WILLIAM WALLACE Biography - Crimes, Laws and people


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Name: William Wallace                                                                     
Born: c. 1272/76 Elderslie, Scotland                                                     
Died: August 23, 1305 Smithfield, London, England                                         
Sir William Wallace (Latin: Villemus Valensis) (c. 1272-76 - 23 August 1305) was         
a knight and Scottish patriot who led a resistance against the English                   
occupation of Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence.                         
Wallace was the inspiration for the poem, The Acts and Deeds of Sir William               
Wallace, Knight of Elderslie, by the 15th century minstrel, Blind Harry. The             
1995 film Braveheart is based on the poem.                                               
Wallace's birth date and birthplace are disputed. While some suggest Wallace was         
born around 1270, the 16th century work, History of William Wallace and Scottish         
Affairs, claims 1276 as his year of birth.The consensus is that he was born in           
that decade but precisely when is something which may never be known.                     
Traditionally his birthplace is claimed to be Elderslie, near Johnstone in               
Renfrewshire. However recently it has been claimed that he came from the village         
of Ellerslie in Ayrshire.                                                                 
In support of the Ellerslie origins, some proposed that William's traditional             
father known as Malcolm Wallace until recently when David Wallace's seal was             
found  David Wallace of Low Fell, a knight and vassal to James the Steward,               
actually came from Riccarton, Ayrshire, near Loudoun.                                     
Memorial outside Barts Hospital, London                                                   
To the contrary, the Elderslie origins are defended with the arguments that               
Ellerslie is a former mining village, known only from the 19th century, whereas           
Elderslie is known from earlier. Wallace's first action was at Lanark, which is           
about 30 miles (50 km) east of Elderslie and Ellerslie. Afterwards he moved into         
Ayrshire to join some Scottish nobles who were fighting the English at Irvine.           
Tradition often describes Wallace as "a common person" in contrast to his                 
countryman, Robert the Bruce, who came from the upper nobility. In fact Wallace's         
family were minor nobles (parish gentry) descending from Richard Wallace the             
Welshman (the name Wallace may mean "Welsh", or possibly 'foreigner') a                   
landowner under an early member of the House of Stuart, which later {listed(?)           
him in} 1296 as "crown tenant of Ayrshire" and concludes "'Sir' William Wallace           
was a younger son of Alan Wallace, a crown tenant in Ayrshire". Wallace was               
allegedly educated in Latin by two uncles who had become priests. Blind Harry             
does not mention Wallace's departure from Scotland or that Wallace had combat             
experience prior to 1297, probably because he did not have any. The 'war' in             
which, Harry says, Wallace senior was killed, did not actually take place.               
England and Scotland were at peace for three generations before Edward I's               
invasion of 1296.                                                                         
At the time of Wallace's birth King Alexander III had reigned for over 20 years.         
His rule had seen a period of peace and economic stability, and he had                   
successfully fended off continuing English claims to sovereignty. In 1286                 
Alexander died after falling from his horse. None of his children survived him.           
The Scottish lords declared Alexander's four-year-old granddaughter, Margaret (called     
"the Maid of Norway"), Queen. Due to her young age, the Scottish lords set up an         
interim government to administer Scotland until Margaret came of age. King               
Edward I of England (popularly known as "Longshanks," among other names) took             
advantage of the instability by arranging the Treaty of Birgham with the lords,           
betrothing Margaret to his son, Edward, on the understanding that Scotland would         
preserve its status as a separate kingdom. Margaret, however, fell ill and died           
at only seven years of age (1290) on her way from her native Norway to Scotland.         
A number of claimants to the Scottish throne came forward almost immediately.             
With Scotland threatening to descend into a dynastic war, the "leading men" of           
the realm invited Edward's arbitration  as a powerful neighbour and significant           
jurist he could hardly be ignored. Before the process could begin, he insisted,           
despite his word to the contrary, that all of the contenders recognize him as             
Lord Paramount of Scotland. After some initial resistance, all, including John           
Balliol and Robert Bruce, the chief contenders, accepted this precondition.               
Finally, in early November 1292, at a great feudal court held in the castle at           
Berwick-upon-Tweed, judgement was given in favour of John Balliol having the             
strongest claim in law. Formal announcement of the judgement was given by Edward         
on November 17.                                                                           
Although the outcome of the Great Cause had been both fair and legal, Edward             
proceeded to use the political concessions he had gained to undermine the                 
independence of Scotland and to make King John's position difficult. Balliol             
broke his promise and renounced his homage in March 1296 and by the end of the           
month Edward stormed Berwick-upon-Tweed, sacking the then-Scottish border town.           
He slaughtered almost all of his opponents who resided there, even if they fled           
to their homes. In April, the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Dunbar (1296)         
in Lothian and by July Edward had forced Balliol to abdicate at Stracathro near           
Montrose. Edward then instructed his officers to receive formal homage from some         
1800 Scottish nobles (many of the rest being prisoners of war at that time),             
having previously removed the Stone of Destiny, the Scottish coronation stone,           
from Scone Palace, and taken it to London.