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Portrait engraving by Simon de Passe, 1616
Birthday/Birthplace Matoaka, later known as Amonute
c. 1596
Werowocomoco, present-day Gloucester County, Virginia
Deceased March 1617
Gravesend, Kent, Kingdom of England
Resting place St George’s Church, Gravesend
Credit for Association with Jamestown colony, saving the life of John Smith, and as a Powhatan convert to Christianity
Wife/Husband John Rolfe (married 1614–17)
Kid(s) Thomas Rolfe (son)
Parent(s) Wahunsenacawh/Chief Powhatan (father)

Pocahontas (1595, Virginia – March 21, 1617, London) was the eldest daughter of Chief Powhatan, head of the Algonquin confederation in Virginia. In the Algonquian language her real name was Matoaka , but she was known by her nickname “Naughty.” Her life has been taken to the movies several times: Terrence Malick’s New World (2005), The Legend of Pocahontas, by Danièle J. Suissa and in two Disney animated films, Pocahontas (1995) and the sequel Pocahontas II (1998). In her last stage and in her last years of life, Pocahontas was known and renamed as Lady Rebecca Rolfe , and thus she stopped calling herself Pocahontas when she married John Rolfe. He had a son with this one, named Thomas Rolfe.

Pocahontas’s Biography

Little is known about his childhood, only that his father was the chief Powhatan and that his mother (from a tribal vassal group) was called Nonoma Winanuske Matatiske, and that after giving birth she was expelled from the tribe and died a little later, as was common at that time.

Relationship with John Smith

Painting representing Pocahontas saving the life of Sir John Smith, exhibited at the Library of Congress of the United States.

The only portrait of Pocahontas made in life, an engraving made in London in 1616 by Simon van der Meer.

In April 1607, when he was 11 years old, English settlers arrived in the territory later known as Virginia and began the construction of a series of settlements in the area. The tribe led by the father of Pocahontas kidnapped a settler leader named John Smith and was taken to one of the villages of the Powhatan Empire called Werowocomoco. Then, when Smith was about to be executed on a stone, Pocahontas jumped on him to protect him.

The only version that there is of the facts are those contributed by the own Smith and from the decade of 1860 these facts are put in interdict. One of these reasons is that, despite having published two books on Virginia, it was not until ten years later when he wrote a letter to Anne of Denmark, Queen of England, begging him to give Pocahontas a proper treatment. Throughout that decade, it is thought that John Smith exaggerated or even invented the story for the benefit of his friend. Other experts suggest that everything was a confusion: although Smith believed he had been saved, the fact he witnessed was a ritual in which death and rebirth were symbolized as part of the tribe. In Love and hate in Jamestown, David A. Price thinks it’s just a guess because of how little is known about this tribe.

Be that as it may, this fact initiated a friendship between Englishmen and natives. Pocahontas, along with other children of the tribe, approached “every 4 or 5 days to bring Smith such a provision that they managed to save many of the lives that were deteriorated by hunger.” But, the colonists increasingly extended further and the Native Americans began to feel that their lands were being invaded and conflicts re-emerged.

In 1608, at the age of 13, Pocahontas warned Smith and his family that the invitation they had received from their father to visit Werowocomoco was a trap to kill them. A year later, Smith was wounded by a gunpowder explosion and was forced to return to England for medical care. The version given to the natives was that Smith had been kidnapped by a French pirate and had died. Version that Pocahontas believed until he met Smith again in England, this time as John Rolfe’s wife.

According to William Strachey, Pocahontas was married before 1612 to a warrior of his tribe named Kocoum, not knowing anything else about his marriage. About a possible affair between Smith and Pocahontas does not have any very concrete historical evidence, since this only appears in the works of fiction made by producers like Walt Disney, who establishes a loving relationship with Smith, deciphering that they did not have anything as serious as to take it to a specific event.

The capture

In March 1613, Pocahontas lived in Passapatanzy, a village of the Patawomeck, a Native American tribe that had made deals with the Powhatan. When the English settlers arrived there they discovered Pocahontas and, after setting a trap, they kidnapped her. The objective was to use it as a hostage: the Powhatan had English hostages and Pocahontas would be their currency. Wahunsenacawh released the prisoners, but failed to satisfy the time to deliver the amount of weapons and cargo. Meanwhile, Pocahontas waited at Henricus, in modern Chesterfield County. Little is known of his stay there, only that Ralph Hamor described it as an extraordinary bargain and that an English minister named Alexander Whitaker taught him about Christianity and was baptized Rebecca. It was also during this stage that he learned and perfected his English.

In March of 1614 a strong war between English and natives was unleashed. In Matchot, the English settlers had several native hostages and asked Pocahontas to speak with those of his tribe to reach an agreement. At that moment she decided that she would not, that she preferred to live with the English, because her father valued her less than old swords, bills, coins and axes.

Marriage with John Rolfe

The baptism of Pocahontas, painting by John Gadsby Chapman (1840). It shows Pocahontas being baptized by Alexander Whiteaker in Jamestown, Virginia, through Anglican baptism.

During his stay in Henricus, Pocahontas met the widower John Rolfe and he fell in love with her. Rolfe, who had cultivated some success with a new variety of tobacco in Virginia, had some misgivings to marry a pagan like Pocahontas, so he wrote a letter to the governor asking for permission to marry her and with his love would be saving his soul. What we do not know is the opinion and feelings that Pocahontas felt towards him. The wedding took place on April 5, 1614 through the Catholic marriage and she was renamed Lady Rebecca. They lived in one of his plantations and on January 30, 1615 Thomas Rolfe was born.

Although the marriage did not get the English settlers back, it did create a peaceful climate between Jamestown and Powhatan for some years. The same man who called Pocahontas extraordinary treatment now said that “we had a friendly trade and we did not market only with the Powhatan, but also with their subjects.”

Trip to England

The sponsors of the settlers in Virginia began to have difficulties attracting new settlers and investors to Jamestown. They therefore used Pocahontas as evidence that “the natives of the New World could be tamed.” Even so, in 1616 the Rolfe family traveled to England and arrived at the port of Plymouth on June 21, traveling to London by carriage. Accompanied by a group of eleven natives, including Tomocomo, they arrived in the city where John Smith lived and where she discovered that he was still alive. He wrote a letter to Queen Anne in which he requested that Pocahontas should be treated with the respect of a royal visitor. And that is how Pocahontas and Tomocomo went to the Palace of Whitehall, during the reign of Jamesof England in 1616.

The reunion and death

Matoaka Whittle Sims, born in 1844 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, descendant of Pocahontas.

After a few months, John Smith and Matoaka (Pocahontas) met again in the streets of England but Matoaka did not say hello; A few days later, she left with her family. Matoaka died of a strange fever (it is believed that of tuberculosis) with only 21 years. His funeral took place on March 21, 1617 in the parish of St. George, in Gravesend (Kent). Fourteen years later, John Smith died.

The site of his tomb is believed to be below the presbytery of the church, although since the church was destroyed by fire in 1727 his exact tomb is unknown. In 1923, the American journalist and activist Edward Page Gaston obtained permission to excavate to recover his remains and repatriate them to the United States but found nothing.On the outside of the church, there is a statue of Pocahontas made in bronze by the sculptor American William Ordway Partridge.

More Facts about Pocahontas

The Pocahontas’s statistics like age, body measurements, height, weight, bio, wiki, net worth posted above have been gathered from a lot of credible websites and online sources. But, there are a few factors that will affect the statistics, so, the above figures may not be 100% accurate.

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