitled Mohren Tauff clearly demonstrates that the use of “Mohr” as a signifier for blackness was becoming customary in seventeenth-century Germany. (I discuss this source further below.) In this sermon, the Lutheran preacher Jacob Fussenegger comments on the skin color of Christian Real, the person to be baptized and the very same Real who later became trumpeter at the Württemberg court: “The inhabitants of the Kingdom of Guinea do not want to be called Moors, but Nigrits, after the black river Nigro. … But because of their black bodies and color they can be justifiably called Moors.”44 It is significant that Fussenegger simultaneously disregards a term (“Nigrits”) allegedly used by black Africans for a specific ethnic African group and imposes one (“Moors”) that classifies black Africans on the basis of their skin color. The process of race formation was already well under way in seventeenth-century Germany.

The roles filled by black servants in the context of German court culture reveal deeply ambiguous views on blackness. In Germany, as in other European states, black court servants were viewed as courtly status symbols that marked the prestige and power of their noble patrons.45 In this respect, they functioned similarly to the collections of artifacts in Kunst- and Wunderkammern that were assembled to demonstrate, in the words of Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, a “mastery of the greater world.”46 Courts in early modern Europe competed not only in collecting artifacts, but also in “collecting” servants, especially musicians, from a variety of different European regions. For instance, Michael Praetorius, kapellmeister at the court of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel from 1604 to 1621, describes the musicians at his court as “carefully collected from different nations.”47 At the electoral court in Dresden, musicians from different nations were “collected” during the first decades of the eighteenth century,48 as were all sorts of servants who came from (and represented) different parts of Europe and the world. The book that records the personnel of the Dresden court (the “Hofbuch”) for the years 1721–25 lists chamber Moors, haiduks, and Tatars as positions and functions (“Bedienung”) of court servants, next to those of barber, surgeon, and messenger.49 This diversity of the “collection” of court servants in Dresden and other courts was meant to symbolize “abundance … and splendor,”50 and also pointed to the range of economic, diplomatic, and dynastic networks by which princes were able to obtain such servants.

Black court servants, specifically, were meant to evoke images of Africa as an exotic and mythical Other that were linked to medieval thought yet still present in early modern Germany.51 As Gerhardt Petrat has pointed out, imaginings of the “noble African” were projected onto black Africans, who thus became “poeticized” as noble vassals serving a noble household. In the performative space of courtly rituals, the ascribed dignitas of the black servant was meant to embody the dignity of the prince.52 This imagined dignity, however, stood in stark contrast to the fact that most black court servants had been brought to Europe as slaves, and were frequently living in their new environment in a socially and economically tenuous position (see the section “Privileged Dependency” below). On a more practical level, black servants also represented their patrons' far-reaching trade connections, and more specifically their investment in the Atlantic slave economy, and thus their economic power. Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg, for example, acquired black servants from West Africa at the same time that the Brandenburg colony Groß-Friedrichsburg was established there in the 1680s.53 

As trumpeters and drummers, black court and military musicians represented these claims to power on both a visual and an aural level.54 Trumpets and kettledrums were instruments that provided early modern princes with essential sonic signs within their “media-strategic system for the creation and maintenance of princely-courtly representation and pretension to power.”55 At court, trumpets and drums choreographed specific forms of courtly ceremonial, such as the beginning of dinner ceremonies (a practice referred to as “Tafelblasen” in German sources)56 or the reception of foreign diplomats.57 According to his own testimony, Real performed at court before dinner, either alone or as part of the courtly trumpeter ensemble.58 The music he played on this occasion was very likely improvised, either in the form of a soloistic musical announcement similar to a Feldstück (field piece), performed “with sharp tonguing,”59 or in that of a trumpet ensemble piece, such as a sonata.60 Some trumpeters and drummers not only improvised or played from memory, however, but were able to read notated music, which was not the general norm in their profession.61 Those who were able to read music were called “musikalisch,” and would perform church and secular music together with the singers and instrumentalists of the local Hofkapelle as part of their daily routine. Eberhard Wilhelm (ca. 1704–48), a black kettledrummer in military service and later member of the court of Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Württemberg,62 performed church music, likely cantatas, with the Hofkapelle in feast day services at the court chapel.63 The black kettledrummer Pauli, who was employed at the Braunschweig court in the 1760s, commissioned the local organist and music copyist Carl August Hartung to copy two sets of symphonies for him, one of which was “with trumpets and kettledrums.”64 Pauli may have commissioned these copies for private study and practicing purposes, and was likely involved in the performance of these symphonies at the Brunswick court. The commission points to both his musical abilities and his professional integration into the Brunswick Hofkapelle.

Trumpeters and drummers often accompanied princes during their travels through foreign lands as sonic “symbol[s] of [their] power and authority.”65 As Stephen Rose has rightly pointed out, “the importance of trumpeters increased [in wartime], for they were among the few people able to take messages to the enemy or to escort neutral parties through battle”; through trumpet calls they also “enable[d] communication with enemies when all other forms of negotiation had broken down.” This important role eventually led to the establishment of “legal codes [that] sought to protect the trumpeter in such situations,” granting them the “rights and privileges of higher ambassadors.”66 During military campaigns, in which both Real and Gottlieb would have participated, trumpets and kettledrums not only aided battlefield communication but also provided means of psychological warfare by making a strong visual and acoustical impression on the enemy.67 The trumpeters' and kettledrummers' professional organization, often referred to as a guild,68 carefully guarded the princely prerogative in relation to the sound of trumpets and drums against attempts by civic musicians and music organizations to utilize these instruments.69 By having black servants trained as trumpeters and drummers, early modern princes thus merged both visual and aural markers of princely privilege and social distinction—a circumstance that could explain the relative frequency of these two professions among black court servants.70 

Further examination of the functions of black trumpeters and kettledrummers at court and in the military confirms this connection between the visual and the aural. Black trumpeters and drummers often featured in public pageants during dynastic celebrations (such as weddings or baptisms) or the visit of a foreign prince or ambassador. In the pageant staged for the wedding of Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg and Princess Elisabeth Friederike Sophie of Brandenburg-Bayreuth in Stuttgart in October 1748, for instance, an unnamed black kettledrummer featured prominently as part of the ducal guard, riding alone in front of four trumpeters. A published account of this pageant emphasized the visual splendor of the drummer: “A kettledrummer, who was a Moor, with his two drums entirely covered in silver, which were decorated with precious banderoles made of silver, gold, and yellow silk.”71 As shown in Figure 1, a detail from an engraving accompanying this account, the black drummer was dressed in a Turkish style, which reflects the well-known European fascination with the military culture of the Ottoman Empire.72 Significantly, many black military musicians in the Holy Roman Empire and other European countries during the eighteenth century were not only dressed in this Turkish fashion but also performed music modeled on Turkish janissary ensembles.73 This eighteenth-century European construction of blackness, in which black Africans were stylized as luxury “objects” in Turkish clothes, was supposed to evoke, in the words of Heather Morrison, “Ottoman luxury and military might” that had nevertheless been subjugated by the Holy Roman Empire. Princes “happily incorporated such symbolic reminders into [their] rituals for international diplomatic occasions.”74 

Figure 1

Figure 1

A black kettledrummer in the pageant staged for the wedding of Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg and Princess Elisabeth Friederike Sophie of Brandenburg-Bayreuth in Stuttgart on October 12, 1748, detail from an inserted engraving in Wilhelm Friedrich Schönhaar, Ausführliche Beschreibung des zu Bayreuth im September 1748 vorgegangenen Hoch fürstlichen Beylagers (Stuttgart: Jenisch, 1749), exemplar: Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, M: Gm 4° 1164. Used by permission.

The Turkish style of clothing not only exoticized black Africans but also frequently accentuated their blackness through the clothes' white color. An example is again provided by the Dresden court. In preparation for the wedding of Friedrich August (the future Elector August III) and Archduchess Maria Josepha in 1719, a group of twenty-four “Mohren” received clothes for their public appearance in the festivities.75 Not only did they wear “gilded collars made from brass”76 around their necks, signifying their previous or current status as slaves, they also wore clothes made predominantly of white fabric, such as white gloves and turbans. The visual contrast of black and white was also commonly exploited in military campaigns for reasons of princely representation and warfare-related practicality, as suggested by Johann Ernst Altenburg's observation that black kettledrummers (“Mohren”) often used white horses when they were employed as messengers, both “for reasons of reputation” and in order to ensure their visibility on the battlefield.77 

Such examples illustrate that the whiteness of the clothing emphasized the otherness of and prestige associated with black bodies. As noted above, opinions expressed about black bodies were deeply ambiguous. Some German sources refer to their beauty: Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria, for example, remarked that one of his black servants was “rather beautiful,” and when Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg ordered six young slaves aged between fourteen and sixteen from West Africa, he stipulated that they should be “beautiful and well built.”78 Yet black bodies were also regarded as odd and deformed, a view that motivated the “collection” of black servants alongside other transgressive bodies—of “dwarfs,” “giants,” and “wild men and women”—as part of a courtly entourage, similar to the collection of natural curiosities in Kunst- and Wunderkammern.79 Moreover, as shown by numerous paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in which a man or woman of princely rank is accompanied by a black servant, blackness was also used to accentuate the whiteness of nobility as the normative standard of beauty.80 The seeming paradoxical nature of courtly imaginings of blackness, oscillating between the extremes of desire for and abjection of black bodies, strongly resembles later approaches encountered in coloniality and European modernity.81 

“Becoming White” through Baptism?

Religious views on blackness common in seventeenth-century Germany resonate with some of these courtly imaginings. In the courtly sphere, black bodies were seen not only as desirable others but also as curiosities that emphasized and affirmed the norm of whiteness. In the sphere of religion, blackness was frequently associated with the “deformity” of paganism and sin. An important source in this context is the abovementioned Mohren Tauff, a ninety-six-page publication by Jacob Fussenegger, a “Prediger” (preacher) in the Free Imperial City of Lindau, comprising a dedicatory preface, the sermon and a description of the service, and thirteen congratulatory poems by eleven authors (“Amicorum Carmina”). The biography of the baptized person (Real) includes the circumstances of his enslavement in Africa, as well as glimpses of the way blackness may have been viewed outside the sphere of the court, and thus provides a framework for my later discussion of the violent act committed against Real in his role as court trumpeter. Previous scholarship has read this text as evidence that the religious and thus social integration of black people into early modern German society was possible.82 Yet, as I attempt to show, this integration was possible only on condition that the black body was “whitened.”

Scholars have frequently stressed the integration of black Africans into Christian communities through instruction in religion and baptism, but they have often left unquestioned the contemporary argument that the enslavement of black Africans by Christians served as a means of “saving souls.”83 The sermon and several of the poems in Mohren Tauff are concerned with this common contemporary justification. Fussenegger describes the violence and bodily pain associated with Real's abduction from his parents as well as the erasure of his religious and cultural identity as being necessary for “saving” his soul. In this view, slavery is theologically justified as a means of achieving spiritual freedom (that is, salvation) and integration into Christian society:

But when [Real] considers and justly contemplates in his heart that he has come from the heathen and nonbelievers to a Christian owner, that this owner has brought him to Christianity, that he has had him instructed in the true Christian faith … and that he will pray for his final salvation—considering all this, his heart should cry out for joy and should consider all that has previously hurt him as pure joy and destiny provided by God.84 

The color symbolism used in the sermon's theological argumentation, which juxtaposes “blackness” and “whiteness,” is rooted in a centuries-old “symbolic order in which good, purity, and Christianity itself are associated with light and whiteness, while evil, sexuality, and difference are linked with darkness.”85 Accordingly, in the sermon and the poems, the blackness of Real's skin is associated with religious ignorance, worshipping of the Devil, paganism, and sin. He is described as

[an unbelieving heathen and barbarian boy] who was born to pagan, noble parents, raised in the pagan religion, and was made blind through pagan darkness, so that he did not know anything of the true triune God, Christ the Savior of the World, and the true path to salvation, just like an unreasoning beast. … The … Moors pray to a false idol, which they call “Fetisso.” This, however, is the Devil himself, who appears to them often in the guise of a black dog or a little black man … but now he converted, through the grace of God, and through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, from darkness to light.86 

Several of the congratulatory poems explicitly associate the black body with sin. According to the first poem, for instance, the souls of pagan black Africans are affected by the physical blackness that surrounds them (“the mud of sin”), and have thus become “blackened.”87 The sinful blackness of the body can be redeemed, however, if the soul is turned “white” through baptism: “Blackness does not harm / Provided a white faith looks through the black skin.”88 The image of the “sinful, pagan” black body in the poems and the sermon is thus connected with that of “whitewashing the Ethiopian.” This image, which originated in one of Aesop's fables,89 was transmitted as a proverb throughout early modern Europe (“To wash an Ethopian white is to labor in vain”) and was frequently represented in contemporary poetry and in emblem books. Christian readings of this proverb emphasize that, while the body cannot be whitewashed, the soul can be “whitened” and thus “saved” through baptism. This notion also features in Fussenegger's sermon and in several of the poems:

The blood of Christ washes me clean from the blackness of my sins,
And lights in me the pure candle of faith
Through which I become as white in my soul, heart, will, and mind
As I have ever been black in my body.90 
A black heathen will never become white
Unless he, to the praise of God,
Is born new through spirit and water.91 

