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William Wallace

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William Wallace, one of Scotlands greatest national heroes to ever live, had had enough of King Edward I (Longshanks), king of Englands rule over Scotland. The patriotic Scottish outlaw organized a rebellion to stand up to Edwards rule. Wallace became a hero among the Scots but was considered a traitor by the English. Ultimately Scotland did win its freedom, but Wallaces own campaign was a failure. The main reasons for the failure of William Wallaces military campaign are: The lack of leadership on the Scottish side, the lack of cooperation among the Scottish nobles, and the fact that the Scots were greatly outnumbered, poorly trained and poorly armed.

The first point that will be discussed is the lack of Scottish leadership. It would be impossible for any army to have many, if any, victories when there is no true leader to stand up and lead. Scotlands king, Alexander III, had, died after riding off a cliff during a wild storm.1 There was no heir to the Scottish throne because King Alexander III had outlived all of his children.2 Without a king, Scotland was pretty much lost. They had no direction as to what to do or when to do it.

Without a king, the next in line to rule would have been the nobles. The problem with the nobles is that they were all too stubborn and proud to be ordered around by anyone, or cooperate with any of the other nobles. They would fight in their own good time and wherever they saw fit, but they would accept orders from no one.3 It was bad enough that Scotland had no king but the defiance by the nobles to lend Wallace aid did not help Wallaces campaign at all.

The little leadership the Scottish rebels had was not enough. William Wallace is said to have been an excellent fighter. Unmatched in strength, speed, stamina or skill with a claymore, but despite his ability to fight, he was very inexperienced in commanding an army. The only thing he had ever led was a handful of loyal rebels on raids. The Scottish spirits were high but their courage was not enough to overcome the lack of organization.4 Thomas B. Costain says, The best fighting force in the world would be helpless if it lacked authority behind it to supply arms and food and scouting facilities to keep an eye on enemy movements.5 The Scots were at an obvious disadvantage from the get go.

Another factor that influenced the failure of Wallaces rebellion, beside the Scottish lack of leadership or organization, is the unwillingness of the Scottish nobles to come together as one unit and fight together to rid their country of the English oppressors. The nobles just simply could not find it in themselves to cooperate. After King Alexander III had died, and after his only heir to the throne, Margaret, died, thirteen claimants to the Scottish throne came forward.6 By this time King Edward of England saw his opportunity and Scotland was essentially occupied by the English.7 The competition for the crown was very stiff and it caused many internal conflicts amongst the nobles.8 It is obviously difficult to imagine the nobles uniting to work together on the battlefield when they are all competing for the throne.

Apart from the conflicts with each other, the nobles were constantly switching alliances. One day they would be fighting against Edward, and the next day they would be fighting with him. Wallace had to constantly be aware of this so as not to put his trust into the wrong person. 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.9 The nobles were constantly being bought off by Edward. Most of them held large land estates in England, and if they were to fight against Edward they would lose these estates. To the nobles it was not worth the loss. They didn't

care about the good of the country they just cared about themselves.

Going into the battle of Falkirk, which was the battle where the Scots lost all of their military momentum, Wallace was under the impression that Robert the Bruce was going to be fighting with him and his army. Bruce was one of the two main contenders for the throne. John Balliol was the other main contender. Bruce submitted to Edward in 1302, perhaps because he had heard that France was supporting Balliol, the party of resistance was not solid.10 Wallace did not have the support from Bruce that he needed at Falkirk,



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