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Sir Walter Raleigh

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Sir Walter Raleigh was a famous British Explorer and poet that rapidly gained power by courting Queen Elizabeth I with sweet words, earning the spot of becoming one of the Queen’s favorites. Sir Walter Raleigh was born sometime between 1552 and 1554 in Devonshire, a country that specialized in sheepherding and farming (Aronson 13 and Jolsinen). Raleigh was very tall considering the time he was born in being over six feet tall and had a very thick Devonshire accent (Batten). Raleigh had grown up hating the Catholic Church because of because of Queen Mary I executing people to change religions. Sir Walter Raleigh’s last name was pronounced “raw lee” rather than the assumed English pronunciation of it, “raw lay” (Batten and Jolsinen). However, no facts about his life at completely certain until February 1575 where he became a resident at the Temple (Jolsinen). Sir Walter Raleigh was named after his father, Walter Raleigh, who was married to Catherine Champernown.

Sir Walter Raleigh’s half brothers were Sir Humphrey and Sir John Gilbert from his father’s first marriage (Batten); surprisingly, Sir Walter Raleigh was related to Sir Francis Drake due to Catherine being the daughter of Sir Philip Champernow (Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline). Raleigh ended up marrying the queen’s maid of honor, Elizabeth Throgmorton, commonly known as Bessie Throgmorton. Raleigh had two sons, one of them being named after himself and another named Carew. Raleigh also had an illegitimate daughter with a local woman called Alice Goold (Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline). Sir Walter Raleigh caught Queen Elizabeth’s attention by squashing an Irish Rebellion and fighting against the Spanish (Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline and Trueman). Sir Walter Raleigh gained power and wealth by courting Queen Elizabeth I with sweet words. Queen Elizabeth granted him many gifts for his devotion for her; one of her gifts being very profitable wine monopolies in which he grew wealthy from (Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline). In 1583, Queen Elizabeth made Sir Walter Raleigh the grant of the Durham House and by 1584, he was knighted by the queen.

In 1585, the queen made him governor of a new land that was discovered by Amadas and Barlowe that was shortly renamed to “Virginia” in the queen’s honor (Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline). Raleigh stopped a plot named the Babington Plot in 1886 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne. By 1587, Raleigh has been made Captain of the Queens Guard, a notion of trusting Raleigh (Trueman). One important role that Raleigh played was introducing potatoes and tobacco into the Backwater region of Ireland (Jolsinen). Everything was going well for Sir Walter Raleigh until 1592 when Queen Elizabeth found out about his affair with one of the queens maid of honor, Elizabeth Throgmorton, commonly known as Bessie; at the time, Raleigh was on an expedition and had to be called back from his journey. Raleigh lost his special position as one of the queen’s favorites as well as being put under arrest for out of the queen’s anger at his deception (Jolsinen and Trueman). Raleigh was forced to marry Elizabeth Throgmorton if he hadn’t secretly married her already by Queen Elizabeth (Aronson).

Raleigh wasn’t released from the Tower of London until one of his ships he sent out on an expedition brought back loads of treasures from a captured Spanish ship named “Madre De Dios” (Batten and Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline). By the time of his release on the same year, he had already become extremely unpopular for his greed, arrogance, and supposed skepticism in religion in England (Jolsinen). In July 17, 1603, after Queen Elizabeth I’s death, James I took the throne, son of Mary Queen of Scots, who deemed Raleigh guilty of helping Spain put Arabella Stuart on the English throne. Raleigh’s original sentence was to be executed for treason, but the evidence against him had just been very week; Walter Raleigh was thrown back into the Tower of London where he wrote History of the World in peace. Eventually in 1612, Raleigh was released by bribing James I with finding a gold mine in Guiana, which appealed greatly to James due to the fact he was starting to run dry on money (Batten, Jolsinen, and Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline).

Sir Walter Raleigh traveled to Guiana on the terms of not attacking any Spanish settlements or forts; his mission to find the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. However, Raleigh’s mission did not go very well for him considering he spent his remaining money putting the expedition together. Raleigh’s son, nephew, and most trusted captain named Lawrence Keymis accompanied Raleigh, which later lead to an incident with a Spanish fort (Aronson). The journey took nine months to sail to their destination and by that time, Sir Walter Raleigh had a strong fever and was unable to lead his ‘ill-manned’ crew. On the crew’s search for the city they came across an occupied Spanish fort, which under direct orders from king, they are not to trifle with. Raleigh’s son, Walter disobeyed the orders and attacked the fort, getting killed in the action. The journey went on unaccompanied by Raleigh; they searched for days while fighting off the Spanish. The crew came back to Raleigh’s trusted captain informed Raleigh of what had occurred, and due to Raleigh’s anger, Lawrence killed himself.

When Raleigh had finally reached England from his failed mission, he had been ordered to be executed by King James I. On October 28th, 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh had been beheaded for his crew trifling with the Spanish. Sir Walter Raleigh was a famous person of his time, gaining power rapidly by courting Queen Elizabeth with sweet words that appealed to her. His downfall came in 1592, when Queen Elizabeth found out about his secret affair with Elizabeth Throgmorton and was thrown into the Tower of London and was shortly released after. After the successor of the queen came into power, James I, Raleigh was framed got treason, but was saved from execution due to the weak evidence that was being supported. Raleigh bribed James for his release by finding the city of gold, El Dorado, which ended in his crew attacking a Spanish fort. When Sir Walter Raleigh returned from his failed expedition, he was executed for attacking Spanish forces.

Works Cited

Aronson, Mark. Sir Walter Raleigh and the Quest for El Dorado. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 2000 Batten, Jim. “Sir Walter Raeligh” British Explorers. 10 December. 2001. Web. 1 November 2012

Jolsinen, Annina. “Sir Walter Ralegh (1552-1618)” Luminarium Anthology of English Literature. 8 June 2012. Web. 30 October 2012 Trueman, Chris. “Sir Walter Raleigh” History Learning Site. 1 November 2012

“Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline” History Timelines. 20 September 2012. Web. 1 November 2012

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