King Philip’s War is one few people know about – even in New England – but is considered by many to be the deadliest war in Colonial American history. It took place in the 17th century and involved the existing colonies: New York, Connecticut, Providence (Rhode Island), Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Maine territory. These colonies had each developed separate relations with the Wampanoags, Nipmuks, Narragansetts, Mohegans, Pequots and Massachusetts tribes, whose territories historically had differing boundaries. Many of the neighboring tribes had been traditional competitors and enemies.
At this time, the population of New England colonists totaled about 80,000 people. They lived in 110 towns, of which 64 were in the Massachusetts Bay colony, which then included the southwestern portion of Maine. The towns had about 16,000 men of military age who were almost all part of town militias.
Sometimes called Metacom’s War, King Philip’s War raged from 1675 to 1678 and consumed the Native Americans of New England, the colonists and their Indian allies. Metacom was the son of the great Wampanoag sachem, Massasoit, who together with Plymouth governor John Carver, forged a mutually beneficial agreement by which the Wampanoags would defend any attacks on the Plymouth colonists and the Plymouth militia would defend against any attacks on the Wampanoags. At the time (1621), the Wampanoags had been greatly reduced in number by disease, and Massasoit believed they could be attacked by other tribes. This agreement lasted for fifty years, until Massasoit’s death.
Metacom, who took the English name Philip Pokanoket, signed another agreement with the Plymouth colony but did not hold to its terms, selling land to raise money to buy arms. The war’s proximate cause was Plymouth Colony’s execution in June 1675 of three of Philip’s warriors. They had been tried and found guilty of murdering John Sassamon, a Harvard-educated convert to Puritanism, who had served as an interpreter and advisor to Philip but whom Philip had accused of spying for the colonists. His murder ignited a tinderbox of tensions between Indians and whites that had been smoldering for 55 years over competing land claims (including disputes over the grazing of colonial livestock on hunting and fishing grounds), interracial insensitivities, and English cultural encroachment on Native America.
The war began on June 20, 1675, when a band of Pokanokets attacked several isolated homesteads in the small Plymouth colony settlement of Swansea, then laid siege to the town and destroyed it five days later, killing some of the colonists. The war raged on, with more than half of all New England towns attacked by Indian warriors, and many were completely destroyed.
In the end, Plymouth Colony lost in the war close to eight percent of its adult male population and a smaller percentage of women and children. Its economy was all but ruined. Indian losses were much greater, with about 2,000 men killed or who died of injuries in the war, more than 3,000 dying of sickness or starvation. Many were sold into slavery and transported to other areas, such as the British-controlled islands in the Caribbean. It has been estimates that the war reduced the Indian population of southern New England by about 40 to 80 percent.
Some of the orphaned Wampanoag children were taken into Pilgrim households as servants. I incorporated this fact into my book, The Last Pilgrim, the story of Mary Allerton Cushman, who came on the Mayflower. Here is an excerpt:
Governor Josiah Winslow and the Plymouth Council of War had a problem: what to do with 112 Natives, at least eight of whom were women and children left behind by Philip’s retreating army. They decided to sell them to other countries as slaves. Thomas, as a member of the Council, and an Elder of the church, did not concur, but the losses from the war had generated so much anger and pain, there was little the governor could do. The next month, Thomas brought news that the Plymouth Court planned to arrange for many of the Wampanoag children, orphaned in the war, to be placed as servants in the colony’s families, until they reached twenty-four or twenty five years of age.
In our bed that evening, with the curtains opened to let in some air, Thomas whispered to me, “I should set a good example for our congregation and take one of these Indian children.”
I had been thinking much the same. “So we shall, husband, but not to be our servant. We can raise him or her in righteousness and make him a part of our family. I refuse to use a child as a servant.”
The firmness of my words must have resonated in my husband’s thinking, for after a long moment, he let out a great sigh and replied, “I agree. It is the same as slavery, to which I do not subscribe.”
Samuel came to us in August, brought by Thomas, and my first memories of him are of a small, stick thin, long-haired waif, hiding behind my husband’s legs. I had anticipated he would be unbearably dirty, but he was in fact quite clean, and as I later learned, the members of his tribe bathed nearly every day.
I walked over to Thomas, leaned around him and offered my hand. “Welcome.”
To which he replied, “Welcome,” without taking my hand.
Thomas then said, “He knows very little English, so for the nonce we will have to use our hands to communicate. I have given him the name we decided on – Samuel – and he knows that is what we will call him.”
“What is his Wampanoag name? Do you know it?” I withdrew my hand.
