On this day in 616 King Æthelberht of Kent died. He had converted to Christianity under the influence of his Frankish wife, Queen Bertha during the Gregorian Mission sent in 596. He was buried in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Canterbury, near Bertha, who had died a few years before.
At this point in history the nature of burials was slowly changing in line with the changes of religious beliefs. Up until the Gregorian Mission it was mostly Northern European pagan beliefs that were practiced by Anglo-Saxons in England. These beliefs influenced the burying of the dead; for the rich and wealthy these would have included burials such as the one at Sutton Hoo and would have included grave goods, items that might be needed in the afterlife. Cremations would have also occurred with the most widespread form of burial being the simple inhumation which didn’t require as much equipment and time. With the spread of Christianity, customs around burials changed, as is reflected in how Æthelberht was interned. It is markedly different to the burial at Sutton Hoo, which is thought to be that of King Rædwald of East-Anglia, which probably occurred a little later.
We learn a little about Æthelberht’s death and what happened next from Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Just before Bede discusses Æthelberht’s death he recounts his role as Bretwalda (a sort of high king) and lists the first five Kings who held this title, including Rædwald of East-Anglia:
"The first king to hold the like sovereignty was Ælla, king of the South Saxons; the second was Caelin, King of the West Saxons, known in their own language as Ceawlin; the third, as we have said, was Æthelberht, king of Kent; the fourth was Rædwald, King of the East Angles, who even during the life of King Æthelberht was gaining the leadership for his own race; the fifth was Edwin, Kind of the Northumbrians, the nation inhabiting the district north of the Humber."
We learn from Bede that Rædwald succeeded Æthelberht as Bretwalda. Whether this happened immediately after his death is not recorded. We also do not know whether Rædwald would have attended Æthelberht’s funeral, a possibility given the closeness of the two kingdoms within the Heptarchy and their relationship. If Rædwald did attend, maybe his role as the new Bretwalda was immediately recognized, possibly with some tribute from Æthelberht’s widow or son, Eadwald, with some of the tribute ending up as part of Rædwald’s burial goods. We know that Bertha, Æthelberht’s first wife, was from Frankia, maybe it was via Bertha that Frankish coins came to Kent and then onto East-Anglia to be included in the burial at Sutton Hoo. Another object at Sutton Hoo was a scepter/whetstone, the significance of which is now lost. It is believed to be an emblem of power, with its design resembling Roman scepters, owned by holders of high office; was this an item that demonstrated that Rædwald was the Bertwalda?
We may never know what happened at Æthelberht’s funeral or the details around Rædwald’s apparent rise to the position of Bertwalda, but we do have a small and intriguing glimpse at some of the significant events that unfolded after Æthelberht’s death and Rædwald’s elevation in Anglo-Saxon politics. This will be the focus of our next blog on the life of Rædwald.
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on early Anglo-Saxon England. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Myles Standish, Military Governor
If you have been following our blog over the last twelve months you may remember that we joined in the celebrations of the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower voyage (from England to New England, America) looking at some of the events before, during and after the journey across the Atlantic. If you missed any of these you can see them in our archive.
When we last left the Mayflower, her crew and passengers had anchored in Plymouth Harbour in the middle of December 1620. In the following weeks they battled against the cold weather and went about the start of constructing their new homes. The first house, timber frame with wattle and daub walls, was built slowly over two weeks. Slowly the settlement took shape with more homes being built along with a wooden platform to support a cannon on the nearby Fort Hill.
The winter took its toll on the Pilgrims and Passengers. There was a lack of shelter, poor living conditions on board the Mayflower and disease. Of the 102 passengers. 45 died that winter. Many were too poorly and weak to help with the construction of the new settlement. Plans had aimed to construct 19 homes, however they were only able to complete seven residences and four common houses. It was enough though to unload the provisions from the Mayflower.
