You know I had just left off writing about Tucker’s Wharf at Marblehead and my own weird daydream of having a micro-country of the same name. I should now get back to talking about Martha’s and my visit to New England in 2022.
But...sorry...I’m going to digress one more time because I was writing about the Crimean Tartars and I remembered something about New England that I think is really cool. Specifically, there may have been more than one “New England.”
Here’s the tale. You know how our New England, the one in North America, was named by John Smith. Well, supposedly, long before Johnny came up with his “New England,” there was another one...and it was supposed to have been in (no kidding) what is today Crimea, or at least somewhere on the Black Sea coast.*
About the images: First, here we have an map of the Black Sea. You can see Crimea at the upper middle of the map. It isn’t a huge place, but it has played an enormous role in world affairs.
Second, here’s a close-up of Crimea. I’ve tried to highlight the area that may...repeat *may*...have been the site of Niew Englaland, if such a place ever existed. (And note, this is just my personal guess as to where Anglo-Saxons coming from the west and the north would have been most likely to settle.)
And, finally, a shot of Martha because I just happen to like it. It dates from 2015 or there’s about, and it shows her in the Sandia foothills in Albuquerque.
The story goes (and this much we’re sure about) when the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom fell to the Normans in 1066, some of the Anglo-Saxons fled to Europe. A few of them went quite a distance...all the way to Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) and ended up serving the Byzantine emperor in the famed Varangian Guard. That much is certain.
But there is also at least some evidence...not much, but some...that as a reward for their service, some Anglo-Saxons were granted lands in what was then imperial territory somewhere on the northeastern coast of the Black Sea. This settlement was supposedly called “New England” (Nīwe Englaland, a.k.a., Nova Anglia) and, also supposedly, it lasted long enough to at least give Old English place names to various spots on the Crimean peninsula. (Once again, a peninsula. Do we have a theme here?)
Is any of this true? Well...that’s really hard to say. Niwe Englaland might have existed, or it might have just been a story written up a few centuries later by people who had a thing about Normans.
But, wow! Even if it is just a story, what a story it is!
Next time, I’ll actually get back to our own adventures in “New England.” But I just couldn’t do so without a quick visit to the (maybe mythical) Niwe Englaland.
More to come.
* For details of the supposed Anglo-Saxon colony on the Black Sea coast, see the following Wikipedia entry:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_(medieval)
But, in addition, check out these interesting sites on Niwe Englaland: First, “The medieval 'New England': a forgotten Anglo-Saxon colony on the north-eastern Black Sea coast,” which can be found on the blog of Dr Caitlin Green, an historian who frequently posts on some of the lesser known aspects of British history: https://www.caitlingreen.org/2015/05/medieval-new-england-black-sea.html
Second, give a glance at Stephen Liddell’s piece, “Nova Anglia – The Anglo Saxon refugees who built the original New England on the Black Sea,” which can be found here: https://stephenliddell.co.uk/2020/07/01/nova-anglia-the-anglo-saxon-refugees-who-built-the-original-new-england-on-the-black-sea/. Liddell is an author and tour guide who also blogs on British history.
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