HEART ATTACK; the Executive's Failure to Mark the Anniversary of William Wallace's Death Has Been Condemned. Here, Historian CHRIS BROWN Explains Why

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), August 14, 2005 | Go to article overview

HEART ATTACK; the Executive's Failure to Mark the Anniversary of William Wallace's Death Has Been Condemned. Here, Historian CHRIS BROWN Explains Why


THIS month is the 700th anniversary of the brutal execution of Sir William Wallace in London. The Scottish hero was dragged through the streets, hanged until nearly dead, then hacked to pieces on August 23, 1305.

He is still admired today for his determination to achieve Scottish freedom.

He is an inspiration all over the world - but not in the corridors of Holyrood.

The Executive have few official plans to commemorate his life on the anniversary of his death.

This is pretty lame considering it would not exist without the efforts of patriots like him.

Without Wallace and Robert the Bruce the Scottish nation might well have been conquered by the English.

Our national identity - cultural, social and political - may not have survived The patriot has inspired poets and novelists such as Burns and Scott and fired the imagination of the people.

He has enjoyed a renewed fame in recent years, chiefly thanks to Mel Gibson's epic movie of his life, Braveheart. Around 200 years after his death, his deeds were recorded by a writer at the court of James IV known as Blind Harry.

But his work is not an accurate account of Wallace's life, despite his claim that it was based on translations of the Latin records of Wallace's chaplain, Blair. Whether Blair even existed is debatable.

So who was the real Wallace? He was not a man of humble birth as widely believed. He was a member of a land-holding family, probably from Renfrewshire, and the son of a knight, Sir Alan Wallace.

He was a violent man and the leader of a small band of armoured cavalry who raided isolated parties of English soldiers and officials But did he carry a huge sword into battle? Not a chance. The sword on display at the Wallace Monument is of much later date. Wallace wore the armour and carried the arms that were typical of his time. …

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