New this month Factual error: For much of ‘Braveheart' Robert the Bruce is torn between the choice of following his conscience by helping William Wallace or submitting to the English as a puppet ruler of Scotland. Thus he serves with the English army at the Battle of Falkirk, but helps Wallace to safety after the Scots are defeated. At the end of the film he is about to finally submit, when he has a change of heart, calls his followers to fight, and defeats the English. This is nonsense. Robert the Bruce was among the first Scottish noblemen to resist English control of Scotland. Edward I's Scottish wars lasted for more than ten years, and, at times, when it seemed that Edward had crushed all opposition, Robert the Bruce (like most Scots) made a half-hearted submission, but he soon took up arms again. There is no record that he was at the Battle of Falkirk (on either side). In 1306, seven months after Wallace's execution, he had himself crowned King of Scotland, provocatively rejecting English authority. For the rest of his life he waged uncompromising war against the English, culminating in his great victory at Bannockburn.
Add timeRob Halliday
New this month Factual error: Some more errors about Princess Isabella: at the height of William Wallaces' rebellion Edward I sends her as an ambassador to negotiate with Wallace (and spy on the Scots) instead she falls in love with Wallace. Princess Isabella was born in 1292: Wallace's rebellion was at its height during 1297-8, so she could have been no more than 6 at the time. (Somebody else has already observed that she was only 13 at the time of Wallace's execution.) Isabella's first language would (obviously) have been French, a 13th century Scotsman would speak either a heavily accented Scottish version of English, or Scots Gaelic, but Isabella has no communication difficulties in Scotland. The Wallace-Isabella affair is also absurd, since it is implausible that, at the height of a war, an unaccompanied young woman, let alone a princess engaged to the heir to the throne of England, would be sent into the heart of a war zone as an envoy and a spy.
Add timeRob Halliday
Factual error: The reason why it is called the Battle of Stirling is because it was fought on Stirling Bridge, in mud. The English had to file down into small ranks so they could cross the bridge, while William Wallace came in with full plate armour, not kilts, and butchered them with the rest of the Scots.
Factual error: The voice-over at the beginning of the film tells us that Malcolm Wallace was a commoner with his own lands and constant references are made through-out the film to William being a commoner. However this is a common historical myth. Malcolm Wallace was in fact born as a minor noble and became a knight, as was William. They were poor as noble families went but were still infinitely more privileged than the commoners of the day.
Factual error: Malcolm Wallace had three sons: John, William, and Malcolm. He was not killed in a minor scuffle with the English. He, in fact, fought for several years with the English in order to free John de Baliol from the tower of London. At the time, Baliol was the rightful heir to the Scottish crown, and that was actually William's reason for fighting the English. Robert the Bruce was the one who actually liberated Scotland, right?
Factual error: In the night scene after Malcolm Wallace's funeral we see the silhouette of a man playing bag pipes. Argyle tells William that they are outlawed tunes played on outlawed pipes. However, the bagpipes have only ever been banned twice in Scotland: in 1560 after the Reformation and again in 1746 after the Battle of Culloden (evidence for bans on bagpipes in the 18th century is weak at best). In the late 13th Century the bagpipe enjoyed similar popularity in England, although Scottish bagpipes were particular to the region, and had an established cultural importance. Whether these early bagpipes were as strongly associated with highland culture as later forms of the instrument is unclear; lowland and border musical tradition is more closely linked with small pipes.
Factual error: At the battle of Falkirk, the Irish soldiers fighting for Edward change sides at the last moment and go over to fight with the Scots. In reality, there were no Irish troops present at the battle. The only troublemakers amongst the English army were the contingent of Welsh bowmen who showed a reluctance to fight Wallace but this was more out of fear rather than sympathy for the Scots.
Factual error: Throughout the film, Wallace is portrayed as a Highland clansman in traditional highland garb. This was done by Gibson to emphasise the Scottish/English conflict, but it is not historically accurate. In fact, Wallace was a Lowland knight from exactly the same ethnic background as the Anglo-Normans he was fighting and would have worn the same style of armour as they did.
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