On this day 1305: William Wallace hanged, drawn and quartered

One of Scotland's most iconic heroes endured a brutal death in London 711 years ago.

The William Wallace Statue situated overlooking the River Tweed at Bemersyde estate near Melrose.Pic Ian Rutherford

William Wallace played a pivotal role in the Scottish Wars of Independence at the end of the 13th century.

He inflicted a crushing defeat on the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and was appointed ‘guardian of Scotland’ shortly after.

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Wallace’s early victories angered the English king, Edward I, who rallied his forces and marched north the following year.

A depiction of Sir William Wallace. Picture: Creative Commons

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In July 1298, the Scottish and English armies met near Falkirk, and the Scots were defeated. Wallace escaped, eventually travelling to France in an attempt to gain support for the Scottish cause.

But the French were not interested, they needed Edward’s help to suppress a revolt in Flanders.

With no prospect of victory, the Scottish leaders capitulated and recognised Edward as overlord in 1304.

A depiction of Sir William Wallace. Picture: Creative Commons

Only Wallace refused to submit, for him the English were the ultimate enemy and he refused to accept their rule no matter what form it took.

The exiled warrior was stripped of his titles and declared an outlaw, which meant he could be executed on the spot by anyone who discovered him.

He returned to Scotland but was betrayed and captured by Sir John Menteith near Glasgow on 3 August 1305.

Sentenced to death without a trial in London, Wallace was given an excruciating death by his English captors for repeatedly refusing to recognise England’s sovereignty on 23 August 1305.

He was drawn behind horses for 5 miles or so, then hanged, stretched, disembowelled, castrated, his heart, lungs and organs torn out before him and then he was finally beheaded and quartered.

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