Did Sir Walter Ralegh really lay down his cloak for Elizabeth I?

Dashing explorer and poet Walter Ralegh enjoyed the favour of Queen Elizabeth I soon after settling at court in 1581. But did he really lay down his cloak for Elizabeth I in an act of gallantry?

A portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh

A testament to his Sir Walter Ralegh’s gallantry and style can be seen in the well-known incident when Ralegh rescued the royal feet from getting wet and muddy in ‘a plashy place’ by sacrificing his plush velvet cloak to cover the puddle.

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Disappointingly, his cloak-laying is first recorded in Thomas Fuller’s History of the Worthies of England, published some 80 years after the supposed event.

True or not, Ralegh enchanted the Queen and was one of her firm favourites – that is, until he fell from grace by secretly marrying one of her maids of honour. There weren’t enough puddles and cloaks to appease Elizabeth – he was sent to the Tower of London.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, historian and author Emily Brand

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This article was taken from the May 2015 issue of BBC History Revealed magazine