“Yes, it is Sokanon.”
“Does it have a meaning?”
Thomas smiled. “It pours, it rains.”
While we were having this conversation, Samuel’s dark eyes followed our faces, back and forth, his face lighting when he heard ‘Sokanon.’
“Then his name will be Samuel Sokanon,” I decided.
Thomas turned and taking the boy by the shoulder in one hand, gestured to his stomach and mouth with the other, something Samuel understood and nodded immediately. Gestures for hunger are never misunderstood.
Samuel will grow up in the Cushman household, coming to regard Thomas and Mary as his mother and father. He will eventually leave them to live in a settlement of ‘praying Indians’ – Native Americans who had accepted Christianity as their religion – on Cape Cod.
The Braided Stream follows on The Replacement Chronicles, and as with the previous tale of an early Homo sapiens woman named Raven, it is a meticulously researched story. Raven, known as a healer, had mated with a Neanderthal man she calls a Longhead, who was captured by her clan. The Longhead was released and returned to his family.
Now Raven has taken a young brave of her tribe called Leaf as her mate, and when her half-Neanderthal, half-Home Sapiens daughter, whom she names Wren, is born, Leaf agrees to be her father. She has two children with Leaf, Sky age six, and Windy, three, and they live with the Wind Tribe in what was Ice Age Eurasia. Raven is now considered the healer for her tribe, and on a day while she treats a young woman covered with bruises for tension and headache, she is confronted by a large raven. Raven considers the bird a harbinger of some event, which she feels is not good, and she wonders where Leaf and Wren have gone to hunt. Neither has returned, and when they are still missing the next day, Raven persuades the chief to give her some men – only two trackers as it turns out – to try to find where they’ve gone.
Raven and the trackers discover Leaf and Wren have been taken by several men with large footprints that Raven believes are those of Longheads. When they follow the tracks, they are swept away by a flash flood and Raven is severely injured. A man from Raven’s distant past – Chukar, the Longhead father of Wren — appears to take care of her.
Leaf and Wren have been taken by Chukar’s mother, Elder Woman, a wily and devious old woman who is a healer and leader of her clan. She has devised nefarious plans to use both Leaf and Wren to rescue her tribe from extinction. When Raven returns with Chukar to Elder Woman’s clan, the reader becomes immersed in Neanderthal culture and custom.
The story is told from shifting points of view, so you can see the panorama of the story through the eyes of Raven, Leaf and Elder Woman. Their stories blend effortlessly, a somewhat easier transition than that of the previous book, which wove back and forth from the present to the past.
Will Raven and Leaf escape with Wren to return to the Wind River tribe? Can they outwit Elder Woman? Is Raven Chukar’s mate or Leaf’s or both?
The details of the landscape, food, herbal remedies, animals, hunting, and clothing are both fascinating and rich. The concern for tribal survival is a constant undercurrent, which comes to the forefront with the after-effects of a nearby asteroid strike that devastates the land. The characters are so well-described you can easily see them and the historical detail is on par with Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, enhancing the strong story line.
With all of the recent research into Neanderthals, this book hits the mark – they coexisted with modern humans for over 5000 years and were not the ape-like creatures they were originally thought to be: Neanderthals had very complex social structures and used languages to communicate. Some evidence reveals they were able to play musical instruments too. The author has used all this new information to create a great book.
I strongly recommend The Braided Stream to anyone who has ever wondered about our prehistoric ancestors, and to readers who like tales of strong women!
PS I think the cover is fabulous!
About the author
Harper Swan lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and two sweet but very spoiled cats. She is the author of has Gas Heat, a story of family angst taking place in the Deep South, and found the inspiration in the books by Jean Auel. She has drawn on her interests in archaeology, genetics, ancient history and archaeological finds from Paleolithic sites to create the world of The Braided Stream.
A heartfelt welcome to my new followers (I only get gravatars, so my info on each is limited!) :
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I was entranced by the Downton Abbey series on Public Television. The setting, the costuming and above all, the acting, were superb. Following an English family of nobility and the servants who support them, before, during and after WW I, was fascinating – not only due to the social interactions, but also the effects of the war on the class strata. The affection, not only in the upstairs and downstairs groups but also, with reserve, between the groups, was lovely to see.
The movie takes us back to Downton Abbey with a storyline based on the upcoming overnight visit of the King and Queen to the house, during one of their tours of the countryside. This prospect sends both upstairs and downstairs into a tizzy. In a draw on reality, King George and Queen Mary actually did visit Highclere Castle, which doubles as Downton.
