William Wallace

Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight and an important leader during the Scottish Wars of Independence.

Find out more about one of the most famous Scots in history: William Wallace.

Who was William Wallace?

In 1296 John Balliol surrendered to Edward I of England and was removed as King of Scots. Edward took control of Scotland, He forced 2, 000 Scottish nobles to swear they would be loyal to him. Some Scots refused to see Edward as their king and fought back.

One of those people was a man called William Wallace.

We don't know much about Wallace's early life but in 1297, he is reported to have killed William de Heselrig, the English High Sheriff of Lanark.

Instead of going into hiding, Wallace continued his rebellion. He attacked other Scottish places controlled by Edward.

A 19th century engraving showing what William Wallace might have looked like.

How did Wallace fight back?

Wallace is famous for two battles. In the first, Wallace and his co-commander, Andrew Murray, defeated a large English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297.

After this, Wallace was made a Guardian of Scotland - a man who would defend the nation.

The next battle didn't go so well. At the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, Wallace was defeated when Edward I took personal control of the battle.

Wallace facts

  • Wallace was born around 1270
  • He might have been born at Elderslie near Paisley or Ellerslie in Ayrshire
  • He was executed in London in 1305 by being hung, drawn (cut open) and quartered (his body was cut into four parts)
  • After his death, his head was dipped in tar and put on a spike on London Bridge!
  • The four parts of his body were sent to Berwick, Newcastle, Stirling and Perth
  • His ancestors may have been Welsh as the name 'Wallace' is from the Old English word for Welshman

What happened to William Wallace?

After the Battle of Falkirk, Wallace resigned as Guardian on Scotland and went on the run.

Seven years later, Wallace was captured near Glasgow. He was sent to London where he was tried for treason (disobeying the English King) and hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1305.

Wallace is still remembered to this day for standing up for what he believed in.

The Wallace Memorial, Stirling, was built in the 1860s to celebrate the bravery of William Wallace

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Illustration of William Wallace

William Wallace