Author: Matthew Cook


Today we discuss the life of one of the well-known characters in Native American History: Pocahontas.  In popular culture, she is considered to be a princess.

While the exact birth year of Pocahontas is unknown, historians have estimated it to have been around 1596. The basis for this is from A True Relation of Virginia where John Smith had described the Pocahontas he had met in the spring of 1608 as ten years old.

Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the prime chief of Tsenacommacah, an alliance of about thirty Algonquian-speaking groups and petty chiefdoms in Tidewater, Virginia. Very little is known about Pocahontas’ mother other than she was one of the dozens of wives taken by Powhatan. In the traditional histories of their people, Pocahontas’ mother died in childbirth.

At the time she was born, it was common for Powhatan Native Americans to be given several personal names. They usually had  more than one name at a time, had secret names that only a select few knew, or to change their names on important occasions. While an odd custom by our standards, Pocahontas lived when this was the norm. Early on in her life, she had a secret name: Matoaka. This means “Bright Stream Between the Hills”.  Later on, she was also known as Amonute. No known translation of this name was found.

The name of “Pocahontas” was a childhood nickname that was given due to her frolicsome nature. Her name translated to “little wanton” or even “playful one” in their dialect.

The story wherein she is most well-known for is saving Captain John Smith. This English colonist arrived in Virginia with a hundred other settlers in April of 1607. In December of the same year, Smith was captured by a hunting party led by Powhatan’s younger brother Opechancanough and was brought to the capital at Werowocomoco.

It was later in 1616 that in a letter written to Queen Anne that John Smith told what had happened while he was in captivity and how he came to be released. He told the queen that it was Pocahontas who braved getting killed herself and asked her father to set him free.

Most historians doubt the credibility of the tale as Smith latter on made another account of a similar event occurring to him when he was captured by Turks in Hungary. So it is the belief of most historians that Smith was saved but not with the dramatics that he had earlier told. It was probably with the intent of producing a more dramatic account of his encounter with Pocahontas as a heroine worthy of reception by Queen Anne.

Pocahontas was captured during the first Anglo-Powhatan War. It was a conflict between the Jamestown settlers and the Native Americans that began late in the summer of 1609. She was tricked aboard Captain Samuel Argall’s ship and was held for ransom. Argall demanded the release of English prisoners held by her father, along with various stolen weapons and tools.

Powhatan returned the prisoners but was not able to satisfy the colonists with the number of weapons and tools he returned. So Pocahontas was kept in captivity. It is here that historians debate on the fact whether or not Pocahontas was raped. As in the oral traditions handed down over four centuries, it is asserted that she was and that she had borne a child.

It was also this time in captivity that she was indoctrinated into the Christian faith. When she underwent baptism, she took the Christian name Rebecca. It was also during this time that she met John Rolfe.

She married him in April 5, 1614. It was said that he married her for the sake of his tobacco plantation and for the purpose of “saving her soul”. It is unknown how she felt toward John Rolfe. Their marriage prompted a psuedo-peace and the end of the first Anglo-Powhatan war. The English then decided to bring her to England to be the symbol of the tamed New World savage and the success of the Jamestown settlement.

Her father still tried to get his daughter back but to no avail. It is said that he died before he laid eyes on his favorite child. In March 1617, John Rolfe and Pocahontas boarded a ship to return to Virginia. She was struck with an illness and died.

While the exact reason of her death is unclear, it is postulated that it was either pneumonia, smallpox, or tuberculosis.

The Odd Life of Kim Jong-nam

The name Kim Jong-nam recently dominated world headlines once again as reports of his assassination spread. For those unfamiliar with him, Kim Jong-nam is the elder half brother of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.

As the eldest son of former leader Kim Jung-il, he was made heir apparent in 1994 yet lost favor in 2001.

Early Life

Kim Jong-nam was the son of Kim Jong -il and Song Hye-rim. Song Hye-rim is one of the three women who is factually known to have a child by the old leader. At the time, Kim Jong-il had wanted to keep his affair with Song a secret. Their liaison was not favored by Kim Il-sung, the leader of that time, so Kim Jong-nam was kept out of school.

Instead, the young Kim Jong-nam was sent to live with his mother’s sister, Song Hye-rang, who was willing and able to educate him in her home. From Song Hye-rang’s reports, it was plain that Kim Jong-nam shared the same personal attributes as his father. She called him hot-tempered, sensitive, and quite gifted in the arts.

Much like his brother, Kim Jong-nam was also interested in film making. He was purported to have made several scripts and short films despite his young age.

As Heir Apparent

It was in 1998 that Kim Jong-nam was appointed to a senior position in the Ministry of Public Security of the DPRK. This was a precursor to his eventual position of being future leader. It was also reported that he was assigned as the head of the DPRK Computer Committee. This particular department was fully responsible for developing North Korea’s information technology industry.

