October 29 - 1618 - The Execution of Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the most famous men of Elizabethan England, at various times a soldier, landowner, poet, pirate, explorer, courtier, and Member of Parliament. Born into a Protestant family in Devon, he first became rich when he suppressed Catholics in Ireland and gained Irish land in return. From there, he became a key figure in Elizabeth's court, which allowed him to sit in Parliament and get a charter to explore the New World. Mostly, Raleigh was trying to enhance piracy against the Spanish, and his most notable achievement in the New World was the colony of Roanoke, which disappeared without a trace. He would become the Governor of Jersey, in the Channel Islands, in order to improve the defenses against further Spanish invasions. He was there when Elizabeth died and was succeeded by her cousin James VI, the King of Scotland, who would be James I of England. He would also instantly arrest Raleigh for his involvement in a plot. Raleigh perhaps just listened to the conspirators, but he still spent 13 years in the Tower of London. In 1616, he was released and allowed to lead an expedition to the Americas, as long as he did not attack the Spanish. Then he did just that, and so on his return James arrested him and sentenced him to death. Raleigh was executed in the Palace Yard at Westminster by beheading.