William Wallace (c. 1274 – 1305)
William Wallace was a Scottish knight and national hero famous for leading the Scots during the First War of Scottish Independence (1296-1328). He rose to prominence in 1297 when he killed Sir William Haselrig, the English sheriff of Lanark, while his greatest achievement was defeating the forces of Edward I of England in the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. However, Wallace was defeated by the English in the Battle of Falkirk in 1298 and forced to retreat northward.
Wallace went to France to seek military assistance of King Philip IV in 1299 but he was captured and executed by the English on his return to Scotland in 1305. William Wallace and his military achievements inspired many stories in later centuries which mostly based on wandering minstrel Blind Harry’s long epic poem “The Acts and Deeds of Sir William Wallace, Knight of Elderslie” from the 15th century. The best known account of the life of William Wallace (despite many historical inaccuracies) is probably the 1995 film Braveheart directed by and starring Mel Gibson which won five Academy Awards.