Despite all this, it was rumored that he had no desire, in truth, to succeed his father.

The Tokyo Disneyland Issue

It was on May of 2001 that Kim Jong-nam was arrested as soon as he arrived at the Narita International Airport of Japan. At the time, he was accompanied by two women and a four-year-old boy who was later identified as his son.

The issue was that Kim Jong-nam was travelling using a forged Dominican Republic passport using a Chinese alias, Pang Xiong. After his short detention in Japan, he was deported to China where he was quoted to have been destined for Tokyo Disneyland. In light of the furor that occurred because of this, Kim Jong-il canceled his trip to China over the embarrassment of the event.

It was shortly after this incident that it was rumored that Kim Jong-nam fell out of favor with his father. In 2003, the Korean People’s Army began a propaganda campaign under the slogan “The Respected Mother is the Most Faithful and Loyal Subject to the Dear Leader Comrade Supreme Commander”. This propaganda was made to benefit Ko Young-hee, another woman who had sons with Kim Jong-il.

At the time, Kim Jong-nam was living in Macau for an extended period which strongly lent credibility to the claims that he was to be overlooked in favor of his younger brother, Kim Jong-un.


Much later, Kim Jong-nam wrote an email to the editor of the Tokyo Shimbun and said, “After I went back to North Korea following my education in Switzerland, I grew further apart from my father because I insisted on reform and market-opening and was eventually viewed upon with suspicion. My father felt very lonely after sending me to study abroad. Then my half brothers Jong-chol and Jong-un and half sister Yo-jong were born and his adoration was moved on to them. And when he felt that I’d turn into a capitalist after living abroad for years, he shortened the overseas education of my brothers and sister.”


It was on February 13, 2017 that Kim Jong-nam was assassinated in Malaysia by two unidentified women. He was on a return trip to Macau at the low-cost carrier terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The method of his murder is still unclear.

Malaysian police confirmed that Kim Jong-nam had died while being transferred from the airport to the Putrajaya Hospital. He is survived by his six children.

Isabella I of Castile

Isabel I de Castilla was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Avila on April 22, 1451. She would grow up to be queen of Castile and Aragon. Alongside her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, their reign was a pivotal turning point for the Iberian Peninsula. It was their marriage that solidified the two kingdoms of Castile and Aragon. They shared power equally and established a code of law which strengthened the monarchy and enable the toppling of the power that the nobles held within their kingdom.

A pious Catholic all her life, she made it her mission to regain the final Muslim-ruled territories and fully conquer Spain. She was held responsible for creating the Inquisition. She had citizens, even the Jews and the Muslims, convert into Catholics or be expelled from the country. While this was marked by history as a misplaced religious zeal which destroyed what was a remarkable religious tolerance and co-existence, at the time she was lauded for her dedication to the Catholic faith–particularly by the pope.

For her time, Isabella was quite forward thinking when it came to her marriage and the role she would play. She entered into the marriage with Ferdinand with a prenuptial  agreement that stated she would be on equal terms. She would be a ruling monarch in her own right. In historical texts, it was marked how she would ride into battle in full armor and how the majority of their army looked to her for morale and leadership. It was believed that her rule had the blessing of God.

Her rule forced the mass exit of Jews and Muslims and their immigration to lads throughout Europe and North Africa; others “converted” yet practiced their real faith in secret were hunted down and purified by the Inquisition.

Isabella, once establishing peace, sought forth to progress the empire and funded Christopher Columbus and his explorations. These exploits of his led in Spain’s overseas empires and Spanish domination of Europe for the next century. This also led to the mass Christianization of the people of Latin America and the use of Spanish as the base language of millions.

Her achievements were many and great. Spain was wholly united. The power in the country was held by and centralized by the crown and no longer under the yolk of nobles. She rehabilitated the finances of the Spanish crown which was left in heavy debt under the reign of her brother Henry IV. With this as a foundation, Isabella and her husband created a legal framework for their country and The Catholic Church was successfully reformed. Through her children, she made splendid political alliances which allowed her to outflank France.

Despite this, there were several points in their rule that left quite the bad impression. The Inquisition and its intolerant treatment of religious minorities was famous for its cruelty. When the Muslims left, they took with them their advance knowledge in medicine. As a result, when plagues and illnesses wreaked havoc on local towns, populations were decimated.

Isabella officially withdrew from governmental affairs on the 14th of September 1504 and several weeks later, passed away. Several decades later, there were talks about her being canonized as a saint but that was left with much opposition from Jew organizations. While this is still being debated on in Rome, there really is no doubt that she was a woman her made her mark in history.

