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Sir Walter Raleigh - Profile of Sir Walter Raleigh

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Sir Walter Raleigh - Profile of Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Wolfster Raleigh - NC Museum Of History Has Fun With Sir Walter Raliegh

(c) David Biondi
The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), a British knight who never actually set foot in central North Carolina , where the city of Raleigh is located. He did, however, encourage the settlement of North Carolina, and played a great role in popularizing the New World's potatoes and tobacco in England and Ireland .

Sir Walter Raleigh led an incredibly adventurous life. Over the course of his 66-year lifetime, he fought alongside Huguenots in France, explored the New World in an effort to find the fabled city of El Dorado, and established the first British colony in North America (Roanoke Island, on the coast of North Carolina).

In addition to squelching uprisings and exploring the world, Sir Walter Raleigh also spent some time studying at Oxford University and wrote several books (including History of the World).

After several military successes, which included commanding a company of troops and massacring Spanish and Italian adventurers, Sir Walter Raleigh became a favored courtier of Queen Elizabeth I. This favoritism dissolved some years later, when Queen Elizabeth I found out about Raleigh's secret marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the queen's maids of honor. The queen imprisoned Sir Walter Raleigh in the Tower of London when she learned the news!

Before he lost the queen's favor, Sir Walter Raleigh benefited greatly from her influence: she granted him vast estates in Ireland and, more importantly, helped him secure shipping routes and the right to establish colonies in the New World . However, Raleigh's multiple attempts to establish the Roanoke Island Colony (in 1585, 1586 and 1587) ultimately failed.

Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I, James I became King of England. The new king was convinced that Sir Walter Raleigh was plotting against him, and had him tried and convicted of conspiracy. Raleigh was once again imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he stayed for over twelve years, even though he had been sentenced to death upon his conviction.

King James I released Sir Walter Raleigh from prison in 1616, on the condition that he would once again sail to the New World in search of El Dorado. Sir Walter Raleigh understood that if his quest was unsuccessful, King James would likely sentence him to death.

In 1617, Raleigh and his crew, including his son Walter, sailed to the New World. During the voyage, Sir Walter Raleigh became very ill and wasn't able to sail to Venezuela as he had planned. He stayed in Trinidad while his son and other crew members continued the voyage. They were unsuccessful. After much turmoil, mutiny and defeat, including the death of his son, Sir Walter Raleigh returned to England empty handed. He was put to death on October 29, 1618.

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