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William Wallace 1270-1305

Wallace, born at Elderslie in 1270, was the second son of Sir Malcolm Wallace who had refused to pay homage to Edward I. William Wallace grew up to become a powerful and sturdy young man, with a height of 6 foot 7 inches and a physique to match, he was in fact a giant of a man. Like his father he bore a grudge against the English from his early youth. He murdered the English sheriff of Lanark and thus became an outlaw and guerrilla fighter for the rest of his life.

Wallace's example aroused a national spirit of rebellion among his countrymen and he was able to gather round him other guerrilla fighters. This force of quick acting and determined men was successful in assaulting and taking a number of English strongholds, among them Aberdeen, Inverness and Montrose. Wallaces force was not well equipped, nor did it have the support of Scottish clan noblemen who preferred to remain neutral. With the exception, that is, of Andrew de Moray who became a staunch ally.

By 1297 Wallace and his men were besieging Stirling Castle, the chief English stronghold. This roused the English to send a powerful army under the Governor of Scotland, the Earl of Surrey.

The Earl with his formidable army of cavalry, archers and foot soldiers intended to crush Wallace at Stirling, but a change in the weather made the ground soggy and slowed the cavalry charge that was intended to mow down the Scottish foot soldiers. Seizing their opportunity Wallace and his men advanced among the mounted enemy and drove them back in hand-to-hand combat, opening a path to the castle which fell to Wallace and his men.

Wallace now became Guardian of Scotland but without the support of the clan nobility his title was not confirmed. After a year Edward, taking advantage of a temporary truce with France, personally took charge of the campaign against the Scots and defeated and captured Wallace. He was taken to London where he was tried and convicted in Westminster Hall, and finally hanged, drawn and quartered as an example to other rebels. Nobody knows where the remains of Wallace's body now lie.

Key Events during the Reign of William Wallace

1297 - Treaty of Submission was signed by the Scottish nobles who took part in Wallace's rebellion. Wallace defeated English forces attempting to cross the Forth at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Wallace elected to the office of guardian of the kingdom.

1298 - Scotland was invaded by a large English force led by Edward I. Edward defeated Wallace's army in the Battle of Falkirk and Wallace was forced into hiding.

1299 - King Edward I marries Margaret of France. John Comyn is placed at the head of a Regency for his absent uncle, John Balliol.

1303 - John Comyn and his army defeat the English at Roslin. In retaliation, Edward I reduces Scotland for the third time, and then makes a treaty with Comyn.

1304 - Scotland formally submits to Edward I.

1305 - Wallace is betrayed. Sir John Menteith and 60 men surprise Wallace in his sleep at Robroystoun, capture him and take him to Carlisle. Wallace is given a show by trial by the English. Wallace is executed in London by hanging, drawing and quartering.



 
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