Reading this process of “whitewashing” the soul as integration into Christian society is problematic, since it can be maintained only if the black body is disregarded. And even in such a reading, the body remains silently present as a sign of a black person's former sinful, pagan, and thus inferior state. The importance of the black color of Real's real body, and the anxieties it caused even after the act of baptism, can be discerned from the fact that he had to wear his white clothing (representing a christening gown) in public for a week, thus turning his body literally white:

He will also in such white clothing for eight days, if it pleases God, walk among us: not that we, as rude and uneducated people might judge, want to stage a new African pageant with him, or laugh at his black body and use him as an entertainment … but this white clothing—the white shoes, socks, ribbon, trousers, doublet, collar, hat, and gloves that he wears—is his christening gown.92 

Fussenegger's theological justification of this religious spectacle as a venerable practice of early Christianity reveals that he anticipated ridicule and mockery of the black boy by members of the general public, and was trying to preempt such a response. Despite his assertion to the contrary, the public display of Real in his white clothes had all the character of a spectacle, recalling (for instance) the staging of the twenty-four “Mohren” in white clothes at the 1719 wedding celebrations in Dresden. It visually accentuated the very contrast of blackness and whiteness that it tried to supersede on the level of theological symbolism.93 

Privileged Dependency

The ambiguity and anxiety surrounding early modern German imaginings of blackness, located somewhere between the extremes of power and prestige on the one hand and inferiority and sin on the other, is paralleled by the socially, legally, and economically tenuous position of black court servants, and especially of black court and military trumpeters and kettledrummers in German society. Study of their life experiences within the empire can shed light on their social and legal position, and exposes the tension between the privilege that derived from their roles as signifiers of princely power and their actual living conditions. Their situation has been characterized by historian Vera Lind as “privileged dependency.”94 On the one hand, most black court servants received a salary, gifts, and housing, and were able to marry; on the other, they were more dependent than their white colleagues on their noble patrons, in that having been abducted, enslaved, and trafficked, they lacked the family and social networks on which their colleagues could rely. Moreover, when they were baptized and “saved” from paganism or Islam, their noble patrons and their families very often acted as godparents, thus enforcing the notion of dependency on a spiritual level. Lowe has pointed out that their “arrival in Europe as slaves meant the systematic erasure of all the more significant aspects of their past, starting with their names, their languages, their religions, their families and communities, and their cultural practices.”95 Given this situation, it must have been much more difficult for black court servants to independently take advantage of opportunities for social mobility—for instance, by moving to a new position at another court—than it was for their white colleagues.96 In 1768, a black kettledrummer named Carl who had been dismissed from his service at the Brunswick court referred to this particular form of dependency when he petitioned the duke to “show his noble benevolence toward me, a poor African, since I have neither father nor mother who could take care of me. I am, in other words, an abandoned orphan, who does not have anyone to ask for help other than Your Ducal Highness, whom I revere as my greatest father.”97 As Martin asserts, Carl's petition does not simply rely on formulaic rhetorical conventions, but actually testifies to his destitute economic situation.98 

The following case studies illustrate the social ambivalence experienced by black court trumpeters. I shift my focus from institutions and societal structures to individual life experiences in order to ascertain whether their profession as trumpeters gave them sufficient agency for upward social mobility. I also investigate the ways in which forms of “differentiation, prejudice and discrimination”99 and the association of blackness with slavery and servitude that Lowe has observed for fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe generally and for colonial powers Portugal and Spain in particular were also realities for black trumpeters in the context of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Germany.100 

Real and Gottlieb are among the earliest and best-documented black trumpeters in the Holy Roman Empire. Their new roles as black court and military trumpeters conferred on them a comparatively high social status, among the highest that black people had attained in the empire thus far, yet this status could also lead to conflicts outside the confines of the court. These conflicts highlight the tensions between the social status bestowed by their roles as privileged courtly servants and perceptions of their blackness as connoting slavery and an inferior state of being.

Violence against Black Bodies in Early Modern Germany: The Case of Christian Real

In some respects, Christian Real's biography resembles the “privileged dependency” of many black Africans living in early modern Germany.101 Real was brought from West Africa to Lindau on Lake Constance by Joß Kramer, a German merchant, slave owner, and former vice-commander of the Swedish Africa Company on the Gold Coast. The sermon by Fussenegger discussed above is important not only because it illustrates contemporary German views on blackness, but also because it is one of the rare seventeenth- or eighteenth-century German sources to shed light on the childhood and enslavement of a black African living in Germany. Fussenegger mentions that Real was fourteen years old in 1657,102 so he must have been born around 1643. The Lindau preacher locates Real's birthplace in the “Kingdom of Guinea,” a political and geographic area often referenced by early modern European explorers and cartographers that largely corresponds to the coastline of today's Ghana.103 Having been abducted from his parents at a very young age, Real was sold, according to Fussenegger, “so many times, nine times in total, namely among the Barbary Moors, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and finally to this owner and patron at this place [Lindau].”104 Fussenegger also mentions that Real spent “several years on the sea” (which could mean that he had to work as a slave on a Portuguese or Dutch merchant ship), and on the island of São Tomé, a major center for Portugal's Atlantic slave trade and the site of large sugar plantations during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.105 As is true of many black Africans trafficked to Europe, his real name is not known. According to Fussenegger, “he was given his name ‘Regal’ or ‘Real’ by the Dutch: it means ‘king,’ because his father is believed to be a king.”106 The different versions of the name reflect the linguistically and culturally different zones of influence through which Real passed (Portuguese and Dutch) before his arrival in Germany.107 The etymology associated with his name, pointing to his royal descent, could have been based on fact or could have been fabricated in order to enhance his prestige and value in the eyes of potential aristocratic patrons. His other name, “Christian,” he was given in acknowledgment of his abovementioned baptism in Lindau on May 17, 1657, and was one he shared with many other baptized black Africans who lived in Germany, signifying both their new existence as Christians and the erasure of their previous religious and cultural identities.

In addition to Real's biography, Fussenegger's Mohren Tauff provides evidence of Württemberg's and Lindau's involvement in the Atlantic slave trade during the second half of the seventeenth century—a research topic outside the scope of this article, but certainly worthy of further investigation. Real's first German owner, Joß Kramer, was a native of the Free Imperial City of Lindau on Lake Constance, vice-commander of the Swedish Africa Company from 1656 to 1657, and commander of the Danish African Company's Fort Frederiksborg from 1659 to his death in 1662.108 According to Fussenegger, he had bought Real together with three other “poor souls of Moors to lead them out of paganism into Christendom.”109 Kramer had allegedly purchased these four black Africans as a “sacrifice of thanks to Christ” for four Europeans who had been saved from a perilous situation, which was perhaps an epidemic, or a conflict of some sort that he had experienced while on the Gold Coast. He brought Real to Lindau, where he had him instructed in the Christian faith by his friend Fussenegger, whom he knew from his student days at the college of Saint Anna in Augsburg in 1638–39.

After receiving his instruction, Real was baptized by Fussenegger in the presence of a “large congregation” of Lindau citizens.110 In both its spectacular dimension and its public character the ceremony resembled the public baptisms of other “heathens” in early modern Germany—not only black Africans, but also Muslims (who were frequently brought to the Holy Roman Empire as prisoners of war) and Jews.111 Fussenegger's publication not only contains the sermon, but also specifies liturgical and other ceremonial details: polyphonic music (presumably vocal) with organ accompaniment was performed during the service,112 and before the proper act of baptism Real's faith was publicly examined, to demonstrate that it conformed to Lutheran orthodoxy. As discussed above, Real had to wear white clothes in place of a white christening gown publicly for the period of a week. The mayor of Lindau, Amadeus Eckolt, and the lawyer and diplomat Valentin Heider (who had represented Lindau and other Free Imperial Cities at the negotiations preceding the Peace of Westphalia) acted as godfathers.113 Significantly, as stated by Fussenegger, Real still had the legal status of a slave (“sclav”) at this time,114 and the baptism alone did not change this. In the same year, Kramer (who eventually departed for the Netherlands) “gifted” Real to his godfather Heider.115 Heider, in turn, and again in the same year, brought the boy to Stuttgart and “gifted” him to Duke Eberhard III. As Heider writes in his own poem in Mohren Tauff, “the court of the Prince of Württemberg now refines and ennobles [Real's] youth and behavior.”116 

Shortly after his arrival in Stuttgart, however, Real ran away, and had to be forcibly brought back to the court, where he likely became a servant to Duchess Maria Dorothea Sophia117—a circumstance that casts doubt on any generalizing assumption that the arrival of black people at German courts was always conflict-free. Around 1665, Real was made an apprentice to court trumpeter Marcell Kerbß, and after finishing his two-year apprenticeship was himself appointed court trumpeter in 1668. His pay was not equal to that of other Württemberg court trumpeters: he received an annual salary of thirty-seven gulden and thirty kreuzer, a little more than half of what the other trumpeters were paid (sixty-two gulden).118 Only a year later he was nearly killed, when, on the night of November 10–11, 1669, he was attacked most violently and cruelly by four young court servants of the lowest rank (hunters' servants, “Jäger Jungen”) while he and a friend were walking back to his lodging from a wine tavern—an incident discussed in further detail below. He survived this attack and remained a member of the courtly trumpeter ensemble until 1674, when he took part in the funeral procession for Duke Eberhard III. Interestingly, in an engraving of the procession he is shown as a white man (see Figure 2).119 This has been cited as evidence that Real had been so thoroughly integrated into Stuttgart society that his black skin was no longer noticed.120 Given the overall style of the engraving, however, it could be argued that the artist was not concerned with individual portraits, but chose to present all participants in the procession in a uniform way.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Christian Real (center) in the funeral procession for Duke Eberhard III, 1674, detail from an engraving in Thomas Wagner, Die Sechste Christ-Fürstliche Leich-Predigt / Uber Das Seelige Ableiben Deß … / Herrn Eberharden / Hertzogen zu Würtemberg und Teck (Stuttgart: Johann Weyrich Rößlin, 1674), exemplar: Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, Lpr. Stolb. 23350:6. Used by permission.

After 1674, Real disappears from the Württemberg records. It is true that the Württemberg court music suffered from significant cuts after the duke's death, yet all trumpeters listed in the 1669–70 account book remained in service under Eberhard's successor Wilhelm Ludwig with the exception of Real and another who had died before 1674.121 It is possible that Real suffered the same fate as other black court servants in the Holy Roman Empire, who were among the first to be dismissed when a new ruler came to power. Kuhlmann-Smirnov discusses the possibility that Real returned to Africa after 1674, inviting comparison with the remigration of the black philosopher Anton Wilhelm Amo about seventy years later.122 

The attack on Real sheds further light on the visibility and vulnerability of a black man in a public space in seventeenth-century Germany. The extensive legal court documents (over 200 pages' worth) contain a wide range of materials:123 notes from the interrogations of the four young men who attacked Real, of witnesses, and of Real himself; reports written by Württemberg court lawyers and councillors recommending specific forms of punishment; the final sentence decreed and signed by Duke Eberhard III of Württemberg; petitions written on behalf of the convicts; a petition written by the convicts; and a report written by the court surgeon detailing Real's injuries. These documents not only allow a partial reconstruction of the incident (inasmuch as this is possible 350 years later), they also represent a fascinating source for the study of Alltagsgeschichte and legal history in early modern Germany. More specifically, they provide a rare glimpse into the life of a black man in seventeenth-century Stuttgart—for instance, his network of friends, his duties at court, and his use of his spare time. Monika Firla and Hermann Forkl describe these documents in some detail, although they summarize and paraphrase their contents rather than citing longer passages directly from the sources.124 A critical edition of these documents is lacking and overdue; my study of them is based on my own transcriptions. An overview of their contents, and my transcription and translation of a document recording the first interrogation of Real, are presented as  Appendix 1 and  Appendix 2 respectively.

