William Wallace, 1296-1305

William Wallace, 1296-1305

Emergence of William Wallace (1296-1297)

  • Following the domination of Edward I, Scottish resentment rose, leading to various rebellions - William Wallace was the leader and symbol of one such prominent revolt.
  • Wallace was a lesser known figure from a smaller noble family in Scotland, but his bravery and strategic acumen brought him in the spotlight.
  • In 1297, Wallace was responsible for the murder of the English sheriff of Lanark. This act made him a prominent figure in the Scottish rebellion.

Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297)

  • Wallace and Andrew de Moray led the Scots to a momentous victory against the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297.
  • The battle was tactically significant as it demonstrated the effective strategy employed by Wallace and de Moray, exploiting the narrowness of the bridge to achieve victory.
  • The aftermath of the battle saw Wallace in possession of the north of England up to the River Tyne.

Wallace as Guardian of Scotland (1297-1298)

  • Following the success at Stirling Bridge, Wallace was appointed Guardian of Scotland, effectively making him the leader of the Scottish forces.
  • During his time as Guardian, Wallace attempted to legitimise the resistance by restoring administrative law and adapting to conventional methods of diplomacy.
  • However, his resistance tactics employed were brutal, which escalated the conflict further.

Battle of Falkirk (1298)

  • The Battle of Falkirk held in 1298 was a significant event during Wallace’s leadership. His forces were met by Edward I’s larger and better-equipped army.
  • Despite a gallant fight, the Scots were defeated, questioning Wallace’s military strategies and leadership.
  • The defeat led to Wallace’s resignation as Guardian later in 1298, but it didn’t weaken his resolve for independence.

Capture and Execution of Wallace (1305)

  • Wallace continued his guerrilla warfare, despite undergoing defeats and reduced support among the nobles.
  • However, he was eventually betrayed and captured near Glasgow, in 1305. He was then transported to London, where he was put on trial for treason.
  • Like a symbol of Scottish defiance, Wallace denied the charge of treason on the ground that he had never sworn allegiance to Edward I. Nevertheless, he was executed cruelly in public in August 1305.

Impact and Legacy of Wallace

  • Wallace’s rebellion significantly contributed to the resurgence of Scottish resistance against English rule.
  • His death turned him into a martyr, influencing the next generation of warriors, including Robert the Bruce.
  • Wallace’s legacy continues to symbolise Scotland’s fierce spirit of independence and resistance to foreign domination; he is viewed as one of the greatest heroes in Scotland’s history.