brave heart is an exciting film, but frankly one of the least historically accurate films ever made. “They may take our lives, but never our freedom!“William Wallace’s speech is one of the most famous in film history. To a generation of moviegoers, Mel Gibsons brave heart cemented William Wallace’s place as one of the greatest military leaders of all time.
Gibson’s film portrays William Wallace as a reluctant hero who draws his sword in revenge after his beloved wife is murdered. It then tells the story of his life, examining some of his most important battles – such as the victory at Stirling Bridge and defeat at Falkirk – and finally ending on a tragic note when Wallace is betrayed and executed by the English. brave heartHowever, his conclusion is optimistic and presents him as the inspiration for Robert the Bruce, who would ultimately lead Scotland to freedom.
Unfortunately, as exciting as the film is, the truth is that it is generally considered to be one of the least historically accurate films. This is mainly because brave heart Director and star Mel Gibson drew on the account of a bard named Blind Harry, a storyteller who claimed to be using primary sources when writing his account of Wallace — but likely didn’t. All this means brave heart should really be viewed as a film based on a fictional account loosely inspired by historical events, and it’s no surprise that the film is historically inaccurate.
William Wallace wasn’t “Braveheart” at all.
brave heart delights in its inaccuracies and owns them from the start – because even the title is wrong. Most viewers will naturally assume”brave heart‘ refers to William Wallace, but the name is actually associated with Robert the Bruce. According to the 14th-century writer John Barbour, Robert the Bruce always regretted not having taken part in a crusade. He had one of his knights swear to take his heart from Spain after his death in a silver box so he could find a way to join a crusade. In the heat of battle, this knight threw the urn containing the heart at the opposing army and yelled, “Lead brave heart, I follow you!” brave heart‘s title has nothing to do with William Wallace, nor is the reason for the name ever revealed in the film (fortunately).
The backstory of William Wallace in Braveheart is completely fictional
Mel Gibson plays the role of William Wallace well, beginning with a likable account of Wallace’s formative years. Unfortunately, it is largely ahistorical, for in reality Wallace was a minor noble; his father and brother certainly did not die fighting the English. Although Blind gives Harry an account of the death of Wallace’s wife under circumstances similar to those in the film, his version of Wallace is already a bloodthirsty war leader. Interestingly, Blind does not seem to have given Harry Wallace’s wife a name at all, named “miranda‘ added by later scholars who copied his manuscripts. brave heart chooses a more traditional name: Murron.
Braveheart invents the reason for William Wallace’s war against the English
William Wallace’s war against the English had nothing to do with real-world revenge – and certainly not with the “noble right” from Jus Primae Noctis, the right of a nobleman to sleep with a local bride on her wedding night The Legend of Gilgamesh In fact, some 4,000 years ago, there is no historical evidence that it was ever practiced anywhere in the world, not even in medieval Scotland. Wallace’s motive was indeed political; He protested Edward I’s invasion of Scotland after the death of the Scottish King Alexander III. Wallace’s first known act of rebellion was the assassination of an English high sheriff in 1297, well before the legendary death of his wife.
Braveheart botches the clothes and weapons of William Wallace’s time
brave heart is no longer historically accurate when it comes to depicting the clothing and weapons of the Scots or English. English soldiers would not have worn Mel Gibson’s standardized uniforms brave heart for centuries, while the kilts of the Scots are equally ahistorical. Wallace would never have worn blue face paint; It is associated with the Picti and would have gone out of fashion about 1,000 years before his time.
Even William Wallace’s legendary blade is fake, despite being inspired by the Wallace sword on display at the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. As historian David Caldwell said BBC“The so-called Wallace sword is actually a type of Scottish sword that dates back to the late 16th century. This sword was seen by the famous poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy at Dumbarton Castle when they were touring Scotland in 1803. One of the soldiers in the garrison told them it was Wallace’s sword. This is the first time the sword has been known to be associated with the Scottish hero – was the soldier telling a story to these English visitors on purpose?“In truth, however, this particular element of historical inaccuracy is entirely understandable. The Wallace Sword may not be real, but it is of enormous symbolic importance.
Mel Gibson’s Braveheart even gets its battles wrong
brave heart even gets his battles wrong. The most egregious is the Battle of Stirling Bridge; For one thing, there is no trace of a bridge in the film. In the real world, the genius of William Wallace’s tactics lay not in the use of long spears – a common tactic – but rather in his choice of battlefield. Wallace’s army was positioned on one side of a bridge and the English were forced to charge across it. The bridge served as a kind of funnel, neutralizing the superior numbers. Ironically, that wasn’t Wallace’s strategy; It is attributed to Andrew de Moray, another Scottish military leader who died shortly after the Battle of Stirling Bridge. That particular character doesn’t even appear brave heart.
However, the Battle of Falkirk is more interesting as some details are included brave heart match. The Scottish cavalry did desert during this unexpected conflict, but there is no evidence that the nobles were bribed; Rather, it is likely that they were demoralized and simply gave up the fight rather than face inevitable defeat. Robert the Bruce, meanwhile, may have been reluctant to wage war against the English, but he never betrayed William Wallace, least of all in battle.
The Death of William Wallace
The death of William Wallace is one of the most historically accurate parts of brave heart – albeit much less gruesomely done. Gibson chooses to only point out the horrors Wallace must endure; He is hanged, then disemboweled off-screen before being decapitated. Some of the more gruesome aspects of the torture, like Wallace’s guts being burned in front of his eyes, were understandably removed. Still, it’s strange that a movie like brave heart, not particularly known for its historical accuracy, covers the death scenes fairly accurately.
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