The following description of the event is based on the statements of Real himself (see  Appendix 2) and of the key witnesses. Real spent most of the day with a friend, the servant (“Laquay”) Marcus Brandshagen. During the afternoon, Real went to a local wine tavern with his friend, then to his lodging in his former teacher's house for a nap, and then to the ducal court to attend the daily dinner ceremony. Afterward, he returned to the wine tavern, where he spent more time drinking with Brandshagen and an unnamed nobleman, with whom he conversed about war-related topics, as they were “commonly talked about among trumpeters and kettledrummers.” Around midnight, when Real and Brandshagen decided to go home, their host offered to walk them home with a torch, implying that walking through seventeenth-century Stuttgart at night was a dangerous business.125 Real declined the offer, replying that it was not necessary, since “he had now been living in Stuttgart for more than twelve years, everyone knew him, and he did not intend to harm anyone.” On their way (Brandshagen was walking a couple of yards behind Real, since he had stopped at a corner to urinate), they ran into four men who were “hitting the stones,” presumably the paving stones, with their daggers (“Hirschfänger”): this was then a popular pastime among twenty-year-old males looking for trouble at night.126 Brandshagen cried, “Stop,” and (according to another witness, the feather-maker (“Federschmuckher”) Hieronymus Gassner) “perhaps they were dealing with the servants of a high-ranking person,”127 to which the four responded that “he should be silent, this wasn't about him, they knew Christian well.”128 This is a key detail of the case that the four perpetrators repeatedly denied during the ensuing three police interrogations; they insisted that they had not known Christian personally prior to the incident. According to Real and one of the witnesses (Gassner again), who was watching the incident from his window, the four then ran immediately toward the victim. One of them aimed his dagger at Real's head, hitting him so hard that his cranium splintered and his “green hat” (presumably the hat forming part of his attire as court trumpeter) fell to the ground. Only at that point did Real attempt to defend himself with his sword, but someone held him from behind and tried to take it by force. Thus immobilized, he was stabbed with a dagger a second time. The report by the court surgeon noted that Real had received a wound extending from the forehead through the left eye and nasal bone, so severe that his eye was irremediably lost.129 He was then hit for a third time on his left arm. Even though he was already lying defenselessly on the ground, one of the four men was still trying to forcibly take his sword, and insulted him, crying, “Give me your sword, you dog.”130 As testified by Real during a second interrogation, they then picked him up and carried his body to a nearby horse trough (“Wette,” a south German word for “Pferdetränke”)131 in order to drown him—Real was convinced that they intended to kill him—but were stopped by city guardsmen who came to his aid.132 The four men then went off in a different direction, continuing to hit into the pavement stones. When they gathered a last time before going to their lodgings, one of them apparently boasted to the others that he had “bravely cured the Moor.”133 

Soon afterward, the four men were arrested and interrogated by the authorities. They were all young (between twenty and twenty-two years old), hunters' servants, so very low-ranking court employees.134 They claimed that Real had insulted and attacked them first, and that they had fought back only in order to defend themselves. They also claimed not to have known Real personally; in fact, they stated that they had not at first realized that it was Real with whom they were fighting because it was so dark. During the three interrogations, however, they tied themselves up in several contradictions; one of them, Joachim Krafft, finally admitted to stabbing Real. In the end the four were sentenced to pay a monetary fine of 140 gulden in total (50 gulden went to Real for his “doctor's bill, pain, and injuries”).135 Since they were poor and unable to pay immediately, they were compelled to undertake hard construction work (“opus publicum”) in the Hohenasperg fortress. Moreover, after their release, they were exiled from the country, two of them indefinitely. In their summation of the case, the ducal councillors stated that “nightly tumults, hanging around in alleys, and brawling” had lately become so threatening that one had to make an example of the young men and impose a harsh punishment.136 Formally, the sentence was based on the 1655 Württemberg Legal Court Ordinance (Hofgerichtsordnung, Part 3, Paragraph 25),137 according to which their crime was classified as an act of physical aggression (“Schlaghandlung”) that did not lead to death, and as causing public disorder in a state of drunkenness.

The legal court case attracted an amount of public attention. Joseph Cullen, a bailiff (“Vogt”) in Stuttgart at the time, reported that the transfer of the young men from the city prison to the fortress on February 2, 1670, was witnessed by an unusually large crowd of people.138 Several petitions were written on behalf of the convicts, most of which pertained to Joachim Krafft, who had to pay the highest fine, and who also had—comparatively—the highest social status, as his father served as forest supervisor (“Forstmeister”) in the neighboring territory of Öttingen. One petition was written by “seven young daughters” (“7 junge Töchterlein”) to Duchess Maria Dorothea Sophia.139 The convicts also wrote a petition on their own behalf, addressed to Duke Christian Ludwig of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, in which they deny any wrongdoing, insisting that they had had to defend themselves against the “drunken Moor,” who alone was to blame for his injuries.140 Interestingly, they claim to have been “dishonored” and subjected to “derision” both by his action and by the sentence; significantly, they signed their letter as “poor, captured slaves,” alluding to Real's legal status prior to his employment as court trumpeter in Stuttgart to make a rhetorical point about their own perception of the absurdity and injustice of the sentence.141 Evidently, his former status as slave had not been forgotten; indeed, it appears to have been one of the reasons for the attention this case received, and also for the high number of petitions written on the perpetrators' behalf, indicating that the public considered the sentencing of the four men to have been too severe.

Firla and Forkl interpret the legal court documents as evidence of Real's successful “integration in court and civic society.”142 There is no doubt that the archival documents indicate that Real was socially integrated, relying on a network of friends and professional relations. Firla and Forkl cite the concern of the owner of the wine tavern for his patrons' safety and his offer to walk them home, as well as the African's casual response, as indications of the significant extent to which Real was integrated. But the sources also testify to his high visibility: in a relatively small community, Real, as one of the very few black Africans in town, would have been known, at least by sight, to almost every inhabitant.143 That he had lived in Stuttgart for twelve years, and that “everyone knew him” because of his high visibility as a black man, did not guarantee his safety, as he optimistically assumed, but rather made him extremely vulnerable in a public space, particularly at night. Contrary to their own assertion, the young men had known Real prior to the incident. The comment reported by a witness that “they knew Christian well” makes it seem likely that both the attack and its cruelty were planned. Indeed, the suspicion that one of them had thought about attacking him for some time was mentioned in the interrogations and not satisfactorily dispelled by any of the four perpetrators.144 

In their discussion of the legal documents, Firla and Forkl note that they have not found “the slightest allusion prompted by prejudice or racism, for instance, to suggest that Real was perhaps responsible for the incident, because of his alleged ‘savage’ character.”145 They read the severe punishment of the four perpetrators as evidence of his integration into the legal system of his time; they also contend that his blackness had not played any role in the legal deliberations or in the young men's attack. They maintain that the four young men did not perceive Real as an “other,” positing that they might only have been envious of his privileged status as court trumpeter. With regard to a possible motive for the crime, the sources are indeed silent; the question is hardly raised. Pages and pages are devoted to a detailed reconstruction of the incident (who did and said what) and the reasoning behind the sentence (who had to pay how much and why). This silence makes it necessary to read between the lines, in order to be aware of unuttered implications.

Although Real's blackness is never explicitly mentioned in the documents, I would argue that it is present through the designation “Mohr,” one that in seventeenth-century Germany, as discussed above, was becoming closely associated with blackness. It seems significant that in most cases the legal court documents refer to Real as a “Mohr.”146 The few instances in which he is designated “Trompeter,” or, combining both terms, “Mohr und Trompeter,” mostly occur in documents written by or addressed to the Duke of Württemberg.147 This seems to suggest that Real's racial and professional courtly position as a “Moor” was not superseded by his new position as “trumpeter” but continued to be seen as relevant, and that the authors of most of the documents, predominantly court and city officials, in fact viewed his role as “Moor” as the more important of the two.

From this perspective, the statement by one of the perpetrators that he had “bravely cured the Moor” can be seen as referring not only to Real's professional position at court but also to his blackness. More specifically, it apparently referred to a (perceived) tension between “Mohr” as a racial marker, associated with a lower social status, and “Trompeter,” a courtly position associated with a much higher status. It seems significant that Real wore his “green hat” (“grüne Kapp”) that night, which was probably part of his livery as court trumpeter, and also carried his sword (“Degen”), a symbol of his free legal status.148 These symbols could have provoked the attackers' envy and aggression; they may have thought that the “Moor” had to be “cured” of the hubris that made him publicly wear his green hat and sword as status symbols, which they apparently perceived as inappropriate for a former slave. This reading is supported by the fact that the four young men seem to have felt socially marginalized by their age and their economically tenuous positions: one of them was unemployed, and one of the documents describes them as “poor.”149 Thus, Real's attempt to put them in their place by referring to himself as a “Herrendiener” (prince's servant) might have further fueled their aggression.150 One of Real's statements reveals that he regarded the four young men as occupying a much lower social position than his own: he asserts that he had never seen them before the incident and thought they were “Schuhknechte” (cobblers' servants),151 a term that denotes a very low social status.152 As Firla and Forkl have rightly noted, Real's own statements reveal a strong sense of pride in relation to his own social status.153 His frequent references to his “green hat” and sword suggest he was well aware that his clothing publicly signified his rank as trumpeter.154 

The fact that the attackers aimed directly at Real's face further suggests that intersecting issues of blackness, status, and honor were indeed at the core of this violent act.155 At least two of the young men used their daggers while the fourth held him so that he could not defend himself. The symbolism of their weapons is significant: the knives used—“Hirschfänger”—were commonly used to kill animals, adding a sense of degradation to the attack. That the men's profession as hunters' servants accounts for their carrying such daggers does not necessarily undermine this interpretation. As Valentin Groebner has pointed out, according to early modern theological and legal views, “the face … was the noblest part of the body and expressed a person's honor.”156 Thus, disfiguring the human face was an attempt to dishonor the entire person. A detailed description of Real's facial injuries was given in the report by the court surgeon, Johann Nicolaus Knaus: “First, a lengthy wound on the right side, along the upper part of his head, the upper skullcap splintered and injured; the other wound went through the left side, right from the forehead through the left eye, as well as over and through the nasal bone; through this stroke the inside of the eyeball was damaged, leaked out, and [was thus] destroyed.”157 That the men aimed at Real's face and destroyed one of his eyes and a part of his nose strongly suggests that they wanted not only to dishonor him but also to destroy him personally, socially, and professionally. Other details of the crime point in the same direction: one of the men tried to take away Real's sword, even though he was already defenseless; he insulted the gravely injured man as a “dog”; and all four men tried to drown him in a horse trough. The animalistic associations of these last two details, like those of the daggers, suggest that the men were attempting to strip Real of his perceived privilege by dehumanizing him.

The issue of Real's honor is no more explicitly mentioned in the court documents than his blackness. The four young men were not punished because they violated his honor, but to cover his medical bills and provide compensation for his physical suffering. And perhaps even more importantly, the authorities used the sentence as a deterrent by which to maintain law and order. Significantly, however, the issue of honor is raised in the perpetrators' petition to Duke Christian Ludwig: they claim that they have been dishonored by Real's alleged attack and that they feel dishonored by the sentence, their incarceration, and their new role as “slaves”—a remarkable role inversion.

Discrimination against Interracial Marriage: The Case of Christian Gottlieb

The story of field trumpeter Christian Gottlieb similarly illustrates the tenuous legal and social position of black court servants in Germany, this time in the context of marriage. Gottlieb's story was first made known to a wider public by Johannes Christian Kinder (1843–1914), former mayor of the city of Plön in Schleswig-Holstein and local historian, who published his “historische Erzählung” (historical narrative) on the black trumpeter in 1887.158 Kinder's actually highly fanciful narrative has been frequently cited and mostly taken at face value (see, for instance, Martin's discussion of the case),159 even though Kinder himself emphasized its primarily literary character by referring to it as a narrative. It has gone largely unnoticed, however, that the original sources that Kinder drew upon are still in the Plön Stadtarchiv. In 1996, a reevaluation of these sources was undertaken by a group of local historians (Claus Ulrich, Elisabeth Rübcke, and Ada Bues), leading to an important study that has been almost completely overlooked.160 My discussion of Gottlieb's case draws on both this study and my own assessment of the Plön archival material. Even a cursory evaluation of these sources suggests that Kinder's story as a whole can no longer be treated as historical fact.

Gottlieb is first mentioned in a baptismal record at the church of Saint Nicholas in Kiel dated January 23, 1675, as an “African and Moor, whom Colonel Bertram Rantzau sent to be baptized, and who had several nobles as godparents or witnesses. [He] was named Christian Gottlieb.”161 Bertram Rantzau was a member of one of the oldest and most influential noble families of the Schleswig-Holstein region, which at that time had close political ties to the Kingdom of Denmark. In the early 1670s, Denmark had joined other European trading powers such as Portugal, England, and the Netherlands to participate in the transatlantic slave trade, and it seems likely that Gottlieb had been brought to Schleswig-Holstein by a slave trader involved with the newly formed Danish West India Company.162 

We do not know when or under what circumstances Gottlieb arrived in Rantzau's household, but we do know that he was exceptionally well treated there. Highly experienced in military matters, Rantzau had him trained as a “field trumpeter,” which involved, in addition to a two-year apprenticeship, participation in a military campaign. He must have completed this training by July 1677, since an official document from the City of Kiel refers to him as the “manly and art-loving field trumpeter Christian Gottlieb.”163 

Even more significantly, Rantzau also provided Gottlieb with a coat of arms, not only demonstrating that he was legally free but also emphasizing his socially privileged position (see Figure 3).164 Coats of arms were mostly reserved for nobles, their closest officials (such as court administrators), and members of the upper bourgeoisie.165 It was rare at this time that trumpeters (or indeed any other musicians) carried their own coats of arms. It is possible that Rantzau provided Gottlieb with one so that he might do business independently.166 Rantzau furnished him with a significant fortune that enabled him to become a successful businessman, and as early as 1677, two years after his baptism, Gottlieb lent the City of Kiel the significant amount of 400 reichstaler (a sum roughly equivalent to the annual salary of an upper-level court official). Several documents of other loan transactions survive. There is also evidence that Gottlieb owned, at different times, two farms in Schleswig-Holstein, and that he acquired the monopoly for a local grain mill toward the end of his life.167 

Figure 3

Figure 3

Christian Gottlieb's coat of arms

Gottlieb's remarkable career and status did not go unchallenged, however. Rantzau's son-in-law and heir, Christian Rantzau, complained bitterly about the trumpeter in a letter to the ducal court, stating that he “does not realize that it was actually my father-in-law who placed him in a position above his actual social rank,” and thereby implying that a “Moor” should not be in such a position of social privilege and economic power at all.168 In Christian Rantzau's opinion, Gottlieb essentially belonged to the social rank of a legally and economically dependent black court servant. His statement points to the tension between the roles of “Mohr” and “Trompeter” discussed in Real's case. Christian Rantzau not only verbally attacked the black trumpeter, but also implicitly criticized his own father-in-law, who appeared to have disregarded the given social hierarchy. We do not know why Bertram Rantzau helped Gottlieb in the way he did. It seems fairly certain, however, that he wanted to give his trumpeter the means of supporting himself in the future, independently of his own patronage and protection.

