The Life and Death of William Wallace
No national hero ever excited greater admiration than that of William Wallace. No hero remained such a shadowy figure, his life and actions beset by myths and contradictions. When Scotland's hope of becoming independent was smashed, when the Scots were oppressed, and their nation virtually wiped out, Wallace emerged from the shadows like some bright meteor in the night sky. He gained a spectacular victory over the English in one battle and sustained a crushing defeat in a second. He disappeared from recorded history just as swiftly as he had come, emerging only briefly seven years later when he was betrayed to the English, brought to London, subjected to a mockery of a trial and executed in a most hideous and barbaric manner (Mackay 9). Though his life came to a tragic end, William Wallace's life greatly influenced the movement for Scotland's independence.
Born in January, most likely in 1272 in the town of Elerslie, Scotland (known now as Elderslie), William Wallace was born as the second of three sons to Sir Malcolm Wallace. Few national heroes possess such an obscure and contradictory background as William Wallace. The year of his birth has been stated as anywhere between 1260-1278 and his father's name given as Malcolm, Andrew, or William and his mother's name has been given as Jean, Joan, or Margaret or not stated at all and her surname given as Crawford, Craufurd, Crawfoord or some other variation (Mackay 13). If we accept the traditional account, Wallace, for the time and given his origins, was well educated. As a result, he was familiar with Greek as well as Latin and his knowledge of the Bible was extensive. As a younger son with few prospects, he was, we to assume, intended for the priesthood,