Sir William "Braveheart" Wallace, Kt.

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William Wallace

Also Known As: "Sir William Wallace", ""The Great Patriot"", "Guardian Of Scotland", ""Braveheart""
Birthdate: (33)
Birthplace: Elderslie, Paisley Parish, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Death: Died in London, Middlesex, England
Cause of death: hanged, disemboweled, beheaded (drawn & quartered)
Place of Burial: Aberdeen City, Scotland, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Malcolm Wallace, Laird of Elderslie and Margaret Crawford
Husband of Marion Braidfute of Lamington
Father of Elizabeth Wallace, of Lamington, Heiress of Lamington
Brother of Malcolm Wallace and John Wallace

Occupation: Freedom Fighter
Managed by: Ann Margrethe Nilsen
Last Updated:

About Sir William "Braveheart" Wallace, Kt.

Sir William Wallace Ellerslie (1272-1305), William was born at Ellerslie (Elderslie),which is in either Ayrshire or Renfrewshire, being the fact that there are two locations of this name. He was born sometime between 1270 and 1276. He studied at Paisley Abbey. William was made Guardian of Scotland, William was executed at London, 23 August, 1305. William did love Marion Braidfute, but it is not clear if they were legally married. William is listed as William Wallas in some some sources. Among his relatives who witnessed his execution were: Adam, Richard, and Simon Wallace (cousins); Patrick Auchinleck (uncle); William de Crauford (uncle); Ecward Little (nephew); and Tom Halliday (nephew).William was said to have resided with his mother a Dunipace and also at Kilspindle. He became an outlaw for killing a man called Selby, the son of a constable.


William Wallace, born near Pasiley, Renfrewshire, was hanged, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered in 1305. He thus suffered the same fate as Welsh leader Dafydd ap Gruffudd some 22 years before and for the same reasons: both had dared the might of the English crown; both had dared to raise armies against Edward I and both had fought for the independence of their nations. In order to understand Wallace's significance in his country's history, we have to look at the situation in Scotland that led to his arrival as leader of his people in the vacuum that Robert the Bruce was not ready to fill until he was perfectly sure of success.

A new struggle for control of Scotland had begun at the death of Alexander III in 1286, leaving as heir his grandchild Margaret, the infant daughter of the King of Norway. English King Edward, with his eye on the complete subjugation of Scotland suggested that Margaret should marry his son, a desire consummated at a treaty signed and sealed at Birgham. Under the terms, Scotland was to remain a separate and independent kingdom, though Edward was to keep English garrisons in a number of Scottish castles. When the young princess died, all plans changed: the succession was now open to many claimants, the strongest of whom were John Balliol and Robert Bruce.

After the decision had gone in favor of Balliol, he declared himself King of Scotland and declared that he would answer only to his own people; refusing to supply military service to Edward, who had supported his election. Overestimating his strength, he then concluded a treaty with France prior to planning an invasion of England.

Edward was ready. He went north to receive homage from a great number of Scottish nobles as their feudal lord, among them Robert Bruce, who owned estates in England. Balliol immediately punished this treachery by seizing Bruce's lands in Scotland and giving them to his own brother-in-law, John Comyn. Yet within a few months, the Scottish king was to disappear from the scene. His army was defeated by Edward at Dunbar in April 1296. Soon after at Brechin, on 10 July, he surrendered his Scottish throne to the English king, who took into his possession the stone of Scone, "the coronation stone" of the Scottish kings. At a Parliament, which he summoned at Berwick, the English king received homage and the oath of fealty from over 2,000 Scots. He seemed secure in Scotland.

It was an illusion. The rising tide of nationalist fervor in the face of the arrival of the English armies north of the border created the need for new Scottish leaders. With the killing of an English sheriff following a brawl with English soldiers in the market place at Lanark, young nobleman William Wallace, with his fierce hatred of foreign occupation, found himself at the head of a fast-spreading movement of national resistance. At Stirling Bridge, a Scottish force, led by Wallace, won an astonishing victory when it completely annihilated a large, lavishly-equipped English army under the command of Surrey, Edward I's viceroy.

