Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh was an English landowner, statesman, soldier, writer, and explorer. He founded two colonies in the land that he named Virginia, after Elizabeth I, called the Virgin Queen.

Not much is known about Raleigh's birth, but it is believed that he was born in 1552 (or 1554). His family was protestant and repeatedly had to hide from the Catholic queen of England, Mary I. Once, his father had to hide in a tower to avoid execution.

Later in his life, Walter Raleigh fought in the Desmond Rebellions, after he won the victory against the Spanish and Italians, he was granted 40,000 acres of Ireland (around 0.2% of the country), including the town of Younghal and the village of Lismore.

In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I gave Raleigh a charter to explore, colonize, and rule any “remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countries and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian Prince or inhabited by Christian People”. In return, Raleigh would give the English State one-fifth of all the gold and silver mined there. Raleigh had seven years to establish a settlement.

Raleigh never visited North America, but he sent settlers there. The first colony died out because it didn't make enough profit. Next, Raleigh sent another colony, which settled on Roanoke Island.

Unfortunately, the colonists ran out of food, and their leader, John White, went back to England. He was delayed because of the Spanish Armada. After England's victory over the Spanish, White went back to Roanoke Island, where he found the colony deserted.

In 1594, Walter Raleigh found a Spanish document telling of a great city of gold, called El Dorado. He went searching for this fabled city, but didn't find it (probably because it didn't exist). However, on the way, he pillaged some Spanish settlements, and was executed for that in England (England and Spain now had peace).