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Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh

b. 1552 Devon, England d. 1618 London



Courtier, sailor, soldier, poet, historian, politician, explorer, Raleigh was the ultimate well-rounded Elizabethan. In 1580 he suppressed (controlled) the Irish rebellion in Munster, and his participation in the military action won him an introduction at court. His lofty good looks and quicksilver charm, not to mention his turn of mind and phrase, made him an instant hit, and in the afternoon of his life (middle age) he became a favorite of Elizabeth I. Whether or not it is true that he doffed (took off) his gold-and-purple cloak and spread it over a puddle so his Queen might night dirty her shoes, the often told story epitomizes (shows in great detail) the fairy tale nature of their relationship. She, in turn, bestowed (gave) on him a wine monopoly, a knighthood and a vast (huge) estate in Ireland.
Being so central at court afforded Raleigh the opportunity to push for colonization in America, and he himself sent out myriad expeditions. The area explored in 1584 he named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth, who was known as "the Virginia Queen." Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina became host to three settlements (including the legendary Lost Colony) that failed, but out of them grew the potato, which was brought to Ireland, and the plant the Spaniards called tobacco.
In 1595 the queen discovered that Raleigh had secretly married one of her maids of honor, Elizabeth Throckmorton, and for this he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Released later that year, he went at once to the New World in search of El Dorado, which supposedly overflowed with gold. He traveled 300 miles up the Orinoco River but found no treasure.
When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 and James I took her place on the throne, Raleigh was once more imprisoned in the Tower of London, this time on the trumped-up (made up) charge of planning to kill the new monarch. Thanks to public outcry his sentence of death was suspended, but he remained in the Tower with his family and servants until 1616. That year the king freed Raleigh to make good his desperate promise to revisit the Orinoco valley and bring back gold from a mine he claimed to have discovered there. For disobeying orders to attack the Spanish, Raleigh was arrested upon his return to England and, on October 29, 1618, beheaded.


*To view a timeline of Sir Walter Raleigh's life click here.


Below are links and sites for more information on Sir Walter Raleigh.



Sir Walter Raleigh, English Adventurer

About Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh LInks






This site was last  updated 08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400