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Posts Tagged ‘Pocahontas’

Due to a punctured tyre on a very busy dual carriageway at the beginning of a day out, we ended up in Gravesend waiting for our timed slot at Quick Fit. Long story but the day out was just that, returning home 7 hours later but we did get to see the statue of Pocahontas in Gravesend which, given my blogposts on statues of women, saved the day from being a total washout.

I knew the basics about her story, or so I thought but looked her up on Wikipedia. This is not the great romantic story of love between Pocahontas, daughter of the Powhatan tribe leader, and Captain John Smith with her saving his life and turning her back on her own family and culture to ally with the English, although she certainly knew him and was friendly enough with him. She may also have warned the colonists of a pending ambush which did save several lives. Doubt has been cast on the veracity of Smith’s writings in later years after her death.

What we do know is that Matoaka was renamed Pocahontas after she was captured in Virginia and held for ransom by English colonists in 1613 before being converted to Christianity. Now called Rebecca, she married John Rolfe and had a son when she was 17 or 18. This marriage contributed to the peace between both sides as long as her father lived. The family travelled to London in 1616 to try to get investment in the Virginia Company, where she was used as an example of a “civilised savage” and introduced into society, before dying in Gravesend when embarking on the return journey in 1617, aged 21. Her story is still much debated.

The statue commemorates her short life which ended in a country far from home. Not quite the Disney version we’ve been brought up on!

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