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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Live Free, Or Freely Die"


Perhaps the most well-known figure in the history of Scottish Independence, William Wallace had a great legacy as a freedom-fighter and resistor of tyrants. Wallace was born sometime around 1260. His great stature and strength marked him as a superb warrior. He was taught martial skills at a very young age by his father and older brother. William, who was originally intended for the ministry, recieved a very good education from his uncle. Besides Scots, his native language, he also spoke Gaelic, Latin, and French. His uncle also gave him a great appreciation for God’s word, especially the Psalms, which he would read from daily on his campaigns. As the Presbyterians did years later, he fought an unrelenting battle against the invaders of his country. The stories of his military prowess and victory against great odds are too many to recount here.

On this day in 1305, Sir William Wallace was “hung, drawn, and quartered”, for being a traitor to the English crown. Although treated in a barbarous manner, eyewitnesses say that through the entire trial, he only spoke once:

“I can be no traitor for I owe him (Edward I) no allegiance. He is not my sovereign; he never received my homage and whilst life is in this persecuted body, he never shall receive it. To the other points of which I am accused, I freely confess them all. As governor of my country I have been an enemy to its enemies; I have slain the English; I have mortally opposed the English king; I have stormed and taken the towns and castles which he unjustly claimed as his own. If I or any of my soldiers have plundered or done injury to the houses or ministers or religion, I repent me of my sin; but it is not of Edward of England I shall ask pardon.”

Just prior to his tortuous execution, he asked that one of his men, who had followed him to London, would hold up his Psalter so Wallace could see it as he was being tortured. His last word was, “Freedom”.

I want to end with my favorite quote, attributed to Wallace. At one point during his lifetime he met Robert the Bruce, who was fighting for the English at the time. The unprincipled Bruce asked Wallace why he continued to fight against hopeless odds. The reply was classic:

“You, to whom ignominious slavery with security is dearer than honorable liberty with danger, embrace the fortune you so much admire. I, in the country which I have so often defended, shall live free, or freely die; nor shall my affection for it leave me, but with my last breath.”

Author’s note: The best biography I have read on Wallace is William Wallace: Braveheart, by James Mackay.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Son3 said...

Brilliant speech!

He was quite a man; too few are like him today.

August 25, 2008 at 4:30 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Excellent Post!

It's a shame the way hollywood portrayed Wallace like they did in Braveheart, he was as historically accurate in the film as was the films rendition of the battle of Stirling Bridge (which had no bridge and no River Forth!).

God Bless,
~Mike

August 25, 2008 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

I heard Little Bear's slam of Braveheart and that's what changed my mind about watching it.

August 25, 2008 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

While speaking of William Wallace, George Grant once referred to Braveheart as "That patchwork quilt of truth and fiction..."

Certainly the movie is very far indeed from perfect, but I think it has its redeeming qualities -- among them the maturing of Robert the Bruce's character throughout the story and a host of memorable quotes. For example, the opening voiceover runs thus (in a purposeful Scottish accent):

"I will tell you of William Wallace. Historians in England will say I am a liar, but history is written by those who have hanged heroes."

August 25, 2008 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the comment!

Ahhhh....George Grant, I can hear him drawing out, "Mesopotamia".

True, Braveheart has some classic lines!

August 25, 2008 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger Gravelbelly said...

I'd previously read about Wallace's asking to behold his Psalter at his execution. Thanks for including this.

To me, the saddest departure from history of the "Braveheart" movie was the substitution of his wife's ghost for the Psalter at the execution scene.

August 26, 2008 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the comment.

The film seems to be laced with weirdness like that. Perhaps it's a Roman Catholic thing.

August 26, 2008 at 11:36 AM  

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