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William Wallace

Outlaw / Ruler

Born: c. 1272
Died: 23 August 1305
Birthplace: Elerslie, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Best known as: Scot rebel lionized in the movie Braveheart
Sir William Wallace is considered one of Scotland's greatest heroes, thanks to his opposition to English rule under Edward I in the 13th century. The son of a minor Scottish lord, Wallace was educated and rebellious. Named an outlaw for killing an Englishman in 1292, he fled for the hills and formed an army to harass English soldiers. In 1297 Wallace and his army drove the English from Scotland and then boldly invaded northern England. In December of 1297 Wallace was elected Guardian of the Kingdom and began to rule Scotland. Within the year Edward I defeated Wallace at Falkirk and Wallace was forced to withdraw his forces. Wallace resigned as Guardian, but for the next several years engaged the English occupiers in frequent skirmishes. He was captured in 1305 and taken to London, where he was convicted of treason and executed. Although much of his story is obscured by legend, it's generally agreed that he was a very large, well-educated man who fought with passion and brilliant tactics.
Extra credit: Actor/director Mel Gibson's movie Braveheart (1995) is based on the life of Wallace.

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