Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh (1552–1618) was a man with a violent temper, who lived a long and eventful life. He is probably best known today for founding the colony of Virginia and introducing tobacco into Europe. In his own time he was known for his dramatic sense of life, his extravagant dress, and his great popularity with Queen Elizabeth.

Raleigh was a “Renaissance man”; i.e. a man interested in all forms of knowledge and activity. As well as being a poet, historian, courtier, student of science and philosopher, he was also a soldier and sailor in the wars against Spain. When James I became king, he wanted peace and therefore had Raleigh thrown into the Tower of London in 1603 on false charges of treason. In 1618 Raleigh was executed.



  1. Look up more on the life of Sir Walter Raleigh. Then write an essay in which you present evidence for the claim that he was a “Renaissance man”.
  2. Can you find examples of other persons in Europe in this era who shared Raleigh's wide field of interests? These might be painters, sculptors, architects, scientists, philosophers – or some combination of any of these!

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Sist oppdatert: 08.05.2008

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