The story of Scottish independence hero William Wallace is the stuff of legend. He’s the subject of poems by Jane Porter and Sir Walter Scott, as well as the Academy Award-winning film Braveheart. His death, however, was gruesome and brutal.
In 1305, Wallace was convicted of treason and hanged, drawn and quartered in London. His body was cut into four parts, and his limbs were sent to Berwick, Stirling, and Newcastle as a warning to others. His head was dipped in tar and displayed on a pike on London Bridge.
Before he was executed, Wallace was dragged through the streets of London on a hurdle drawn by horses. He was hanged until almost dead, then emasculated and disemboweled. His intestines and his genitals were burned before being removed from his body. He was then beheaded.
Despite his gruesome end, Wallace’s legend only grew. It’s thought that he had been in England fighting for a number of years. He may have even participated in some of Edward I’s campaigns in Wales.
His transformation from common outlaw to freedom fighter began in May of 1297. It’s said that he and his small group of soldiers killed the English sherrif of Lanark. The sherrif had killed a woman that Wallace loved. This romance is a key theme in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.