During these weeks of hard toil they also had several intense encounters with the Native Americans and so by mid-February they organised themselves into military orders. To lead the militia they appointed on 17th February, Myles Standish as the colony’s first commander. His name may stand out, with good reason, as he had played a key role in the three expeditions in the months leading up to the decision to settle in Plymouth. He had been hired by the Pilgrims as a military adviser back in the Netherlands, where he had been living in Leiden, possibly after having served in the English forces supporting the Dutch in the Eighty Years' War.
During his years as a solider in New England, the Plymouth colony would continue to re-elect him. His military leadership was to have a significant impact on its future and its relationship with the native people. He retired from service in 1640’s and went onto live in the town of Duxbury where he died in 1656, aged 72.
This scene was built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on the voyage of the Mayflower. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
No way For a King to Die
On this day in 1400 Richard, formerly Richard II of England. died. The exact cause of his death is the subject of speculation to this day.
Richard had started his reign on a high following the Peasants’ Revolt, however from there onwards it had been on a downwards slop. Eventually dissatisfaction with his reign led to him being deposed on the October 1st 1399 and his first cousin, Henry Bolingbroke was crowned on October 13th, becoming King Henry IV. Having become King, Henry agreed to let Richard live. Henry had Richard taken from the Tower of London to Leeds and then onto Pontefract Castle.
In the months that followed Henry stripped titles from the earls of Huntingdon, Kent, Rutland and Salisbury and Lord Despenser – titles that Richard had given during his reign. Unhappy at the removal of their status they planned to murder Henry and reinstate Richard to the throne in what is known as the Epiphany Rising.
The plans to put Richard back on the throne went sideways when Edward of Norwich, who had been part of the group planning the uprising in December, switched sides and informed the King of the plot in January 1400. With his safety secured, Henry IV became aware of the high risk of keeping Richard alive and so when Richard died on the 14th February rumours spread that he was killed, by what means it was unknown.
To show that he had not been murdered but that he was indeed dead, his body was put on public display in St Paul's Cathedral on February 17th. There was no sign of violence on his body and it is believed that he died from starvation – of his own choice of forced on him is open to speculation. From London Richard’s body was taken quietly to a Dominican Priory at Kings Langley, Hertfordshire and buried in March. Richard’s body would later be returned to London in 1413 and buried in Westminster Abbey alongside his first wife, Anne of Bohemia. This was apparently an effort by Henry V to atone his fathers supposed murderous acts and to silence the ongoing rumours that Richard II was still alive.
Thee scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of England. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Battle of the Herrings
On this day in 1429 the Battle of Herrings took place near Rouvray, just north of Orléans, France. The battle of was part of the larger conflict later to become known as the Hundred Years War between England and France and their allies.
The cause of the battle was an attempt by French and Scottish forces to intercept an English baggage train on its way to supply Englis forces laying siege to the city of Orléans. It’s from this train that the battle get’s it’s weird name, as it happened to be carrying a lot of herring at the time
The English army had started the siege on October 12th 1428. The convoy of supplies included cannons, cannonballs, crossbow shafts and herring and consisted of around 300 carts and wagons which had been sent from Paris. The herring were included as Lent was approaching and meat would not be a part of the army's diet during this period. In support of the supplies was a military force led by Sir John Fastolf.
As the convoy approached Orléans a French force, supported by their Scottish allies intercepted them. The force, numbering between 3,000 and 4,000 outnumbered the English and was led by Charles of Bourbon and the Scot Sir John Stewart of Darnley. The English used their wagons to form a defensive barrier with sharped spikes in front to add extra protection, making use of the successful tactic employed at the Battle of Agincourt.
The French attacked first with their gunpowder artillery – a relatively new piece of equipment to warfare at this time - which for its lack of use to date still caused damage to the wagons and English troops. The Scottish infantry then attacked, against the orders of the Count of Clermont, forcing the artillery to stop its bombardment prematurely. Protected by their wagons, the English archers and crossbowmen were able to inflict significant damage on the poorly armored Scots.
