Raleigh was an outstanding example of the versatile renaissance man. Though he was active in the service of Queen Elizabeth for over ten years, his importance lies more in his other accomplishments than in his influence upon her. He was a poet, a dabbler in music and science, a historian, a pirate, a landowner, a member of Parliament, and a coloniser of the New World.
He was several times imprisoned in the Tower of London - the first time, in 1692, at the Queen's displeasure over his having seduced one of her ladies-in-waiting. Later, during James I's reign, he spent fifteen years in the Tower on a charge of treason. While there, he wrote and performed scientific experiments. He finally obtained his release to go on an expedition to find gold in South America. Raleigh disobeyed instructions on the journey, and also failed to find gold. Upon returning to England he was again charged with treason, and beheaded.
contributed by Gifford, Katya
15 March 2002