Raleigh (or also spelled Ralegh) was born in 1552 (specific date unknown). Raleigh was born in Devon, England at Hayes Barton, which was a place Raleigh's father had leased from the Duke family of Otterton. He had two half brothers from his mother's first marriage, and one brother and one sister from that current marriage. Before joining the Protestant army during the French religious war of 1569, Raleigh spent time attending Oriel College in Oxford, England, where he pursued his interest of seafaring. During the first five years of the war, Raleigh spent his time in France, where he successfully fought through two major battles and also the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, which began on August 24th, 1572, in which there were more than seventy thousand French Protestants slaughtered. During 1576, Raleigh stayed in London as a lodger at the Middle Temple where he saw his poems in print. His favorite poetic theme which was "the temporary state of all earthly things" was popular with other poets of the Renaissance, which was a time of great cultural change led by the works of great artists and writers. After two years in anonymity, Raleigh accompanied his half brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, on a voyage in search of a Northwest Passage to the Orient (Eastern Asia). The voyage quickly developed into a privatizing mission against the Spanish, where Raleigh hired out his ship to attack the Spanish. During their return in 1579, Raleigh and Gilbert faced the displeasure of the Privy Council, the advisors to the King. Raleigh's behavior did little to satisfy the council, and he was incarcerated twice in a period six months for disturbing the peace. Once out of jail, and at the head of a company of soldiers, he sailed to serve in the Irish wars. Raleigh is said to have planted the first potatoes in County Cork, Ireland at Youghal therefore introducing a nutritious food which was to have a major impact on Ireland's future.
In 1591, Raleigh secretly married Elizabeth...
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