Execution Part II
Wallace had also been found guilty of robbery and murder, and the sentence for these crimes was hanging. Alas, the rebel didn’t get off so easily so while he was half-strangled by the rope, he wasn’t allowed to die. In Braveheart, we see knives on the table, but we don’t see what happened below Wallace’s waist. In reality, his executioner âemasculated’ him; this means Wallace’s testicles and penis were cut off. Next, the prisoner’s intestines were removed and burned in front of him.
If Wallace weren’t already dead at this point, the next step would have finished him off. The executioner ripped the Scot’s heart out of his chest; there were instances when a criminal’s heart was still beating when the executioner displayed it to the crowd and declared it to be the heart of a traitor. We don’t know if Wallace’s heart was still beating when it was taken out of his body. The final brutal step involved chopping Wallace’s head off with an ax.
After the execution, his body was divided into four pieces and displayed in areas around the country as a showcase of Edward’s power. For example, Wallace’s head was stuck on a pike on London Bridge. The heads of John and Simon Fraser joined that of Wallace on the Bridge later on. Wallace’s limbs were sent separately to Berwick, Stirling, Perth, and Newcastle. The English King died two years later, and Robert the Bruce led his people to glory with a notable victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. 14 years later, Scotland had its independence, so William Wallace’s sacrifice was not in vain.
An Intriguing Theory
It is often assumed that William Wallace died such a cruel death because of his continued resistance to King Edward I. However, new research suggests that he was targeted because Edward believed Wallace wanted the Scottish Crown. In 2011, historians from Glasgow University found evidence that suggests the English thought Wallace was trying to become the King of Scotland.
According to Edward’s Exchequer (also known as the Pipe Roll) for 1304/05, Wallace was “a robber, a public traitor, an outlaw, an enemy and rebel of the king, who throughout Scotland had falsely sought to call himself King of Scotland.” Normally, the Pipe Roll was a dull affair, but for that particular year, the English civil servants took note of the expenses incurred in the execution of Wallace and the cost of sending the different parts of his body around Scotland.
It is probable that the English misunderstood the role of âguardian’ that Wallace had assumed on behalf of John Balliol. There are few documents in Wallace’s name, but in the ones that have been discovered, it is clear Wallace was always careful to write that he was acting on behalf of Balliol. Incidentally, the records also show that Edward’s Lieutenant in Scotland, John of Seagrave, received 15 shillings to bring the body back to Scotland as a means of deterring other potential rebels.
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