Did Sir Walter Raleigh 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.

Did Ralegh really lay down his cloak for Elizabeth I? © Wikimedia Commons

A testament to his 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.

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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.

This article was first published in the May 2015 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Emily Brand.