Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is most remembered for popularizing tobacco in England. His plan in 1584 for colonization in North America ended in failure at Roanoke Island, but paved the way for subsequent colonies. Though a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I (he was knighted in 1585) he secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting in 1591 without the Queen's permission and he and his wife were sent to the Tower of London. After his release, they retired to his estate at Sherborne, Dorset. In 1594 Raleigh heard of a "City of Gold" in South America and sailed to find it. After Queen Elizabeth died (1603) Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower, this time for allegedly being involved in the Main Plot against King James I. In 1616 he was released to lead a second expedition in search of El Dorado. This was unsuccessful and men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost. He returned to England and, to appease the Spanish, was arrested and executed, beheaded, in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster in 1618.
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