A twelfth-century manuscript preserves an English homily known as the History of the Holy Rood-Tree. In it, the three Rods of Moses perform a number of miracles, including turning the skin of several Ethiopian men and their sons white. The Ethiopian mothers, however, remain Black. The History is perhaps the earliest surviving English text to create a hierarchy of skin colour, and to explicitly state that white skin is more beautiful than black skin. This article frames the History as an early chapter in the history of European depictions of Blackness. The Ethiopians know and respect God, and the History represents their Blackness as abject yet affording insight into God that white characters do not have. At the same time, they implicitly desire whiteness, in an uncanny precursor to the internalized feelings of inferiority that Frantz Fanon described for modern Black people. The History reminds us of the truth of Fanon’s claims that the European past holds modern Black people prisoner, and that it is important to write long histories of race and anti-Blackness.