William Wallace was born in 1272 in Ellerslie, Renfrewshire, Scotland to parents Malcolm Wallace, a laird and Margaret de Crauford, and he was one of three brothers.
Who would have believed at the time of his birth, he would grow up, to become the Guardian of Scotland, and sacrifice his life for his beliefs…
Yet, neither man had met, but his biggest adversary in life, would come from King Edward I of England (Longshanks) who reigned from (1272-1307).
The young William was educated at home, during his early years, and received religious education from the Monks of Paisley Abbey. Aged just seventeen or eighteen, he went to Dunipace, to further his education at the Chapelry of Cambuskenneth Abbey, in preparation for his entrance into the church.
Whilst he was growing up, Scotland was changing around him, and as yet hadn’t affected him. He was preparing himself for a life within the church.
Everything changed when King Alexander III of Scotland died on the 19th March 1286. His heir to the throne was Margaret, Maid of Norway, but she was but a child. On route from Norway to Scotland, the new heir to the Scottish throne became ill and died on the 26th September 1290 in Orkney.
So the fight started to see who would become the next King of Scotland: Robert Bruce 5th Lord of Annadale in the south and the other main rival were the Comyn’s from the north.
With the threat of civil war looming, King Edward I of England was invited by the Scottish nobility to arbitrate in the process of choosing the new King of Scotland. A suggestion that had been put forward by William Fraser, the then Bishop of St.Andrews looking to avoid outright war between the clans.
King Edward I accepted their invitation, on the condition that he be recognised as the “Lord Paramount of Scotland.”
Then on the 11th June 1291, the Lord paramount of Scotland, King Edward I ordered that every Scottish Castle would come under his control and furthermore all Scottish officials were to be replaced by English officials.
He promised at the time, it was only a temporary arrangement under the terms of arbitration, but history has shown us otherwise. By being made Lord Paramount of Scotland, they had made him their ruler…
The Guardians of the Peace along with the leading members of Scottish nobility were required to swear allegiance to King Edward I as their Lord of the Kingdom of Scotland. All Scottish people also had to pay homage to Edward I, by the 27th July 1291, at predestined sites across the country.
Sir Malcolm Wallace refused to swear allegiance and fled, then in the latter months of 1291, he was murdered by Fenwick an English knight at Loudon Hill, for his refusal to yield to the true authority of King Edward I in Scotland.
In December 1291 William Wallace became branded as an outlaw by the Governor of Dundee; Sir Alan Fitz-Alan. His crime that he wilfully killed Selby, the son of a constable, yet Wallace was replying to Selby’s taunts of his father’s murder… So his new life was beginning, no longer destined to enter the church, but an outlaw.
On the 6th November 1292, the Lord Paramount of Scotland, King Edward I, having heard all arguments as to who should be Scotland’s new King, ruled in favour of John Balliol.
King John Balliol of Scotland, so stated that Scotland was nothing more than another region of England, and under direct control by King Edward I of England.
Robert Bruce shocked by the revelations that had taken place, retired from the Scottish political arena and died on the 1st April 1295. His son also named Robert Bruce, 1st Earl of Carrick passes his Earldom to that of his eighteen year old son; Robert Bruce who would become the future King of Scotland.
William Wallace hated the English and everything they stood for, holding them responsible for the death of his father. He often got into skirmishes with them, he just couldn’t help himself, he just couldn’t leave his dirk in its scabbard.
On one of these occasions he did battle with a number of English soldiers in Ayr, and managed to kill a few. However, he hadn’t been that lucky, for he was eventually captured and thrown into gaol awaiting his trial.
He was one lucky individual, for upon the day of his trial, he was found to be dead by the guards and believed to have died from a fever, sustained from his wounds. His former nanny was granted permission to take his body for a Christian burial, and finds he is barely alive. She and her daughter nurse him back to health, whilst keeping up the pretence to those around her, that William Wallace had actually died.
Once the news was out that the legendary William Wallace was indeed alive, and ready to tackle the English warriors once again a prophecy was written by Sir Thomas Rymour, believing he would drive the English out of Scotland,
For sooth, ere he decease,
Shall make thousands in the field make end.
From Scotland he shall forth the Southron send,
And Scotland thrice he shall bring to peace.
So good of hand again shall ne’er be kenned.
Fully recovered from his near death experience, he sent his former nanny and daughter into the care and protection of his mother at Ellerslie, fearing for their lives, once it becomes known they had aided his recovery.
The combination of William Wallace’s exploits against the English and the prophecy hailing him as the one who would deliver Scotland out of the hands of the English, into a life of Freedom. Many Scots and close friends, who were sympathetic to his cause rallied round him, as their leader to liberate Scotland.
Cousins: Adam Wallace, Richard Wallace, Simon Wallace and William de Crauford.
Nephews: Edward Little and Tom Halliday.
Uncle: Patrick Auchinleck of Gilbank.
