William Wallace the Brave
Part Two-The Troubles Begin
Scotland needed a ruler.The
only direct heir to the throne was dead and soon after 13 people had made
their claims to the throne.It seemed that a civil war was inevitable but
after much debate the choice was narrowed down to two men Robert Bruce
the elder and John Balliol and the man who decide the outcome was no other
than King Edward I.
Edward had boasted to his
privy council that he would subdue the Scots and during one meeting to
decide who would take the crown went into a rage when the Scots would not
declare him overlord of Scotland.
Eventually however the decision was made and John
Balliol was crowned as king but on Edward's terms which allowed for English
troops to be garrisoned in Scotland,for tribute to be made to Edward and
for the new king to declare Edward as his superior.
The Scots were none to thrilled and skirmishes
broke out every so often.Loudoun Hill was the scene of one such skirmish
in which William's father Malcolm was killed by an English knight named
William was outraged for his family was now in
a dire situation,his people were being treated as second class citizens
in their own country and his father was dead soon William would be pushed
too far and take action himself.
Wallace was visiting Dundee and the English constable
there whose name was Selby had a son who delighted in tormenting the locals
with a band of his friends.The time came when he would challenge Wallace.
The young Selby's exact words to Wallace were
"Thou Scot abide ; what devil clothed thee in so gay a garment?An Irish
mantle were the right apparel for thy kind,a Scotish knife under thy belt
to carry,rough shoes upon thy boorish feet." in so many words Young
Selby had insulted William's appearance and demanded that William give
him the attractive knife on his belt.
Wallace gave it to him straight through the heart.Soon
after he was branded an outlaw and fled to Riccarton but trouble found
him there too.One day while fishing a band of English knights demanded
William's catch but Wallace retorted saying that the fish was for an elderly
knight.The leader of the five knights told William he could continue fishing
but Wallace told him that he was in the wrong and that he had every right
to fish there.The English knight didn't like being talked to that way by
a Scot and attacked William but with one good strike to the jaw William
knocked the knight to the ground and snatched his sword gashing his neck
and as two other knights attacked William he dispatched one with a slash
deep in the collarbone and severed the sword hand of the other.The last
two knights fled to seek help from the local English constable a man named
Percy but the constable laughed saying they weren't worth avenging if one
man took them all down.
Meanwhile John Balliol was not getting into Edward's
good graces he secured an alliance with France who at that time was in
a now and then state of war with England.In the town of Berwick a band
of English sea merchants had been murdered by a band of renegade Scots
and Edward wanted revenge and so led an attack against Berwick that led
to three days of unheard of atrocities.Men,women and children all were
slain by the English in ways brutal even for the times and one report states
that Edward even witnessed one of his soldiers killing a woman while she
gave birth.After three days the English had killed 20 thousand citizens
and annexed the city to England.Balliol immediately sent Edward a letter
declaring that their allegiance was over the letter was seen as a declaration
Edward appointed Hugh Cressingham as treasurer
of Scotland and made his headquarters in Berwick which was being rebuilt
as an English city.Scotland was trapped in a war it could not win defeats
in Dunbar,Jedburgh,Edinburgh,Stirling,Perth,Aberdeen,Banff and some parts
of the highlands told the tale.July 2nd 1296 Balliol surrendered to Edward.Edward
had Balliol exiled and took the Stone of Scone to Westminister Abbey (some
say that a band of priests hid the real stone) Edward now declared himself
King of Scotland.
It was close to this time that William had come
to the aid of a boy who was being accosted by English soldiers but the
English managed to capture him and placed him in a dungeon to await trial
but while in jail Walace became deathly ill.The day of Wallace's trial
had come but he was found in his cell in a deep coma brought on by fever
the soldiers thinking him dead dumped William into a dung heap but he was
found by a former servant and nursed back to health.
Wallace made his way back to Riccarton and met
with his uncle Richard where tales of his deeds spread soon he was joined
by his cousins and men of the area around his uncle's estates and soon
he would make his first bold strike not as an outlaw content at nipping
at Edward's heels but as a guerilla fighting a war for freedom and his
first true mission against his enemy was to avenge his father's death.