There are actually several storylines all skillfully juggled. Lady Mary, daughter of Lord and Lady Crawley, has taken charge of much of the running of the estate from her father, and she wonders – as the owners of such huge, costly places still do – whether their ownership of the castle and estate can continue in the face of the economy. Branson, Lord Crawley’s Irish son-in-law, is drawn into an assassin’s plot to kill the King. The dowager Lady Crawley, played wondrously by Maggie Smith (she steals every scene) is concerned that her son, Lord Crawley, will not be the heir of a cousin’s considerable estate, despite being the only living male relative. The repartee when she is present sparkles.
“I know several couples who are perfectly happy. Haven’t spoken in years.”
And downstairs, Carson, the newly married and just retired butler, is called out of retirement to direct the servants. He not so reluctantly (he looks like a cat with a mouthful of bird) displaces Barrow, the footman who worked his way up to that position. But just as soon as Carson has established an orderly schedule of preparation, the servants from Buckingham Palace arrive, sweeping in to take over everything with royal arrogance. Even Mrs. Patmore, the Abbey’s wonderful cook, is displaced by a haughty French chef. But never underestimate how the Abbey servants can resolve the situation!
Other subplots: The lonely daughter of the King and Queen is considering a scandalous divorce; a rakish stranger initiates Barrow, who we know is gay, into the nascent homosexual underground of the time; and Daisy, Mrs. Patmore’s assistant, has to deal with a jealous fiancé, one of the footmen.
The movie was like a dinner with old friends – interesting, fun, comfortable. The scenery, the acting and the lush costuming added to the enjoyment. And there is a happy ending.
If you are a fan of the series, you will not be disappointed with the movie. I wish it had lasted for hours! Here’s hoping for another movie, and a long, long life for Maggie Smith.
Ailish Sinclair has written a captivating romantic fairy tale for adults, set in 1597 Scotland.
Isobell has been pledged by her father to marry a man she calls Wicked Richard. Together with two boys, Ian and Jasper, she flees her intended husband and a life of privilege in London, sailing in the hold of a ship to a smugglers cave below a remote castle in Scotland. There she will work as an assistant cook.
With no training for her menial job, she is taken under the wing of Bessie Thom, the castle’s cook – a large, jolly woman who is also an herbalist – who reminds me strongly of Mrs. Fitz in Outlander. Isobell meets Agnes, a sour and bitter young woman who is the governess to Wee Thomas and who loves to tell tales of witchcraft; the handsome Duncan McCulloch, Greeve of the castle; Christen Michel, an elderly woman who is the mother of the Laird’s first wife, Mary, who died giving birth to Wee Thomas; and finally the Laird himself, Thomas Monteith. All of these characters are so well drawn, I could easily see and hear them. The authentic use of Scottish words and phrases draws the reader into this medieval world.
I called this a fairy tale – Isobell falls in love with the laird, a bear of a man who is kind and gentle and sad – and the reader is lulled into contentment by both their love and the beauty that surrounds the castle: fairy pools and standing stones and beautiful woods. But this tale turns grim and gritty when it delves into accusations of witchcraft and witchcraft trials, prevalent at the time.
Thus the narrative encompasses hope and despair, good and evil, friends and enemies. The author writes beautiful descriptive prose of the Scottish countryside and delves into the heart of Isobell in an astonishing way, encompassing her views of conflicts between the Protestant and Catholic faiths and the feeling of the ancient religion, carried on by women, when Isobell finds the standing stones.
I really liked this book, despite the fact I expected and got a satisfying conclusion. Isn’t this usual for fairy tales?
A truly enchanting tale!
About the author
Ailish Sinclair trained as a dancer and taught dance for many years, before working in schools to help children with special needs. A short stint as a housekeeper in a castle fired her already keen interest in untold stories of the past and she sat down to research and write.
She now lives beside a loch with her husband and two children where she still dances and writes and eats rather a lot of chocolate.
I will admit I am a fan of William Savage’s mysteries. He has two series, one about Adam Bascomb, MD, and the other about Ashmole Foxe, bookseller, stylish dresser and man about town. Both are set in or around Norwich, England in the period between 1760 and 1800, a period of great turmoil in the country. I enjoy both, but Ashmole Foxe is a favorite character of mine.
