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Renaissance Man

The Renaissance Man, Sir Walter Raleigh, is acclaimed to be one of the

greatest poets, explorers, and soldiers during the Renaissance era. Raleigh was

born in 1554 in Hayes Burton, Devonshire, England to Walter Raleigh of Fardell

and Katherine Gilbert (Raleigh, Internet).

Raleigh fought in the Wars of the Religion in France on the French Protestant

side in about 1569. Afterwards, Raleigh attended both Oriel College at Oxford

and Middle Temple Law College at London but did not finish at either school

(Raleigh, Internet). In 1578, Raleigh and his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert

went on voyages of discovery and raided ships for goods. Two years later, Walter

Raleigh became the captain of the army in Ireland in 1580. (Sir, Internet 2) He

fought and suppressed an Irish rebellion, which in turn led Raleigh to be

introduced to the Queen Elizabeth (Walter, Compton).

The attention of the Queen of England helped Sir Walter to gain remunerative

monopolies, property, and powerful positions. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth knighted

Walter Raleigh and he became Sir Walter Raleigh. This put Raleigh in a position

to charter an expedition to America but the Queen would not let him lead any

expeditions in person. Therefore Raleigh sent out expedition after expedition

because of wanting to found an American colony. Three colonies were subsequently

founded in America although none of them survived. These expeditions pioneered

the road for later settlements. When Raleigh’s followers returned from the New

World, they brought back tobacco and potatoes to Europe (Walter, Compton).

Raleigh also led an expedition to Guiana in search of the fabled "El

Dorado", the city of gold. This trip was unsuccessful in finding the city

of gold but a famous book, " The Discoverie of Guiana", resulted from

his adventures (Raleigh, Encarta).

Later, Raleigh lost the favor of the extremely jealous Queen by secretly

marrying one of her maids of honor, Elizabeth Throckmorton. When Queen Elizabeth

the 1 died, James I took the throne and revoked many of Raleigh’s privileges and

offices due to suspicion that Raleigh had worked against him in becoming king.

In 1603, Raleigh was jailed in the Tower of London. He was given a trial for

supposedly conspiring against the king’s life and was condemned to death. The

public was in favor of Raleigh though and the sentence was suspended. (Walter,


During his 13 years in the Tower of London, Raleigh worked on "The

History of the World" for King James’s son, political philosophy, and

became a skillful poet. In 1616, Raleigh convinced King James to release him for

an expedition to Orinoco River to bring back gold from a mine he knew of. During

the expedition at the Orinoco River, Raleigh’s men fought against the Spaniards

while Raleigh was helpless with a severe fever. King James had Raleigh arrested

again in order to remain on good terms with Spain. On October 29,1618, Raleigh

was put to death under his old sentence, which had never been revoked. His head

was embalmed and then given to his wife, Elizabeth, who kept it for twenty-nine

years until the day, she died. Raleigh’s head was then buried with her body.

(Sir, Internet 1)

In conclusion, Raleigh led a well-rounded life. He was an excellent explorer,

an excellent scholar, a renowned poet, and a great soldier. These are the

reasons why Raleigh is referred to as "The Renaissance Man."

"Raleigh, Sir Walter." Encarta Encyclopedia. 1993-1999. CD-ROM

"Raleigh, Sir Walter." 1999-2000: n-pag. On-line. Internet. 31.

Oct. 2000.

Available WWW: wysiwyg://12/http://www.britannica.com/bco?62546,00.html?query=sir%20walter%walter%20raleigh

"Sir Walter Raleigh." 1999. On-line. Internet. 31. Oct. 2000.

Available WWW:


"Sir Walter Raleigh." October 1999: n-pag. On-line. Internet.


2000. Available WWW: wysiwyg://DDIRECTXYZZY2.12/http://www.binternet.com/~richard.towers/jim/raleigh.html

"Walter Raleigh." Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. 1994-95.


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