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.


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.

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