The Myth of William Wallace examines literary examples concerning William Wallace against the background of various historical sources and evaluates the construction, the changes and the relevance of this Scottish national myth.
For over 700 years, William Wallace has been fascinating people. What he achieved for his country is almost unbelievable. Already during his lifetime, Wallace’s reputation must have been legendary. Over the centuries, a powerful myth has been created around his person, which was fostered by diverse writers and even by Hollywood.
There have been several periods throughout Scottish history when the interest in William Wallace intensified enormously, resulting in an increase of literary publications on the freedom fighter. Surprisingly enough, these climaxes appeared whenever the Scots were dissatisfied with the English rule and brought the old animosity between England and Scotland to new life. These tensions caused many writers to revive memories of Wallace and his ideals by projecting the medieval story into their own time. Thus, more and more bits and pieces were added to the myth whose message seems to have had tremendous effects on the Scots. Wallace’s unfulfilled quest of freeing Scotland even became an issue in several programmes of political parties.
With the release of the film Braveheart in the mid 1990s, the Wallace cult was reborn once more. Several questions arise in this context: Was it the prevailing political situation that stimulated such an overwhelming enthusiasm for William Wallace again? Did the Wallace myth influence the Devolution movement? Is Wallace’s spirit still alive today? Do the Scots still cherish what he fought for, and will they finally achieve his goal of a fully independent Scottish Nation? With regard to the current political situation, the book finds interesting answers to these questions and discusses the chances for a possible Scottish independence.