This in turn caused the French calvary to attempt to support their allies by a cavalry charge, which was stopped by the stakes and English archers. Those in the French and Scots ranks waiting to join battle were slow in the uptake due to the pummeling their comrades were taking. Consequently, the English took the chance to turn the tables of the battle and went on the counterattack, striking the sides and rear of their opposition and causing the French and Scots to flee.
Once the English were safe, they reformed the convoy and went on to deliver their supplies to the besieging English forces at Orléans. Inside the city the morale reached a new low and the French even considered surrender. However, on the same day a certain Joan of Arc who was meeting with Robert de Baudricourt. During their meeting she informed de that "the Dauphin's arms had that day suffered a great reverse near Orléans”. She would later play a significant part in lifting the siege of Orléans, which occurred on May 8th 1429.
As for John Fastolf, due to his gallantry he was made a Knight of the Garter. He would go onto a more lasting reputation providing a basis for one of Shakespeare's characters Sir John Falstaff and being depicted in the 2019 Netflix film The King, where he is the young Prince Henry's companion at the tavern and later is seen to be responsible for Henry V's victory at Agincourt (for which there is no historical evidence, but you know, TV, yay!).
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on British and European history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
St Scholastica Day Riot
On this day in 1355 the St Scholastica Day Riot kicked off in Oxford, England. The riot started, as many riots do, because the instigators had been on the drink. Things took a turn when two students from the University of Oxford complained about the quality of wine served to them in the Swindlestock Tavern, which was based at Carfax, in the centre of the town. The quarrel escalated quickly after the students began arguing with the taverner with the inn’s customers joining in on both sides. The resulting brawl turned into a riot which lasted for three days as armed gangs from the countryside rocked up to help the townspeople. University halls and students' accommodation were raided and the inhabitants murdered; there were even some reports of clerics being scalped. By the end of the riot around thirty townsfolk had been killed, while as many as sixty three members of the university also lay dead.
Now when a minor disagreement about wine turns into a three-day orgy of violence, we tend to assume that it’s probably not about the wine and that’s probably true. Violent clashes had flared up several times previously, in fact between the years 1297 and 1322 twelve of the twenty-nine coroners’ courts held in Oxford were about murders by students. Altercations between to townspeople and students was therefore pretty common. The University of Cambridge can actually thank its foundation on this violence for it was established in 1209 after scholars left Oxford following the lynching of two students by the town's citizens.
The St Scholastica Day Riot happened in the wake of the Black Death, which swept through the town in 1349. Killing an unknown but presumably large number of townspeople and around a quarter of scholars, the plague inflicted a massive hit on the finances of the town. The population was aware of the decline of Oxford's fortunes, and this coincided with disturbance and unrest between the town and university.
It is likely that the Riot only ended because the townspeople had got bored, or at least had to go back to work, while many of the university’s students had fled Oxford.
After the rioting ended both the university hierarchy and the town burghers surrendered themselves and the rights of their respective entities to Edward III. He sent judges to the town with commissions of oyer and terminer (which literally means "to hear and to determine") to determine what had gone on and to advise what steps should be taken. Four days later the King restored the rights of the scholars and gave them pardons for any offences. The townspeople were treated less kindly, with Edward fining the town 500 marks while sending its mayor and bailiffs to the Marshalsea prison in London. Apparently not content with that outcome, the Church decided put the boot in too, with John Gynwell, the Bishop of Lincoln, imposing an interdict on the townspeople, banning all religious practices, including services (except on key feast days), burials and marriages; only baptisms of young children were allowed.
On June 27th 1355 Edward issued a royal charter that secured the rights of the university over those of the town. Amongst other things, this gave the chancellor of the university the right to tax bread and drink sold in the town and the power to insist that inhabitants kept their properties in good repair. The town authorities were left with the power to take action in legal situations where it involved citizens on both sides; any action that involved a student or the university on one side was dealt with by the university. The historian C. H. Lawrence observes that the charter "was the climax of a long series of royal privileges which raised the university from the status of a protected resident to that of the dominant power in the city".Scholars were free from interference from or prosecution by the civil authorities and the chancellor's jurisdiction covered both civil and religious matters in the town; it was a unique position for any university in Europe.
