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William Wallace

Civilization:British: Scotland
Era: Plantagenet
1272–1305Field of Renown:hero: Rebel
 "Hold you, brave Wallace! The English have hanged all your best men like dogs."

William Wallace is one of the most popular and famous heroes of Scotland. He was a commoner rather than a noble, and so little is known of his early life other than that which was recorded by "Blind Harry", a Scottish Minstrel who lived over 100 years after Wallace. However, it is thought that Wallace became an outlaw by killing several English soldiers after an incident involving fish. This occurred shortly after the death of the last Scottish king, during a period when Edward I was actively trying to bring Scotland under his control. Wallace evidently became the leader of a band of outlaws in the Scottish hills, and became notorious for his largely successful attacks on English holdings in Scotland. Meanwhile Edward sought to test the Scottish Barons loyalty by making more demands on them, including a request that they desert their long time French allies. As Edward's oppressions and heavy-handedness worsened, more disgruntled Scots, including several noblemen, joined his rebellion.

In the early years of Wallace's career, he was merely considered an outlaw, but after his rebellious activities gained the support of the nobles, including Sir Andrew Moray, and Sir William Douglas, as well as many others, the English sent an army against them. In spite of the defections of several of his nobles, Wallace led the Scots to a great victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. This great victory gave Wallace the full attention of Edward I, and gained him even more supporters among the Scottish commoners. The nobles, however, wavered and when Edward I himself led an army into Scotland, most of his barons deserted him, or actually fought on Edward's side. The Scots therefore lost the Battle of Falkirk, and fell under the complete control of the English. Wallace himself escaped, and lived for several more years in the highlands before being captured, tortured, and killed as a traitor.

Key events during the life of William Wallace

Year Event
1270 Birth of William Wallace
1286 Death of Alexander III, last Scottish king.
1290 Death of "Maid of Norway", last heir to the Scottish throne.
1291 Wallace kills several English soldiers after a confrontation.
1296 British invade Scotland, defeat Balliol at the Battle of Dunbar,
1297 Scottish barons executed at the Barns of Ayer.
1297 Defeat of English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge
1298 Wallace loses Battle of Falkirk
1305 Wallace captured, drawn and quartered.


Story LinksBook Links
Sir William Wallace  in  Cambridge Historical Reader: Primary  by  Cambridge Press
Adventures of Sir William Wallace  in  Scotland's Story  by  Marshall
Wallace, the Hero of Scotland  in  Historical Tales: 4—English  by  Morris

Image Links
The Wallace monument, Abbey Craig, Stirling  in Cambridge Historical Reader: Primary Trial of Sir William Wallace  in Story of the English Hold you, hold you, brave Wallace! The English have hanged all your best men like dogs.' in Scotland's Story

Contemporary Short Biography
Edward I of England Competent and decisive king of England. Reformed government, pacified Wales and Scotland. Ruled 35 years.
Robert I of Scotland Scottish nobleman who claimed the crown and led resistance to England at Bannockburn.
John Balliol Appointed King of Scotland by Edward I on the condition that he surrender Scotland's independence.
Alexander III of Scotland Last Scottish King descended directly from Malcolmn Canmore.
Blind Harry Minstrel who related the Life of William Wallace.
Sir Andrew Moray Only Scottish noble who did not desert Wallace.
Sir William Douglas Scottish noble who supported Wallace. Father of James 'The Black' Douglas.