Although Ashmole Foxe is not of the nobility, he is a tradesman of the highest order and has a friend in Alderman Halloran. Halloran serves as a link between Foxe and the mayor of the city and its wealthy merchants, who frequently employ his investigative talents and logical mind in solving the murders of noblemen and women, merchants, and tradesmen. Mr. Foxe has developed nicely through the series (each book of which is stand-alone) with the gradual creation of an extended family that assists him in his pursuit of murderers: Mrs. Susannah Crombie, a widow who runs his bookshop; Charlie, a street urchin whom Foxe is grooming to be a bookbinder and who interacts with street urchins in pursuing clues for Foxe; and Miss Tabitha Studwell, a Cunning Woman (wise woman), herbalist and healer.
In this outing, Foxe finds himself with three murders to solve, and the each present him with different challenges. The first, and most important to the mayor, is the stabbing death of the son of Lord Frederick Aylestone, son of Viscount Penngrove, at a masquerade. The second is the death of an elderly collector of books of the occult, found stabbed in his library following an interview with a rare visitor. The third, and the one which Foxe is most emotionally involved, is the stabbing death of a man the street urchins called ‘Uncle’ – a poor person who lived on the streets but who was good and kind to them and whose body was discovered to have a valuable pendant around the neck, bearing the crest of a local semi-noble family.
The various paths Foxe chooses takes in solving each mystery are intertwined but are taken slowly and deliberately – after all, this is a historical period when life proceeds at a slow pace and within the confines of social norms. I enjoyed the challenge of seeing if I could keep up with, or ahead of, Foxe in his thinking. This only happened with the first murder but was enjoyable nonetheless. The twists and turns of each path keeps readers on their toes and second-guessing.
The author is a past master of the history of the times and manages to include a wealth of detail – the city and its underbelly of crime, the people, and the social strata, not to mention the clothes, the food, manners and the décor. All of this makes the reader feel they are living there with Ashemole Foxe. Each character is well-drawn and compelling for their sins, foibles, or goodness. The mysteries are always drawn to a suitable conclusion, and there is always a teaser at the end. In the last book, Foxe, a heretofore confirmed bachelor who satisfied his needs in elite brothels, proposed to Lady Arabella Cockerham. Her response led him to believe he had been rejected. Or had he? This time around we learn more about Lady Arabella.
This was a thoroughly satisfying book and for fans of William Savage and for those who have not yet had the pleasure of being introduced to his two sleuths, I highly recommend this as a great read.
About the author:
William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and too his degree at Cambridge. After a career in various managerial and executive roles, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property. His life-long interest has been history, which led to research and writing about the eighteenth century. But his is not just a superficial interest in history, but a real desire to understand and transmit the daily experience of living in turbulent times.
For the first week of our trip to Ireland, we stayed in Westport, a town in County Mayo on Clew Bay on the west coast. It’s a charming town winning the Best Place to Live in Ireland in 2012.
The layout of the town follows medieval principles of urban design introduced by the Norman in the 13th century, but the design was commissioned in the 1780s by John Browne, who owned a stately home nearly, called Westport House. More on that later. The river Carrow Beg was diverted to allow the incorporation of the river into the design and many of the shops and buildings date from that time, giving the town its charm.
The Browns also built the cathedral in Westport, which despite the fact it is Protestant, is very decorative.
Croagh Patrick (pronounced Cro Patrick), a famous pilgrimage mountain, is the backdrop for the town, which lies at the edge of the beautiful Clew Bay – a huge expanse that is said to contain 352 islands, one for each day of the year, including one bought by John Lennon and Yoko Ono back in what the locals call the ‘hippy days.’ We took a tour of the bay on our last afternoon. It is a gorgeous place, great for fishing and lobstering (the lobsters are sent to France but I ate fish everyday we were there), and I was highly entertained by a half hour conversation with the boat owner, who also happens to be a sixth grade teacher.
We think Ireland is the nicest place we’ve ever visited – the people are so kind and cheerful!
I purchased this book for review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.
The Confessor’s Wife is an engaging tale of the wife of Edward the Confessor. Edith of Wessex , daughter of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, spends her early years in a household with two older brothers, Harold and Sweyn, and a beloved younger brother, Tostig. Her father, knowing that she must make a good marriage in support of her family, sends her as a teenager to the royal abbey of Wilton. There she is to be educated in the running a household, along with the artly skills of the high-born and with fluency in various languages. Despite her despair at having to leave her home, she find a friend in Aethel, also the daughter of a nobleman but who has taken her vows as a nun, and also in the Abbess. After years, during which she comes to feel at home at the abbey, her brother Sweyn, a pompous, self-centered man, comes to retrieve her. She is to be married – to Edward, the King of England.
Edith’s nemesis in her marriage is her mother-in-law, Emma, who despises Godwin and his family, believing Godwin is responsible for her oldest son’s death. Edith finds herself in an untenable situation – married to an older man, hated by her mother-in-law who thwarts her at every turn, and her family obligations. She must prove herself worthy to all of them.
