Monday, July 30, 2007

Stirling Castle and The Wallace Monument

Some of you out there might be fans of the Mel Gibson movie, "Braveheart." Some of you also know that all you have to do is talk about how much you love it, and how it is a true story, for me to go off the deep end.

I'm going to take a moment therefore to tell you all about the real William Wallace. In truth William Wallace was not a commoner by birth but a member of the lower noblity. Thus, a man of leisure, a man of arms, but not great land, or power amongst the nobles. His father and brother died in the Battle of Culloden, not in the way the movie portrays. (However in defense of this one scene, there is legend that says something of that sort happened once in the border lands. HOWEVER, in truth there are no monk records to back it up, meaning it most likely NEVER happened.) William had an uncle who was in the clergy and William was to follow in his footsteps, he learned Greek and Latin from him as well as law. So in addition to speaking the Normandy-French of the noblity (he was a Saxon, not Scottish) and a little bit of Scots-Gaelic to communicate with the locals, he spoke Greek and Latin. Hardly the country bumpkin of the movie.

Braveheart was associated with a lady, Marian. Her father was wealthy and dead, and she was suppose to marry an English officer. However, she had sympathy on many occasions. Despite laws banning Scots to carry arms, William did and made a show of it as well. So as he repeatively got into tussels with the English in charge, Marian hid him and delayed the English. There were rummors that she was pregnant with his child, but no record that they were ever married. On one instance, he killed several men, and escaped to her house, and she helped him get away, when the English realized her involvement she was killed.

This however, was not the start of his career as the movie portrays. He was first branned as an outlaw (literally meaning outside of the protection of the law, and thereby killable at any time, by anyone without consequences) because an officer, of course English, asked him to surrender his dirk. He refused and instead killed, 8 men, and another managed to get away. To say the least he was a hot-headed man. He killed tons of men, and the English had reason to be after him.

However, the commoners and most of the outlaws of the land rallyed to him as he set off to kill all the English in the area. He began defeating larger and larger groups of soldiers, and after John Bailol (current King of Scots) was captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London by Longshanks, King Edward of England William Wallace starts declaring victories in the name of John Bailol, never yelling "FREEDOM!"

Now to understand Scottish history, especially at this point, you need to understand the relationship of England and Scotland. Just a few short years before this, Alexander was King of Scotland and as an old man married a rather young lady. He was eager to get home one night, and left in a rain storm. Something happened, his horse ran off a cliff and he was found dead a few days later. This left a crisis because there were no near claims to the throne. Twenty different men, had incredibly distant claims, and no one could decide who's was the nearest. The three men with the closest claims were John Bailiol, Robert the Bruce, and John Comyns. They all called in King Edward, and all agreed that the only way he could decide was if he was their leige lord. This in turn meant that the King of Scotland would be a subject of the King of England. They all agreed and then all when made King went back on their promises made to him.

Therefore, when you see the Lords working in turn for and against England, it isn't because they dislike Scotland. They HAVE NO idea of NATIONALITY! They don't. They are working for their leige lord, and leaving him when they feel that they have better chances for themselves. One final point on my rant about democracy and the like. Throughout this stuggle it is a search for a king of Scotland, and more power for the nobles, NOTHING is being done for the people, the commoners, those that will one day find a place here in this country.

A few more serious errors are in the movie which need to be addressed. First, William Wallace never had an affair with or met the Princess. She was three at the time and had her first child 14 years after the death of William. Second, the Battle of Stirling was actually the Battle of Stirling Bridge. They didn't flash the English, but they were able to force a large number of mounted cavalry over Stirling Bridge, through mud, until it collapsed leaving the Scots on foot the ablity to sweep through and escape. Third, the Scots of this period didn't wear blue face paint and kilts, they wore long yellow shirts. It would have been like doing the Patriot, and dressing Washington up in Indian facepaint, and a space suit. Fourth, the end of the movie says that the Scots won a big victory, but the truth was that they won a battle after that then were trounced by the English before signing over their indepence.

Well, without further ado, here are the photos.
This is the gang hanging out in front of the King Robert the Bruce statue at Stirling. This is me and Ryan hanging out in the courtyard of Stirling Castle.So check this out! There is a palm tree growing in the Stirling Castle Gardens. No joke! Also in real life at nine months old Mary was crowned Queen of Scots at Stirling Castle, so we crowned our Mary here as well, with a 2 Pound Crown from the gift store. This is the Wallace Monument. There are about 267 stairs to the top. It's on the only hill in the Stirling area so it's pretty impressive. The picture below is all of our men folk around the William Wallace statue that is modeled after Mel Gibson. They are all yelling Freedom! Front and center is our professor, who is getting into this more than anyone else.This is the theoritical Wallace Sword at the top of the Monument. It is 6 feet in length which matches the discription of the broadsword that Wallace sometimes carried. Only problem it was made in 1600s not the 1200s. Below, Natalie climbed out on the edge of the monument, over open spaces, and is standing on a curved area, very far from the ground. But it's a great photo...Finally this is Loch Moray. Loch is Scots for lake. It was beautiful. We saw it on our way up into the highlands, after leaving the city of Stirling.


strem said...

WOW! Thanks for the history lesson. Your pictures make it clear that I MUST get there someday! I MUST!! So beautiful and interesting. (I probably will need you as a tour guide.)

Dani said...

I have no problem, with that. I can give you all the Medieval and 18th century you want!