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Beginning to A.D. 350
A.D. 350 to 794
A.D. 795 to 1260

The emergence of William Wallace

Freedom Fighter or Terrorist, or somewhere in between.

William Wallace (picture) is a man who appears to stir up wildly different viewpoints. Perhaps this is due to the sources of evidence we have for what or indeed who, he really was. The first source is the "official" government sources - English based, they are without exception violently anti-Wallace describing him as a version of the anti-Christ. The second source is Scottish based, such as those by Andrew of Wyntoun and Blind Harry. Unsurprisingly, thes are all pro-Wallace. The third is the folk stories, passed from generation to generation.

Little is known about William Wallace's early life including even the actual date of his birth. Most scholars now accept a date of around 1272, which would put him in his mid-twenties when he first came to prominence in 1297. Wallace seems to have fallen foul of the English regime early, according to Blind Harry. In Dundee he is said to have killed, in a street confrontation, a young man named Selby, the 'overbearing' son of the English constable of the castle there. He managed to make his escape from Dundee, only to live the life of an outlaw.

To the English, Wallace was merely a vagabond and outlaw but legends and stories began to steadily grow around Wallace's name. He appeared to have a fierce love of freedom for Scotland and an absolute dedication to the idea of independence. He traveled the length and breadth of the country, murdering Englishmen at every opportunity, attacking and capturing castles apparently at will.

The turning-point in Wallace's life and indeed Scotland's came, according to Blind Harry, after he had secretly married a beautiful young heiress named Marion Braidfoot, of Lanark. At the time, Lanark Castle was under the control of an English sheriff, Sir William Heselrig. In May 1297, Wallace paid a visit in disguise to his wife (who had recently given birth to a daughter), but his presence in Lanark became known to the English overlord. Wallace evaded capture but Heselrig exacted revenge for this by having Marion seized and cruelly put to death.

Part 2