Raleigh, Sir Walter

Raleigh, Sir Walter

biographical name

(born 1554?, Hayes Barton, near Budleigh Salterton, Devon, Eng.—died Oct. 29, 1618, London) English adventurer and favourite of Elizabeth I. He joined his half brother Humphrey Gilbert on a piratical expedition against the Spanish (1578) then fought against the Irish rebels in Munster (1580). His outspoken views on English policy in Ireland caught the attention of Elizabeth I, who made him her favourite at court. In 1584 he sent an expedition to explore the coast north of Florida, which he named Virginia, and to establish an unsuccessful colony at Roanoke Island. He was knighted by Elizabeth in 1585. Out of favour at court from c. 1592, he led an unsuccessful expedition up the Orinoco River in search of gold, which he described in The Discoverie of Guiana (1596). When Elizabeth died (1603), he was accused of plotting to depose James I and was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Released in 1616, he led another unsuccessful expedition to search for gold in Guyana. When his men burned a Spanish settlement, he was rearrested by James and executed, at the demand of the Spanish ambassador, under Raleigh's original sentence for treason.

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