Hello historical fiction writers! What do you think about moving a minor historical figure to a different century, but in the same historical epoch? Maybe this figure was alive too early or late for the other parts of your story, but the setting, political, religious and intellectual climate, technology etc. are not that different from the setting you've chosen for your story. If you do transplant a character to a new century, do you have rules for yourself?

I'm writing a story about the Indian Ocean Trade in medieval times. The period I'm interested in is roughly 800-1199 CE. The time of Sindbad and the Tales of 1001 Nights, after the rise of Islam but before the Mongol conquests and the Black Death. There's a fascinating Jewish woman from Cairo named Wuhsha, a self made billionaire at a time when it was hard for a woman to legally hold much property of her own. I'm leaning towards setting my story in 877 CE, but Wuhsha is alive from late 11thC to early 12thC. In both times, Cairo was trading with India, Java, East Africa and China. Wuhsha's trade was with India, and seems not to have changed much since 877. But Wuhsha's lifetime doesn't match up with other historical events in my chosen time period that form backstory for my other characters. Like the Zanj Slave Rebellion in Iraq, the massacre of foreign merchants in Canton, and the decline of local industries in Java due to Chinese imports.


1 Answer 1


Do you want to accurately portray a certain period in time?

Then make sure that your historical facts are correct. If a trader like Wuhsha has existed at the time you are writing about and trading practices and a trader's live circumstances haven't changed in the meantime, base a character with another name on her. (I don't believe that trading and live circumstances haven't changed in 200 years, but that is up to you to verify.)

Do you want to write a historical romance or adventure story?

Do whatever you want.

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