Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Welcome back to History Undressed, guest author, Nancy Lee Badger! Her article today is fascinating and of particular interest to me as it is about an Tudor courtier in Queen Elizabeth I's court. Enjoy!

By Nancy Lee Badger

Looking back, it seems that every article I have written for History Undressed has had a Scottish theme. Even before I sold my first historical paranormal, DRAGON’S CURSE, set on a Scottish island, I have loved everything about Scottish culture. But, I discovered historical society of a different sort, here in my adopted town of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Those who know me know the story. I ‘retired’ from public service at New Hampshire 9-1-1 and moved away from the snow and ice to a southern climate where I now write fulltime. My husband and I had visited Raleigh several times. Both of my sisters had moved here and it occurred to me that something had changed since our first visit.

The new Raleigh Convention Center is the diamond in the downtown’s revitalization plans. My sister and I drove into the city so she could register for a veterinary workshop. While driving by the front entrance, in search of a parking spot, there it stood…a larger than life bronze statue of the city’s namesake, Sir Walter Raleigh.

He used to be across town. That’s where I snapped his nighttime photo many years ago. How did he get here? (I have since discovered these new digs are the statue’s fourth home.)

Then I thought about the reason why his statue graced the newest building in downtown Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. I dug around and came up with some interesting facts. Many tidbits of information confused me. I always thought of him as a larger-than-life hero for Queen Elizabeth. He was an English aristocrat, poet, writer, and explorer. The man has been romanticized in TV and movies. Did you see Simon Jones when he played Raleigh on the BBC sitcom Blackadder II in 1986? What about Clive Owen’s portrayal in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a 2007 film? Unfortunately, his life was also full of wrong turns.

Born in England in 1552, he had a hand in suppressing rebellions and participated in a massacre in Ireland. Strike one.

He was put in charge of the first colonization of the “Colony and dominion of Virginia”. Settlers landed on Roanoke Island, an area that includes present day Virginia and North Carolina. This ended poorly when all the colonists disappeared off the face of the earth. To this day, they are remembered as The Lost Colony. Strike two.

Sir Walter was well known for popularizing tobacco in England. Strike three.

He secretly married one of Queen Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, a big no-no, which earned him a stay in the tower of London. Strike four.

After the Queen’s death, he stood accused of participating in a plot against King James I. This ended in a lengthy stay in the bloody tower. Strike five.

When finally freed, he made two attempts to discover South America’s “City of Gold”, better known as El Dorado. Having no luck, his men ransacked a Spanish outpost. When he returned to England, he was arrested and beheaded in 1618. Yer out!

All is not lost. He had his great moments, too. Though wounded, he aided in the capture of the Spanish city of Cadiz. He was a member of parliament for both Dorset and Cornwall. He became governor of the Channel Island of Jersey. He wrote Volume 1 of The Historie of the World. He wrote poetry, such as The Lie and The Ocean to Cynthia. I cannot confirm the story everyone knows: Raleigh supposedly laid his cloak down to cover a puddle so that the Queen would not muddy her shoes. Was there a romance between these two powerful people? We might never know, but Sir Walter Raleigh DID write, “Romance is a love affair in other than domestic surroundings.”

Is this why he traveled the world? Is this why he adored Queen Elizabeth yet fathered children with two other women? My point is, like Sir Walter’s meandering statue, I have ‘lived’ in various locations. I hope we both have found our home in Raleigh, North Carolina. I also believe in another quote attributed to my new friend, Walter.

I can’t write a book commensurate with Shakespeare, but I can write a book by me.”

Thanks for the advice, Walter. I have!

For more information on Sir Walter Raleigh, his statue, or his poetry, check these links:





Nancy Lee Badger is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and Sisters in Crime. She has four published novels and also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Nancy Lennea: http://www.nancylennea.com/.

Website: http://www.nancyleebadger.com/

Blog: http://www.rescuingromance.nancyleebadger.com/

DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing

Buy link: http://whispershome.com/erotic/romance/dragons-curse/


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Great post. I also appreciate Walter's advice!

Nancy said...

I was thrilled to see he coined a phrase every romance author should post on his/her wall! Hubby and I plan to go check out the rest of this city. It really is a lovely place to live.

Artemis said...

Great post today. I've enjoyed exploring Raleigh, NC. Need to get back there some day.

Christi Barth said...

Fascinated to read this - family legend has it that we're descended from Raleigh. My aunt has spent 30 years mired in geneology trying to prove it. After reading your post, I'm not so sure he's such a great addition to the family tree!

Sandy said...

Thanks for the information.
I love this sight and cruse its contents often.
Sandy R.

Maeve said...

I had no idea Sir Walter had so many "strikes". Thanks for the interesting post, Nancy.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

How interesting how history was adjusted in this man's sake. It's one of the reasons I love history so much - you never know what your're going to dig up.

Chicks of Characterization said...

Great post! I have a friend that lives in Raleigh, and had always wondered if there was a connection! Now I know!! Thanks so much for sharing! Enjoy your exploration!!!


Lorrie said...

Hi Nancy,
Research really digs up the dirt, doesn't it?
With all those strikes against him ,it makes people wonder about others in our history books.
A fun read. Thanks so much for sharing.

Obe said...

Of course I can't find it. But I remember reading that Raleigh's widow carried his head around on a pillow to dinner parties to get back for the beheading. I'm hoping some type of preservation was done. But she would ask for a place to be set beside her for her husband. If it's legend, then its a fine one. I think Raleigh's half brother was Gilbert who was one of Elizabeth's Sea Dogs. Good post. We in Virginia thank you for it.


Nancy said...

Thanks for all the great comments. I wrote this mainly because I now live in Raleigh. When I came upon his quote about writing HIS book, and not worrying about Shakespeare, I was thrilled!

zyphax@gmail.com said...

Very interesting!