Walter Ralegh: the heroic traitor

Mark Nicholls explains how the celebrated Elizabethan polymath fell foul of King James and ended up on the executioner's block

Elizabethan adventurer, courtier, navigator and historian Sir Walter Ralegh – "a gorgeous, larger than life figure". Unfortunately, many of his peers weren't impressed by his good looks, and saw instead an arrogant man, blind to his own weaknesses. (Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

This article first appeared in the February 2011 issue of BBC History Magazine

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