Saturday, March 26, 2011

Greatest historical myths-Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes and tobacco to England

Sir Walter Raleigh - explorer, courtier, privateer - Is one of greatest myth figures ever to come from England. Virtually every reason for his fame is untrue. Was he handsome? According to written accounts, he was no oil painting - though somehow he charmed Queen Elizabeth I, and had a reputation as a ladies’ man. Did he lay his cloak across a puddle so that the Queen could step on it? No, that was pure fiction. Most importantly, he didn’t return from his visit to the New World (America) with England’s first potatoes and tobacco. Though Raleigh is said to have introduced potatoes in 1586, they were first grown in Italy in 1585, and quickly spread throughout Europe (even across the English Channel). Also, though people all over Europe blame Sir Walter for their cigarette addictions, Jean Nicot (for whom nicotine is named) introduced tobacco to France in 1560. Tobacco spread to England from France, not the New World.

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