23 August 2016
Sir William Wallace was executed for high treason on 23 August 1305
On this day in history, 1305: Sir William Wallace, a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence, is executed for high treason.
Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. He was appointed Guardian of Scotland and served until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298.
In August 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England.
Wallace was transported to London where he was tried for treason and for atrocities against civilians in war, ‘sparing neither age nor sex, monk nor nun’. He was crowned with a garland of oak to suggest he was the king of outlaws.
Following a trial, on 23 August 1305, Wallace was taken to the Tower of London, then stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield. He was hanged, drawn and quartered - strangled by hanging, but released while he was still alive, emasculated, eviscerated and his bowels burned before him, beheaded, then cut into four parts. His preserved head (dipped in tar) was placed on a pike atop London Bridge. His limbs were displayed, separately, in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth.
In 1869 the Wallace Monument was erected, very close to the site of his victory at Stirling Bridge.
Pictured: A plaque stands in a wall of St Bartholomew's Hospital near the site of Wallace's execution at Smithfield.
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