A Scots historian has suggested William Wallace was only a co-leader in the event which sparked a rebellion against the English.
Professor Dauvit Broun, from the University of Glasgow, has published new research into the role of Wallace in the murder of the English Sheriff William Hesilrig in Lanark in 1297 - an event which led to the Scots defeating the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge a few months later, and Wallace becoming the ‘guardian of Scotland’.
Professor Broun, in a paper published on The Breaking of Britain online project, claims the death of the Sheriff was as much to do with a knight called Richard of Lundie as it was to do with Wallace. Until now, it was thought Wallace was the sole leader in the action which resulted in Hesilrig's death.
It is already recognised by historians that Wallace was joined by a knight William Douglas for an attack on the English justiciar William Ormsby at Scone after the sheriff’s death in Lanark, and by the lord Andrew Murray at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. So was Wallace's role in the Scots uprising smaller than previously thought?
A few weeks after the death of the sheriff, prominent Scots including the future King Robert the Bruce sought a peace agreement with the English. Feeling he would be marginalised, it is suggested Lundie joined the English forces in the hope his act in Lanark would be forgotten.
Lundie was then part of the English force which was famously defeated by Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. According to another chronicle of the time, Lundie urged the English leaders at the battle to send a detachment over the River Forth to attack the Scots from the rear.
If Lundie’s advice had been taken, the outcome of the battle might have different from the decisive Scottish victory and consequent fame for Wallace.
The new perspective on the attack on the Lanark sheriff, a key moment in Scottish history which again shows Wallace as a partner, has emerged following the study of an account dubbed by Professor Broun as the Schøyen chronicle.
Professor Broun added: "Nothing is heard about Richard of Lundie after the Battle of Stirling Bridge. But an English song of the time blames their defeat on his treachery. Could it be that Richard of Lundie swapped sides again once he saw the way the battle was going?"
After the Battle of Stirling, Wallace became the ‘guardian of Scotland’, an unprecedented position of power. But was it all by accident?
Professor Broun concludes: "This (the Schøyen chronicle) puts Wallace's leadership in a new light. It is known that he was co-leader with William Douglas when the English justiciar was attacked, and co-leader at Stirling Bridge with Andrew Murray.
"Now we can see that he was no more than co-leader at the iconic slaying of the Sheriff of Lanark too. Wallace became the legendary leader of Scottish resistance by accident, by the death, capture or surrender of his colleagues."
- Professor Broun's new research on William Wallace
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