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Scottish Succession: A Fight for Freedom

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Scottish Succession: A Fight for Freedom

William Wallace:

William Wallace stands out as the most important man in the history of Scottish freedom. Historians debate the exact date of Wallace's birth, but most agree that he was born circa 1270 AD. Wallace was born to Sir Malcolm Wallace, Laird of Elderslie and Achinbothie, and the daughter of Sir Hugh Crawford, Sheriff of Ayr (Campbell, 1).

Historians also confirm that William was the middle child in a family of three boys. William's father and older brother were executed when he was young, so he and his mother were forced to flee to a small village near Dundee.

The village was so small that William would not be able to receive and education, so he was taken in by an uncle, Argyle. Argyle, a priest, was able to tutor him in Latin, French, English, and his native language, Gaelic. This education was of a much higher quality than many others of his age and time (M. Campbell, 1)

William returned to the village of his birth. There, in 1297, he married Marian "Murron" Braidfoot at the Church of St. Kentigernin in Lanark. Shortly after the wedding, in May of 1297, Murron was murdered by the Sheriff of Lanark, William de Hazelrigin. Wallace rallied a group of townsmen and took the village of Lanark, killing the sheriff there. When Edward I, the King of England, found out that his sheriff had been killed, he sent troops after Wallace to suppress the movement. Wallace was forced to hide in the Northern highlands of Scotland. By this time, William Wallace was leading a full fledged revolt for freedom against Edward I (Campbell, 2).

During this time of intense warfare, Wallace received two large honors from the Scottish people. After many successful military campaigns, William Wallace was knighted by Scottish nobles. Wallace was subsequently elected the Guardian of Scotland (Scott, 2). These honors would help him gain control over most of Scotland for the few years to follow.

William Wallace led many battles and skirmishes in Scotland during the Scottish resistance to English rule. The battles of Stirling and Falkirk are the two most important battles of Wallace's military life. In September of 1297, Wallace led Scottish rebels against English powers at the historic Battle of Stirling (Nations 2). He was able to pull off a victory despite incredible odds due to his brilliant military tactics. The English army was better trained and outnumbered the Scottish army greatly. This triumph for Scotland led to a surge in popularity for Wallace and enhanced his ability to lead the country of freedom (Milne, 1). The Battle at Falkirk, in July of 1298, was equally important. Trapped and outnumbered, the Scottish were forced into battle with the English. Wallace's cavalry fled. This time the superior English force defeated the weaker and more vulnerable Scottish resistance (Falkirk 1). Luckily, Wallace was able to escape with only his life. He would remain in hiding for the time being (Gillingham, 1).

Shortly after the battle at Falkirk, Wallace was discovered. A series of betrayals would follow, which would lead Wallace straight into the arms of the English. He was taken to London, where he was charged with many crimes, including murder and most importantly, treason. "William Wallace is a runaway from righteousness, a robber, a committer of sacrilege, an arsonist and a murderer, more cruel than Herod and more debauched in his insanity than Nero" (Duhaime 1). Wallace was asked to speak for himself. He pled guilty to all crimes except treason. He believed that it was impossible for a man to be a traitor to a country or crown that he'd never sworn allegiance to and Wallace had never sworn any oath to the English crown. Despite his logical reasoning, he was still found guilty and sentenced to die. On the 23rd of August in the year 1305, William Wallace was hung, drawn, decapitated, and then quartered. His dismembered body was to be an example to all other Scottish rebels. His head was placed on a pike and displayed on London bridge as a reminder to all those with radical ideas. The rest of his body was taken to Perth, Stirling, Berwick, and New Castle and shown to the people in an effort to suppress further rebellions (Clater-Roszak, 3).

William Wallace, up until his death, was a natural born leader. He possessed characteristics that made him both mentally and physically superior. People were drawn to him and his cause for freedom. William was very physically powerful. Campbell quotes Carrick in an excerpt from his book Life of Sir William Wallace of Elderslie, as saying,

"His Visage was long, well-proportioned, and exquisitely beautiful; his eyes were

bright and piercing, the hair of his head and beard auburn, and inclined to curl; that

on his brows and eyelashes was of a lighter shade. His lips were round and full.

His stature was lofty and majestic, rising head and shoulders above the tallest men

in the country. Yet his form, though gigantic, possessed the most perfect symmetry,

and with a degree of strength almost incredible, there was combined such an agility

of body and fleetness in running that on-one, except when mounted on horseback,

could outstrip or escape from him when he happened to pursue" (2).

Historians affirm that William Wallace was over six and one half feet tall; an enormous man for that time period. This stature demanded immediate respect and submission. Wallace was not just strong physical however. His education set him far ahead of most men of this time. He was also a military genius; able to defeat large armies of trained and disciplined soldiers with rebel peasant volunteers. He was cunning and quick to think on his feet. This extraordinary combination of brain and brawn greatly contributed to the success that Wallace experienced throughout his political uprisings in Scotland. "Wallace is, and always will be a potent symbol of nationalism" (British Heritage 2).

Scotland's national hero, William Wallace, is still remembered. During the 1830's, Scotland's people decided to build a great monument to their beloved hero. Later, in 1850, Rev. Charles Rogers, Chaplin of Stirling Castle, took up the duty to raise funds for the project (Monument 1). Architect J.T. Rockwell was asked to complete the design for the project. In 1869, the monument was finally completed. The total cost for



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