The True Brave Heart

When you hear the name William Wallace, it is a safe assumption to say that the image that comes to your mind is Mel Gibson all Scots up in the Academy Award winning film, Braveheart.  In addition to this movie, Wallace is also the protagonist of the 15th century poem The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace and other fictional and factual works.  Indeed, William Wallace is a name known far and wide and an iconic figure through the ages.  And while it is fun and interesting to explore these works, let us not forget that he was a real person with a compelling story.

Born into a gentry family in the 1270s, William Wallace grew up in Elderslie in Remfrewshire.  There is sparse information on his early years and long gaps of time in the limited records known.  The first major event documented in Wallace’s adventures was in May 1297, when he attacked the town of Lanark and killed the English sheriff.  Going back a year to 1296, Edward I of England had taken rule in Scotland after taking advantage of a succession crisis.  As a result, unrest was everywhere.  Soon unrest grew into straight up rebellion.  As a heroic leader of the rebellion, Wallace quickly acquired the support of many Scottish men who joined his team and he led them to many military successes against the English.  Most notably was the Battle of String Bridge, in which a large English force was brought down in grand fashion.  With Wallace’s vivacity, the English hold on Scotland started to weaken.  Many raids were thrust upon England and in the late 1290s, Wallace was knighted “guardian of the kingdom” by the king of Scotland himself.

William Wallace Shirt:

William Wallace Shirt

The English defeat at the Battle of String Bridge propelled Edward and his troops to march north towards Wallace, as war was now in full swing.  However, Wallace was thinking ahead and thought it possible to avoid confrontation and gradually withdraw.  As his troops marched into battle, they ravaged the countryside, thus drawing Edward’s army deeper into Scotland.  In July 1298, a huge showdown transpired between the English and the Scots near Falkirk.  Unfortunately, luck had run out for the Scots and they were defeated.  But as fate would have it, Wallace somehow managed to escape and later resigned his guardianship.

William Wallace Brigandine:

William Wallace Brigandine

In search of support for the Scottish cause, Wallace went to France and returned in 1303.  Upon his return, he discovered that a truce had been made with Edward and a year later, terms were set with the English as well.  While this was wonderful news for Scotland, as it brought peace at last, it was bad news for Wallace who was excluded from the truce and terms.  In fact, Wallace was now on the “Most Wanted” list by the king of England who offered a great reward for the capture or killing of the Scottish warrior.  Things only went downhill from there for Wallace, who was apprehended and taken to London in August 1305.  He was tried and charged with treason.  However, he refuted these charges claiming that he never swore allegiance to the English king.  While he may have put up a good case, this was to no avail.  He was hung and beheaded shortly after the trial.  His head was placed on London Bridge and his limbs were also displayed in surrounding areas.

While William Wallace lived a short life, he played an integral part in helping Scotland gain their independence.  His legacy far outlives him and his bravery is to be revered.  In keeping the memory of William Wallace alive, be sure to check out our William Wallace wear and other Scottish collections at:

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One Response to The True Brave Heart

  1. Speak Pirate says:

    Great history lesson! The examples of the appropriate renaissance clothing were a nice touch. Thank you for the post!


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