Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: William Wallace

Andrew of Wyntoun (14th century) in his “The Oryginale Chronykil of Scotland” best describes this Moonday’s Heroic Hunk, William Wallace:

“In all England there was not then
As William Wallace so true a man
Whatever he did against their nation
They made him ample provocation
Nor to them sworn never he was
To fellowship, faith or loyalty”

     Little is know about William Wallace but an early description relates that he was very tall-maybe as tall as 6’7”. His sword displayed at Abbey Craig is 5 feet 4 inches (162 cm) long, so could be. Another history describes his as “a tall man with the body of a giant, cheerful in appearance with agreeable features, broad-shouldered and big-boned, with belly in proportion and lengthy flanks, pleasing in appearance but with a wild look, broad in the hips, with strong arms and legs, a most spirited fighting-man, with all his limbs very strong and firm.”
     Wallace’s ancestors who resided in the Scottish Lowlands were probably Welshmen—many of whom accompanied the Normans (who were Scotland’s ruling class) to Scotland centuries before. He was NOT a highlander who lived in the north of Scotland in tribal groups (clans).
     Scotland towards the end of the 13th century was without a monarch and several contenders were vying for the crown. King Edward I of England placed John Balliol on the throne for a time. When King John did not follow Edward’s orders, Edward returned to Scotland, stripped Balliol of his position, and appointed English overlords to govern. William Wallace enters the historical scene when he kills the English Sheriff of Lanark in 1297 as vengeance for the supposed murder of his wife, Marion Braidfute but there is no evidence that he was ever married.
     Wallace led a revolt to free Scotland from English domination. His greatest victory was the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. He followed up with an invasion of northern England. King Edward, however, led a force that destroyed the Scots at Falkirk in 1298.
     Wallace escaped but was captured in 1305 and convicted of high treason. He died a traitor’s death—dragged on a hurdle (a wooden frame) to the place of execution, hanged by the neck until almost dead, then disemboweled and emasculated with the severed genitalia and entrails burned in front of him on a nearby pyre, then he was beheaded. The head and chopped up four quarters of the body were gibbeted (publicly displayed) and hung about the country as a warning to would-be traitors.
     Robert Bruce declared himself King of Scotland in 1306 and King Edward died in 1307 on his way to attack Scotland.  Braveheart with Mel Gibson provides a decent portrayal of what went on except take Princess Isabel out of the true story entirely—didn’t happen. Today’s post features pics of Gibson as Wallace. Next Moonday we’ll check out King Robert.

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7 Responses

  1. I remember when the movie came out, a friend of mine said there was no way in hell William Wallace had any kind of sexual relationship with Isabel, but it made for one hell of a twist in the story!

    • They were so right. Isabel was either 10 or 13 years old when Wallace died – depending on her accepted birth date. She didn’t marry Edward II until 1308-after his father died and several years after Wallace’s execution. RitaVF

  2. “Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
    Scots, wham Bruce has often led,
    Welcome to your gory bed
    Or to victorie!”

    Considering Burns’ poem was written close to the rebellion of 1745 –almost four hundred years later–is testimony to how powerful these two men were in the course of Scottish history. Men among men of a fighting race.

    My own clan’s motto has been “Vincere Vel Mori”–“To Conquer or Die!” since it was established, so there still remains the ghost of kinship with such leaders.

    Another beautiful post, Rita. And your description of Wallce brings him to vivid life in the mind. What a MAN he must have been! Hate such a Hunk met so gruesome a death! Looking forward to your take on “The Bruce”; know it will be fantastic! C’mon, next Moonday!

    • Thank you, Runere, for the comment and the poem. I’m not so big a Bruce fan. Bruce and his ilk had Norman ties and, according to some, was not close to Wallace but used him for their ends. Wallace could draw Scots “of like mind” (don’t you love the phrase) to his banner. Of course, Bruce used Wallace’s horrible execution as a rallying cry but more on him next Moonday. RitaVF

  3. As always, you got it right. Good job!

  4. Wonderful post, RVF!!!! The Wallace must have been one heck of a man!
    And love the pictures of Mel as the Wallace — he is a bigoted misogynist hypocritical jerk, but he still looks good.

    • Thanks, romancemama. Gibson looked even better before the alcohol and cigarettes did their damage. As for being a jerk, when I was looking for the Braveheart pictures his bio said he divorced a wife of 20+ years with whom he had seven kids, then split with the mother of his eighth child. Super Jerk!! RVF

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