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Campus author - Who killed Sir Walter Ralegh?

Professor Richard Dale

Professor Richard Dale at the Winchester Great Hall book signing

'This book draws on the author's legal background to unravel the extraordinary plots and intrigues that marked the last weeks of Elizabeth's reign and the first months of James's succession.'

Professor Richard Dale

The History Press (August 2011)

ISBN - 978-0-7524-5666-9

This new book by Richard Dale, Visiting Professor at the ICMA Centre, provides "a new explanation for Sir Walter Ralegh's fall from grace and conviction for treason providing an answer to a 400-year-old puzzle".

For 400 years, the true story behind the fall of Sir Walter Ralegh, his conviction for high treason and his eventual beheading has been shrouded in mystery. Was he deliberately set up by the brilliant but untrustworthy Sir Robert Cecil? Why did his friend Lord Cobham denounce him at his trial? And how could this towering figure of the Elizabethan age be accused of conspiring with his old enemy Spain to overthrow the king and his government? This book draws on the author's legal background to unravel the extraordinary plots and intrigues that marked the last weeks of Elizabeth's reign and the first months of James's succession.

Professor Dale explains his reasons for delving into Ralegh's past: "I decided to write the book on Ralegh partly because he was a local man (to where I live in Plymouth), but also because the analysis of his downfall draws on my law and economics background. Historians have overlooked some key aspects of the trial of Ralegh and his co-accused, Lord Cobham, because they did not appreciate that these two were basing their defence on the earlier trial for treason of Ralegh's father-in-law, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. I have been able to throw light on the build up to the trial and the trial proceeding itself by focusing on the Throckmorton case.

"In addition I have used my economics background to explain the conduct of Ralegh and Cobham in terms of the elementary game theory, known as ‘the Prisoners' Dilemma'. This theory shows how Ralegh and Cobham, after initially accusing each other, developed a common line of defence, i.e. they shifted from mutual betrayal to a co-operative strategy. I am also able to show that Ralegh was almost certainly guilty of treason even though his trial was a gross miscarriage of justice."

Richard launched the book at the Great Hall in Winchester (where Ralegh was tried in November 1603) in September, with a book signing and coverage on the local radio station. The Great Hall bookshop had its biggest takings of the summer on the day of the launch!

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