When the Bishop of Lincoln’s interdict was lifted, he imposed an annual penance on the town. Each year, on St Scholastica's Day, the mayor, bailiffs and sixty townspeople were to attend St Mary's church for mass for those killed; the town was also made to pay the university a fine of one penny for each scholar killed. When each new mayor or sheriff was sworn in, he had to swear to uphold all the university's rights. The annual penance continued until 1825 when the incumbent refused to take part and the practice was allowed to drop. As an act of conciliation on February 10th 1955—the 600th anniversary of the riots—the mayor, W. R. Gowers, was given an honorary degree while the vice-chancellor, Alic Halford Smith, was made an honorary freeman of the city.
These scenes were built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on British history. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
The Discovery of Antractica
On this day in 1820 a Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev discovered Antarctica. They spotted an ice shelf at Princess Martha Coast that later became known as the Fimbul Ice Shelf. Bellingshausen and Lazarev therefore became the first explorers to see and officially discover the land of the continent.
It had been long theorised that a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, exist in the far south of the globe, and hypothetical versions of it often appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries. The theories however actually originated in antiquity, with the term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle, coined by Marinus of Tyre in the 2nd century AD. The existence of Terra Australis, or Antarctica, was not based on any survey or direct observation, but rather on the idea that continental land in the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by land in the Southern Hemisphere. This theory of balancing land has been documented as early as the 5th century on maps by Macrobius, who uses the term Australis on his maps.
The rounding of the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn in the 15th and 16th centuries proved that Terra Australis Incognita ("Unknown Southern Land"), if it existed, was a continent in its own right. In 1773 James Cook and his crew crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time but although they discovered nearby islands, they did not catch sight of Antarctica itself. It is believed he was as close as 240 km (150 mi) from the mainland.
So it would not be until January 27th 1820 and the expedition of Von Bellingshausen and Lazarev that the existence of a landmass was confirmed. It is certain that the expedition’ ships, the Vostok and Mirny, reached on January 28th 1820 a point within 32 km (20 mi) from Princess Martha Coast and recorded the sight of an ice shelf at 69°21′28″S 2°14′50″W. The expedition also discovered Peter I Island and Alexander I Island, the first islands to be discovered south of the circle.
Three days later, on January 30th, a British expedition captained by Irishman Edward Bransfield sighted Trinity Peninsula, and ten months later an American sealer Nathaniel Palmer sighted Antarctica on November 17th. The first landing was probably just over a year later when American Captain John Davis, a sealer, set foot on the ice on February 7th 1821. The exploration of the continent commenced, although for most of the 19th century it would be confined to the coastal areas and not penetrate the interior. This would take place in what is known as The Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, which began at the end of the 19th century, and ended after the First World War, with Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s expedition reaching the South Pole on December 14th 1911.
This map was built by Dan Harris as part of a series of models on exploration. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
The Book of Common Prayer
For those who venture into their local Church of England from time to time you may notice that during the service some of the words said are familiar and used from week to week. Well that all goes back to the Act of Unity which was passed on this day in 1549. The Act was an ongoing part of King Edward VI’s actions to introduce the Protestant doctrine to the practice of the churches in England and Wales. We gave an overview of this as part of last year’s mini-series on the Reformation, check it out here:
The introduction of the Book of Common Prayer, which was authorised under the Act of Uniformity was one of the most significant changes during Edwards reign. The Book of Common Prayer replaced several regional Latin rites in use with English liturgy, and has become a common way in which people throughout England and Wales (and throughout the world today) could and can worship in the same way. A change from Latin to English had actually been proposed in Edward’s father, Henry VIII’s reign, however, Henry was religiously conservative and opposed the proposed changes.
