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In the mid-sixteenth century, Spanish explorers in the Chesapeake region kidnapped an Indian teenager and took him back to Spain, a common occurrence at the time. What was uncommon in this case was that the young man eventually came back.

During his time abroad, the boy lived in Madrid, Seville, Havana, and Mexico City, becoming a favorite of King Philip II and converting to Catholicism in the process. In fact, his faith grew so strong, he said, that he felt compelled to help establish a Jesuit mission to save the souls of his people back in Virginia-but shortly after the group arrived in the New World, he abandoned his fellow missionaries, rejoined his family, and soon returned with a small band of warriors to slaughter the Europeans.

In the years that followed, he became the warrior chief known as Opechancanough, and alongside his brother Wahunsonacock (father of Pocahontas), he solidified their people’s control of coastal Virginia, making the Powhatans the most powerful Indian chiefdom on the mid-Atlantic seaboard. Under their reign, the region remained free of European settlers until 1607, when English colonists arrived in Jamestown. But this was not so unbalanced an encounter as many have supposed. Because of his time among the Europeans, Opechancanough was acutely aware not only of the English settlers’ technological capabilities, but also of the fierce determination with which they would pursue their invasion of his homeland.

As time passed, the two chiefs sought to drive the invaders out, and mounted a series of attacks that nearly destroyed the colony at Jamestown. But the English settlers proved more resilient than the Spanish missionaries had been forty years earlier. Additional soldiers, weapons, and provisions arrived from England, forcing Opechancanough to drag his offensive on for decades. He survived to be nearly a hundred years old and died as he lived, fighting the invaders.

A Brave and Cunning Prince is the first book to chronicle the life of Opechancanough, exploring his early exposure to European society and his lifelong fight to protect the integrity of his homeland. With engrossing storytelling, deep research, and surprising insights, A Brave and Cunning Prince will be vital reading for anyone seeking to understand the charged early encounters between the indigenous peoples of North America and the settlers who would bring death and destruction.