William Wallace the True Story



William Wallace:
What is the True Story?

For generations, William Wallace has been a hero to Scotland and a patron of freedom. After Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Wallace in the award winning movie, Braveheart, there was a dramatic rise in the popularity and recognition of the Scottish hero. The story of William Wallace has been passed down through many different generations. These generations include people of English, Scottish, and Irish decent, a few among many. All of these different cultures have passed down different versions of stories and records about William Wallace.
Since there are many different stories about the same man, historians and scholars find it difficult to determine the actual truth about William Wallace and his past. As a result, historians are often left with conflicting opinions about who William Wallace really was. Historians, therefore, disagree on such issues as the date of his birth, birthplace, facts concerning Wallace’s elimination of English tyranny in Scotland, and the roles Wallace played in battles with the English.
In this paper I am going to show the conflicting views about William Wallace’s life. I will use a wide variety of sources including the movie Braveheart’s script, Internet web pages, and written history in order to support my thesis. I will conclude with the fact that William Wallace was truly a worthy patriot of his native country Scotland. He fearlessly led his fellow patriots into battle, and gained freedom for Scotland from the tyrannical rule of the English King, Edward I.
In May of 1995 the film Braveheart came out in theaters. Braveheart is mainly a biographical movie about William Wallace. It portrays Wallace as a tall, strong, and brilliant man and military soldier. On many occasions, it shows Wallace defeating the English Army, which always outnumbered his troops. His most famous battle at Stirling Bridge is what many consider to be his most glorious battle. It is the battle in which he was outnumbered the most and in which he triumphed over this obstacle and managed to win freedom for all of Scotland. Braveheart, however, was written by Randall Wallace and directed by Mel Gibson. Both men are of Scottish decent and thus would have portrayed William Wallace in a great patriotic light. This is not meant to mean William Wallace was not a hero, but the two may have exaggerated such things as battles, intelligence, etc.
The movie, however, seems to avoid certain conflictions about his life. For example, in the script the young William Wallace was written as being at the age of eight when his father and brother died. Yet the year in which he was born is never mentioned. Many scholars debate about the possible years in which he could have been born. According to James Mckay, his research provides him that the best date is either the year 1272 or 1273, although many other scholars place it anywhere from 1260 to 1278. The reasons placed behind the disbelief of such numbers is simple. If he were born in 1260 then at the time that he fought the English at Stirling he would be 37 years old, which is a bit beyond the normal life expectancy for someone at that time. If he were born in 1278 then he would only be 19 at the time that he fought the English and therefore, this would seem somewhat ridiculous because there would not be a great amount of time in which he could learn such amazing military tactics that were used at Stirling. However, if it is stated that he was born in 1272 then there is a hole of about 5 years in between his defeat at Falkirk and his capture by the English. Explanation of this period of question is thought to be that this is the period in which Wallace hid out in the forests, slowly gathering troops and ambushing and destroying anything that had an English insignia on it.
Another debate about his life that is avoided by the movie is his place of birth. Over time as with many stories, words and their meanings have gotten a little mixed up. This mix up has been traced back no later than the Eighteenth century. All belief of Wallace’s birthplace has been derived