King John Balliol’s reign as the Scottish ruler was marred by the constant interference of King Edward I’s constant meddling in the affairs of Scotland, he had become a puppet of the English monarch.
Edward had Scotland firmly under his control, and informed his King of Scotland to make ready troops and funds for an invasion of France and be ready by the 1st September 1294.
The Scottish King’s war council debated their involvement of taking part in this invasion, and devised a counter plan that would be in the best interests of Scotland.
Emissaries were sent to the court of King Philip of France, and informed of King Edward I intentions to invade their lands. So it was, a treaty was hammered out to thwart Edward’s plan of invasion. If Edward crossed the seas to invade France, Scotland would invade England assisted by the French. In return Edward Balliol son of King John Balliol of Scotland would marry Jeanne de Valois, the niece of King Philip of France.
An additional treaty was also created between King Erik II of Norway. They would supply one-hundred of their battleships for a four month period, whilst hostilities between England and France continued for the sum of 50,000 groats.
King John Balliol of Scotland informed King Edward I of England, that no Scottish warriors would take part in the invasion of France.
News reached the ears of King Edward I in the summer of 1295 that the Scots had created a treaty between themselves and France.
In October 1295, English northern defences were strengthened against a possible invasion from Scotland and so King Edward I ordered King John Balliol to release his control of castles and burghs of Berwick, Jedburgh and Roxburgh.
On the 16th October 1295, all King John Balliol estates south of the border were seized by King Edward I.
In the December of 1295, King Edward informed two hundred of his tenants at Newcastle to form themselves into a fighting unit in preparation for attacks by the armies of Scotland.
In the February of 1296, King Edward had amassed a fleet of ships off the East Anglian coastline, destined to sail north to Newcastle to assist his land forces.
King John Balliol summoned all Scots who could bear arms to converge at Caddonlee by 11th March 1296; this was in response to the English forces heading towards the border between their two countries.
Some nobles chose to reject the request; among those was Robert Bruce, the Earl of Carrick who had their estates seized by the crown, along with any who were known supporters of the English.
In Mid-March of 1296, the armies of England and Scotland faced each other across the border each eyeing one another up. One Lord Wark, Robert de Ros left his English forces to join those of the Scots, all for the love of a Scottish lass. He led a Scottish contingent in an ill-fated attempt to capture Wark castle.
On the 26th March 1296, the Earl of Buchan, one John Comyn attacked Carlisle, but the town’s defences, proved impenetrable. In utter frustration he laid waste to dwellings not protected by the town’s defences. On his route back to his homeland of Scotland, his army plundered and burned villages, monasteries and churches.
On the 30th March 1296 King Edward I had thirty thousand foot soldiers and a further five thousand cavalry lined up on the outskirts of Berwick. He offered unconditional surrender, but he was taunted by the town’s inhabitants. The battle was over quickly, as the garrison commander Sir William Douglas swore his allegiance to the English King.
It is said between seventeen and twenty thousand men, women and children were butchered by English warriors in three days of orgy and wanton destruction.
The news of the genocide committed at Berwick sent shock waves across Scotland. By 5th April King John Balliol dispatched the Abbot of Arbroath to King Edward I, carrying a letter of withdrawing his allegiance to him and England.
On the 23rd April 1296, the Scottish army had seized Dunbar Castle. Then on the 27th April, John Comyn led his Scottish forces against the English forces led by John de Warenne in the Lammermoor Hills at Spottsmuir, Dunbar. With one single move, the Scots were out manoeuvred and 130 battle hardened nobles were captured, and England’s resistance in Scotland crumbled.
28th April 1296 Dunbar Castle surrendered to the English.
8th May 1296 Roxburgh Castle surrendered to the English.
In Mid-May, Jedburgh, Dumbarton, Edinburgh and Stirling Castle all surrendered to the English. Then English warriors headed north clearing out those pockets of rebels who resisted the English, through Perth, Montrose and Aberdeen.
On the 2nd July 1296 King Balliol begged forgiveness of the English King and informed him it was his intention to abdicate from the Scottish throne.
On the 7th July 1296 King John Balliol at Stracathro admitted his errors publicly and confirmed his reconciliation with King Edward I. On the 10th July he abdicated his post from the Kingdom of Scotland. First at Brechin to the Bishop pf Durham, then at Montrose in front of King Edward I.
In August of 1296 John and Edward Balliol were incarcerated in the Tower of London, and John was later moved and placed under house arrest in Hertford.
King Edward I removed the Stone of Destiny from Scone, and had it placed in Westminster Abbey. He removed the Scottish regalia which included the Black Rood of St.Margarets along with a number of official documents from Edinburgh.
On the 28th August 1296, Parliament was convened at Berwick where prominent Scottish landowners had to prove their rights to their estates in the form of documental evidence.
King Edward I left Scotland on the 19th September 1296, leaving his appointed English officials to govern his provinces in his name.
John de Warenne: Governor of Scotland.
William Ormsby: Justiciar of Scotland.
Hugh Cressingham: Treasurer of Scotland.