Such a plan was put to the test in 1684, when Gottlieb was engaged to marry Gertraut Radeleff, the daughter of a Plön city councillor (not the mayor's daughter, as claimed by Kinder), who belonged to one of the city's wealthy merchant families. Kinder's melodramatic story emphasizes the difference in wealth and status between the two—on the one hand the trumpeter, a faithful servant but without his own fortune, on the other the daughter of the wealthiest and most powerful family in town.169 I would argue, however, that quite the contrary was true: as the sources demonstrate, Gertraut's family resisted Gottlieb's proposal despite his wealth and social status.

The intensity of the relatives' resistance to the engagement—it occasionally issued in physical violence—is remarkable. As revealed by the surviving interrogation protocol written by a city official, two of Gertraut's male relatives entered the house of her mother, a widow, and demanded that the engagement be terminated. This demand met with fierce resistance by mother and daughter, who, according to the men, not only grossly insulted them but also hit one of them in the face and threw his wig to the ground, and beat the other so badly that he fell under a table. According to the women's version of events, on the other hand, they had justly defended themselves, since one of the men had previously threatened to draw his sword against them.170 

Gertraut Radeleff's male relatives probably objected to the engagement for a number of reasons. Since various other archival sources reveal that quarrels over inheritance were typical of the Radeleff family, it is conceivable that they feared losing a part of the inheritance of Gertraut's recently deceased father through the union.171 Significantly, however, the only aspect of the case explicitly mentioned in the legal court protocol that strongly suggests a motive is Gottlieb's identity as a black African: during the argument, one of the male relatives insulted Gertraut as a “Moor's devil” (“Mohren teuffel”), thus transferring to the young woman the common early modern European association of blackness with the Devil.172 Significantly, in the town clerk's report of the incident, Gottlieb is always designated “Mohr,” not “Trompeter,” and his name is omitted, presumably with the intention of disparaging him.173 The fact that the couple had become secretly engaged (with the consent of the bride's mother, but without that of the male relatives as demanded by law) suggests that they were well aware that their union would be socially unacceptable in the city of Plön.

Following this argument, mother and daughter were accused of a secret engagement and of unruliness; the daughter was placed under the control of a guardian, and the case was brought to the legal court of the local duke, Hans Adolf of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön.174 Significantly, the court did not find against the unruly couple, but rather pressed for a settlement between the couple and Gertraut's family. That the duke allowed Gottlieb and Gertraut to be married, despite their secret engagement's violation of the ducal ordinance concerning engagements, weddings, and baptisms—which would normally have led not only to a monetary fine but also to a prohibition of the marriage—demonstrated Gottlieb's privileged position and his protection by his noble employer Bertram Rantzau and the local prince, Hans Adolf.175 Because of this ducal intervention, the objections of Gertraut's family had to be addressed: Rantzau was asked to write a manumission letter (referred to as a “freilaßungs brief” in a Plön source)176 and had to provide Gottlieb with financial security that matched the bride's future dowry (“gegen vermächtniß”). This manumission letter, one of the few of its kind known to have been written in the Holy Roman Empire,177 sheds further light on the tenuous legal position of black trumpeters in Germany. (A transcription and translation of the letter may be found in  Appendix 3.) It is significant that Gottlieb needed such a legal document in order to marry. Apparently, the fact that he had fulfilled the requirements of the Imperial Trumpeters' and Kettledrummers' Guild for his apprenticeship (not to mention his coat of arms) did not mean that he was automatically considered a “free person” in the city of Plön, even though his employer evidently treated him as such before the manumission was written.

Gottlieb's tenuous legal position is reflected in the wording of the document. On the one hand, Rantzau states, “I nevertheless have for no reasons in this world claimed ownership [Leib Eigenschafft] of him, but consider him an honest and free man and field trumpeter.”178 This statement clearly refers to the time prior to the writing of the manumission, as emphasized by the tense (present perfect) of the first verb (“have … claimed,” in German “praetendiret”). It is significant that Gottlieb's profession, “field trumpeter,” is added here to emphasize his free legal status (“free man”). On the other hand, all the freedoms listed in the following section, such as his freedom to travel or to seek employment elsewhere, are said to come into effect “from now on” (“von nun an”), implying that he had not been free before. This seemingly contradictory logic suggests that that the manumission letter was written to appease the relatives of Gottlieb's betrothed, who apparently had strong doubts about the trumpeter's legal position,179 and feared that the social and legal position of his wife, as well as that of any children they might have, would be in jeopardy (not to mention the reputation of the Radeleff family within the city of Plön). The conflict arising from a marriage outside of the social networks of the court ultimately points to conflicts between courtly and civic value systems and sentiments that black court servants frequently had to navigate. Even though marriages between black court servants and daughters of their white colleagues were common in the Holy Roman Empire, black servants occasionally encountered similar difficulties: when Angelo Soliman, a high-ranking servant in the service of Prince Wenzel von Liechtenstein, was secretly married, he had to swear that he was a “free man.”180 

Despite the solution facilitated by ducal intervention there were still last-minute complications, and another intervention by Gottlieb's patron Rantzau was required in order for the wedding to take place.181 Gottlieb and his wife moved to a farm gifted to them by his employer, and when Bertram Rantzau died, Gottlieb became court trumpeter to Duke Hans Adolf. Christian and Gertraut Gottlieb (as they are referred to in some sources) had three children, although the marriage did not last long: the trumpeter died after only five years, in 1690. Events from the last years of his life in Schleswig-Holstein shed light on both the protection that he enjoyed from his noble patrons and the tensions that remained within the Radeleff family. When Gottlieb committed an act of adultery in 1689, he was sentenced not to death (the fate of one of his colleagues, a kettledrummer at the duke's court) but to a monetary fine of 200 reichstaler as a means of avoiding public penance, and he was allowed to retain his position as ducal court trumpeter.182 Around the same time, Gottlieb became the tenant of the lucrative grain mill in Plön owned by the duke, an indication that he was valued as an effective and reliable business partner.183 It is noteworthy, however, that he had not been asked to act as godfather at the baptism of one of his brother-in-law's children in Plön in 1688, as would have been customary. In his stead, the widow of his former employer, Dorothea Rantzau, acted as godmother.184 Gottlieb's impressive tombstone remains today, outside of Saint John's Church in Plön,185 as a tangible symbol of his remarkable success—a success, however, that would not have been possible without the support and intervention of his noble patrons.

Blackness and Social Status

The cases of the black trumpeters Christian Real and Christian Gottlieb cast doubt on the notion that black court trumpeters and kettledrummers in early modern Germany experienced frictionless social integration and enjoyed a universally recognized free legal status. Without doubt, both trumpeters were integrated into social networks. Real lived with his former teacher, while both had friends among other court servants, received privileges as court and field trumpeters, and were legally free. Gottlieb represents a particularly impressive case of economic success: he was so wealthy that he could lend money to the City of Kiel, he owned substantial property, his coat of arms elevated him socially above the majority of colleagues in his profession, and he married a local woman from one of the leading merchant families in the city of Plön. The trumpet in his coat of arms and on his tombstone, and the emphasis on his legal status and profession as an “honest and free man and field trumpeter” in Rantzau's manumission letter, strongly suggest that his profession was a key factor in obtaining his free legal status, a status he acquired even before the letter was written.

The case studies also show, however, that such a social and legal status did not go unquestioned and unchallenged. As demonstrated by my close reading of the sources, the men's blackness and their visible roles as trumpeters associated with princely power were at the core of these challenges. Real strongly identified with his profession and the social status and prestige that came with it; he also clearly looked down on the lower social position of his attackers, whom he quite tellingly referred to as “cobblers' servants.” Yet his strong identification with his profession and social position, evident, for instance, in his assertion that he was a “Herrendiener” (prince's servant), did not help him in this instance; on the contrary, it may have fueled his opponents' resentment and aggression. His attackers saw him as a “Moor” to be “cured” of his hubris by defacing, dishonoring, and dehumanizing him. They subjected him to acts of violence that sought to reduce him to animal status.186 In their own petition letter, they not only blamed the victim, citing the racially charged stereotype of the “drunken Moor,” but also strategically recalled his former but evidently not forgotten slave status in order to challenge the validity of their punishment. Similarly, Gottlieb's unusual wealth and status not only elicited the envy of Bertram Rantzau's son-in-law, who accused the trumpeter of not realizing that he had been placed “above his actual social rank” by his patron; they were also so widely doubted in the city that his patron had to produce a manumission letter so that he could marry. And because of her union with a black man, his bride was stigmatized as a “Moor's devil” by her male relatives.

Significantly, both conflicts arose when the trumpeters moved out of the courtly sphere in which they were privileged and protected. Outside the court's clearly defined social hierarchies, regulated interactions, and daily ceremonies, Real's and Gottlieb's relationship with the trumpet as an instrument of princely power—visible in their court livery, the precious materiality of their instruments, and markers of status such as a sword and a coat of arms—did not have much validity. Rather, it seems to have contributed to their difficulties within a different civic value system in Plön (Gottlieb) and in the dangerous, violent space of nighttime Stuttgart (Real). Both case studies illustrate that the common association of blackness with servitude and slavery occurred not only in countries directly involved in the transatlantic slave trade, but also in a “slavery hinterland” such as seventeenth-century Germany. Their stories encourage a more critical and nuanced approach to notions of integration and social mobility for black people in early modern Germany.

Further research is necessary if we are to better understand how and when black trumpeters and drummers obtained their freedom, whether they were treated as equals by their white German colleagues, and how their legal and social situation compared to that of other black military and court musicians (pipers, tambour players, oboists) as well as that of black court servants who were not musicians. When Jonathan Belcher, governor of Massachusetts from 1730 to 1741, visited the electoral court in Hanover in 1704, he noted the presence of enslaved black oboe players there. According to Belcher, the elector himself had threatened one of them with severe corporal punishment (by cutting off his fingers) for repeatedly trying to escape from court.187 

Additional case studies, through which the stories of Real and Gottlieb might be compared with other incidents of violence and discrimination against their black (and white) contemporaries, will provide a deeper insight into German views on blackness and the experiences of black people in the Holy Roman Empire. They will also shed further light on structures of social integration, patterns of discrimination and exclusion, processes of race formation, and the contributions of members of the African diaspora to German musical culture. I second Kate Lowe's call to intensify our search for archival records that would allow “some notional black African voices to be heard.”188 

Appendix 1

Contents of the legal court documents

Stuttgart, Hauptstaatsarchiv, A 210 III, Büschel 43, “Tödliche Verwundung eines Mohren”

