Academic says William Wallace was rebellion 'co-leader'
- 14 September 2011
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
William Wallace was no more than a "co-leader" in events which sparked a Scottish uprising against Edward I in 1297, a historian has claimed.
Professor Dauvit Broun argues that the killing of the Sheriff of Lanark was as much down to a knight called Richard of Lundie, as it was by Wallace.
He said Wallace's status was cemented by others' death, capture or surrender.
The University of Glasgow academic's claims appear in an article published on the website Breaking of Britain.
Prof Broun said: "Richard of Lundie was a close ally of William Wallace and rose with him in opposition to the English occupation of Scotland.
"It was Lundie who led the band with Wallace that was responsible for the killing of the Sheriff of Lanark on 3 May 1297.
"But just a few weeks after this, when it seemed as though the most prominent leaders of the rebellion, including the future king Robert the Bruce, James Stewart and the Bishop of Glasgow, would sue for peace, Lundie decided to go over to the English, presumably to save his own skin."
The Scots history professor said that Lundie's decision to switch sides meant that when the Scots, now led by William Wallace and Sir Andrew Murray, prepared for the decisive Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297, Lundie was part of the English force, under the Earl of Surrey.
He said that according to a chronicle of the time, Lundie urged that a detachment be sent over the River Forth to attack the Scots from the rear.
The academic said that had this advice been heeded, "the outcome of the battle might have been different from the overwhelming rout that secured the Scottish victory and with it fame for William Wallace".
'Turncoat and renegade'
Prof Broun added: "Nothing is heard about Richard of Lundie after the Battle of Stirling Bridge. But an English song of the time blames their defeat on his treachery.
"Could it be that Richard of Lundie swapped sides again once he saw the way the battle was going?"
The academic said that as the myth of William Wallace grew "it would have been hard to accept that a turncoat and a renegade such as Richard of Lundie could have been responsible for the slaying of the Sheriff of Lanark that set in train the popular revolt against English rule".
He concludes: "This puts Wallace's leadership in a new light.
"It is known that he was co-leader with William Douglas when the English justiciar was attacked, and co-leader at Stirling Bridge with Andrew Murray.
"Now we can see that he was no more than co-leader at the iconic slaying of the Sheriff of Lanark too.
"Wallace became the legendary leader of Scottish resistance by accident, by the death, capture or surrender of his colleagues."