William Wallace is one of Scotland's greatest national heroes, undisputed leader of the Scottish resistance forces during the first years of the long and ultimately successful struggle to free Scotland from English rule at the end of the 13th Century.
Records of Wallace's life are patchy and often inaccurate. This is partly because early accounts of his heroic deeds are speculative, and partly because he inspired such fear in the minds of English writers at the time, that they demonised him, his achievements, and his motives.
Many of the stories surrounding Wallace have been traced to a late-15th Century romance "The Wallace", ascribed to Henry the minstrel, or "Blind Harry". This epic is vehemently anti-English in language and tone. The most popular tales about Wallace are not supported by documentary evidence, but they show his firm hold on the imagination of his people. He represented the spirit of the common man striving for freedom against oppression, and exposed the Scottish nobility of the time as a group of unprincipled opportunists.
Wallace's place as a hero in Scottish history is assured. There can be little doubt that he has always been revered as a self-effacing and passionate patriot by later generations of Scots. Unlike the conniving Scottish nobles who had collaborated with the English in return for financial benefits, Wallace had never sought personal fame nor benefited from it. He had accrued neither wealth nor land....
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