Dark Territory by American-born and Wales-based author Jerry Hunter is set in the seventeenth century around the period of the English Civil War, and highlights the fact that the violence associated with religious extremism is not a new issue.
‘It is relatively well known that during his bloody military campaign in Ireland Oliver Cromwell approved the wholesale slaughter of civilians in Wexford and Drogheda because they were Catholics,’ said Jerry Hunter, ‘but less attention has been given to another massacre suffered at his forces’ hands.’
‘This is the story of the Women of Naseby, a dark episode of Welsh history which has been surprisingly absent from popular histories,’ he said.
After the Battle of Naseby in June 1645 the Parliamentarian cavalry, in pursuit of fleeing Royalists, came upon the Royalist camp and a large group of women. Hearing them screaming in an unknown tongue, the English soldiers assumed they were Irish Catholics, and cut them down in cold blood.
But in fact these women were crying out in Welsh – most of Wales had declared for the King, and these were the wives of soldiers in Welsh Royalist regiments who had followed their husbands to war to cook and wash for them, as was the custom at that time. Despite over a hundred of them being killed on the spot, and the faces of others mutilated, their fate has largely been forgotten.
Dark Territory’s protagonist is a zealous Welsh Puritan whose beliefs initially lead him to embrace Parliament’s cause and the violence of Cromwell’s New Model Army, but whose conviction is tested by these atrocities.
Described as ‘an epic historical adventure set during one of the most turbulent periods in history’, the novel also poses questions about violence, power, religious extremism and rejection of difference which are chillingly relevant to our world today.