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Scottish Succession: A Fight for Freedom

William Wallace stands out as the most important man in the history of Scottish freedom. Historians debate the exact date of Wallaces 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. Williams 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 Wallaces 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.

Wallaces 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 hed 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 right 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). Scotlands national hero, William Wallace, is still remembered. During the 1830s, Scotlands 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 the project was more that 10,000 pounds. The cost and sheer size of the monument bore testimony to Scotlands love and respect for their patriot, William Wallace. Whether fighting in hand to hand combat or planning strategic military strikes, William Wallace mastered it all.

He was brilliant in nearly every aspect of his life. His people followed him right up until the end, and then fought for his cause long after his death. William Wallace was their hero, and would remain a hero in the eyes of many Scottish people forever (Macs 1). Robert I Bruce: Robert Bruce, grandson of Robert de Bruce, was born in 1274 AD. During his life, his only rival as heir to the Scottish throne was John Comyn. At a meeting to discuss plans of revolt against England, Robert stabbed Comyn thus insuring his claim to the crown of Scotland.

To help further guarantee his succession to the throne, Robert continued throughout his life, to capture castles and lands in Scotland from the English (Robert 1). Robert Bruce, also an ardent Scottish patriot, shared in many of Scotlands rebellions. After the death of his comrade, William Wallace, Robert took control of Wallaces army and fought the English at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314, near Stirling Bridge. Lange notes, The English army consisted of some 2,000 armored knights and 17,000 foot soldiers. The Scots had about 5,000 foot soldiers and 500 light horse troops (Lange 2).

The Scottish force was completely outnumbered, so Robert Bruce relied completely on strategy to win the battle. After defeating the English, and winning longed for and much deserved Scottish freedom, he methodically destroyed surrounding castles, so the weakened English force could not use them as a fortress for soldiers. Robert Bruce, succeeded King John Balliol, and was later crowned Robert I Bruce, King of Scotland (Robert 1). Robert Bruce was torn throughout much of his life. He wasnt sure whether to be a servant to his title, or to his people.

In the end, he followed his heart, and went against the King of England to aid his Scottish people in their quest for freedom. Edward I: Edward I was born in 1239, to Henry III, King of England. Edward, throughout his life, was active in war and conquest. Edward married Eleanor of Castile in 1254. Edward then took the throne in 1272 (Bedell, 1). After the death of Eleanor in 1290, he married Margaret, daughter of Phillip III of France. While fighting for the Christian army during the crusades, his father died leaving Edward as the heir to the throne of England.

He actively pursued conquest and wanted to further establish his kingdom. During his lifetime, Edward was able to capture all of Wales, leaving the Welsh people at his mercy. John Balliol, King of Scotland, also paid homage to King Edward, Giving him full lordship over all of Scotland (Prestwick, 3) Edward met little resistance to his other campaigns, but Scotland was a completely different story. After peaceful rule in Scotland for several years, he met resistance from William Wallace and Robert I Bruce. Battles after battles were fought fiercely.

The English army, though superior, was ultimately unable to hold back the Scottish rebellion. Outwitted and outmatched, the English army was forced to retreat out of Scotland (Clater-Roszak, 1). Edward I lost a substantial portion of his kingdom when he lost Scotland to rebels. He died soon after Scotlands independence in 1307 (Falkirk, 1). Edward left behind a nation drifting apart. He was succeeded by his on, Edward II of England, who would in turn be an unsuccessful ruler until his death in 1327 (Funk 10).

Queen Isabella: Queen Isabella of France, also known as the She-Wolf of France, was born in 1292. She married Edward II in 1308 when she was sixteen, and became Queen consort of England. Her first son Edward III was born four years later in 1312 (Funk 10). Isabella was sent on many excursions by her husband in an effort to expand their kingdom. One of these trips was to France to negotiate with King Charles IV, Isabellas brother, over the province of Gascony. On this particular trip, she took her son, Edward III, and didnt return. Funk 11)

While in France, Isabella became the mistress of Roger de Mortimer. With the help of Mortimer, Isabella plotted against her husband and England. Mortimer and Isabella led a successful invasion of England in 1326. Edward II was forced, by Mortimer and Queen Isabella, to give up the throne. Edward III took over early in 1327, at the age of fifteen. The Queen and Mortimer led an extremely corrupt government for the next three years. They subsequently had Edward II killed. Edward III overthrew the throne in 1330.

Immediately after regaining his station, he had Mortimer executed, and forced his mother to retire. The most well known mystery surrounding William Wallace is directly related to Queen Isabella of England. It has been well-known legend, in Scotland, that Sir William Wallace allegedly had an affair with Queen Isabella. Although, this makes for an extremely controversial and romantic story, its just that, a story. Members of the present-day Wallace clan in Scotland still claim that William Wallace fathered Edward III of England. This however, is impossible.

Isabella was five years old when Wallaces wife was murdered, and only fifteen when Wallace died. It would have also been impossible for an affair to occur, because Isabella wasnt even married until a year after Wallaces execution. The idea of Wallace being the true father of Edward III is even more far fetched, mostly due to the fact that the time span between Wallaces death and Edward IIIs birth is five years. Despite this overwhelming evidence, members of the present day Wallace clan claim that the English royalty has Wallace blood in them.

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