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William Wallace

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William Wallace is considered to be "Scotland's greatest hero" (McHale). In order to appreciate the true value of freedom one must understand the hardships and trials people faced in order to obtain that freedom. William Wallace was a freedom fighter. He went through many trials and tribulations during his life. William Wallace's family came from Wales. William was not even Scottish (Fish). Yet he had the strength and courage to stand up for what he thought was right.

William Wallace was born in a little town called Elerslie, in Scotland, around January 1272. "He was the second of three sons to Sir Malcolm Wallace" (Waters). His mother taught him his basic education, until he was six to seven years of age (Chung). At this time and age, the second male son of a family was obligated, by tradition, to obtain education by a clergy member of a monastery, and eventually become a clergy member himself. It is unknown, by historians, how William averted this tradition (Ewart).

During this time the English king, Edward Plantagenet I, also called Edward de Longshanks (McHale), was taking over Scotland. The king of England issued all the people of Scotland to pay homage to him. Sir Malcolm Wallace was entirely against this. He made this widely known. He eventually became titled as an outlaw by King Edward, and was on the run from the English along with his oldest son Malcolm. Sir Reginald de Crauford, William's grandfather, administered the homage to be paid to Edward I and noticed that his son-in-law's name did not appear on the list that he compiled (Chung). He sent his daughter and grandsons to Cambuskenneth Abbey in Dunipace to live with Sir Malcolm's younger brother who was a cleric there. This is where William received the remainder of his education. "His uncle instilled in him moral maxims compactly framed in Latin, and referred frequently to the great classic authors" (McHale). At the monastery he learned the passion and love of liberty he so frequently displayed

as an adult.

By the time William completed his education his father died. Sir Malcolm was murdered by an English knight, named Fenwick. The news of William's father's death spread quickly. A few months after, William was branded an outlaw, because he killed a man taunting him of his father's death. This started whole slew of killings and Wallace's rebellion against the English.

Williams Wallace first appears in history early in 1297. This was a few months after Edward de Longshanks had stationed English soldiers in Scotland, and deposed of the King of Scots, John Balliol. William is roughly the age of twenty five when this happened. Only with a handful of troops, Wallace attacked Lanark and killed William Heselrigg, the sheriff. After Heselrigg's death he leads an effective operation against the English strongholds and gets a hold of their attention (Ewart/Waters).

William led a very seclusive life. He did not really have time to settle down and build a family, but he did have a wife, her name was Marrion Braidfoot. He married her secretly in 1297. The English eventually found out about this and had her killed. There are many rumors in the Scotland, that they were not secretly married, but there is no proof of this. "Serious historical study of Wallace is hard to find" (King).

Wallace was enraged with Marrion's death. The English had now killed his father, older brother, and now his wife. They also persecuted his mother until her death. All now that was left of the Wallace family was William and John. These brothers became very close. John also became one of the top leader's in William's army of outlaws.

During early September in 1297 was William Wallace's most famous and overcoming battle. The battle of Stirling Bridge was won by the stupidity of the English rather than the cunningness of the Scottish army, as many people today are lead to believe (Davis). This particular battle was fought on marshy lands, and that fact right there gave the Scottish an advantage. The English and Scottish were both on opposite sides of River Forth. The knights of the English decided to make the first move. They had to cross Stirling Bridge which was not all that big or sturdy at the time. Wallace's army of outlaws rigged the bridge with explosives and waited until the half English army was on the bridge, and they blew the bridge up. Then, the Scots went to the other side of the river and killed the rest of them. This victory gave the people of Scotland hope. In early1298, William Wallace was knighted for his victory at Stirling Bridge, by Robert the sixteenth Earl of Bruce, "the leading contender for the Scottish crown" (Gibson). He was also was awarded the title Guardian of Scotland, so William Wallace now became known as Sir William Wallace the Guardian of Scotland.

Months after William was knighted, he was faced, once again, against the English at Falkirk. "The English army had 2,500 heavy cavalry and 1,200 foot soldiers, far outnumbering the Scottish forces" (Davis). The Scottish Army decided to use spears in order to put up with the cavalry. This however did not work. The English divided their cavalry in four units and used their longbow men to overcome the Scottish. This was a major loss to Wallace's army. William barely escaped with his life. With this devastating loss and he resigned his position as Guardian of Scotland. "The English could not, however, conquer Scotland" (Davis)

William Wallace was so humiliated by his defeat he ran away from Scotland. For seven years, he tried to get rid of the English through politics. He tried to convince the French king to side with Scotland and declare war with the English, but he failed in this attempt. He was very close, but the French king had his own rebellion to worry about. After his attempts to get support, he operated as a guerilla fighter from the Scottish forests. He had to keep in hiding because all of England was after him.

After Wallace was gone, and France did not to go to war with England, it was easy for Edward de Longshanks to take over Scotland. As one of their terms of peace, the Scottish people had to hand over William to England. On August 3, 1305, William was tricked into attending a meeting at Robert Rae's house. He was captured by Scots and handed over to the English just like they agreed. Wallace was taken to London and tried for treason. The trial was held on August 22, 1305. His defense was that he could not have committed treason because he never swore allegiance to King Edward. He was convicted despite that fact. He was hanged,

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