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The BBC has chosen a “racially diverse cast” to play the characters in its upcoming historical drama about the Battle of Hastings, which occurred in 1066, leading one historian to decry the “bizarre notion that there were black earls in Anglo-Saxon England.”

The eight-part series King and Conqueror, which is a CBS Studios co-production, will feature numerous non-white characters, including one taking the role of a real 11th-century leader.

Black actor Jason Forbes will play the fictional character Thane Thomas, “with the “thanes” being a layer of nobility in the ethnically homogeneous society of Anglo-Saxon England,” reports the Telegraph.

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