A study in vanity and ambition, madness and resignation Sir Walter Ralegh was the greatest courtier of his day, Elizabeth's favourite, dashing, brilliant, wily and powerful. But by the summer of 1618, his last voyage a failure and suffering the hostility of James I, he was escorted from Plymouth to London and the scaffold. Paul Hyland unfurls the story of the last twenty weeks of Sir Walter's life, of that fateful journey, of Ralegh's grotesque behaviour along the way, of the web of deceit and counter-treachery woven between him and his reviled betrayer 'Judas' Stucley, and of their travelling companion the French physician and double agent Dr Manoury. Around this last journey are intertwined other key players: Bes - Elizabeth Throckmorton - Ralegh's handsome, resourceful and distracted wife; Carew, their thirteen-year-old son; and Samuel King, privateering captain and link with past glories. On several occasions Ralegh has the opportunity to escape, and refuses it; then, when at last he opts for freedom (wearing a false beard), in a sprint down the Thames by rowing boat, he finds himself again betrayed.