We’re very excited to launch the Ladies of Magna Carta blog tour with a guest post from Sharon Bennett Connolly. We hope you enjoy following the tour!
A Brief History of the Suppression Campaign
As detailed in my new book, Britain’s War Against the Slave Trade, during the course of its sixty year existence the Royal Navy’s West Africa Squadron seized approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed an estimated 150,000 Africans. Costing almost £40 million (£2 billion in today’s money) and the lives of around 2,000 seamen, below is a brief history of Britain’s lengthy but ultimately successful suppression campaign.
The subject of my first novel, Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, daughter of Alfred the Great, was someone whose life was somewhat of a paradox. She ruled as a queen but wasn’t given the title. She clearly led a remarkable life but wasn’t much remarked upon. Her story was crying out to be told, yet it was surprising to discover that – and to the best of my knowledge this still holds true – no one else had told that story in the form of a novel.
My subsequent novels featured equally interesting female characters, including Ælfthryth, the woman who is often cited as being the first crowned consort of an English king, and who went on to find herself accused of witchcraft and regicide.
The Black Death: A Medieval Pandemic
In early June 1348 two ships docked at Weymouth in Dorset. They had sailed from the English port of Bordeaux, via the Channel Islands. One vessel was bound for Bristol and just pausing on its journey, but in the meantime both crews disembarked.
Among them were some Gascon sailors who had fallen ill during the crossing and had to be carried ashore. When the sailors were stripped of their clothing, they were found to have strange black cysts about the size of a crabapple in the armpits and groin. The sick men suffered acute pain, with blood and pus oozing from the swellings and dark blotches forming on their skin. Nobody knew what was wrong with them, but within days of landing they were dead. Shortly after they were buried, the rest of the crew began showing similar symptoms and soon followed their Gascon shipmates to the grave.