Braveheart (1995)

In 1280, King Edward “Longshanks” invades and conquers Scotland following the death of Alexander III of Scotland, who left no heir to the throne. Young William Wallace witnesses Longshanks’ treachery, survives the deaths of his father and brother, and is taken abroad on a pilgrimage throughout Europe by his paternal uncle Argyle, where he is educated. Meanwhile, a grown Wallace returns to Scotland and falls in love with his childhood friend Murron MacClannough, and the two marry in secret. Wallace rescues Murron from being raped by English soldiers, but as she fights off their second attempt, Murron is captured and publicly executed. In retribution, Wallace leads his clan to slaughter the English garrison in his hometown and send the occupying garrison at Lanark back to England. Longshanks orders his son Prince Edward to stop Wallace by any means necessary.

Alongside his friend Hamish, Wallace rebels against the English, and as his legend spreads, hundreds of Scots from the surrounding clans join him. Wallace leads his army to victory at the Battle of Stirling and then destroys the city of York, killing Longshanks’ nephew and sending his severed head to the king. Wallace seeks the assistance of Robert the Bruce, the son of nobleman Robert the Elder and a contender for the Scottish crown. Robert is dominated by his father, who wishes to secure the throne for his son by submitting to the English. Worried by the threat of the rebellion, Longshanks sends his son’s wife Isabella of France to try to negotiate with Wallace as a distraction for the landing of another invasion force in Scotland.

In 1298, leading the English army himself, Longshanks confronts the Scots at Falkirk. There, noblemen Mornay and Lochlan turn their backs on Wallace after being bribed by the king, resulting in the death of Hamish’s father, Campbell. Wallace is then further betrayed when he discovers Robert the Bruce was fighting alongside Longshanks; after the battle, after seeing the damage he helped do to his countrymen, the Bruce reprimands his father and vows not to be on the wrong side again.

In London, Wallace is brought before an English magistrate, tried for high treason, and condemned to public torture and beheading. Even whilst being hanged, drawn and quartered, Wallace refuses to submit to the king. The watching crowd, deeply moved by the Scotsman’s valor, begin crying for mercy. The magistrate offers him one final chance, asking him only to utter the word, “Mercy”, and be granted a quick death. Wallace instead shouts, “Freedom!”, and the judge orders his death. As Wallace’s cry rings through the square, Longshanks hears it just before dying.

In 1314, Robert, now Scotland’s king, leads a Scottish army before a ceremonial line of English troops on the fields of Bannockburn, where he is to formally accept English rule. As he begins to ride toward the English, he stops and invokes Wallace’s memory. Hamish throws Wallace’s sword, Braveheart, point-down in front of the English army, imploring his men to fight with Robert as they did with Wallace. With the Scots chanting Wallace’s name, Robert then leads his army into battle against the stunned English, winning the Scots their freedom.

Now I have to say this, and the diehard fans even have to admit this but Braveheart is one of the most historically inaccurate films made. From the Battle of Stirling Bridge and there being no bridge, to the fact they’re wearing kilts, that weren’t around for another 500 years to some of the main characters not even being around when the others were. The list could go on and on and there are numerous YouTube videos and websites proving this. A friend once said ‘Mel Gibson would have us believe after having your lungs and stomach ripped out you could still yell Freedom.’So feel free to watch this film and enjoy it, but don’t watch it for historical accuracies.

I would say that if it did do anything, it put the umpth back into a Scottish nation who if you ask the Scots, Welsh and Irish are always treated as inferior by the English.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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