Born sometime between 1270-1276. Elderslie or Ellerslie, Scotland
Died August 23, 1305, London, England. He was disemboweled and
decapitated, with his limbs brought to cities at the four corners
of England and his head impaled on the spikes at London Bridge
is known for certain about the details of Wallace's life, and
much of what was assumed, based largely on poems by Blind Harry,
is now coming into question, especially since Wallace's seal was
rediscovered in 1999. The following was pieced together in 1998,
based on what we could find on the Internet at the time. For more
details, we recommend you check out his Wikipedia
entry, or buy some of the many books on Wallace.
William Wallace was the second of three sons born to Sir Malcom
Wallace and his wife Margaret. Sir Malcom Wallace was a knight
who held some lands, but was a rather minor figure in the politics
and nobility of the time. William grew to be a giant of a man,
standing six foot, seven inches when the average man was only
five feet tall.
the traditional role for a younger son, William was given formal
education in preparation for a role with the Church. William spent
a number of years learning the classics, first under his uncle
at Cambuskenneth Abbey, later at Dundee.
this time, a struggle for control of Scotland was underway. Alexander
III died with no heir to take over the Scottish throne. Scotland
was on the brink of civil war as the families Bruce and Balliol
each claimed the right to the throne. King Edward I ("Longshanks")
of England stepped in to mediate the dispute. Longshanks' actual
motive was to take Scotland for himself.
the sporadic battles that marked this conflict, William's father
died in 1291 at Irvine. That year, at the age of 19, William Wallace
killed the son of an English noble who had picked a fight with
him. Wallace fled to stay with his uncle Sir Richard Wallace in
Riccarton. William stayed with his uncle until the day a group
of English soldiers demanded a fish he had caught. William killed
three of them and again had to flee.
spent several years hiding in the woods along the River Ayr. He
led a group of men who frequently raided English garrisons and
troops. Wallace's raids often involving difficult escapes from
situation where he was heavily outnumbered, began to inspire those
who supported Scottish independence.
number of nobles joined William Wallace, including future king
Robert the Bruce. Wallace's group took the city of Glasgow and
Scone in May of 1297. At this time Longshanks sent an army of
40,000 infantry and 300 cavalry to resolve the "Scottish
problem". When the armies met in July of 1297, there was
dissention in the Scottish ranks. Many of the nobles were unhappy
about be led by someone they felt was of inferior status to them.
Most deserted to the enemy.
retreated, and the English believed the revolution was over. Wallace,
however, advanced again and laid siege to the castle of Dundee.
An English army marched to meet them. On September 11, 1297, English
and Scottish armies met at Stirling Bridge. Although outnumbered,
the Scots defeated the English and drove them from Scotland.
advanced in to England, going as far south as Newcastle. Longshanks
returned to England and formed an army of 100,000 infantry and
8000 horse to crush the Scots. Outnumbered, Wallace retreated
and adopted a "scorched earth" policy, slowing the English.
was betrayed by the Scottish nobles and, in 1305 was captured
by the English. Wallace was tried and executed as a traitor.
2005, Wallace's sword, which weighed 6 pounds and was 5 foot-4
inches long, left Scotland for the first time since Wallace's
death, becoming the centerpiece of a Tartan Week celebration in
New York City. A symbolic funeral was held marking the 700th anniversary
of his death at the site of Wallace's execution in Smithfield,
1995, the most famous account of Wallace's life was introduced
when Mel Gibson directed and starred in Braveheart. While a commercial
and critical success (winning five Oscars, including Best Picture),
the film has been heavily criticized for it's historical inaccuracies.
We at Manlyweb agree with both sides--we've read some books on
Wallace, and there is a ton of stuff in the movie that is "poetic
license." At the same time, it's a pretty kick ass movie--it
always makes our top 10 list.
"I can not be a traitor, for I owe him no allegiance. He
is not my Sovereign; he never received my homage; and whilst life
is in this persecuted body, he never shall receive it. To the
other points whereof I am accused, I freely confess them all.
As Governor of my country I have been an enemy to its enemies;
I have slain the English; I have mortally opposed the English
King; I have stormed and taken the towns and castles which he
unjustly claimed as his own. If I or my soldiers have plundered
or done injury to the houses or ministers of religion, I repent
me of my sin; but it is not of Edward of England I shall ask pardon."
-Supposedly Wallace himself, to the King's Justice who was
"trying" him as a traitor.