A landmark work of narrative history that shatters our previous Eurocentric understanding of the Age of Discovery by telling the story of the Indigenous Americans who journeyed across the Atlantic to Europe after 1492
We have long been taught to presume that modern global history began when the "Old World" encountered the "New", when Christopher Columbus “discovered” America in 1492. But, as Caroline Dodds Pennock conclusively shows in this groundbreaking book, for tens of thousands of Aztecs, Maya, Totonacs, Inuit and others—enslaved people, diplomats, explorers, servants, traders—the reverse was true: they discovered Europe.
For them, Europe comprised savage shores, a land of riches and marvels, yet perplexing for its brutal disparities of wealth and quality of life, and its baffling beliefs. The story of these Indigenous Americans abroad is a story of abduction, loss, cultural appropriation, and, as they saw it, of apocalypse—a story that has largely been absent from our collective imagination of the times.
From the Brazilian king who met Henry VIII to the Aztecs who mocked up human sacrifice at the court of Charles V; from the Inuk baby who was put on show in a London pub to the mestizo children of Spaniards who returned “home” with their fathers; from the Inuit who harpooned ducks on the Avon river to the many servants employed by Europeans of every rank: here are a people who were rendered exotic, demeaned, and marginalized, but whose worldviews and cultures had a profound impact on European civilization.
Drawing on their surviving literature and poetry and subtly layering European eyewitness accounts against the grain, Pennock gives us a sweeping account of the Indigenous American presence in, and impact on, early modern Europe.
About the Author
CAROLINE DODDS PENNOCK is one of the world’s leading authorities on the Aztecs. Trained at Oxford, she is senior lecturer in international history at the University of Sheffield. Her study of Aztec human sacrifice, Bonds of Blood, won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize in 2008. She has appeared on history series for the BBC, Netflix, and the Science Channel, and has written for BBC History Magazine, History Today, and Scientific American.
"On Savage Shores is a work of historical recovery . . . few books make as compelling a case for such a reimagining" —David Olusoga, GUARDIAN, Book of the Day
"In On Savage Shores, Dodds Pennock has performed a monumental work of historical excavation. Beautifully written and painstakingly researched, this is first-rate scholarship" ―Suzannah Lipscomb, FINANCIAL TIMES
"A thrilling, beautifully written and important book that changes how we look at transatlantic history, finally placing Indigenous peoples not on the side-lines but at the centre of the narrative. Highly recommended" —PETER FRANKOPAN
"Dodds Pennock's unpeeling of the indigenous experience from obscure manuscripts . . . is a much-needed and refreshing take on our all-too Eurocentric telling of the past" ― Andrea Wulf, THE TIMES OF LONDON
"On Savage Shores is mind-blowing, and it's an important contribution to struggle for a fair and more balanced telling of history - I felt genuinely enlightened. Dodds Pennock is a truth teller of the highest order, and a first class communicator. This is how history should be told" —BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH
"On Savage Shores offers a welcome non-Eurocentric narrative about how the great civilisations of the Americas discovered Europe . . . an important book" ―INDEPENDENT
"An untold story of colonial history, both epic and intimate, and a thrilling revelation, not about the invasion of the Americas by Europeans, but the journeys of Indigenous people to Europe. Caroline Dodds Pennock is the perfect guide, cannily and eloquently shifting the axis of global history away from its Eurocentric grip" —ADAM RUTHERFORD
"Caroline Dodds Pennock's utterly original book is chock full of remarkable stories . . . there is much to enjoy in this unusual history of a forgotten corner of our past" ―DAILY MAIL
"Deftly weaves diverse and fascinating tales of the exciting adventures, complex diplomatic missions, voyages of discovery, triumphant incursions, and heartbreaking exploitations - of the many thousands of Indigenous travellers to new lands. Essential reading for anyone interested in how the events of the "Age of Exploration" shaped the modern world" —JENNIFER RAFF, author of ORIGIN
"Inspiring and important . . . Expertly researched, convincingly argued, erudite yet readable, and introduces new readers to the reality of Indigenous American experience" ―HISTORY TODAY
"Caroline Dodds Pennock offers a remarkably fresh and compelling account of the so-called Age of Discovery. Whether arriving as ambassadors or enslaved, these travellers experienced Europe as a new and disorienting world: a place of shocking violence and perplexing social norms. Pennock, a leading authority on Indigenous Mexico, tells their stories with insight and humanity. A must read" — BRETT RUSHFORTH, author of BONDS OF ALLIANCE: INDIGENOUS AND ATLANTIC SLAVERIES IN NEW FRANCE
"Pennock has pieced together hundreds of fragments to create a new and remarkable portrait of the travellers who crossed the Atlantic not to the Americas but from them, and who found in Europe a strange, often hostile, sometimes intriguing society, vastly different from their own" —CATHERINE FLETCHER, author of THE BEAUTY AND THE TERROR
"[A] fascinating and fluidly written revisionist history . . . This innovative and powerful account breaks down long-standing historical assumptions" ―PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review
"An impressive and consequential act of research and interpretation that consistently acknowledges the profound and ongoing . . . fissure caused to indigenous identities by colonisation, enslavement, violence and displacement." ―GEOGRAPHICAL