Original source number189 DateContent
11/14/1669 Minutes of the interrogation of Christian Real 
11/15/1669 Minutes of the interrogation of lackey (“Laquay”) Marcus Brandshagen, one of the witnesses 
[3] 11/15/1669 Minutes of the first interrogation of the four perpetrators (see also source no. [4]). Their statements are juxtaposed with statements by lackey Marcus Brandshagen (see source no. 2) and Christian Real (see source no. 1); marginal comments note the contradictions between the statements of the four perpetrators. 
[4] 11/15/1669 Minutes of the first interrogation of the four perpetrators, similar to source no. [3]. 
11/17/1669 Letter from bailiff (“Vogt”) Joseph Cullen and Councillor Haseloff to Duke Eberhard III, providing a summary of sources nos. [3] and [4] 
12/7/1669 Substantial report by Cullen to Duke Eberhard III documenting the second interrogation of the four perpetrators and witnesses, as well as his confrontation of the perpetrators with their victim, Christian Real 
[7a] 11/10/1669 [sicBill from a surgeon's apprentice (“barbierer gesell”) for attending the wounded Real 
12/6/1669 Report by surgeon Johann Nicolaus Knaus on Christian Real's injuries, in order to determine the cost of his treatment (“medicamenten[,] Miehe und Arzet lohn”), namely 18 reichstaler 
[8] 12/15/1669 List of expenses for each perpetrator 
12/10/1669 Report by the duke's councillors (“Obern Rähte”) recommending specific details of the punishment and arguing with the Württemberg Legal Court Ordinance (Hofgerichtsordnung, Part 3, Paragraph 25) 
[10 missing]   
11 12/29/1669 Draft of source no. 16 
[12 missing]   
13 11/30/1669 Letter from Count Albrecht Ernst I of Öttingen on behalf of Joachim Krafft. Joachim's father, Jacob Krafft, is in his service as forest supervisor (“Forstmeister”). 
14 11/30/1669 Letter from Princess (“Fürstin”) Christina Friderica of Öttingen on behalf of Joachim Krafft 
15 12/2/1669 Letter from bailiff Cullen to Duke Eberhard III about the imminent second interrogation of the four convicts and his confrontation of them with Christian Real 
16 12/29/1669 Duke Eberhard III's sentencing of the convicts, regarding their exile, incarceration, and monetary fines 
17 1/5/1670 List of monetary fines to be paid by the four convicts 
18 1/17/1670 Petition of the four convicts to Duke Christian Ludwig (“Louys”) of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, asking him to intercede with Duke Eberhard III on their behalf 
19[a] 1/5/1670 Letter from Duke Eberhard III to Cullen stating that the convicts must pay their fines and come to an agreement with the “Mohr” (Christian Real) 
19[b] 1/21/1670 Report by Cullen stating that several persons have contacted him about standing bail for the four convicts 
20 12/18/1669 Summary of the third interrogation of the convicts through Cullen 
21 1/22/1670 Report by the duke's councillors dismissing the convicts' petition and recommending a specific sentence 
22 1/26/1670 More detailed version of source no. [32a] 
23 1/26/1670 Draft of source no. 22 
24 2/12/1670 Letter from Cullen regarding the transfer of the four convicts to the Hohenasperg fortress 
25 2/10/1670 Letter from “seven young daughters” (“7 junge Töchterlein”) to Duchess Maria Dorothea Sophia asking her to intercede with the duke on the four convicts' behalf 
26 2/14/1670 Letter from Duke Eberhard III detailing the convicts' punishment 
27 2/14/1670 Letter from the captain (“Hauptmann”) of Hohenasperg about supplying food (“Atzung”) for the convicts 
28 2/16/1670 Letter from Cullen about the public service (“opus publicum”) and internment of Joachim Krafft in Hohenasperg 
29 11/30/1669 Second petition by forest supervisor Jacob Krafft (to Duke Eberhard III) on behalf of his son Joachim 
30 11/28/1669 First petition by Jacob Krafft (to Count Albrecht Ernst I of Öttingen) on behalf of his son Joachim 
31 2/18/1670 Letter about the release of convict Joachim Krafft from his internment and public service 
[32a] 1/26/1670 Order by Duke Eberhard III that the convicts are to be sent to Hohenasperg 
32 3/8/1670 Letter about supplying food for the four convicts in Hohenasperg 
Original source number189 DateContent
11/14/1669 Minutes of the interrogation of Christian Real 
11/15/1669 Minutes of the interrogation of lackey (“Laquay”) Marcus Brandshagen, one of the witnesses 
[3] 11/15/1669 Minutes of the first interrogation of the four perpetrators (see also source no. [4]). Their statements are juxtaposed with statements by lackey Marcus Brandshagen (see source no. 2) and Christian Real (see source no. 1); marginal comments note the contradictions between the statements of the four perpetrators. 
[4] 11/15/1669 Minutes of the first interrogation of the four perpetrators, similar to source no. [3]. 
11/17/1669 Letter from bailiff (“Vogt”) Joseph Cullen and Councillor Haseloff to Duke Eberhard III, providing a summary of sources nos. [3] and [4] 
12/7/1669 Substantial report by Cullen to Duke Eberhard III documenting the second interrogation of the four perpetrators and witnesses, as well as his confrontation of the perpetrators with their victim, Christian Real 
[7a] 11/10/1669 [sicBill from a surgeon's apprentice (“barbierer gesell”) for attending the wounded Real 
12/6/1669 Report by surgeon Johann Nicolaus Knaus on Christian Real's injuries, in order to determine the cost of his treatment (“medicamenten[,] Miehe und Arzet lohn”), namely 18 reichstaler 
[8] 12/15/1669 List of expenses for each perpetrator 
12/10/1669 Report by the duke's councillors (“Obern Rähte”) recommending specific details of the punishment and arguing with the Württemberg Legal Court Ordinance (Hofgerichtsordnung, Part 3, Paragraph 25) 
[10 missing]   
11 12/29/1669 Draft of source no. 16 
[12 missing]   
13 11/30/1669 Letter from Count Albrecht Ernst I of Öttingen on behalf of Joachim Krafft. Joachim's father, Jacob Krafft, is in his service as forest supervisor (“Forstmeister”). 
14 11/30/1669 Letter from Princess (“Fürstin”) Christina Friderica of Öttingen on behalf of Joachim Krafft 
15 12/2/1669 Letter from bailiff Cullen to Duke Eberhard III about the imminent second interrogation of the four convicts and his confrontation of them with Christian Real 
16 12/29/1669 Duke Eberhard III's sentencing of the convicts, regarding their exile, incarceration, and monetary fines 
17 1/5/1670 List of monetary fines to be paid by the four convicts 
18 1/17/1670 Petition of the four convicts to Duke Christian Ludwig (“Louys”) of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, asking him to intercede with Duke Eberhard III on their behalf 
19[a] 1/5/1670 Letter from Duke Eberhard III to Cullen stating that the convicts must pay their fines and come to an agreement with the “Mohr” (Christian Real) 
19[b] 1/21/1670 Report by Cullen stating that several persons have contacted him about standing bail for the four convicts 
20 12/18/1669 Summary of the third interrogation of the convicts through Cullen 
21 1/22/1670 Report by the duke's councillors dismissing the convicts' petition and recommending a specific sentence 
22 1/26/1670 More detailed version of source no. [32a] 
23 1/26/1670 Draft of source no. 22 
24 2/12/1670 Letter from Cullen regarding the transfer of the four convicts to the Hohenasperg fortress 
25 2/10/1670 Letter from “seven young daughters” (“7 junge Töchterlein”) to Duchess Maria Dorothea Sophia asking her to intercede with the duke on the four convicts' behalf 
26 2/14/1670 Letter from Duke Eberhard III detailing the convicts' punishment 
27 2/14/1670 Letter from the captain (“Hauptmann”) of Hohenasperg about supplying food (“Atzung”) for the convicts 
28 2/16/1670 Letter from Cullen about the public service (“opus publicum”) and internment of Joachim Krafft in Hohenasperg 
29 11/30/1669 Second petition by forest supervisor Jacob Krafft (to Duke Eberhard III) on behalf of his son Joachim 
30 11/28/1669 First petition by Jacob Krafft (to Count Albrecht Ernst I of Öttingen) on behalf of his son Joachim 
31 2/18/1670 Letter about the release of convict Joachim Krafft from his internment and public service 
[32a] 1/26/1670 Order by Duke Eberhard III that the convicts are to be sent to Hohenasperg 
32 3/8/1670 Letter about supplying food for the four convicts in Hohenasperg 

Appendix 2

Interrogation of Christian Real

Stuttgart, Hauptstaatsarchiv, A 210 III, Büschel 43, source no. 1, dated November 14, 1669

 

Praesentibus

H. M. Michel Müllern Diacono

H. Joh. Niclas Knaus Chirurg

D. Hasenloff

H. v. Schmierer

 

Actum Die Solis den 14. Novembr.

1669 à meridie.

 

In dem Neüen Hospital

 

Die verhör deß den 11. hujus bey nächtlicher weil tödlich verwundeten Mohren Christian betr.

 

Auf vorhergangene gewissenhaffte Erinnerung, die grundliche Warheit anzuzeigen, hat er deponiert wie folget. Er habe wider sie, oder sie wider ihn, niemahls den geringsten haß noch feindschafft getragen, könne sollches mit ohnverleztem gewissen gegen Gott im himmel betheüren. Das factum verhalte sich folgender gestalt: obbesagten Tags seÿe er mit deß Pfaltzgraf von Sulzbach Laquay [Marcus Brandshagen] spatzieren gegangen, und ohngefehr umb 3 uhr in deß alten Lenglers der damals wein geschenckt, behausung kommen, haben beÿ 3. maß wein mit einandern ausgetruncken, gegen 5 uhr sey d[er] eine nacher hof, er aber in seines lehrmeisters deß Marcellen hauß gangen, habe sich ausgezogen und in das bett gelegt, mit bedeüten, daß wan die glock werde sechse schlagen, man ihne solle aufwecken, damit er beÿ hof aufwarten möge. Nach 6. Uhr seÿe er selbst erwacht, und in seiner grünen kapp nach hof gangen, habe an der officier-tisch gespeist, alwo der Pfalzgräfische Laquay auch geseßen, da sie deß guten weins sich erinnert und verabschiedet, nach der mahlzeit noch ein mäßel mit einander aus zu trincken. Wie sie dann umb 7. Uhr wieder mit einander dahin sich begeben, eine halbe stund hernach seÿe der eine Pfaltzgräfl. Edelman (: deßen nahm ihm nicht bewusst, er trage aber ein Collet :) auch dahin kommen, der habe mit ihnen getruncken, und von kriegs-sachen wie es mit trompetern und pauckern gehalten werde, discurrirt, der Edelman seÿe so truncken worden, daß er über nacht auf dem bank alda ligen gebliben, sie beede aber seÿen gegen 12. Uhr mit einander aus dem hauß gangen, der lengler habe ihnen wollen heim zünden lassen, er aber hab es abgewendet, mit vermelden, er seÿe nun uber 12 iahr in Stuttgart, iederman kenne ihn, und begehre er niemand nichts zuthun, sie wollen den weg schon finden. Lengler habe ihnen biß an das eck nachgezündet; Alß sie in die Creitzgaßen bej deß Eisengrünes Hauß kommen, seÿen die jenige, so ihne nachgehends so übel tractirt, von dem landschafft hauß herauf kommend auf sie gestoßen; die haben in die Stein gehaut, der Pfalzgräfische Laquaÿ hab geruffen, haltet ein! Deme sie geantwortet, Wir kennen den Christian wohl (: auf befragen, woher sie wissen können, daß es d[er] Christian seÿe, da es doch finster nacht gewesen? Sagt er, sie müssen ihne an der stimm gekannt haben, weil er mit deme laquay auf der straß |: mit ihnen aber nicht :| geredet. Beÿ disem umbstand auf etligmahliges erinnern bleibt er dabeÿ, mit ihnen kein wort gewechselt zuhaben. Darauf seÿen gleich alle vier auf sie zuegeloffen, und habe der eine |den er aber nicht kenne auch in der finstern nicht habe kennen können, ihm mit vollen streich einen starcken hib über dem kopf in das cranium versetzt, darüber ihne die kapp abgefallen, er aber erst damals seinen degen entblöst, und sich wehren wollen, da seÿe ein anderer von hinten zugeloffen, der ihme umbfasst und gehalten, und den degen von ihme haben wollen, den er aber behalten, mit vermelden, er seÿe ia gnug gehauen, was sie weiter mit ihm machen wollen: Er habe zwar mit seinem degen nach einem der vor ihme gestanden, gestoßen, ihne aber nicht getroffen, entzwischen seÿe ihme der andere streich über das aug und nase worden, wisse aber nicht mehr, ob es der erste oder ein anderer gethan. Der Pfalzgräfische Laquay habe umb hilff geruffen, dahero die thäter ihne aufgehoben und fort getragen, biß an das Eck beÿ deß Camerschreibers Hauß, da seÿen dreÿ nachtwächter zu ihnen kommen, zweÿ seÿen den thätern nachgeloffen |die ihne verlassen|, der dritte aber beÿ ihme geblieben zu sampt dem frembden Lacquay, die haben ihne in deß Adluns Barbir-Stuben geführt, darinnen er gebliben biß gestern, da er in das Spittal geführt worden.

Sonst ist er geständig, daß er damals zimlich beraüschert gewesen. Betheüert aber, daß die thäter die aggressores gewesen, und sie ihne als mörder angegriffen, denn wan er sich deßen versehen hette, wolte er sich wohl vorgesehen habe und ihnen vorkommen seÿn. Ob der Pfalzgr. Laquay den degen herausgehabt habe oder nicht, das könne er nicht sagen. So könne er auch mit guten gewissen sagen, daß er die thäter nicht gekennt und nicht anders dafür gehalten, als weren es schuhknecht, er habe ihrer keiner kein wort, außer was oben gemeldet, geredet, er sie also an der sprach nicht erkennen können. Seithero aber habe er erfahren, daß es ein Jäger von Öttingen | deßen nahm ihm ohnbewust, und der Zachar, deß Jonathan jung gewesen, die beede uberige wisse er nicht. Solches protocol wurde ihme nochmals vorgelesen, er darüber beÿ einem und anderen umbstand der mehrerer erleüterung von nothen scheint, befragt, er bleibt aber beÿ der gethanen aussag, will selbe auf erfordern iedesmahl mit einem leiblichen eÿd besteiffen auch daß dises die pure warheit seÿe, darüber leben und sterben, und vor gott im himmel verantwortten. Welches alles unterschriebene aus seinem mund wohlbedächtlich gehört zu haben hiemit attestiren.

