English Victory over the Scots 709 years ago today - "freedom fighter", flees, is betrayed by fellow Scot and is hung as a traitor
July 22nd is a day when we celebrate with such quiet satisfaction the rout of William Wallace at Falkirk 709 years ago - and this year, not only the 7th Sunday after Trinity but Saints day for the Holy Mary Magdalene.
Wallace had appointed himself the preposterous title of Guardian of Scotland after a skirmish at Stirling Bridge the previous year and after his attempts at plunder of the North. Now transformed by Hollywood into a glorious gureilla's fight for Freedom.
Edward Plantagenet saw that he had to remove this bothersome hooligan and hit and run border raider with the reputation of a serial killer. Edward quickly gathered some 80,000 motley mercenaries, Irish, English and otherwise unemployed Welsh archers(who proved decisive in the victory) to meet Wallace's peasant army in the Scottish lowlands.
Most accounts of the battle say that Wallace's ragged crew gave a good account of the themselves but were outflanked and outnumbered and seeing this the Scots cavalry under John "The Black" Comyn fled the field followed by the rest of the Highland rabble.
Wallace escaped, lost or forfeited his nonsensical and (very) short lived title as Guardian of Scotland and hid on the Continent with the ever perfidious french. He eventually returned to Scotland and was hounded down (not before he slew his colleagues to save his own skin) then betrayed by Sir John Menteith, the ‘false’ Menteith - who had fought on the patriots side against Edward at Dunbar.
Wyntoun's Chronicle of about 1418 records the event ...
"Schyre Jhon of Menteith in tha days
Tuk in Glasgow William Walays;
And sent hym until Ingland sune,
There was he quartayrd and undone."
Captured, he was taken to London , tried for treason and the execution of cicilians and prisoners. Without a lawyer or a jury he was found guilty , taken and dragged naked through the City. Hung , drawn (emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burnt in front of him) and quartered - his limbs were sent for display to Newcastle (which he had raided), Berwick, Stirling and Aberdeen and his head was stuck on a pike on London Bridge.
A plaque on the wall of St Bartholomews Hospital records the spot and the event (see pic).
Incredibly in April 2006 William Wallace was named the greatest Scot in a National Portrait Gallery poll ...er.. that was the SCOTTISH National Portrait Gallery.