Born: c. 1595 near present-day Jamestown
Died: March 1617
Pocahontas, the Indian princess born around 1595 was the favorite
daughter of the powerful chief, Powhatan, who ruled over an expansive
area that included what we now know as Virginia. Pocahontas is known
for aiding the English in their attempts to settle the North American
continent and for becoming one of the first Native Americans to
be accepted and honored in Europe.
Pocahontas is said to have saved the life of John Smith, one of
the first English settlers, in 1607. It is not clear whether the
ten-year-old girl actually did offer her own life to save his or
whether this famous tale is a myth. She did, however, become a close
friend of John Smith after he helped save the colony from starvation
and immediate failure. Pocahontas continued to help the Jamestown
colony even after Smith returned to England in 1609 and after her
father and the English were no longer on friendly terms.
In 1613 Pocahontas was captured by Captain Samuel Argall who hoped
to ransom her in exchange for English prisoners and weapons, which
were in Powhatan's possession. During her captivity, Pocahontas
was treated as a royal hostage and learned a great deal about English
culture. She was baptized in 1614 and received the Christian name,
Rebecca. Powhatan, meanwhile, did not grant the English wishes and
war between the two cultures continued.
It was not until Pocahontas asked for Powhatan's permission to marry
an Englishman named John Rolfe, whom she had met during her captivity,
that her father made peace with the English. With Powhatan's permission,
Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married on April 5, 1614 - a marriage
that created an important political alliance between the English
and Powhatans until Powhatan died in 1618.
In 1616, Pocahontas and John Rolfe, together with their son Thomas
(born 1615) and several Indian men and women, traveled to England.
In England, Pocahontas was introduced to King James I and Queen
Anne and became the center of attention in English society. She
had her portrait painted by famous artists and was reunited with
her friend John Smith
Pocahontas became deathly ill just as she and her family planned
to leave England in 1617. She died in March 1617, at only 21 years
of age, and was buried in Saint George's churchyard in Gravesend,