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History of Braveheart

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Statue of Edward I

King Edward I

Born June 17, 1239 at the palace of Westminster King Edward I, nicknamed 'Longshanks' due to his extreme height, was one of the most successful and ruthless English monarchs. He had two wives, the first, Eleanor daughter of Ferdinand III, King of Castille & Leon in 1254. And to Margaret daughter of King Philip III of France in 1299. Between these two Edward fathered 19 children including his heir Edward II. Longshanks ruled from 1272 until his death in 1307,during this time he managed to conquer Wales and temporarily subdue Scotland. It was his cruelty during his conquest of Scotland that earned him another nickname "The Hammer of the Scots".

With the death of King Alexander III of Scotland Edward saw his opportunity to expand his kingdom. Longshanks organized a marriage between Margaret, Maid of Norway and heir to the Scottish crown and his son Edward II. However Margaret died en route to England leaving succession to the throne of Scotland in dispute. Edward claimed the right to intercede and named John Baliol as King of Scotland. Baliol was nothing more than an English puppet nicknamed 'Toom Tabard' (empty coat) by the Scots. He eventually attempted to revolt against England but was easily defeated. Edward then claimed Scotland as his and removed the Stone of Destiny, on which Scottish kings had traditionally been crowned, from Scone to Westminster to send a message that their would never be another Scottish king. Longshanks thinking that his problems to the north were over set his sights on France, Little did he know one of his biggest problems had just begun, a problem named William Wallace.


Painting of Edward I Wallace began his rebellion in late 1297 and on September 11 of that year he soundly defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. This defeat enraged Edward I and he not only began a vendetta against the Scots but Wallace himself. Longshanks got his chance for vengeance at Falkirk in which he crushed the Scottish army led by Wallace. Wallace however continued to harass Longshanks and the English until his capture and execution in 1304. Edward believed that he had made enough of an example of Wallace that the Scots would no longer resist, once again Edward I was wrong.

In 1306 Robert the Bruce, a grandson to one of the claimants of the Scottish throne in 1290, picked up where Wallace had left off Edward I had another rebellion on his hands. His campaigns into Scotland were ruthless and aroused hatred for the English for many generations. Edward himself died July 7, 1307 with Scotland only half under English control. His body is buried at Westminster Abbey.


Patrick McGoohan as Edward I

'A cruel pagan known as Edward the Longshanks'

The film makes Edward I out to be a cross between Stalin and Hitler. This is done mainly for dramatic effect more than historical accuracy. Edward I was one of the most successful and revered kings of England. He never did such things as institute 'Prima Nocte' nor was he a 'pagan' he fought in the ninth crusade in 1270 and returned to England only upon hearing of the death of his father. The first 20 years of his reign marked a high point of cooperation between crown and community. He made great strides in reforming government. Although by the end of his reign he had strained the relationship between crown and nobility by his many taxations in order to finance his campaigns in France and Scotland.

However loved by the English he was detested by the Scots. And just as in all history whether someone is considered a hero or villain all depends on the point of view. Considering Braveheart is told from the Scottish point of view Patrick McGoohan's villainous portrayal fits Longshanks nicely.

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