In time, her relationship with Edward becomes respectful and deeply caring, yet she bears him no children – a cause for a man to cast his wife aside. Royal politics sway this way and that, and at one point Edith is sent back to the abbey, when her family falls from grace. And yet Edward does not remarry.
How does she navigate the political waters that swirl around the king? How can she ensure the promotion of her family’s men to the highest offices in the land, and help raise her brother to the throne? And how can she do this, when criticized over many years for being a barren wife?
Kelly Evans has taken a woman who is little more than a footnote in history and created a story around her that makes her real and emphasizes the perils of a queen in that period.
I had not known of Edith prior to reading this book and had barely heard of King Edward the Confessor, so the history of the story fascinated me. The strength of the author’s writing is definitely in the dialogue, which gives three-dimensionality to the speakers and had me drawn in from the beginning. I felt the love of Edith for her brother Tostig, even when he proved feckless and disloyal, her dislike of the ceaselessly critical Sweyn, and her tolerance of the scheming Emma and her simpering mother, Gytha.
While much less descriptive than the writings of other authors of historical fiction – and there were times when I absolutely yearned for more detail – the dialogue kept me reading. The author made Edith’s life and the obstacles she face very real despite the sparseness of the background elements. There were a few lapses into modern expressions, which brought me up, but not enough to drag me away!
The author has written several other historical novels. One of them is The Northern Queen about Edith’s mother-in-law, Emma. I think readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and I am definitely interested in reading The Northern Queen.
About the author (Amazon)
Kelly Evans was born in Canada of Scottish extraction and graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduation, she moved to the UK where she worked in the financial sector and continued her of history, focusing on Medieval England and the Icelandic Sagas.
She now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband Max and two rescue cats, retiring after twenty years to write full time. She’s a voracious reader and enjoys history, music (she plays the medieval recorder), and watching really bad horror and old sci-fi movies. To that end, she has written books featuring zombies and the walking dead.
She’s currently working on my next novel, The Beggar Queen, set in Merovingian France.
Takami Ibara is the MOST amazing photographer of birds (and other things) but the birds are like small gems and a photograph from Takami is a gift. The site above is the latest blog – take time to have some real visual pleasure in your day!
I was back in Plymouth – ostensibly to celebrate our anniversary, as I was married in St. Peter’s Church there – but also to make some visits to historic sites I had missed
One of these is the shady and peaceful Old Burying Ground in Duxbury also known as the Myles Standish Cemetery – one of the oldest cemeteries in the country, coming into use in the late 1630s.
TThe most prominent feature of the cemetery is a striking monument placed over what is believed to be Myles Standish’s family plot. Martial in appearance, in keeping with Standish’s profession, the monument includes a castellated stone enclosure and four 19th century cannons and cannon balls from the Boston Navy Yard.
According to tradition, Captain Standish was buried beneath two rough, pyramid shaped fieldstones. Stones matching this description were located within the Old Burying Ground and two exhumations (one was not deemed enough) revealed a male skeleton between those of two women (consistent with Standish’s request in his will to be buried between his daughter and daughter-in-law). They also found the remains of two boys, probably Charles and John Standish, the Captain’s sons, both of whom had died young. Examining the remains of the man believed to be Captain Standish, a doctor proclaimed that he had been a man of great physical strength. The poor man was exhumed a third time so his remains could be placed in a hermetically sealed copper box which would then be placed in a new cement chamber. One can only hope Captain Standish can now rest in peace.
You can hardly expect to find any of the Mayflower passengers’ burial sites still marked there. They would have had wooden tomb markers after all, and this cemetery fell into neglect for many years.
But I did find some stones that gave me goosebumps because I recognized who had been buried there. The oldest stone (1697) marks the burial site of Jonathan Alden, son of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. Both his parents were buried in this place but since no one knows where, there are some stone tablets to note their existence. His sister Sarah, married to Myles Standish’s oldest son, Alexander, is also interred here…somewhere.
I also found a tombstone for Deacon William Brewster. He was not THE Elder Brewster but the son of Love Brewster, who was the son of the Elder. The family helped to settle this area, along with the Standishes, the Aldens, the Bradfords and the Howlands.
I also found the tombstone of Gamaliel Bradford and his wife, Abigail. He is descended from William Bradford, second governor of the Plymouth Colony via William Bradford, Jr., and his son, Samuel Bradford.
Many of the Mayflower descendants were active participants in the Revolutionary War, and I hope to write about this at some time.