With Henry’s death in 1547 the Protestant reformers saw their chance to advance their cause. The Act of Uniformity was not the first piece of legislation introduced, but it was probably the most significant, the main affects being the replacement of several regional Latin rites then in use with English-language liturgy As an aside it’s believed the saying 'hocus pocus,' came from a mis-pronunciation of the Latin used during Mass from the phrase "Hoc est corpus meum”, which in English means “This is my body.) It also offered a compromise to conservatives, providing Protestants with a service free from what they considered superstition, while maintaining the traditional structure of the mass.
Nevertheless, the first Book of Common Prayer was a "radical" departure from traditional worship. It was the work of Thomas Cranmer, who had begun work on it under Henry VII, but had not been able to do anything until the King’s passing. The Book removed any doctrines of human merit contributing to an individual's salvation and was replaced with the doctrine of justification by faith, which is given by God. In Justification, men and woman are seen as being right before God when they put their trust in Jesus’ obedience and sacrificial death in their place on the cross. This doctrine is found and linked to other doctrines throughout the prayer book.
Other key doctrines changed, including those relating to communion, the eating and (or not) drinking of the bread and wine. The Protestant reformers, like John Wycliffe a few centuries before, did not hold to the doctrine of transubstantiation (where the bread and wine are changed physically into Jesus’ body and blood). When it came to the actual taking of mass the Protestant reform changed the way in which the bread (or wafer) was given from being place in the recipients mouth to being placed in their hands and the taking of the wine, which over time had been dropped from the practices of the early church.
With all these changes there was unsurprisingly some opposition by those who continued to hold on to their beliefs and practices, however Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity on January 21st 1549 and the Book of Common Prayer was required to be in use by Whit Sunday, June 9th of the same year. Following the passing of the Act, Protestants felt that the Book of Common Prayer was too traditional and easy for Roman Catholics to re-interpret. This perception was not misplaced and conservative clergy did find loopholes, making adaptions so that the services were close to the original Mass.
In some parts of the country, the introduction of the Book was particularly unpopular and led to the Prayer Book Rebellion, which largely took place in the West Country, but also saw unrest in the West Midlands to Yorkshire. The Rebellion was not only in reaction to the prayer book; the rebels demanded a full restoration of pre-Reformation Catholicism. They were also motivated by economic concerns, such as enclosure. In East Anglia, however, the rebellions lacked a Roman Catholic character. Kett's Rebellion in Norwich blended Protestant piety with demands for economic reforms and social justice.
Very soon after the Book of Common Prayer came in to use a revision was made, which was authorised when a new Act of Uniformity was passed in April 1552. However, following King Edward’s Vi’s death in 1553, there was a return to the Roman Catholic liturgy during Mary I’s reign. When Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1559, the 1552 Book of Common Prayer came back into to use, with some minor changes. When James I came to throne there were some more minor changes. The English Civil War saw the Book abolished for a second time and then it returned to use in 1662 with further modest changes. The 1662 version continues to be used up to today for the main use in church services. In the late twentieth century there were some alternative forms introduced, which technically are supplements.
According to the Church of England’s website today the ‘Anglican family consists of tens of millions of Christians’. These believers are spread across over 165 countries where the Book of Common Prayer is still largely used, some 469 years are in first came in to use.
These scenes were built by James Pegrum as part of a series of models on English Reformation. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Cnut the Great
Cnut the Great, also known as Canute, was crowned King of England on January 6th 1017 in Old St. Paul's Cathedral, London. He would later also gain the thrones of Denmark (1018) and Norway (1028) and ruled over what is often referred to as the North Sea Empire until his death in 1035. He is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the waves, which usually misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour.
Cnut was a son of the Danish prince Sweyn Forkbeard, who was the son and heir to King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark. Sweyn became King of Denmark and Norway in 986 and raided England between 1002 and 1012. In 1013 he even led his forces in a full scale invasion. During this invasion England’s King Æthelred the Unready, and his sons Edward and Alfred, fled to Normandy, so on Christmas Day 1013, Sweyn was declared King of England.
