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Home / History / Life in Stuart times/Civil War (1603-1713) / Rulers & Famous People / Sir Walter Raleigh
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Sir Walter Raleigh


524 x 640
1576 x 1923

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Portrait by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1585. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 � 29 October 1618), was a famed English writer, poet, courtier and explorer. He was responsible for establishing the first English colony in the New World. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London on 19th July and tried on 17th November, for treason due to his supposed involvement in the Main Plot against King James. Raleigh conducted his defence with skill but was found guilty. King James spared his life and he was left to languish in the Tower of London until 1616. While imprisoned, he wrote many treatises and works. In 1616, he was released in order to conduct an expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. During the expedition, Raleigh's men, under the command of Lawrence Keymis, sacked the Spanish outpost and Raleigh's son Walter was struck by a bullet and killed. On Raleigh's return to England, the Spanish ambassador demanded that King James reinstate Raleigh's death sentence. The Spanish ambassador's demand was granted. Raleigh was beheaded with an axe at Whitehall on 29 October 1618. After Raleigh's execution, his head was embalmed and presented to his wife. She carried it with her in a velvet bag until she died twenty-nine years later and it was returned to Raleigh's tomb at St Margaret's.

5th Aug 2007 by Diane Earl


Key Stages:
Foundation, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

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