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Sir William Wallace was a Scottish patriot who led a revolt against Edward I of England.
In 1296, Edward deposed and imprisoned King John de Baliol, after taking advantage of the dispute about the succession to the Scottish throne to take possession of the country and claimed the right to rule Scotland as its overlord. He stationed English soldiers in the country. John de Warenne was appointed guardian of Scotland, and English sheriffs were established in the southern shires, and in Ayr and Lanark.
In 1297 the English barons and clergy were in revolt against Edward I, while he was absorbed in preparations for the French war. Wallace, known for his strength and courage seized his opportunity, and organised the Scottish insurgents in the name of John de Baliol. He led 30 men against the English garrison at Lanark in May 1297, burning the castle and killing Sir William Hazelrig, the sheriff installed by Edward. Thousands of Scots rallied to Wallace's standard. He then went on to ravage Northumberland, Westmorland, and Cumberland.
He next drove the English out of Perth, Stirling, and Lanark shires, besieged Dundee and Stirling castles.
The English raised an army and advanced against Wallace. He defeated them at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, in 1297, and drove them out of Scotland. Wallace then became Governor of Scotland.
But, in 1298, Edward hurried home from France and led a great army against the Scots. His heavily armored soldiers defeated the Scottish clansmen at Falkirk. Wallace escaped and carried on the fight in the mountains. He became known as "the guardian of Scotland".
Wallace continued waging guerrilla war until 1299 when he went abroad to solicit aid from Norway, France, and the Pope. Being refused any help, he returned to Scotland and resumed guerrilla warfare (1303-05).
He was declared an outlaw by Edward I in 1304 and a price was put on Wallace's head. The patriot was betrayed by some of his own countrymen in 1305 in Glasgow and brought to London. Tried for treason in London, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He died London, England, Aug. 23, 1305.