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As you would expect in a Hollywood production, fact and fiction are somewhat distorted for the sake of drama and in at least one instance, impossible; regarding the implication that Wallace was the father of Edward III, born to Isabella of France, with whom he supposedly had a romance, was extreamly off the mark; considering that Isabella was only 10 years old when William Wallace died and Edward III was born seven years after Wallace’s death.

William Wallace was born in Elderslie about the middle of the reign of Alexander III, or about 1276. He was a freedom fighter for Scotland and Ireland against England, near the end of the 13th century.

William Wallace was brought up by his uncle in Dunipace, after his father died when he was a boy. He was to continue his father’s fight and he raised an army against King Edward I of England.

King Edward had dismissed any talk of Scottish Independence and viewed Wallace as an outlaw. Rebellion followed; with many men joining forces with Wallace as he began to drive the English out of Perthshire and Fife.


In May 1297, Wallace attacked the town of Lanark, killing the English sheriff, apparently to avenge the death of Marion Braidfute of Lamington, (the woman who became his wife in the film).

The Battle of Stirling Bridge was a battle of the First War of Scottish Independence. On 11th September 1297, the forces of Andrew Moray and William Wallace defeated the combined English forces of John de Warenne, 6th Earl of Surrey and Hugh de Cressingham near Stirling, on the River Forth. With Wallace and his men being heavily outnumbered; they occupied the high ground of Ochil Hills, which would force Edward’s army to fight uphill.

One last plea from the King’s spokesman asking Wallace to surrender was met with defiance, with Wallace replying; “Tell your king that William Wallace will NOT be ruled. Lower your flags and march straight back to England, stopping at every home to beg forgiveness for a hundred years of theft, rape, and murder.”

William Wallace was victorious and was elected Guardian of the Kingdom and uncrowned ruler of Scotland in December of that year.


He assembled his army on Roslin Moor and marched south into Northumberland, then meticulously ravaged the counties of Durham, Northumbria, and Cumbria taking anything of value back over the border.

A further raid took place in ‘the Barns of Ayr’ with Wallace and his men setting fire to the camp, and burning 500 English soldiers in a revenge attack for the murder of his uncle.

Edward Longshanks brought a large army to Falkirk in May 1298; he goaded Wallace into fighting a second battle. This time Wallace was defeated and in September resigned as Guardian of Scotland in favour of Robert the Bruce. He fled to France in 1299.

Wallace returned from France in 1303 and did well to evade capture by the English until the 5th August 1305. His capture was the result of an act of betrayal by John de Menteith, a Scottish knight loyal to Edward, who turned him over to the English soldiers at Robroyston.

He was first taken to Dumbarton Castle and then to London under heavy guard, then tried for treason. William Wallace was then ceremoniously paraded through the streets of the city, like some sort of trophy.

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He was hung, drawn and quartered. His head was placed on a pike at the top of London Bridge and his limbs displayed separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling and Aberdeen. Edward hoped that this public display would deter all insurgents, but one Robert the Bruce had other ideas.

The Bruce family had no connection with the capture of Wallace, indeed the name “Braveheart” was originally intended for Robert the Bruce.

Bruce, previously fuelled by his own personal ambition, was now ready to play his part in the struggle for Scotland’s independence and his finest hour was to come in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn, when he was victorious over Edward’s army, despite being outnumbered three to one.

“It’s all for nothing if you don’t have freedom” - William Wallace.

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