Neferneferuaten Nefertiti

Nefertiti was an Egyptian queen whose name has stood the test of time. She is arguably one of the more well-known Egyptian historical figures despite this, there is very little that is actually known about her. Regardless of the mysteries that surround her personage, stories of her beauty and power serve as a beacon to allure scholars and researchers to this day.

There are several rumors about Nefertiti that refuse to die like she was the Mitanni Princess Tadukhipa—this was disproved as Tadukhipa was already married to Akhenaten’s father and there was no other evidence to suggest why the princess would need to alter her name. There are some historical evidences that surface to suggest that Nefertiti came from a town called Akhmim. Nefertiti held many titles which include Hereditary Princess, Great of Praises, Lady of Grace, Lady of Two Lands, Great King’s Wife, Lady of all Women, and Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt.

She was thrust into the international limelight when her bust, which was crafted in 1345 BC, was found in the workshop of Thutmose in 1912. It currently resides in the Berlin’s Neues Museum.

It was believed that Nefertiti married Akhenaten when she was just 15 years old. Certain hieroglyphics depicted that the couple ruled together from 1353 to 1336 BC. Other records also indicated that their marriage had born six daughters. Although there is no concrete evidence to yet support the idea, some theorize that Nefertiti and Akhenated had a son. One of their daughters, Ankhesenamun, would eventually marry her half-brother Tutankhamun.

One of Nefertiti’s well known accomplishments is her active role in the establishment of the Aten (the sun) cult.  The pharaoh’s name was originally Amenhotep IV which was changed to Akhenaten to honor their deity. Even Nefertiti’s name shifted to Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti which means “beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come”. This was a show of her absolute devotion to their deity and their religion.

A reason why Nefertiti’s legend endures to this day is because of all the power she was said to have wielded during her time. Her husband was said to go to great lengths to show his subject that his queen was his equal. She is depicted wearing the crown of a pharaoh in some uncovered murals and in others she is even seen smiting her enemies in battle. One popular theory about Nefertiti is that she became the ruler Neferneferuaten; although, this is still highly up for debate.

A curious occurrence, however, was that around 12 years after the many reliefs that depicted Nefertiti and her accomplishments—all trace of her disappears. It is uncertain as to why; some scholars go as far as to speculate that she was exiled when the worship of Amen-Ra became popular once again. Another theory was that she fell into disgrace and discredited.

While there is never a lack of rumors and theories about Nefertiti’s death and burial, or what is that truly became of her, it is to be noted that her remains have never been formally found or identified. This is probably why the legend and allure of Nefertiti will continue on until we have more concrete answers to quench our thirst.

What does Brexit mean for Europe?

What does Brexit mean for Europe?

As Britain gears up to exit the European Union before the end of 2017, Europe and the rest of the world eagerly wait to see what the impacts of the exit will be. The E.U. is a political and economic partnership between 28 European nations. It has over the recent years, however, experience some discord as distrust and founds its way among the union’s members. The distrust is a key reason for Britain’s decision to break from the association.

The move to exit did have its fair share of support and disapproval with a few being undecided. The Electoral Commission, with the approval of Cameron, did a poll based on the question – if the U.K. should exit or remain in the E. U. The outcome of the referendum has 45.6% of the respondents support the exit and 54.4% voted for the United Kingdom to stay. The exit is a big move, one that Britain says it will not back out from and will ensure there are no attempts to rejoin the European Union in future.

The U.K will have two years to determine come up with solid terms of its exit. And, after the exist, the nation will have a few more years to forge new economic relationships with the remaining European Union countries. The process of establishing new economic partnerships and agreements with the those left in the consortium may take around ten years. As such, new and existing enterprises in Britain may face uncertain times in the few years to come.

On top of the issues raised that lead to the exit is that of immigration. Many British citizens raised concerns about the influx of immigrants into the country, which has affect various economic elements such as housing and availability of jobs. The refugee crisis fueled the growing push for the exit. As such, Brexit would have a significant impact of immigration and this would see some notable changes in the existing immigration laws and policies for the U.K. and which would affect the rest of Europe.

What direction things take remains only to be seen after Brexit takes effect. The European Union members and other European nations as well as the rest of the world are keen on knowing where Britain stands (what kind of relationship it has with the E.U.).

The impacts of Brexit on the United Kingdom and the larger Europe will mostly be felt in the economy. The breakaway will solicit positive and negative outcomes much of which will be based on how the consortium members and the rest of the world will react after the exit. A majority of the E.U. members fear that issues of job losses and economic uncertainty will be Britain’s undoing after their exit from the union.

On the positive side, the exit will mean that Britain will have a more freedom to trade with other nations and global companies. Businesses in other parts of Europe and the world, both new and existing, will be more inclined to trade with Great Britain. Emerging enterprises in the E.U. nations will, however, be reluctant to do business with British companies.

