Sir Walter Raleigh, The History of the World (published 1614)
I was very pleased to have the opportunity to photograph this fabulous book, which is owned by the Armitt Museum & Library in Ambleside, UK.
This book was written by Sir Walter Raleigh during his imprisonment in the Tower of London from 1603 to 1616.
The History of the World was intended to outline historical events from creation to modern times, drawing on the Bible, Greek mythology, and other sources. Raleigh dedicated it to the young Prince Henry, his patron and supporter who was trying to secure his release from prison. The prince's death in 1612 discouraged Raleigh, and the book ends abruptly with the second Macedonian War instead of continuing through two more volumes as originally intended.
Given the precarious political situation and restrictions on writing about contemporary history, many writers at the time used ancient history as a way to covertly discuss present-day issues. Although ostensibly a recounting of historical facts, Raleigh's work also included commentary that was construed by King James to be critical of the present court. Several months after publication, King James ordered further sales of the book suppressed and all unsold copies to be confiscated "for divers exceptions, but especially for being too saucy in censuring Princes." Raleigh was released from the Tower in 1616 to lead one final expedition to South America, but his men attacked a Spanish outpost and he was executed upon his return to England in 1618.
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