16th century

Discovering the Lost Colony of Roanoke

Twenty years before Jamestown was founded, over 100 women, men, and children came to Virginia to try their luck at starting a colony. They arrived on the stormy shores of what we know now as North Carolina. They were not the first to land there. Two years before, another group of colonists, all men, gave up trying to settle Roanoke Island and sailed back to England. The supply ships arrived too late to save the abandoned first colony, but they left behind fifteen soldiers to mind the fort who soon vanished into the wilds, driven off by an Indian attack.

The Forgotten History of America: Little-Known Conflicts of Lasting Importance from the Earliest Colonists to the Eve of the Revolution by Cormac O’Brien

The Forgotten History of America by Cormac O'Brien

History, particularly popular history, need not be dull, something that Cormac O’Brien demonstrates readily in his book, The Forgotten History of America. Written in a conversational tone and broken into vignettes, old history is made new when written this way. Even so, it’s not the standard stuff taught in schools. It’s about wars and both sides in those wars, reaching back to the country’s colonial beginnings in the 16th century. With personalities writ large on both sides and a good understanding of the differences in modern and historical society, O’Brien leads his readers on journeys back in time:

It begins with the first permanent European settlement in North America:

1565

Pedro Menedez de Aviles anxiously paced the deck of his flagship, San Pelayo. Two days earlier, off the coast of Florida, he had gone ashore and met with Indians who offered valuable information about the prey he was desperately seeking.  Now, confident of success, he led his five vessels northward along the coastline, scanning the beaches for any sign of European settlement.  The day was September 4, 1565, and Menendez was hunting heretics.

The Dancing Plague: The Strange, True Story of an Extraordinary Illness

By John Waller

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"In the searing July heat of 1518, Frau Troffea stepped into the streets of Strasbourg and began to dance. Bathed in sweat, she continued to dance. Overcome with exhaustion, she stopped, and then resumed her solitary jig a few hours later. Over the next two months, roughly four hundred people succumbed to the same agonizing compulsion. At its peak, the epidemic claimed the lives of fifteen men, women, and children a day. Possibly 100 people danced to their deaths in one of the most bizarre and terrifying plagues in history.

"John Waller compellingly evokes the sights, sounds, and aromas; the diseases and hardships; the fervent supernaturalism and the desperate hedonism of the late medieval world. Based on new evidence, he explains why the plague occurred and how it came to an end... ."

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Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony

By Lee Miller

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"... provides clear and convincing explanations for the disappearance of the late 16th-century British settlement on Roanoke Island off North Carolina. In probing Native American land disputes and intrigue, Miller uncovers the reasons for the colonists' disappearance. Miller's prose is commanding as she speculates on what really happened to the colonists after they left Roanoke and on the inevitability of their leaving. An ethnohistorian and anthropologist, Miller authoritatively removes the fog she claims was intentionally wrapped around this mystery."
Publishers' Weekly review

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Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth Century England

By Kathy Lynn Emerson

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Sixteenth-century England was scarcely a paradise for anyone by modern standards. Yet despite huge obstacles, many sixteenth-century women achieved personal success and even personal wealth. This is a resource for all interested in this time-period.

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The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England: From 1485-1649

By Kathy Lynn Emerson

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"If your writing takes you into the England of the Renaissance, you've surely researched the period's sweeping cultural changes. But the Renaissance is a large tapestry, and it is the often-elusive day-to-day details you weave into your work that bring characters, settings and actions to life. You'll find your details here. In a book that's like a telescope through time, Kathy Lynn Emerson takes you to 1485-1649 England, to show you how people lived. You'll discover fashions of the day, including codpieces for men, bodices for women - many items with some assembly required; what people ate, table customs, and the ubiquity of alehouses in the land; family life, the elaborate customs of courtship and marriage, the problems of infidelity; what the Royal Court was like; the litigious society that was Renaissance England - and the punishments meted out; the work, food and discomfort of seafarers engaged in commerce or piracy; causes for celebration - the major religious and secular festivals; life in the cities and the rural areas, and much more."

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The Reign of Elizabeth I

By Carole Levin

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"...looks at the difficulties Elizabeth and England faced during a time
of war and economic distress, and great social and cultural changes. During this time, England became a Protestant nation, and though Elizabeth tried to keep peace, by the end of her reign England was involved in a war with Catholic Spain. The period was also significant culturally and socially, as gender expectations changed and Shakespeare's plays were part of a great cultural development."

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The Elizabethan Renaissance: The Life of the Society

By Alfred Leslie Rowse

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"Presents the daily lives of members of the different social classes in Elizabethan England. Includes a section on Elizabeth's fascination with the occult."

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The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

By Garrett Mattingly

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"Chronicling one of the most spectacular events of the sixteenth century, The Armada is the definitive story of the English fleet's dramatic defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The esteemed and critically acclaimed historian Garrett Mattingly explores all dimensions of the naval campaign that captured the attention of the European world and played a deciding role in the settlement of the New World."

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The Six Wives of Henry VIII

By Alison Weir

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"Weir has tirelessly made her way through the entire labyrinth of Tudor history to tell the collective story of the six wives of Henry VIII--a vivid, full-blooded portrait of six very different women--in a work of sound and brilliant scholarship."

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