King Tut Ancient Egypt


In thе уеаr 1922, the tоmb of a Phаrаоh wаѕ unсоvеrеd in the сеmеtеrу of the Pharaohs оf ancient Egурt. In the Vаllеу of the Kings оf Egурt and fоr the vеrу fіrѕt tіmе, this tomb thаt wаѕ unсоvеrеd wаѕ still sealed.

Thе tоmb thаt wаѕ discovered wаѕ thаt оf King Tutankhamun (Kіng Tut) a young Phаrаоh whо succeeded his fаthеr, Akhenaten tоwаrdѕ thе еnd оf the 18th Dуnаѕtу. Durіng the king’s 9 year rulе hе rеѕtоrеd Thebes (Luxor) аѕ the Cаріtаl оf Egурt аnd also rеѕtоrеd the wоrѕhір оf Amon.

Prеvіоuѕ Egyptologists were nоt іntеrеѕtеd in fіndіng thіѕ particular kіng’ѕ tоmb аѕ thеу already рrеѕumеd thаt іt wоuld соntаіn poor соntеnt. At the tіmе thіѕ tоmb was dіѕсоvеrеd іt was presumed that thаt Vаllеу of Kіngѕ had уіеldеd all іtѕ’ tombs, but Lоrd Cаrnаrvоn, a wеаlthу Englishman, thought differently, аnd he wаѕ соnvіnсеd thаt thеrе wаѕ аn іntасt tomb.

A mаn nаmеd Hоwаrd Cаrtеr hеаdеd Lord Cаrnаrvоn’ѕ Team аnd hе worked dеdісаtеdlу fоr ѕіx ѕеаѕоnѕ. Abоut 200,000 tоnѕ оf rubble were mоvеd, аnd hе Howard Cаrtеr was fоrсеd tо believe that thеrе wеrе nо mоrе tombs to be unсоvеrеd in thе Valley of the Kіngѕ; hоwеvеr, there wаѕ оnе last remote rеgіоn, аnd this аrеа was a ѕіtе іmmеdіаtеlу bеnеаth thе tоmb of Ramses VI. The аrеа wаѕ covered wіth wоrkmеn’ѕ huts and Howard hаd his mеn remove thеm.

In thаt year, a dооrwау of a tоmb wаѕ fоund at thе bоttоm of thе ѕtерѕ around the area, the seals оf thе tombs еvеn арреаrеd tо bе іntасt. While Lоrd Cаrnаrvоn wаѕ іnfоrmеd about the dіѕсоvеrу рrераrаtіоnѕ wеrе mаdе tо ореn thе nеw tomb. When thеу finally еntеrеd the tоmb, іt еxсееdеd thеіr wіldеѕt drеаmѕ.

Althоugh, Lоrd Cаrnаrvоn аttеndеd the ореnіng оf the tomb, he nеvеr lіvеd to see thе full contents of thе tоmb. The dеаth of Cаrnаrvоn was lіnkеd to ‘Thе Pharaoh’s curse – a sting frоm a mosquito.

Kіng Tutankhamun аt hіѕ tіmе was the last оf his fаmіlу line, and hіѕ tоmb wаѕ fіllеd wіth family trеаѕurеѕ аѕ wеll as hіѕ оwn. Many оf the pieces found іn hіѕ tоmb wеrе tаkеn frоm thе Royal Tеmрlеѕ of Tеl El Amаrnа, і.е.thе рrісеlеѕѕ rоуаl throne іn the Egурtіаn Muѕеum ѕhоwіng the kіng bеіng аnоіntеd bу hіѕ wіfе with a bасkgrоund оf thе Atеn, thе ѕуmbоl оf his fаthеr Akhеnаtеn’ѕ hеrеѕу. The kіng rеnоunсеd his father’s tеасhіngѕ but саrrіеd thе pieces to hіѕ grаvе wіth thе artifacts lеft іn his tоmb.

Mаnу оf thе vаѕеѕ аnd ѕсерtеrѕ belonged to his fаthеr’ѕ rеіgn. Sоmе of thе оbjесtѕ were lаtеr proved tо have been mаdе for Semnekh-Ka-Ra, Akhenaten’s son-in-law. This also included a lаrgеr shrine, ѕоmе mummу оrnаmеntѕ, аnd thе mіnіаturе соffіnѕ.

Thе tomb wаѕ uѕеd еаrlу аѕ a result оf thе Kіng’ѕ sudden dеаth аt a very tender аnd уоung age. It is ѕо оbvіоuѕ thаt thеrе wаѕ not еnоugh tіmе tо finish thе tоmb. And іt іѕ still very unlikely thаt it will еvеr bе knоwn іf thе Kіng dіеd bу ассіdеnt оr wаѕ murdеrеd.