If you write an epic fantasy based in Medieval England and only include white-skinned characters, then you would be misrepresenting history and could be accurately accused of discrimination - even if it were unintentional
Some people claim that including a variation of skin tones in certain historical settings is tantamount to ‘rewriting’ history to suit our modern sensibilities.
But in most cases the truth is that including such variety is setting the record straight.
‘History’ as we know it, is not some infallible truth set in stone. Every single history book was written by a human being who was a product of their own time and culture and affected by their own prejudices of their own era.
So ‘rewriting’ history makes sense if it means getting a clearer picture based on further evidence which has come to light.
Black female astronauts? You’re having a laugh!
The most striking example I’ve found of this regards black women in Nasa.
If I wrote a story based in NASA, and I included a few black women among the scientists., mathematicians and engineers, then people would be lining up to accuse me of crow-barring people in to meet some positive discrimination agenda.
But in fact they’ve been there for as long as Nasa has existed: In 1958, when NASA was formed, Mary Jackson became its first African-American female engineer.
Bet you didn’t know black women have also been in space.
Still… surely there weren’t any non-whites in medieval England?
“People of colour are not an anachronism.” @medievalpoc (check out this twitter feed for a wealth of evidence)
“By the 15th century there were immigrants from all over Europe in Medieval England and they were spread all over the country. We know this from documents that have survived including letters, court records and - most of all - tax records.”
“One Medieval historian has said that the records show that no one was more than ten miles away from an immigrant. Foreign-born people included goldsmiths, bakers, inn-keepers, doctors, priests, farm labourers, tailors, brewers, weavers.”
Don’t worry about getting into trouble, worry about being accurate
So if you would like to write an epic fantasy based on Medieval England, then it would be better to do some historical research, rather than basing the historical interpretation on a single fantasy author.
In fact, if you did want to use a fantasy author as your source, you could do worse than George RR Martin, as his world is much more realistic in reflecting a variety of intermingling and interdependent cultures (not to mention remembering that women exist).