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Source Document Analysis - Essay Example

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A 16th Century Document The letters patents, granted by the Queenes Majestie to M. Walter Ralegh, now Knight, for the discovering and planting of new lands and countries, to continue to the space of 6 yeeres and no more. ( 1584) . A letter patent is a legal document, ‘An instrument issued by a government that conveys a right or title to a private individual or organization, including conveyances of land and inventions.’ according to the Free Dictionary…
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Download file to see previous pages Elizabeth as queen represents England and the 30 year old Sir Walter Raleigh and ‘his heires and assignes forever’ (page 289), will act as her agent in the ‘new lands and countries.’ As to whether Elizabeth had the right to claim for herself land that already belonged to others, the American natives, that is another matter. Walter Raleigh was an explorer, but in fact, as far as North America was concerned, he merely organised various expeditions.. He is described as ‘our trusted and well beloved servant’, He is given great authority, “all and meere power and authoritie to correct, punish, pardon, governe,” ( page 293) but the queen was giving nothing away. She expected great returns from her new world colonies.( page 291) “ reserving alwayes to us, our heires and successors, for all services, dueties, and demaunds, the fift part of all the oare of golde and silver.” She was presumably influenced by the stories of gold and silver that the Spanish had discovered further south. There were provisions in case of problems ( page 295 and 296). Then there would be retaliation – if there was not satisfaction then all involved would be ‘out of our allegiance and protection.’ ( page 296) As well as an explorer Raleigh was also courtier, statesman, farmer, sailor, scientist and man of letters. Despite all this, and the apparent esteem in which Elizabeth seems to hold him when this letter patent was written, he would later fall from royal favour and become a prisoner in the notorious Tower of London. This happened when Elizabeth discovered his intrigue with one of court ladies, Elizabeth Throckmorton, a lady whom he would later marry. Paul Halsall ( 1998) puts his problems down to rivalry from his rival the Earl of Essex, a great favourite of Elizabeth’s. He would get into even worse trouble during the reign of Elizabeth’s successor , James I, and was eventually executed. Despite the fact that the document states that Raleigh is described as ‘discovering and planting new lands, he in fact did this in company with his much less well known half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert., as described by Paul Halsall, 1998. The queen would not allow Raleigh to actually land in North America, but he did much of the organizing, including the beginnings of Roanoke Island. Also although it just says ‘new lands and countries’ it in fact referred to the colonization of Virginia. However despite two expeditions, and attempts to found lasting settlements, neither resulted in a permanent settlement. There is mention of Raleigh’s ‘heirs and assignees forever’ and to Elizabeth’s ‘heires and successors’, yet in the second line of the heading a much shorter and more precise period is mentioned ‘the space of six yeeres and no more’. During this period Elizabeth forbids others to interfere.( page 292) Elizabeth was in control. She had earlier refused to allow Raleigh to travel to Nova Scotia with his half brother in 1583, a trip from which Gilbert did not return alive. ( The Pirates, undated), We are told that Sir Walter Raleigh could go anywhere not already in the possession ‘of any Christian Prince’ i.e. he couldn’t take over land already held by Spain for instance. We are told he can ‘have, hold occupy and enjoy’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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