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
Irish rebellion in
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
Whether or not it is true that he doffed
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
the fairy tale nature of their relationship. She, in turn, bestowed
on him a wine monopoly, a knighthood and a vast
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
in honor of Elizabeth, who was known as "the Virginia Queen."
off the coast of
became host to
the legendary Lost Colony)
that failed, but out of them grew the potato, which was brought to
and the plant the Spaniards called tobacco.
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
but found no
place on the throne, Raleigh was once more imprisoned in the
Tower of London,
this time on the trumped-up
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
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
and, on October 29, 1618, beheaded.
*To view a timeline of Sir Walter Raleigh's life click
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This site was last updated
08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400