 

Die et loco

Ut supra

 

Theodorus Hasenloff

M. Michael Müller diac

Johann Nicolaus Knaus Chirurgus Juratus

 

With the following present:

H. M. Michel Müllern, deacon

H. Joh. Niclas Knaus, surgeon

D. Hasenloff

H. v. Schmierer

 

Held on Sunday, November 14, 1669, at noon

In the new hospital

Concerning the interrogation of the Moor Christian, who was severely injured during the night of the eleventh of the same month

After a thorough admonition to tell the complete truth, he made the following statement. He had never felt the slightest hatred or enmity toward them [his perpetrators], nor had they toward him; he could affirm this with a clear conscience before God in heaven. This is how things went. On the aforementioned day he went for a walk with the lackey of the Count Palatine of Sulzbach [Marcus Brandshagen], and came, around three [in the afternoon], to the house of Lengler the Elder, who served wine at the time, [they] had around three liters of wine together. Around five, the other [Brandshagen] went to the [ducal] court, while he [Real] went to the home of his former teacher, Marcell [Kerbß], took off his clothes and lay down in bed, saying that he should be woken as soon as the clock struck six, so that he could serve at court. After six he woke up on his own, and went to the court, wearing his green hat, dined at the table of the courtly officers, where the Count Palatine's lackey was also sitting. Both remembered the good wine and decided to have another liter after the meal. They went there [to the home of Lengler the Elder] around seven, and half an hour later one Palatine nobleman (whose name he could not remember, but he was wearing a Collet)190 joined them and drank with them, and discussed war-related matters as they are commonly talked about among trumpeters and kettledrummers. The nobleman got so drunk that he remained there over night on the bench; they, however, both left the house together around twelve [midnight]; Mr. Lengler wanted to walk them home with a torch, but he declined, remarking that he had now been living in Stuttgart for more than twelve years, everyone knew him, and he did not intend to harm anyone, they were able to find their way on their own. Lengler walked them to the corner with his torch. When they turned into Cross Lane [Creitzgaßen], next to Eisengrün's house, those who treated him so badly afterward ran into them, coming from the direction of the house of the territorial estates; they were hitting the stones, the Count Palatine's lackey shouted, “Stop!” They answered him, “We know Christian well.” (Asked how they could know that it was Christian, since it had happened in the darkness of the night, he says they must have recognized him through his voice, because he had talked with the servant [Brandshagen] on the street—but not with them.) When asked repeatedly, he insists on the fact that he did not exchange any words with them. After this, all four of them immediately ran toward them, and one of them, whom he did not know and could not know because of the darkness, hit him with a strong stroke on his head into the cranium, so that his hat fell off; only then he took his sword and tried to defend himself, then someone else came from behind, who held his arms around him and restrained him, and tried to take the sword from him, which he held onto, saying that he had been hit badly enough, what did they intend to do with him next. Even though he tried to stab someone who stood in front of him with his sword, he did not hit him. In the meantime, he received the second stroke over the eye and the nose, but he could not remember if the first or another [person] did this. The Count Palatine's lackey cried out for help, so the perpetrators picked him [Real] up and carried him to the corner by the house of the chamber secretary. Then three night guardsmen came up, two of whom ran after the perpetrators, who had left him, but the third stayed with him, together with the foreign lackey,191 and both brought him to Adlun's barber shop, where he stayed until yesterday, when he was brought to the hospital.

Otherwise he confesses that he was rather drunk that night. But he insists that the culprits were the aggressors, and that they attacked him with the intention of murdering him. Had he been aware [of their intentions], he would have been alert and would have defended himself sooner. He was unable to tell if the Count Palatine's lackey drew his sword or not. He could, however, say with a clear conscience that he did not know the culprits, and that, [when he first encountered them], he could not help thinking that they were cobblers' servants, he did not say anything to them, except for what he stated previously, and therefore could not recognize them by their voices. Since the incident, however, he had learned that it was a hunter from Öttingen, whose name he did not know, and Zachar[ias], Jonathan's boy; the two others he did not know. The minutes of the interrogation were read to him, and he was asked further about one or another circumstance that required more explanation, but he insists on the statement as given, wants to confirm it and assert it with a formal oath, whenever necessary, also that this was the pure truth, that he would live and die for it, and stand responsible before God in heaven. The persons who signed this document attest to having heard all of this from his own mouth.

 

Day and place

As above

 

Theodorus Hasenloff

M. Michael Müller, deacon

Johann Nicolaus Knaus, sworn surgeon

Appendix 3

Bertram Rantzau's manumission letter for Christian Gottlieb

Plön, Stadtarchiv, Nr. 1408, dated October 4, 1684

Ich Bertram Rantzow Obristen, Erbherrn auff Ascheberg .p. Uhrkunde undt bekenne hiermit für mich meine Erben undt Erbnehmen, daß Ich zwar Christian Gottlieb, Nunmehro Feldttrompeter, auff erzogen undt großgemachet, Ich dennoch deßwegen, ümb keiner uhrsachen in der welt einige Leib Eigenschafft an Ihm praetendiret, besondern Ihn alß einen Ehrlichen freÿen Mann undt Feldtrompeter erkenne undt halte, zu deßen mehrer versicherung habe ich ihm diesen meinen offenen brieff vor mich undt meinen Erben undt Erbnehmen, geben wollen, also, undt dergestalt, daß Er von nun an wen es Ihm nicht länger beliebet, nicht länger nötig hatt, beÿ Mir zu bleiben, besondern sich einen andern herrn wen es ihm gefalt oder beliebet, suchen kan, hinzuziehen, wo es ihm beliebet, solte es aber ihm gefallen, noch länger beÿ mir zu bleiben, undt in dem hause, welches ich ihm undt seiner künftigen frauen auff Lebenzeit verehret, bewohnen solte, und Gott mit seiner künftigen Frauen ihm Kinder gebe, so sollen dennoch weder ich noch meine Erben undt Erbnehmer eintzige praetensiones, sie rühren hehr wo sie immer wollen auff ihn oder seine kinder machen, besondern Er, benebenst der seinigen in diesem meinem guthe auß- undt einreisen möge nach Ihren belieben, maßen sie freÿe Leute sein, die niemandt alß Gott verbunden, überdessen verpflichte ich mich, daß alles das, waß ich ihm verehret und geschencket, damit Er sein ehrliches außkommen haben möge, weder ich selbsten, noch meine Erben undt Erbnehmer das geringste nicht mehr macht darinnen haben sollen, solches zu endern. Zu mehrer versicherung undt haltung dieses alles, habe Ichs wollwißentlich eigenhändig unterschrieben, undt mit meinem angebohrnen adelichen Pittschaft bestettiget. So geschehen Aschebergk den 4ten octobris Anno 1684. Bertram Rantzow

I, Bertram Rantzau, Colonel, Hereditary Lord of Ascheberg, hereby document and confess for myself and my heirs and beneficiaries that, even though I have raised Christian Gottlieb, now field trumpeter, I nevertheless have for no reasons in this world claimed ownership of him, but consider him an honest and free man and field trumpeter. To assure him of this, I wanted to give him this letter with regard to myself and my heirs and beneficiaries, so that he, from now on, as he likes, does not have to stay with me, but can look for another employer, and can move, as he likes, wherever he wishes. If it should suit him to stay with me longer and to live in the house that I have given to him and his future wife for life, and if God gives him children with his future wife, so will neither I nor my heirs and beneficiaries make claims of any kind on him or his children. In particular, he and his family can freely move to and from my property, as they wish, since they are free people, answering to no one other than God. Moreover, I pledge not to demand back from him all that I have given and presented to him, so that he can support himself in an honest way, and that neither I nor my heirs and beneficiaries have any power to change this. To clearly affirm and validate all of this, I have signed this document with my own hand and validated it with my own noble seal. Ascheberg, October 4, 1684. Bertram Rantzau.

 

