On 25th March 1584, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, letters patent were granted to Walter Ralegh giving him “free liberty and licence… to discover, search for, fynde out and view… landes, countries and territories”, for the benefit of himself, “his heyres and assignes forever.”
It went on to describe these territories: “such remote heathen and barbarous lands countries and territories not actually possessed of any Christian Prince and inhabited by Christian people”, and as Nancy Bradley Warren points out in her book “Women of God and Arms”, Elizabeth I and her government were not only granting Ralegh the right to colonise lands owned by the indigenous people, they were also giving him the right to take lands held by Spain, as they didn’t view Catholicism as true Christianity.
Recently, on YouTube, I answered Tudor Society member Real Tudor Lady’s question on the books and TV series, A Discovery of Witches, examining whether the School of Night (School of Atheists) really existed. I thought I’d go into it in a bit more detail for Tudor Society members, and also share some further reading resources.
On this day in history, 29th October 1618, in the reign of King James I, Elizabethan courtier, explorer, author and soldier, Sir Walter Ralegh (Raleigh, Rawley, Ralagh, Rawleigh) was executed in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster Palace.
Ralegh had led an eventful life. He’d been a favourite of Elizabeth I – except when he secretly married her lady, Bess Throckmorton – but had been imprisoned in the Tower of London on several occasions, he’d been accused of atheism at one point, had sailed to America and tried to establish a colony, he was knighted for his service in Ireland, and he was a poet too!
Find out all about Sir Walter Ralegh’s colourful life in today’s talk.
Here is a brief bio or factfile of Sir Walter Ralegh, the famous Elizabethan explorer:
Birth – c1552, perhaps 22nd January, in East Budleigh, Devon, England.
Parents – Walter Ralegh and Catherine Champernowne, niece of Kat Ashley, governess and friend of Elizabeth I. Catherine was married twice and Ralegh’s father (also Walter) was her second husband.
Siblings – Ralegh’s mother had sons from her first marriage and from her second marriage, a total of five. Three of Ralegh’s half-brothers were prominent at the Elizabethan and Stuart Court – John, Humphrey and Adrian Gilbert. His brother, Carew Ralegh, was also prominent.
A fun quiz on Sir Walter Ralegh.