A man of whom the facts are truthfully few. A man of low status or minor status and called by some an outlaw or bandit, it may have been that Wallace was being used by more powerful Scots aristocrats as a cover for their rebellion so they could be seen not to break their feudal vows of homage to Edward.
A contemporary chronicler writing in the monastery of Lanercost in Cumberland, has this to say: "Robert Wishart, bishop of Glasgow, ever foremost in treason conspired with the Steward of the Kingdom, named James, for a new piece of insolence, yea, for a new chapter of ruin. Not daring openly to break their pledge to the king, they caused a certain bloody man, William Wallace, who had formerly been a chief of brigands in Scotland, to revolt against the king and assemble the people in his support."
William Wallace was a man born to be a leader. Of the little known facts we have of Wallace, the one that comes across the clearest is that he inspired and led his men with efficiency, sometimes barbarously, in a guerrilla war against the English fueled by his passion for vengeance and his love for Scotland. When we read the story of William Wallace, imagination wanders back to the times of heroic antiquity, and enthusiasm can scarcely keep pace with reason in forming an estimate of his services to his country. Unfortunately there is little information that has come down to us from the period when he was alive. There is no doubt that he struck fear into the hearts of the English. A monastic chronicler from England, Walter of Hemingborough in Yorkshire, informs us that: "In the month of May (1297) the perfidious race of Scots began to rebel."
Scots Wha Hae
Scots, wha hae wi Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie!
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power -
Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor-knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa'
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in ev'ry foe!
Liberty's in ev'ry blow! -
William Wallace, The Legend, The Man
Bonnie and Gary McClure