Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh (/ˈrɔːli/, /ˈræli/, or /ˈrɑːli/; ca. 1554 – 29 October 1618) was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.

Raleigh was born to a Protestant family in Devon, the son of Walter Raleigh and Catherine Champernowne. Little is known for certain of his early life, though he spent some time in Ireland, in Killua Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, taking part in the suppression of rebellions and participating in the Siege of Smerwick. Later he became a landlord of property confiscated from the native Irish. He rose rapidly in the favour of Queen Elizabeth I, and was knighted in 1585. Instrumental in the English colonisation of North America, Raleigh was granted a royal patent to explore Virginia, which paved the way for future English settlements. In 1591 he secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, without the Queen's permission, for which he and his wife were sent to the Tower of London. After his release, they retired to his estate at Sherborne, Dorset.

In 1594 Raleigh heard of a "City of Gold" in South America and sailed to find it, publishing an exaggerated account of his experiences in a book that contributed to the legend of "El Dorado". After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower, this time for allegedly being involved in the Main Plot against King James I, who was not favourably disposed toward him. In 1616 he was released to lead a second expedition in search of El Dorado. This was unsuccessful and men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost. He returned to England and, to appease the Spanish, was arrested and executed in 1618.

Raleigh was one of the most notable figures of the Elizabethan era. In 2002 he featured in the BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

Read more about Walter Raleigh:  Early Life, Ireland, The New World, Trial and Imprisonment, Execution and Aftermath, Poetry, Legacy

Famous quotes by walter raleigh:

    Go, Soul, the body’s guest,
    Upon a thankless arrant:
    Fear not to touch the best;
    The truth shall be thy warrant:
    Go, since I needs must die,
    And give the world the lie.
    —Sir Walter Raleigh (1552?–1618)

    Our passions are most like to floods and streams,
    The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb.
    —Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618)