Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1554 in Hayes Barton, Devonshire. In 1569, he fought with the Huguenots (French Protestants) in the wars of religion. Later on, he went to Oriel College, Oxford, and Middle Temple, which is a law school in London. In 1580, he participated in suppressing the Irish Rebellion; this caused him to be introduced at court where he became a favorite of Elizabeth I. Raleigh had an imposing personality, which came from a combination of his dark hair, lofty forehead, resolute bearing, courtly manners, and spirited wit. However, he could also be haughty, and because of his pride and impatience he made many enemies, so he could never be admitted to the Queen's Counsel in matters of state. Queen Elizabeth I asked many favors of him, gave him large properties within Ireland, and finally in 1585 he was knighted. In return Raleigh took over several responsibilities of important positions that the queen appointed him to.
In 1595, Raleigh headed an expedition to the Guiana region on the north coast of South America to search for El Dorado, the legendary ruler of a region abounding in gold and jewels. During this same year he joined an expedition against Cadiz, Spain.
Raleigh's popularity with the queen started to decline when she found out he married one of her maids of honor, Elizabeth Throckmorton. After Elizabeth I died, James I became King and Raleigh's situation grew worse. James I thought Raleigh worked against him becoming king, so he took away Raleigh's positions and privileges.
Raleigh was arrested in 1603 and sent to the Tower of London. After an unfair trial, he was sentenced to death for conspiring against the king's life. However, his gallant bearing brought public opinion to his favor and the sentence was suspended. He spent thirteen...