Notes

Notes
Earlier versions of this article were presented at the annual conference of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, Miami, FL, April 2016, the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society, Vancouver, BC, November 2016, and the conferences “Negotiating Status and Scope of Action” and “Spuren des Sklavenhandels im Heiligen Römischen Reich,” both at the University of Bremen, June 2017 and November–December 2018. I would like to thank the anonymous readers of this Journal for their invaluable suggestions. I would also like to express my gratitude to Naomi André, Sidra Lawrence, Kate Lowe, Rebekka von Mallinckrodt, Katherine Meizel, Mary Natvig, and Eve Rosenhaft, who have significantly helped the progress of this article with their insightful comments and criticisms. The research for the article was supported both by a faculty fellowship from the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society, Bowling Green State University, and by a short-term research fellowship from the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel.
1.
The racial signifiers “black” and “white” are used in this article as modern constructions; see also my discussion of the term “blackness” below.
2.
It is important to note, however, that Germany has granted asylum to more refugees than any other European country; see “Migration to Europe in Charts,” BBC News, September 11, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44660699. Most refugees from sub-Saharan Africa who sought asylum in Germany in 2017 came from Eritrea, Nigeria, and Somalia (24,873 people); see “Zahlen zu Asyl in Deutschland,” Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, July 5, 2019, https://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/flucht/265710/demografie. The African diaspora in Germany is still much smaller than in France and Britain; for a map with numbers of approximate black populations in Europe (2009), see Blakely, “Emergence of Afro-Europe,” 4.
3.
Whenever the term “Germany” is used here in a medieval or early modern context, it refers to German-speaking territories within the Holy Roman Empire. Important studies on the African diaspora in early modern Germany include the following (in chronological order): Debrunner, Presence and Prestige; Oguntoye, Opitz, and Schulz, Showing Our Colors; Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren; Lind, “Privileged Dependency”; Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich; Honeck, Klimke, and Kuhlmann, Germany and the Black Diaspora. For a broad overview of recent scholarship on the Afro-German diaspora in the Holy Roman Empire, see Mallinckrodt, “There Are No Slaves in Prussia?,” 110–11.
4.
See Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 285–373.
5.
See, in particular, Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana”; Firla, “Afrikanische Pauker und Trompeter”; and Firla, Exotisch—höfisch—bürgerlich. Monika Firla is one of the first German scholars to publish extensively on black Africans, particularly on trumpeters and drummers, at the Württemberg court, and deserves credit for unearthing many primary archival sources that had previously received little attention.
6.
See the discussions of the Württemberg court music in Owens, “Court of Württemberg-Stuttgart,” and Nägele, “Die Württembergische Hofmusik,” which includes only cursory references to black trumpeters and drummers.
7.
See Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 107.
8.
See Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 113–14.
9.
See Habib, Black Lives in the English Archives, 39–40 (on John Blancke/Blak, a black trumpeter in the service of Henry VII), 29–30 (on a black drummer, “morien taubronar,” in the service of James IV).
10.
On this term, see Brahm and Rosenhaft, “Introduction.” On Brandenburg as a colonial power, see, for instance, Jones, Brandenburg Sources.
11.
“Moor” is an ambiguous, multivalent term whose meaning could differ significantly according to time period, language, location, and other contexts of use. As Kate Lowe has noted, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the term was associated principally with religion (i.e., Islam): Lowe, “Black Diaspora in Europe,” 39; it was later increasingly associated with blackness. See also further below. I agree with Kuhlmann-Smirnov that this term, with its colonial and racist connotations, should be used only in the context of historical analysis: Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 94.
12.
The court of Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria was among the first in the empire to have black court servants. Several black servants, among them a “Hörpaugger” (kettledrummer), are mentioned in the court records between 1570 and 1575; see Baader, Der bayrische Renaissancehof Herzog Wilhelms V., 85–86.
13.
Juterczenka, “‘Chamber Moors’ and Court Physicians,” 167.
14.
Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 285–373.
15.
See Saunders, Social History of Black Slaves, 62–88, 144.
16.
See, for instance, Gates, Life upon These Shores.
17.
See Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 143.
18.
Mallinckrodt, “There Are No Slaves in Prussia?” and “Verhandelte (Un-)Freiheit.” See also note 49 below.
19.
On this guild, see Tarr, Trumpet, 94–98, and Laubhold, Magie der Macht, 78–122.
20.
See Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 153. According to the second article of the Imperial Trumpeters' Privileges of 1623, issued by Emperor Ferdinand III, any trumpeter apprentice had to prove that he was “born of honest parents” (“von ehrlichen Eltern geboren”); see Altenburg, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Trompete, 2:49. See also Fleming, Der vollkommene Teutsche Soldat, 585: “Der Junge, der die Trompeter-Kunst lernet, [muss] von ehrlichen Eltern und Herkommens seyn, ingleichen ein freyer und kein Leibeigner” (The boy who learns the art of trumpet playing has to come from honest parents and descent, and also has to be a free person, and not a serf). Translations in this article are mine, unless otherwise noted.
21.
For a more negative picture of the social and legal situation of black Africans, specifically of trumpeters and drummers, in early modern Germany, see Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 113–28, 181–93.
22.
Firla, “Afrikanische Pauker und Trompeter,” 39; Kuhlmann, “Ambiguous Duty,” 64.
23.
Kuhlmann, “Ambiguous Duty,” 65.
24.
Ibid., 58.
25.
Ibid., 67.
26.
Becker, “Preußens schwarze Untertanen,” 15.
27.
See Opitz, “Racism,” esp. 3–18.
28.
Lowe, “Introduction,” 7. On the association of the term “Mohr” with slave status in sixteenth-century Germany, see Johnson, “Naming the Turk,” 195.
29.
See Kuhlmann, “Ambiguous Duty,” 65–67.
30.
See Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 161–62, and Firla, Exotisch—höfisch—bürgerlich, 10–14.
31.
Anu Korhonen has observed with regard to the nexus between blackness and status in early modern England that “skin colour, although a theory or category of ‘race’ had not yet emerged, was a mark of status in many ways”: Korhonen, “Washing the Ethiopian White,” 110.
32.
Since Christian Real's and Christian Gottlieb's original family names are not known, some primary sources treat “Real” (a retained slave name) and “Gottlieb” (intended as a second name) as surnames—a usage I follow in this article for the sake of readability.
33.
On rank, status, and social order in early modern German society, see Weller, Theatrum praecedentiae, 31–52.
34.
According to Friedrich Carl von Moser, trumpeters, kettledrummers, and “Mohren” all belonged to the category of lower-ranking court servants (“nidrigen Hof-Bedienten”): Moser, Teutsches Hof-Recht, 2:210–20, here 210. In the list provided by Moser, which is organized according to rank, the trumpeters and kettledrummers (§ 6) are ranked before the “Mohren” (§ 10).
35.
Hall, Things of Darkness, 7.
36.
See also Bloechl, “Race, Empire, and Early Music,” 106–7.
37.
Ibid., 101–2, 106.
38.
Ibid., 82. On the question whether the concepts of race and racism existed in Europe before the emergence of pseudoscientific racism in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, see Hall, Things of Darkness, 6; Bartlett, “Medieval and Modern Concepts of Race”; Bethencourt, Racisms; and Goldenberg, Curse of Ham.
39.
Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren. For an overview of medieval and early modern views on blackness, see also Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 79–105. For medieval views on skin color, see Groebner, Who Are You?, 95–148.
40.
On religious interpretations of blackness, see Goldenberg, Curse of Ham. On race theories, see Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 195–327, and Smith, Nature, Human Nature.
41.
Wulf D. Hund's 2017 monograph Wie die Deutschen weiss wurden mainly focuses on the history of racism in Germany after 1750.
42.
Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 94.
43.
Kate Lowe has pointed out that in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe “Moors could be ‘white,’ ‘brown,’ ‘black,’ or anything in between”: Lowe, “Black Diaspora in Europe,” 39. Given this terminological ambiguity, a comprehensive study of the semantic notions of the term “Mohr” is much needed. Such a study would have to investigate a broad variety of sources, not only travel accounts and dictionary articles (Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 84–94), but also court account books, legal court documents, theological literature, and literary texts (for example, poetry and librettos), in order to gather a fuller understanding of the changing semantic nuances of the term, and specifically its associations with blackness in the German language.
44.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 8r: “Die Innwohner des Königreichs Guinea, wollen sonst keine Mohren heissen / sonder Nigriten, von dem schwarzen Fluß Nigro. … Jedoch heissen sie wegen ihrer schwartzen Leibsgestalt und farb / recht und billich Mohren.” (Slashes in both prose and verse quotations from Fussenegger's Mohren Tauff represent virgules in the source.) For the “Kingdom of Guinea,” see below.
45.
See Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 191; Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 42; and Jordan, “Images of Empire,” 179.
46.
DaCosta Kaufmann, “Remarks on the Collections of Rudolf II,” 27. On the parallel between the representative, symbolic function of black court servants and Kunst- and Wunderkammern, see also Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 195–98.
47.
Praetorius, Musarum sionarum motectae, vii: “Chorvs ille noster Musicus, ab Ill. Cels. T. [Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel] è diversis nationibus exquisitè collectus.”
48.
See Stockigt, “Court of Saxony-Dresden.”
49.
Dresden, Hauptstaatsarchiv, 10006 Oberhofmarschallamt K 02, Nr. 06, Hofbuch 1721–1725. The “Cammer Mohr[en],” “Heyduk[en],” and “Tartar[en]” are listed on folios 5r and 7r. The same source also lists, on folios 50v and 51r, “ten Moors who are not slaves” (“Zehn Mohren so keine Sclaven sind”) and “twelve Moors who are slaves” (“Zwölf Mohren so Sclaven sind”), testifying to the existence of slavery in the Holy Roman Empire. I am grateful to Eva Seemann of the University of Zurich for drawing my attention to this important source.
50.
Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 192: “Überfluss … und Pracht.”
51.
See ibid. During the course of the eighteenth century, scientific curiosity associated with the Enlightenment also played a role; see Juterczenka, “‘Chamber Moors’ and Court Physicians.”
52.
Petrat, “Mohr,” 72–73. An example of this mythologizing is Christian Real, one of the trumpeters discussed below, who was said to be of royal origin.
53.
See Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 111.
54.
On trumpets and kettledrums as acoustic instruments of power, see Berns, “Instrumental Sound and Ruling Spaces,” 493.
55.
Ibid., 479.
56.
See, for instance, Zohn, “Telemann's musique de table.”
57.
See Rose, “Trumpeters and Diplomacy,” and Gleason, “Cavalry and Court Trumpeters,” 50.
58.
See  Appendix 2. In a musical context, the German word used by Real, “aufwarten,” usually refers to a musical performance in the context of courtly ceremonial.
59.
Altenburg, Versuch einer Anleitung, 28: “mit schmetternder Zunge”; translation from Altenburg, Essay, 29.
60.
On the practice of improvising an ensemble sonata, see Tarr, Trumpet, 70–72. Further research is needed in order to establish how black musicians might have brought performance practices and repertoires from African musical cultures to early modern Germany and might thus have influenced German musical practices and repertoires.
61.
See ibid., 74–75.
62.
See Firla, Exotisch—höfisch—bürgerlich, 46.
63.
His 1739 petition for a salary increase notes that he was able to read music while the court kettledrummer was not. The Württemberg kapellmeister Johann Daniel Hardt supported Eberhard Wilhelm's petition, describing him as “virtually indispensable” (“fast allerdüngß ohn entbehrlich”) for the performance of church music on feast days: Stuttgart, Hauptstaatsarchiv (henceforth HStAS), A 21, Büschel 609.
64.
Braunschweig, Stadtarchiv, H III 3, Nr. 99 (8°) (Carl August Hartung, “Rechnung über Einnahme und Ausgabe angefangen Cöthen den 2. Januarii 1752”), 119, 127. Andrew Talle mentions only the first entry, dating from January 4, 1764, which refers to “several items [of] sinfonias” (“etl. Stück Sinfonien”), and not the second, dated March 8, 1764, which specifically refers to Pauli's own instrument: Talle, Beyond Bach, 250, 303. In this latter entry, Hartung notes that he has received five reichstaler “from the Moor and kettledrummer Mons[ieur] Pauli for two sinfonias with trumpets and kettledrums 20 ½ sheets” (“Von dem Mohr u. Paucker Mons: Pauli für 2 Sinfonien mit Trompeten u. Pauken 20 ½ Bog[en]”).
65.
See Rose, “Trumpeters and Diplomacy,” 379.
66.
Ibid.
67.
See Gleason, “Cavalry and Court Trumpeters,” 32–35.
68.
For a critique of this term, see Laubhold, Magie der Macht.
69.
See, for instance, Collins, “Of the Differences.”
70.
Kate Lowe has noted the stereotypical association of black Africans with physicality: Lowe, “Black Diaspora in Europe,” 50; Lowe, “Stereotyping of Black Africans,” 39–41. Andrew Talle has observed that trumpets and kettledrums were viewed as physically very demanding: “Timpanists beat with wooden mallets upon leather skins stretched over brass kettles, a task some courts assigned to African musicians who, according to racist ideologies, seemed well suited to playing physically demanding instruments. Trumpet players blew into metal mouthpieces, adjusting their lips to find a desired partial in the overtone series, occasionally dying of overexertion in the process”: Talle, Beyond Bach, 25.
71.
Schönhaar, Ausführliche Beschreibung, 99: “Ein Paucker, so ein Mohr, mit denen zwey ganz silbernen Paucken, welche mit kostbar von Silber und Gold, auch gelber Seiden gestickten Banderolen behängt waren.”
72.
The black drummer is marked in the engraving with the number 68.
73.
See Pirker, “Janissary Music.”
74.
Morrison, “Dressing Angelo Soliman,” 361, 366.
75.
Dresden, Hauptstaatsarchiv, 10026 Geheimes Kabinett Loc. 762/6, “Acta Das Bedürfniß zu den königl: Prinzens-Hoheit Beilagers Festivitäten betr: ao. 1719 sq.,” vol. 2, 97v, “II. Specificatio: Was eines von den 24 Mohren Kleidern kostet.” See also Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 111.
76.
Dresden, Hauptstaatsarchiv, 10026 Geheimes Kabinett Loc. 762/6, “Acta Das Bedürfniß zu den königl: Prinzens-Hoheit Beilagers Festivitäten betr: ao. 1719 sq.,” vol. 2, 97v, “II. Specificatio: Was eines von den 24 Mohren Kleidern kostet”: “Vergold Meßinges Halßband.”
77.
Altenburg, Versuch einer Anleitung, 132: “In manchen Diensten nimmt man, wo möglich, Mohren, welche weiße Pferde reiten, theils um des Ansehens willen, theils damit sie bey Verschickungen desto eher erkannt werden.”
78.
Both remarks are quoted in Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 47, 111: “ziemlich schen”; “welche schön und wohlgestaltet seien.”
79.
Ibid., 47.
80.
See Greve, Farbe—Macht—Körper, 210, and Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 102–3.
81.
On modern inventions of blackness in the context of European colonialism, see Walcott, “Problem of the Human.” On the specific nexus of white desire and the abjection of blackness from the perspective of literary theory, see Claiborne, “Leaving Abjection.”
82.
See Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 153–57.
83.
See ibid., 154, and Becker, “Preußens schwarze Untertanen,” 15.
84.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 35v–36r: “Aber / wann er dagegen gedencken / und rechtschaffen in seinem Hertzen betrachten thut / daß er von den Heiden und unglaubigen / zu einem Christlichen Herren kommen ist / daß ihn sein Herr in die Christenheit gebracht / daß er [ihn] in dem waaren Glauben und Christenthumb unterweisen läst … und für ihn bitten wird / GOtt wolle ihn … endlich seelig machen / da soll sein Hertz für Freuden weinen / und alles was vorher wehe gethan hat / für eitel Freud / und GOttes Schickung achten.”
85.
Hall, Things of Darkness, 69.
