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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Was Sir William Wallace a Christian?

William Wallace is my favorite military leader for several reasons. First of all, he was dedicated to principle. He was an incredible warrior and he lead by example.

The accounts about Wallace are many and varied. Some say that he was a Catholic and he killed women and children. There is, obviously, no way to truly know if he was a Christian but I hope I can present some interesting facts for your consideration.

As to the idea that he was Catholic, I find this highly unlikely for several reasons. First of all, he was most likely educated at Paisley Abbey, near
Glasgow 1. Scotland had a Christian influence, with early forms of Presbyterianism, since St. Columba, who came to Scotland in 563 2. Paisley Abbey had been founded by St. Mirren, an Irish missionary who came to Scotland in the wake of Columba, in 600 A.D 3. This is where Wallace's uncle, who was a bishop, educated him. Secondly, Wallace had a special love for the Psalms. This noted by the fact that he carried his Psalter on his military campaigns and it's presence at his execution 4. This appreciation for the Psalms is also evident in the lives of the Scottish Covenanters. Thirdly, taking into account the alliances that took place between other Catholic countries, if Wallace was truly a Catholic, he would have had no problem submitting to one.

There are accounts in existence of William Wallace killing and otherwise molesting non-combatants. I sincerely believe that these are false because of the great respect that Scots, at the time, showed to women and children. One of the greatest writings of the time period regarding how women should be treated had been written in
Scotland, by Adomnan 5, a cousin of Columba. This work, called the Law of the Innocents 6, was written some time around 697. This work would have, in all probability, been taught to Wallace as part of his formal education.

Rick Williams states, “Though fierce in battle, Wallace did not abuse his power; he used it to promote the ancient Christian concept of chivalry: “To speak the truth, succor the helpless, and never to turn back from an enemy.” 7

Finally, why was Wallace fighting the English? The English had not only invaded his country, but they were treating the Scots as less than human, abusing them, robbing them, and killing them. Wallace had experienced this first hand through the death of his wife. His defense of Scotland was uniquely Christian because the reasons for resistance presupposed a Christian world view. He could have submitted to English rule and become a highly ranked ruler. But he chose to share the suffering of his people and die, to insure that the following generations of Scots would enjoy freedom to serve God. Personally, I believe that William Wallace was a Christian. Although you may come to an entirely different conclusion, I think we can all agree that without the sacrifice of Wallace, Scotland would have ceased to be a nation. Without Scotland there is no Reformation and without the Reformation there is no America.

  1. William Wallace: Braveheart, by James Mackay, pg. 31
  2. Wikipedia article on St. Columba
  3. Wikipedia article on St. Mirren
  4. William Wallace: Braveheart, by James Mackay, pg. 31
  5. Wikipedia article on Adomnan
  6. Law of the Innocents
  7. William Wallace, A Brave Heart, by Rick Williams in the September/October 2004 issue of Homeschooling Today, pg. 60

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Blogger Son3 said...

William Wallace for President!

Seriously though, I think you're right, he probably was a Christian.

We won't know for sure until the end of time, but I think we can be fairly sure.

Remember, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." ~Matthew 7:21

September 15, 2008 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger crzypopmac said...

Hummm, William Wallace was not catholic?? Hummm last I heard Luther was born in 1483, and Wallace was born abt 1272. St Columba was not catholic either? catholics were last I heard christians also.

October 29, 2008 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...

Thanks for the comment and welcome to my blog!

True, Catholicism has been called Christianity along with Protestantism but there is a definite difference between the two. Protestants acknowledge God to be the head of the church and Catholics acknowledge the pope as the infallible head of the church.

True, Luther was born around 1483, but there was an early form of Presbyterianism that was brought to Scotland during the Roman invasion. This was called Celtic Christianity.

Thanks again.

October 30, 2008 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Ishkie said...

1. Catholics are Christians. They acknowledge the Pope as not divine but divinely chosen.
2. Scotland was a Catholic nation through to James VI,I.
3. Have you read The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace by Blind Hary? This is where the vast majority of information on Wallace comes from and it is faulty as a source of absolute truth.
4. MacKay is, as far as I know, not a scholar that historians often engage with often these days, but I would have to check my notes -- I could be confusing him with another Scottish historian.
5. You might be interested to check out the works of Scottish historian Jenny Wormald. She is a fantastic and fascinating writer, not to mention the premier Scottish historian.

June 20, 2009 at 3:52 AM  
Blogger Stephen Boyd said...


1.By the secular definition, I agree, Protestants and Catholics are thrown together into the melting pot and referred to as Christians against the Muslims, for instance.
My personal opinion is that Catholics are not Christians for several reasons. First of all, the idea of "Jesus plus", i.e. virgin worship. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me".John 14:6
"Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."Acts 16:31a
No worship of Mary, or any other idolatrous icon, is necessary.
2. Politically, Scotland was a Catholic nation because this was imposed on the people by their kings. The people, however, were Presbyterian.
3. I have never read Blind Harry, but I think Mackay does point out in his book that Harry was not very accurate.
4. Mackay died in 2007, so you're right!
5. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to look her up.

June 20, 2009 at 4:10 PM  

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