By Andrew Fisher
William Wallace has always been one of the legendary figures of Scottish history. Wallace was by no means prepared by birth, education or training for the seminal role he was to play in Scottish history, but when the ambition and ruthlessness of Edward I combined with the weakness of John Balliol to provoke the Wars of Independence, it was Wallace who rose to the challenge and broke the sequence of English victories, re-energising and inspiring his countrymen in the process. While others, ostensibly his betters, yielded and collaborated, Wallace set an example of constancy and perseverance and became Guardian of Scotland. Even his terrible death can be seen as a victory as it provided an inspiration for the continuance of the struggle. Previous biographies have tended to present Wallace as a one-dimensional figure, ignoring his flaws. In an age of brutality, however, Wallace too was brutal. He repaid the sack of Berwick with the harrying of Northumberland and the crimes with which he was charged in 1305 were by no means wholly fabricated. By investigating all aspects of Wallace's life and character, and treating him as a man of his time, Fisher provides a more authentic picture of the greatest of Scotland's heroes than has been previously available. This is a new and substantially expanded edition, featuring new sections on the Wallace of literature and present-day perceptions of Wallace, placing the crude distortions and inaccuracies of Braveheart in their proper context.