Little Bits of History

August 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2017

1305: William Wallace dies. Scottish Gaelic would render his name Uileam Uallas and the Norman French would have it as William le Waleys, but regardless of the way his name is given, he was a Scottish knight who became one of the leaders of the Wars of Scottish Independence. There were actually two portions of the wars, with the First War lasting from 1296 to 1328 and ending with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton and then a Second War from 1332 to 1357 which ended with the Treaty of Berwick. In both of these confrontations, Scotland was able to remain an independent state. They were important for a variety of reasons including the introduction of the longbow as a key weapon of medieval times.

Wallace was born into a family of the lesser nobility and little is known of his early life. He grew into an imposing man, said to be very tall and strong. Alexander III was King of Scotland from 1249 until he fell from his horse in 1286. His rule had brought stability and prosperity to his country. His death without a male heir left the country in upheaval and headed toward civil war and with the power gap, their neighbor to the south looked to take control. Instead of permitting the Scottish nobility come to a consensus about their next King, Edward I of England reversed their rulings and called the Lords to his court to stand as plaintiffs. When they refused, Edward began raids on border towns and war began.

Because of Wallace’s great abilities, it is theorized he had previous wartime experience, but none had been found in the record. But with his country in peril, Wallace began his resistance with the assassination of William de Heserig, the English High Sheriff of Lanark in 1297. Wallace then joined William the Hardy, Lord of Douglas and they continued to resist English incursions. On September 11, 1297 Wallace and Andrew Moray joined forces for the surprising Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The Scots continued to hold their own against the British invaders and Wallace continued to fight against them. On August 5, 1305, a Scottish knight loyal to Edward I betrayed Wallace and led to his capture.

Wallace was brought to London and stood trial at Westminster Hall. He denied being capable of treason against the crown, for he “could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” He was found guilty anyway and sentenced to death. He was held at the Tower of London and on this day was stripped naked and dragged through the streets at the heels of a horse. Once at the Elms at Smithfield, he was hanged, but before dying he was cut down. He was then emasculated and eviscerated with his bowels burned before him as he watched. He was then beheaded and his body cut into four pieces. His head was tarred and placed on a spike on London Bridge. His body parts were distributed for display in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth.

An independent Scotland – like all countries – will face challenges, and we will have our ups and downs. But the decisions about how we use our wealth will be ours. – Nicola Sturgeon

If you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump straight out. If you put it in cold water and gradually bring it to the boil, it’ll sit right there until it dies. Scotland has been sitting in England’s gradually boiling water for so long that many people are used to it. – John Niven

Scotland and England may sometimes be rivals, but by geography, we are also neighbours. By history, allies. By economics, partners. And by fate and fortune, comrades, friends and family. – Douglas Alexander

Without the shepherd’s dog, the whole of the open mountainous land in Scotland would not be worth a sixpence. – James Hogg



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