However, Sweyn died on February 3rd 1014 and while his Elder son Harald II succeeded him as King of Denmark, Cnut was declared King of England by the Norse people of the Danelaw. The English nobility however recalled Æthelred from Normandy and the restored English king swiftly led an army against Cnut, who was forced to flee with his army to Denmark. There, supported by his brother, Cnut succeeded in assembling an army of around 10,000 men and a fleet of some 200 longships with which to launch another invasion. In the summer of 1015, they set sail.
Following a bloody campaign, in late 1015 Wessex submitted to Cnut and in early 1016 his army was able to cross the Thames, moving northwards across eastern Mercia. Æthelred’s son, Edmund Ironside retreated north to join Uhtred, Earl of Northumbria and together they returned south and harried Danish allies in western Mercia. Cnut however occupied Northumbria, forcing Uhtred to return home to submit himself to Cnut, who sent a Northumbrian rival, Thurbrand the Hold, to assassinate Uhtred and his retinue.
Edmund was now in London, where he was elevated to king on the death of Æthelred on April 23rd 1016. While the Danish attempted to lay siege to the city, Edmund managed to break out to gather an army and battles were fought at Penselwood in Somerset and Sherston in Wiltshire. Edmund was even able to temporarily relieve London, driving his Fanish enemies away and defeating them after crossing the Thames at Brentford. This was at a heavy cost to his army however, and he was forced to retreat to gather more men. Cnut’s forces were also unsuccessful in their siege and were driven off by an attacking English army.
On October 18th 1016, Edmund was decisively defeated in the Battle of Assandun in Essex, though a further battle would still need to be fought near the Forest of Dean to bring about a conclusion. In this Edmund was wounded and so on an island near Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, Cnut and Edmund met to negotiate terms of peace. It was agreed that all of England north of the Thames was to be the domain of the Danish prince, while all to the south was kept by the English king, along with London. Accession to the reign of the entire realm was set to pass to Cnut upon Edmund's death, who then conveniently died a few weeks later on November 30th. Cnut was left as king of all of England.
Cnut ruled England for nearly two decades. The protection he lent against Viking raiders restored the prosperity that had been increasingly impaired since the resumption of Viking attacks in the 980s. In turn the English helped him to establish control over the majority of Scandinavia. He is generally remembered as a wise and successful king of England, although this view may in part be attributable to his good treatment of the Church, keeper of the historic record.
Following the death of his brother Harald in 1018, Cnut united the English and Danish Kingdoms. In 1023, taking advantage of Cnut’s commitment to England, the Norwegian king Olaf Haraldsson began to launch attacks on Denmark. Cnut was forced to sail from England and fought an army of Norwegians and Swede’s in the Battle of the Helgeå, probably in 1026. His victory there left him as the dominant leader in Scandinavia.
In 1027, Cnut referred to himself as king of "the Norwegians, and of some of the Swedes" and stated his intention to secure peace between the kingdoms of Scandinavia. The following year, he set off from England to Norway with a fleet of about fifty ships. Olaf Haraldsson stood down, unable to put up any fight as his nobles had already abandoned him. And so, Cnut was crowned king, now of England, Denmark and Norway as well as part of Sweden and what became known as the North Sea Empire reached its greatest extent. Olaf Haraldsson attempted to retake Norway, but was killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.
Cnut died on November 12th 1035. In England, he was succeeded by his son Harald Harefoot while, his other son Harthacnut succeeded in Denmark. In 1040 Harthacnut would also succeed to the English Throne, following the death of his brother. Norway passed to Magnus the Good, an illegitimate son of Olaf II.
These scenes were built by James Pegrum and Dan Harris as part of a series of models on the Kings and Queens of England. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.
Safe Anchor - Plymouth Harbor
On this day in 1620 the Mayflower, having crossed the Atlantic and reached Cape Cod, dropped anchor in Plymouth Harbor. It would be here that those on board, the so called Pilgrims and Strangers, would establish their new community and England's newest colony. The task would be an arduous one and they would need to fall on the charity of the local native Americans to see them through.
