Sir William Wallace Biography
Biography of Scottish hero Sir William Wallace. Subject of the movie Braveheart.
Sir William Wallace is a hero to the Scots, although fact, fiction and legend have all combined to a certain degree over the centuries since his death. One of the only sources of information concerning his early life is a 15th-century biographical poem by the Scottish poet Henry the Minstrel, who was also known as Blind Henry.
Most sources say William was born at Elderslie, in Paisley Parish about the year 1272. His father was a vassal of the High Steward of Scotland, James Stewart. The family owned land, but were not wealthy enough or powerful enough to give him connections to rise through military ranks. It's possible William received some education at Paisley Abbey, for it appears he knew Latin and French. He had uncles who were priests, so it's possible they taught him.
He married Marian (spelled Murron) Braidfoot around the year 1297. By all accounts, William was handsome. He was tall, strong and had a "pleasing face." Marian was later murdered under the direction of an English sheriff, in reprisal for William's actions against the English.
When his father was killed by an English knight, William's hatred of the English occupiers of Scotland grew. In another incident, it's said he stabbed an English soldier.
At the time there was civil unrest in Scotland, due to the imposition of strict rule on the Scots after John Balliol, who held the throne of Scotland for a brief time, relinquished his kingship. Edward I had control of Scotland, as she had no king, and he wanted to make sure the Scots did not break free from beneath his hand.
Wallace attracted the attention of common folk and Scots nobles alike, all of whom were unwilling to bear Edward's bonds. Several major battles ensued, including the Battle of Stirling, won by the Scots.
In battle of Falkirk, The English army was much larger and despite Wallace's best efforts, he English decimated the Scots. Wallace himself, barely escaped with his life. Through it all, Wallace remained steadfast and did not waiver from his goal of freedom for Scotland. Little is known about William after the Scots' loss at Falkirk, but it's believed he went into hiding. He was captured near Glasgow, and brought to London. Tried and convicted of treason, William Wallace was executed in 1305 (some sources say 1304).
William left no male heirs, but several branches of his family exist today.
Many believe the legend of Robin Hood is based on Wallace and his exploits. Similarities do exist. He collected a band of supporters, helped the poor, harassed the English and evaded capture numerous times.
The major motion picture, Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson, portrayed the extraordinary life and times of William Wallace.