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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.
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.
"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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