William Wallace was born sometime around the year 1270 in a wild area of southwest Scotland, and was executed by order of King Edward I of England in London August 23, 1305 for high treason and crimes against the English people. From another perspective, William Wallace was simply a freedom fighter.
Wallace was a man who took his role as Governor and the welfare of the common Scottish people seriously enough to risk life and limb in the pursuit of justice, and as a result is best remembered today as the first great populist leader of the West.
Wallace’s response to the charges brought against him:
“I can not be a traitor, for I owe him [Edward I] no allegiance. He is not my sovereign; he never received my homage; and whilst life is in this persecuted body, he will never receive it. To the other points of which I am accused, I freely confess them all. As Governor of my county I have been an enemy to its enemies; I have slain the English; I have mortally opposed the English King; I have stormed and taken the towns and castles which he unjustly claimed as his own. If I or my soldiers have plundered or done injury to the houses or ministers of religion, I repent me of my sin; but it is not of Edward of England I shall ask pardon.”
Indeed, pardon he did not receive, at least from Edward I. Instead, he was tied to a team of horses and dragged through the streets to the gallows, where he was hung until semi-conscious and then disemboweled. Yes, he was still alive when the disemboweling took place.
Helpful hint: Nothing gets you dragged through the streets quite so fast as challenging the legitimacy and sovereignty of “the system.”
The next phase of the execution involved being pulled apart in four directions by horses (ye olde drawn and quartered treatment) with the final stroke being that of a quick beheading. His head was then stuck on a pole and displayed on London Bridge. The remaining four quarters were evenly distributed to Newcastle, Perth, Stirling, and Berwick, with the ostensible goal of provoking a degree of terror in the hearts of other potential “outlaws,” a tactic which in fact had the opposite effect. Edward was wrong, again!
Wallace died around the age of 35. His life has become the stuff of myth and legend and continues to inspire 713 years after his death.
Today, we remember Uilleam Uallas!
More info on Sir William Wallace at Electronic Scotland
Fun Fact: One of the very first books published in Scotland was entitled The Wallace, written around 1471-1479. It was composed in Middle English. A certain familiarity with King James English or especially the Geneva bible might be helpful if you wish to read the text.