This is our final blog of 2020 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's voyage. We will return in next year with lots more content, but for now we wish you a happy Christmas and a Happy New Year and the hope that 2021 will be a better year for everyone.
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Third Time Lucky!
With the second exploration of December 7th returning no possible site for settlement the passengers of the Mayflower discussed what to do next. It was agreed that they should sail south and explore the coast of Cape Cod Bay an. On December 16th, a group left on the shallop, which was piloted this time by Robert Coppin and John Clark, rather than Captain Jones. From amongst the Pilgrims were Bradford and Standish. By now the temperatures were below freezing and along with illness those onboard the Mayflower were suffering. On board the shallop the salt spray froze on their coats
On their journey the explorers once again spotted the elusive natives, who were working away at a beached bulbous-headed black whale. When they made their way ashore, they built themselves a barricade and a fire and settled down for the night. About four miles away they could see smoke from another fire.
With the new day some explored on land while others went along the coast in the shallop. Again, they found graves and empty native dwellings. That night the two groups met at a tidal creek (today known as Herring River) and again built themselves a circular barricade.
They posted guards who woke the group around midnight shouting “Arm! Arm!”. In the moment, some muskets were fired and then all went quiet. A sailor, whose name we do not know, but had visited the area before, helped ease the groups fear when he shared his experiences of similar noises of wolves and so the group went back to sleep. In the morning after they got ready and as they were taking their weapons and armour to the shallop they suddenly heard another “great and strange cry”; one of the group who had been in the woods came out shouting “Indians, Indians”. Then the air was full of arrows. Those who had guns nearby grabbed them and started shooting away. Standish was aware that ammunition was short and told the men to stop shooting until they could see their opponents. Meanwhile those whose guns were down by the shallop went to retrieve them. The natives took their chance and trapped them behind the boat. The skirmish between the two groups went on for a short while with the natives eventually withdrawing. The explorers followed for a short while and then returned, fortunately nobody had been hurt. And so, the First Encounter had taken place (the site is still known as First Encounter Beach in Eastham).
Once back onboard the shallop the explorers headed along the south coast of Cape Cod Bay, during which time the weather got worse. With the wind picking up and the temperatures around freezing they became drenched by the freezing horizontal sleet and salt spray. As they made their way along the coast a sudden wave hit them, tearing the rudder off the shallop. It took two men and a long oak oar to get the boat back under control. As night came it became harder to control the shallop and the news that their aimed for destination was in site, a place called Thievish Harbor, which is thought to actually be Plymouth Harbor, cheered them up. Then, another disaster, the mast broke into three pieces which had to be gathered up along with the sodden sail. They were now dependent on rowing and soon realised that they were drifting off course towards a wave pounded beech, which they had to avoid.
It was now getting dark and they came across what they would latter discover was an island. After some discussion they decided to land and make a big fire instead of stay on the boat, a decision that spared them a night on board the shallop which had been subject to a hard nights frost. They spent the next day, Saturday, on the island, which was named Clark Island, after John Clark, who had been the first to set foot on it. Over the next day they cut down the straightest tree they could find and made a spar to replace the splintered mast. With the next day being Sunday they rested as it was their sabbath.
They commenced their exploration on the Monday and found that the harbor would be suitable for ships the same size as the Mayflower. They explored the land in the area that is now Plymouth and found a site that had good water supply, fields that were cultivated and signs that there had been no recent native settlement. They had now found the site they would settle and so they headed back to the Mayflower with the good news. On their return William Bradford was met with the sad news that his wife Dorothy had slipped overboard and drowned and that night he went to sleep with mixed emotions.
As a post note, it has become legendary that the Pilgrims first stepped onto a rock, now known as Plymouth Rock, when they landed in the area on Monday. However, this was not recorded by those who were on the Mayflower and the first records appear from 1774. Since then, the rock has become an American symbol of the nation's founding.
BLOG TO THE PAST
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