86.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 8r–v: “[Ein unglaubiger Heide und Barbarischer Knabe] welcher von Heidnischen vornehmen Eltern geboren / im Heidenthumb erzogen / und durch Heidnische Finsternus also verblendet worden war / daß er von dem waaren Dreyeinigen GOtt / und Christo dem Heiland der Welt / wie auch dem waaren Weg zur Seeligkeit so wenig gewust / als ein unvernünfftige Bestia. … Die … Mohren dienen einem Heiligthumb und Götzen welchen sie Fetisso nennen; der ist eben der leidige Teuffel selbs / so ihnen offtmal in gestalt eines schwartzen Hundes oder kleinen schwartzen Männleins erscheint … nunmehr aber hat er sich durch Gottes Gnad / und des Heiligen Geistes Erleuchtigung / von dem Finsternus zu dem Liecht … bekehrt.”
87.
Ibid., 42v: “Die von dem Sündenschlamm pechschwartzgefärbte Seele.”
88.
Ibid.: “Die Schwärtze schadet nicht / Wann durch die schwartze Haut ein weisser Glaube sicht.”
89.
Fable no. 393 (Perry Index).
90.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 42v (poem 1): “Mich wäschet Christi Blut von meiner Sündenschwärtze / Und zündet in mir an ein reine Glaubens-Kertze / Dardurch werd ich so weiß / an Seel / Hertz / Muht und Sinn / Als schwartz an meinem Leib ich je gewesen bin.”
91.
Ibid., 43r (poem 3): “Ein Heiden Mohr wird nimmer weiß / Es sey dann daß er zu GOtts Preiß / Durch Geist und Wassr / werd neu geborn /.”
92.
Ibid., 32r: “[Er] wird auch in solchem weisen Kleid / biß heut über acht Tag / geliebt es Gott / unter uns gehen und wandlen: Nicht daß wir wie etwan grobe unverständige Leut urtheilen möchten / einen neuen Africanischen Auffzug mit ihme machen / oder seiner schwartzen Gestalt spotten / und ein kurtzweil anrichten / … sondern diß weise Kleid / seine weise Schuh / Strümpff / Band / Hosen / Wammes / Kragen / Hut und Handschuh / damit er angelegt ist / seynd sein Tauffkleid.”
93.
See also Korhonen, “Washing the Ethiopian White,” 99.
94.
Lind, “Privileged Dependency.”
95.
Lowe, “Introduction,” 2.
96.
For a different view, see Kuhlmann, “Ambiguous Duty,” 65.
97.
Wolfenbüttel, Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv, 2 Alt, Nr. 3232, 20r–v: “wollen die hohe, Gnade haben, und für den armen Africaner von Dero mildigkeit etwas zu fließen laßen weil ich weder Vatter noch Mutter die sich meiner annehmen, so bin ich eine verlaßene Wäÿse, und weis mich auch nirgendt hin zu wenden, als zu Eur. Herzogl. Durchl. welche ich in diesem zeitlichen für meinen grösten Vatter verehre.” It is likely that Carl wrote the petition himself; see Kittel, “Mohren als Hofbediente und Soldaten,” 91.
98.
Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 158–59.
99.
Lowe, “Introduction,” 7.
100.
Lowe, “Stereotyping of Black Africans,” 21.
101.
For Real's biography, see Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 153–63, and Firla, “Afrikanische Pauker und Trompeter,” 17–25.
102.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 8r.
103.
See Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 154.
104.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 35v: “daß er so vielfältig / biß zum neunden mal ist verkaufft worden / unter die Barbarische Mohren / die Portugesen / die Hölländer / und letzlich diesem / seinem alhie beysitzenden Herren und Patronen.” “Barbary Moors” probably refers to slave traders from the Barbary Coast of North Africa.
105.
Ibid.: “etlich Jahr auff dem Meer.” Because Fussenegger mentions the island of São Tomé and Portuguese slave traders in connection with Real's enslavement, Firla and Forkl speculate that Real was originally born in the borderlands of today's Angola (then a Portuguese colony) and Zaïre: Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 154.
106.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 8r: “von den Holländern Regal oder Real genennt worden: Das ist ein König / dieweil sein Vatter für einen König gehalten wird.”
107.
The legal court documents from Stuttgart, discussed further below, frequently name him “Rojal”; see, for instance,  Appendix 1, source no. 9.
108.
For Kramer's biography, see Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 153–57.
109.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 5v: “so hat mein geliebter Herr [Kramer] … vier arme Seelen / von Mohren / aus dem Heidenthumb erkaufft / mit sich heraus in die Christenheit geführt / und solche gleichsam zu einem Heb- und Danck-Opffer Christo dargestellt.”
110.
Ibid., title page: “in sehr Volckreicher Versammlung.”
111.
See, for instance, Friedrich, “Türkentaufen,” and Agethen, “Bekehrungsversuche an Juden.”
112.
After the sermon and before the act of baptism, a Lutheran hymn for Pentecost, “Komm heiliger Geist,” was sung, likely by the congregation, and then polyphonic music was performed with organ accompaniment (“figuraliter zu der Orgel musicirt”). At the end of the service, Psalm 117 (“Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden”) was sung, again likely by the congregation, followed by polyphonic music (“Widerumb figuraliter musicirt”): Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 38r, 42r. Fussenegger does not specify the size and character of the ensemble that performed the polyphonic music, but it presumably consisted of professional musicians institutionally attached to the church of Saint Stephen and the Free Imperial City of Lindau.
113.
On Heider, see Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 157.
114.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 35v.
115.
Firla claims that the practice of “gifting” young black Africans among princes in the Holy Roman Empire should be understood not as slavery but as a form of adoption, through which the young Africans were accepted into ducal families and educated with them: Firla, Exotisch—höfisch—bürgerlich, 13. I would argue that this positive interpretation is contradicted by the precarious situation often experienced by black African servants when their patrons died, as discussed above, a fate that children of princes surely did not suffer.
116.
Fussenegger, Mohren Tauff, 47v (poem 11): “Württenbergiadum nunc Principis aula juventam / ejus ut & mores excolit atq; polit.”
117.
See Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 157.
118.
That Real appears to have received both free lodging at the house of his former teacher Marcell Kerbß and free meals at court might account to some extent for the lower salary. After he was attacked in 1669, his payment was raised to fifty gulden annually, perhaps as a form of compensation for his injuries; see HStAS, A 256, Bd. 153: Jahresband der Landschreiberei 1669/1670–Bd. 156: Jahresband der Landschreiberei 1672/1673.
119.
See Wagner, Die Sechste Christ-Fürstliche Leich-Predigt. For a reproduction and brief discussion, see Firla, Exotisch—höfisch—bürgerlich, 44. Real can be identified from the textual description of the engraving in a personnel list appended to Wagner's publication: Wagner, Die Sechste Christ-Fürstliche Leich-Predigt, “Procession und Ordnung,” 5.
120.
Firla, Exotisch—höfisch—bürgerlich, 44.
121.
HStAS, A 256, Bd. 158: Jahresband der Landschreiberei 1674/1675, Nr. 519–526 (“Besoldungen den Trompetern”).
122.
Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 240.
123.
HStAS, A 210 III, Büschel 43.
124.
Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana”; Firla, “Afrikanische Pauker und Trompeter.”
125.
See also Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 159. On violent crime at night in cities and towns in early modern Europe, see Koslofsky, Evening's Empire, 170–74.
126.
See Krug-Richter, “Von Messern, Mänteln und Männlichkeit.”
127.
 Appendix 1, source no. 6: “sollten innhalten, villeüchten sie eines herren broth eßen theten.”
128.
Ibid.: “er sollte schweigen, hetten mit Ihme nichts zue thun, Sie khenneten denn Christian wohl.”
129.
See  Appendix 1, source no. 7.
130.
 Appendix 1, source no. [4]: “Du hundt, gibt mir den deeg.” See also source no. [3].
131.
See Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 161.
132.
See  Appendix 1, source no. 6.
133.
 Appendix 1, source no. 5: “daß er unterweges im heimgehen gegen Ihnen sich gerühmet, wie er den Mohren so prav curiret hette.” The same statement is repeated in this and other accounts (sources nos. [3] and [4]), in which “Hirschfänger” (daggers) are also mentioned.
134.
As shown by payment records from around the time of Real's employment, hunters' servants in courtly service received payments within a range from ten to twenty-three gulden, significantly lower than Real's (still relatively low) payment of thirty-seven gulden and thirty kreuzer; see HStAS, A 256, Bd. 151: Jahresband der Landschreiberei 1667/1668, Nr. 360–364. The four perpetrators were labeled as “poor” in a number of the legal court documents; see further below.
135.
 Appendix 1, source no. 9: “vor arztlohn, schmerzen, und schaden.”
136.
Ibid.: “daß nächtliche tumultuiren, gaßenschwirmen und händel=anfangen.”
137.
See Deß Hertzogthumbs Würtemberg allerhand Ordnungen, 108–11.
138.
See  Appendix 1, source no. 24.
139.
 Appendix 1, source no. 25.
140.
 Appendix 1, source no. 18: “da wihr unstiglich bejahren, gedachter Mohr unß trunckhener weiß angriffen, und zuer gegen Wehr genötiget habe.”
141.
Ibid.: “unß … einiger Ehren nachtheiliger spott angethan”; “armen gefangenen Sclaven.”
142.
Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 158: “Integration in Hof und Bevölkerung.”
143.
In 1648, Stuttgart had only about 4,500 inhabitants, although that number was probably higher in the 1660s; see ibid., 159.
144.
See, for instance,  Appendix 1, source no. [3]: “Hanß Niclas laügnet nicht, daß er sie vom falkenhauß weiter zu gehen aufgemuthet, er will aber die ursach nicht anzeigen, zu was ende er sie dahin oder in welch hauß zuführen begehrt” (Hanß Niclas [Johann Nicolaus Lehmann, one of the four perpetrators] does not deny that he suggested to the others to keep walking beyond the falconer's house [i.e., to the place where the crime later took place], but he refuses to indicate the reason, for what purpose he wanted to lead them there, or to which house).
145.
Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 162: “die geringste vorurteilsbestimmte bzw. rassistische Anspielung, etwa dergestalt, daß Real vielleicht durch vermeintlich ‘wilde’ Charakterzüge an dem Vorfall mit schuldig sein könnte.” It is important to remember, however, that the four perpetrators do indeed accuse Real in their petition of having caused the incident through his drunkenness.
146.
See, for instance,  Appendix 1, sources nos. [3]–7 and 9.
147.
See, for instance,  Appendix 1, sources nos. 16, 31, and [32a].
148.
On the right to bear arms as an indication of legal status, see Tlusty, Martial Ethic. The “Degen” is mentioned several times in the interrogation of the injured Real by Stuttgart court officials; see  Appendix 2.
149.
See  Appendix 1, source no. 9, in which the young men are called “[diese] armen Gesellen” (poor lads), implying an economically destitute and socially marginal position.
150.
 Appendix 1, source no. 6, statement by witness Jacob Friderich Haller: “Er [Real] were ein Herrendiener und der Christian, thue ja niemand nichts solten ihme mit Friden laßen.”
151.
See  Appendix 2. Real's remark also implies that he doubted that the four young men were associated with the court.
152.
See Ebner, Wörterbuch historischer Berufsbezeichnungen, 675.
153.
Firla and Forkl, “Afrikaner und Africana,” 161.
154.
On the social significance of the public display of clothing in early modern Europe, see, for instance, Morrison, “Dressing Angelo Soliman,” 364, and Jones and Stallybrass, Renaissance Clothing, 17.
155.
For the connection between violence and honor in early modern German society, see Schwerhoff, “Early Modern Violence.”
156.
Groebner, Defaced, 76.
157.
 Appendix 1, source no. 7: “Erstlich eine lange wunden auff der rechten seit oben lang wehrts uber den Kopf die obere Tafel d[er] Hirnschale gespalten und Beinschrötig; die andere verwundung gienge auf d[er] lincken seiten gleich von der Stürne durch d[a]s lincke auge zu gleich über und durch das Naßbein, von solchen streüch alsbalden der stern im auge verletzt auß gelofen und verdorben.”
158.
Kinder, Aus der Chronik der Stadt Plön, 1:4.
159.
Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 181–93.
160.
Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön.
161.
Reproduced in Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 183: “Eodem einen Africaner und Mohren welchen H. Oberst Bertram Rantzow zur Taufe gesand, und unterschiedene—vom Adell zu TauffPaten oder Zeugen gehabt. Ist genandt worden Christian Gottlieb.”
162.
It is possible that, before being brought to Europe, Gottlieb was trafficked from West Africa to the Danish West Indies—for example, to the island of Saint Thomas.
163.
Quoted in Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 38: “der Manhaffter und Kunstliebender Christian Gottlieb, FeldtTrumpeter.”
164.
See ibid., 47. Figure 3 is reproduced from the frontispiece to Kinder, Aus der Chronik der Stadt Plön. Kinder's illustration is based on the coat of arms that appears on Gottlieb's tomb and in his wax seal. See also Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 193, and note 166 below.
165.
On coats of arms as signs of collective affiliation and as individualized markers, see Groebner, Who Are You?
166.
Gottlieb's coat of arms can also be seen in the wax seal with which he stamped his business documents; see Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 47.
167.
On Gottlieb's economic situation, see ibid., 46, 64, 67–69, 77–81.
168.
Schleswig-Holstein, Landesarchiv, Abt. 20, Nr. 330, Schriftstück 44: “welcher so wenig erkennet das Er von meinem Sel(igen) Schwieger Vatter uber seinem Standen befindendes wolsein gesetzet.” The passage is also quoted in Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 77.
169.
See Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 113.
170.
Plön, Stadtarchiv, Nr. 1408, September 13, 1684, [2], statement of the bride's mother: “Wahren Klägere, Clauß Radleff und Johann Jochim Mack, nicht, wie wieder sie und ihre Tochter angebracht, in aller güte zu I[hnen] in ihr Hauß gekommen, sondern mit schelten und schlagen, maßen Johann Jochim Mack ihre Tochter vor einen Mohren teuffel gescholten” (Contrary to what Clauß Radleff and Johann Jo[a]chim Mack stated previously against her and her daughter, the prosecuting party did not enter the house peacefully, but with verbal insults and violent actions. Johann Jo[a]chim Mack, in particular, called her daughter a Moor's devil).
171.
See Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 49–56.
172.
On this association, see the section “‘Becoming White’ through Baptism” above. See also Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 19–27. The implication of this curse word is that, through her union with Gottlieb, Gertraut has been impregnated by Gottlieb's blackness.
173.
Plön, Stadtarchiv, Nr. 1408, September 13, 1684. For instance, the male relatives charged that Gertraut's mother “had without the consent of her friends and relatives betrothed her daughter Gertraut to the Moor of Ascheberg” (“[sie] Ihre tochter Gertraut an den Mohren zu Aschebergh ohne ZuZiehung ihrer freunde und anverwandten verlobet”).
174.
On the following course of events, see Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 56–61, and Kinder, Aus der Chronik der Stadt Plön, 1:14–17.
175.
Kinder provides an (apparently reliable) transcription of the ducal ordinance: Kinder, Aus der Chronik der Stadt Plön, 1:27–31.
176.
Plön, Stadtarchiv, Nr. 1408, October 3, 1684, Addendum.
177.
Ibid., October 4, 1684. On the day of my visit to the Stadtarchiv Plön in January 2017, only a photocopy of the original letter was available for consultation.
178.
Ibid. The term “Leib Eigenschafft” (serfdom) that is used here refers to a form of legal dependency that was particularly common in Schleswig-Holstein in the seventeenth century. Rantzau likely employs this term because there was no official legal regulation of slavery in the Holy Roman Empire. See Mallinckrodt, “Verhandelte (Un-)Freiheit.”
179.
See Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 46.
180.
Morrison, “Dressing Angelo Soliman,” 363.
181.
On this and the following events in Gottlieb's life, see Ulrich, Rübcke, and Bues, Der Schwarze Trompeter von Plön, 56–69, 77–107.
182.
See ibid., 65–67.
183.
See ibid., 67–69.
184.
See ibid., 64.
185.
See Martin, Schwarze Teufel, edle Mohren, 192.
186.
Rinaldo Walcott, who argues from the perspective of postcolonial theory, sees the questioning of black people's “existence as human beings” as a symptom of a “global anti-black condition produced in the post-Columbus era”: Walcott, “Problem of the Human,” 93.
187.
For black pipers and tambour players, see Kuhlmann-Smirnov, Schwarze Europäer im Alten Reich, 288–373. For the enslaved black oboists, see Crockett, First American Born, 60–61. I would like to thank Craig Koslofsky for sharing this latter reference.
188.
Lowe, “Introduction,” 14.
189.
The layering of sources within the archival documentation is in reverse numerical order, beginning with source no. 32 and ending with source no. 1.
190.
“Collet” (also spelled “Koller” in German) refers to a type of clothing that was part of a military garment.
191.
This likely refers to the fact that the lackey was in the service of a foreign (i.e., non-Württemberg) prince, the Count Palatine of Sulzbach.

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10026 Geheimes Kabinett Loc. 762/6
Plön, Stadtarchiv
Nr. 1408
Schleswig-Holstein, Landesarchiv
Abt. 20, Nr. 330, Schriftstück 44
Stuttgart, Hauptstaatsarchiv (HStAS)
A 21 (Oberhofmarschallamt), Büschel 609
A 210 III (Oberrat Stuttgart, Stadt und Amt), Büschel 43
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