Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Death of William Wallace

The Death of William Wallace

      Today marks the anniversary of the death (execution), in 1305, of William Wallace.

       Most people in this age, to the extent they know anything about William Wallace, learned it from the movie Braveheart in which Mel Gibson played the role of William Wallace. The movie is entirely correct that William Wallace lived and fought for an independent Scotland in the First Scottish War for Independence. The movie is correct in that the he was opposed by King Edward I, who was known by the nickname “long shanks” (he was quite tall for the age). It is true, as depicted in the movie, that William Wallace was executed by being drawn and quartered, that being the accepted method of execution for traitors.

       Almost everything else in the movie is incorrect. For example:

        Wallace was from a minor noble family; Wallace was not a peasant farmer.

        Wallace’s father was not executed by the English and may well have been alive when Wallace was appointed Protector of Scotland.

        Piers Galveston, the “friend” of Edward II, was never thrown from a window by Edward I. Rather, Galveston lived well into the reign of Edward II, although he was ultimately killed as a component of a revolt of the nobles upset about their relationship and Piers’ access to royal largess.

        In all likelihood, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce (the 7th) never met.

        Isabella of France did not marry Edward II until 1308, well after the death of William Wallace.

        The depiction of the Battle of Sterling Bridge omitted the namesake bridge.

        Isabella of France never negotiated with William Wallace for the treatment of York or anything else; she was born in 1295 and in consequence would have been less than 10 years old at the time of Wallace’s death.

        Edward I died in July, 1307.  While the movie suggests he was on his deathbed at the time Wallace was executed, in fact he outlived Wallace by almost two years.

        It is suggested that Isabella of France was secretly “involved" with Wallace and carried his baby at the time of Wallace’s execution. Edward III born November 13, 1312. Wallace could have been his father only if Isabella was able to pull off a pregnancy of more than seven years.

        The moniker “Braveheart” was attributed not to Wallace, but rather to Robert the Bruce. In fact, after his death, his heart was cut out and carried in a chest by Scottish forces going into battle.

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