Sir William Wallace is believed to be one of Scotlands greatest national heroes. He led the Rising of 1297, in an attempt to reverse the loss of Scottish independence to England. He was knighted and made Guardian of Scotland. He later resigned after The Battle of Falkirk when he was defeated by English cavalry. In August, 1305 he was arrested, condemned as a traitor, and killed. Scotland views Wallace as a national hero for his role in their freedom, however the English have viewed Wallace as a traitor, murdered, and an outlaw.
Sir William Wallace was born in the 1270’s probably near Paisley, Renfrew, Scotland. His father, Sir Malcolm Wallace was a small landowner in Renfrew. Sir William Wallace was Malcolm’s second son and was meant to join the priesthood. Wallace might have lived unnoticed if King Edward I had not intruded into Scottish affairs. After the death of Margaret, Maid of Norway, Scotland was left without a direct heir to the throne. Thirteen indirect heirs looked to King Edward I for advice on who should get the throne. Edward chose John Balliol, because he could easily dominate him. Balliol was harassed by King Edward from the beginning of his reign. In 1296 he could take no more and fought King Edward’s forces at Dunbar, but lost the battle. John Balliol was taken to the Tower of London, and was later exiled to Norman where he died..
After that King Edward decided it was time for the Scots to pay. He set heavy taxes on all Scottish landowners, and also expected them to sign Edward’s “Ragman’s Roll” of allegiance. Signing that would mean that, that person pledged their allegiance to King Edward I and the English, instead of Scotland. William Wallace, nor any of his immediate family members were listed among those who signed the oath.
In 1297 Wallace emerged from obscurity, according to legend in retaliation for the murder of his wife or mistress Marion Braidfute, by killing the English Sheriff of Lanark, Sir William Heselrig. King Edward I sent special forces against Wallace. They first met at Stirling Bridge on September 11. Wallace defeated the much larger English force, which severely weakened the English hold on Scotland. Wallace was then named Guardian of Scotland. Wallace then launched raids into England. The shock of being defeated at Stirling Bridge rallied the English around King Edward I, who marched north with his army. Wallace destroyed the countryside forcing King Edward I and his army to move deeper and deeper into Scotland.
In July 1298 King Edward led a great army against Wallace. Wallace was defeated at the Battle of Falkirk. King Edward succeeded in ruining Wallace’s military reputation forcing him to resign as Guardian of Scotland. It is said that Wallace went to France in 1299 and acted as solitary guerrilla leader in Scotland, but from the autumn of 1299 for more than four years nothing is known of Wallace’s activities. King Edward I continued to pursue Wallace until August 5,...