John Blanke (fl. 1501–1511)

Extract from the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll almost certainly showing John Blanke, the only figure wearing an orange turban latticed with yellow.
  • John Blanke was a musician of African heritage who worked at the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII.
  • He arrived in England from Spain with Catharine of Aragon in 1502. It is likely he was born there and that his ancestors had originally travelled to Spain for trade purposes.
  • Banke was selected in 1511 to take part in the Tournament which celebrated the birth of Henry VIII’s long-awaited son.
  • That a Tournament was a grand occasion including jousting and other activities designed to show off the King and his men’s military prowess. That John Blanke was involved trumpeting the entrance of the king shows how skilled and trusted he was.