William Wallace

William Wallace who is better known as Braveheart in the popular movie staring Mel Gibson was perhaps Scotland's first well known hero. He was born in 1270 near Paisley and was not born into nobility but was a common man who would inspire a sense of patriotism within Scotland.

With the death of Alexander III in 1286 the heir that was left was his infant grandchild Margaret. It was suggested by the English king that she should marry his son and a treaty was signed to state this, under the terms of the treaty Scotland was to remain a independent nation. This treaty was never completed though as Margaret died on her journey from Norway to Scotland.

This lead Scotland without a direct heir to the throne and there were many people who put themselves forward. The two strongest claims were from John Balliol and Robert Bruce. It was John Balliol that was installed as king with the assistance of King Edward of England. He then decided to go against Edward and attempted to invade England with French assistance. Edward however defeated him at Dunbar in 1296 and seized control of Scotland and England occupied Scotland.

This stirred up a lot of national pride, particularly true with William Wallace who in a brawl with English soldiers killed the sheriff and the English troops in Lanark. He then found himself at the head of a large Scottish army who were willing to fight for their independence. 

The first major battle that Wallace fought was at Stirling bridge and although the English army had superior numbers and cavalry, they were annihilated by Wallace's army. This was Wallace's greatest victory against the English but his joy was not to last long.

In 1298 Edward brought a large army north to deal with the Scottish uprising and they met Wallace's force at Falkirk. After failing to gain support from key Scottish nobles, Wallace was defeated and this was to be the last time he was in charge of a large army. After this defeat he went into hiding, fighting various skirmishes until he was eventually captured in 1305 and subsequently brought to London on the charge of treason.

He was hung, drawn and quartered after being found guilty by the English court, but his legacy lived on and it stirred a sense of nationalism back into one Scotsman in particular, his name was Robert the Bruce.