Yet Wallace's great victory, successful because English cavalry were unable to maneuver on the marshy ground and their supporting troops had been trapped on a narrow bridge, proved to be a Pyrrhic one. Bringing a large army north in 1298, and goading Wallace to forgo his guerrilla campaign into fighting a second pitched battle, the English king's forces were more successful. At Falkirk, they crushed the over-confident Scots.

This time the English cavalry was able to maneuver and the archers (many of whom had been recruited in Wales following that country's virtual annexation by the Statute of Rhuddlan less than twenty years before) inflicted heavy damage on the massed ranks of the Scots. Falkirk was a grievous loss for Wallace who never again found himself in command of a large body of troops. After hiding out for a number of years, he was finally captured in 1305 and brought to London to die a traitor's death. At his trial, he declared that he was not a traitor to Edward, for Edward was not his king.

Much of the story of Wallace came to us in the late 15th century romance ascribed to Henry the Mistral (Blind Harry). In 1938, Sir James Ferguson published his William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland, and of course, the name of Wallace became known throughout the world after the release of the highly successful Hollywood movie Brave Heart in 1995. (Just in time for the 1997 referendum that restored Scotland's Parliament after an absence of more than 300 years).

Perhaps Wallace's main contribution to Scotland's history (apart from showing his people that English armies could be defeated) was that he brought forth Robert the Bruce, stirred out of his lethargy, ashamed of his homage to England and now ready to do his own bit to reassert the independence of Scotland.


Response to concerns that Wallace was not married:

In those days, noblemen in Scottish clans married. Like other noble clan marriages at that time in history, marriages were kept secret because the English over-lord claimed a first right of bedding any new wife before the new husband, and so men wanted to protect their bride, and some kept their marriage secret as long as they could from the English.

After William Wallace was executed by the reigning crown, his name was disgraced, and no one could risk being associated with him for about 100 years. His children were at risk of execution too. The children of the last Welsh Prince of Wales went into hiding too for centuries.

It is extremely unlikely he was not married. Even gay-inclined men married, as marriage and inheritance was the key way in the feudal economic system for each generation to further establish claims to property and feudal authority.

Marriage was above all a property contract. (Even today marriage is a property contract.) In the feudal period property conferred wealth and power. Property was passed on the basis of birthright. Men of noble lineage or property married women with similar noble lineage or property in the feudal period.

Jobs were determined by what your father did, and men married women whose father was in a similar class and profession. Princes married princesses, and fishermen married fisherman's daughters. A match was rarely random, it with someone suitable for their inherited profession, and of the same religion, tribal or national loyalties.

Wallace was a nobleman and had a social obligation to identify suitable brides and limit falling in love with one who was suitable as a wife for his line of work. A nobleman's job was to act as a warrior of behalf of those to whom was shared a fealty obligation of protection.

A wife was an alliance and contract with society as a whole not just between two people. Wars could be fought over noble marriages that harmed the populace it affected.

In Wallace's day, the noblemen of Scottish clans were basically illegally booted out of their land rights by the English noble lines.

It would have been unseemly for a nobleman like Wallace to have no wife from a suitable Scottish family.

in that political era, there were some secret marriages, and after Wallace was executed, any descendant would have feared for their life to claim Wallace as an ancestor.

The Scottish clans were never reinstated, although gradually some married into English noble lines. In time, a great bulk of the dispossessed Scottish clans were pushed into emigrating to America. After the Battle of Culloden, the highland clans were murdered en masse and survivors fled to America. Later, the Highland Clearances saw the English set fire to thousands of Scottish clan homes at a time, leaving the dead and destitute.

The native Scotsman had very good reason to keep Wallace as an ancestor a secret. Wallace was once enemy number one of England, and the English would have suppressed any revitalization of the Scottish nationalistic claims of Wallace. In a feudal world where paternity was destiny, revealing the rebel Wallace as an ancestor would have been unwise.

- N.Orr


William Wallace was not Braveheart. The true Braveheart was Robert the Bruce. William Wallace documentary



"The Great Patriot" Guardian Of Scotland (Brave Heart)

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Sir William "Braveheart" Wallace, Kt.'s Timeline

January 1272
Elderslie, Paisley Parish, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Age 23
Elderslie, Paisley Parish, Renfrewshire, Scotland, (Present UK)
August 23, 1305
Age 33
London, Middlesex, England
Aberdeen City, Scotland, United Kingdom