King James I of England and VI of Scotland, c.1606, after John De Critz the Elder (c.1551-1642) National Portrait Gallery
In a previous post I painted King James I in a rather villainous light, pointing out his clearly racist view of New World peoples and hinting that such an attitude, coupled with his hatred of smokers, may have contributed to the decision to execute Sir Walter Raleigh.
Sir Walter Raleigh, moments before his beheading in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. British Museum Collection
A further move by the government was the publication of a 68-page pamphlet justifying the execution.The full title was A/ Declaration/ of the Demea/nor and Cariage of/ Sir Walter Raleigh,/ Knight, as well in his Voyage, as/ in, and sithence his Returne;/ And of the true motiues and ìnduce/ments which occasioned His Maiestie/to Proceed in doing lustice upon him,/ as hath bene done.
The Declaration was no doubt countered by less professionally produced publications which gave the opposite view. One of them, ‘Vox Spiritus or Sir Walter Raleigh’s Ghost’, pictured above, was a handwritten pamphlet, conserved at Trinity College Dublin. It was produced in 1620 to promote the ideals of the late Sir Walter, namely the mistrust of Catholicism and all things Spanish. After Raleigh's execution in 1618 the King of Spain, the Pope and the Devil were seen as conspirators in a new version of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot.
Pipe-makers, as well as pamphleteers, played their part in the defence of Sir Walter. In a fascinating blog post arising from the discovery of what was likely to be a 17th century clay pipe at Bermondsey, in the mud of the London Thames foreshore, Natalie Cohen explains the significance of what were known as Sir Walter Raleigh pipes, such as the ones seen here.
Representing a bearded man being swallowed by a crocodile, the pipe is apparently based on the legend that Raleigh fell overboard during one of his expeditions and was seized by the creature which promptly let him go because it found the smell of smoke so unpleasant. Many such pipes were made in Holland during the 1630s and 1640s.
It seems that James I imposed harsh restrictions on English pipemakers during his reign and many emigrated to Holland during the early 17th century, explains Natalie Cohen. The number of English pipemakers in the Netherlands rivalled England by the third decade of the 17th century. ‘The Raleigh pipes were made as a memorial to the great smoker, with James I represented as the sea monster or snake “who swallowed Tudor power”’.
Photo of Ashburton Exeter Inn and Raleigh mural taken by John Stickland 26 Oct 2012. Not quite accurate as Sir Walter is seen smoking a cigarette rather than a pipe
The full blog post ‘Walter Raleigh and the Crocodile – the Story of an Artefact’, including the above fascinating images can be found at http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/frog-blog/walter-raleigh-and-the-crocodile
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