1. He was executed on August 23, 1305. (Hence my choice of him as subject of today’s post. I’m nothing if not timely.)
2. Wallace was one of the leading figures in the Scottish Wars of Independence.
3. The date and even year of his birth is currently unknown. (Some information is simply beyond the abilities of the Internet.)
4. Most historians believe he was born in Elderslie in Renfrewshire; some, however, claim it was actually Ellerslie in Ayrshire.
5. Wallace and Andrew Moray share the credit for the successful Battle of Stirling Bridge on September 11, 1297, with Wallace allegedly skinning one of the English leaders (Hugh Cressingham) and using his skin to create a baldrick (shoulder device for carrying his sword, don’t you know).
6. Oh, but he lost the 1298 Battle of Falkirk, giving King Edward a much-needed victory. (“Win some, lose some” is a good everyday outlook, but not in times of bloody war.)
7. It’s thought that Wallace spent some time as an envoy to France, trying to get those leaders to lend their support to the Scots.
8. He was captured on August 5, 1305 and eventually tried for treason and for atrocities against civilians in the war. He responded to the first charge by saying that “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” (Good logic. Didn’t help, though.)
9. After his trial, he was stripped bare and dragged through the streets of London, tied behind a horse. He was strangled, drawn and quartered, and his head was placed on a spike atop London Bridge. (Pity the poor sod who one day, many years later, had to take down the remains of all those heads.)
10. He was portrayed by Mel Gibson in the film Braveheart, which is (typically of Hollywood) a very fictionalized account of his life. (Still, all in all it’s probably a more accurate treatment than that accorded Grieg in Song of Norway.)