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William Wallace

A Short Biography of William Wallace

Sir William Wallace (1272 - 1305) is perhaps the most notable figure of Scottish history. He is considered a hero and a crucial character in the achievement of the Scottish independence. The exact date of his birth and his immediate family are somewhat unclear, but it is known that he was born in Ellerslie, an area with proven links to the Wallace family.

At the time of William Wallace's birth, Alexander III was king of Scotland. During his rule, he managed to keep a peaceful relationship with England as well as Scotland's sovereignty from them. However his untimely disease and afterwards, the death of his young daughter (only heir to the throne of Scotland) opened the way for a series of confrontations between the Scottish Lords that claimed the throne.

It was here that the reigning king of England, King Edward (who would become William Wallace's deadliest foe), took advantage of all the ensuing confusion and started a slow, intelligent plan to take control of Scotland. First he stepped in as arbitrator to the lords of Scotland. Then, he made them recognize him as Lord Paramount of Scotland and asked them to allow him to man all the castles of the kingdom with English soldiers "as to preserve neutrality".

Shortly after he dictated judgment and sentenced a new king for Scotland, it became obvious that England had come into control of the Scottish country. King Edward even repudiated the treaty by which he became an arbitrator and made clear his intentions. He then stormed the Scottish country and defeated it's armies in the Battle of Dunbar.

During all this time Wallace had been raised up as a regular boy, but started to show a natural skill both for wielding arms and for foreign languages. Sometime after that, when he was already in his late teens, he became involved in some confrontations that led up to him being declared a fugitive. He officially started his fight for independence by killing the son of the English governor of Dundee, but entered history by killing William Hesselrig, the English Sheriff of Lanark. Though it cannot be confirmed, it is said that Wallace killed him to avenge the death of Marion Braidfute, who many say Wallace courted and married.

After this, Wallace won many skirmishes and small battles, gaining some small terrain back from the English. Later on, as more battles were won, Wallace managed to amass an army big enough to fight against the English army in the well-known Battle of Stirling Bridge. In September of 1297, even though vastly outnumbered, Wallace and his army won this battle for which he was later knighted and named "Guardian of Scotland and Leader of its Armies". Six months after that battle, Wallace led a raid into England to show the English that Scotland too could harm their country.

A year later, Wallace suffered a terrible defeat in the Battle of Falkirk, in which he lost many valuable men as well as his reputation as a strategist. In September of 1298, Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland in favour of Robert Bruce, who later on reconciled with King Edward of England. William Wallace not only disliked this, but saw it almost as treason. After that, he became a fugitive and evaded capture for some years.

Then, in the year 1305, he was finally captured and accused of treason. To this charge, he responded: "I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject". These were his last words before he was executed on the 23rd of August of 1305.