Jump to content.

This is the text-only/accessible version of Exploring the Middle Ages.

Blind Harry's Wallace


The Life and Heroick Actions of the Renoun'd Sir William Wallace,
General and Governour of Scotland
by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield

Book VII, Chapter II
How WALLACE slew M'Fadzean

Wallace, Malcolm and Graham ride out to assess McFadzean's force and find themselves just south of Stirling Castle, which is held at the time by an English force led by Ruickby. Wallace proposes, and Malcolm and Graham agree, to take the castle.

Wallace divides their common army, with Malcolm and his men going into hiding in order to ambush later. Graham and his men go along with Wallace; one hundred men ride through the town of Stirling and to the bridge. Ruickby sends out 140 archers, but Wallace rides into their midst with a spear. Graham follows with a spear of his own, but it breaks; the archers kill his horse and Graham draws his sword and fights on foot. Wallace and several of his men follow suit, dismounting and fighting on foot. Soon the English are retreating to the Castle, but Malcolm and his men ride in to block their way. Wallace kills Ruickby as Ruickby's sons, along with 30 other Englishmen, escape from the castle. Malcolm's men set up a siege around the castle, while Wallace returns to organizing an attack on McFadzean.

Meantime, Ruickby's sons return to Stirling and give up the castle and command to Malcolm in exchange for their safe conduct back to England. Wallace gathers two thousand men and rides for Argyll, with Duncan of Lorn as their guide and Gilmichael riding ahead as a spy. By the time they reach Strathfillan, many of the horses and men are exhausted. Wallace divides the army into three groups of five hundred, leading one group himself and giving command of the other two groups to John Graham and Richard Lundie. Five hundred weak men are left behind.

Wallace leads his men to Glendocher where he meets up with Gilmichael and Campbell, who has brought a force of 300 men. They march on to Lochdocher. Meantime, Gilmichael, the spy, has gone ahead and met up with McFadzean's spy, whom he kills. The terrain is a mix of bog and craigs, which forces Wallace's army to dismount and walk. Wallace leads his men to a castle where they wait until all their men have safely crossed the moor. Campbell remarks that McFadzean's force will have a difficult time fleeing from them over the difficult terrain.

Wallace's army attacks McFadzean's, driving them back five acres. Wallace, Graham, Campbell, Lundie, Boyd, and Adam Wallace fight their best, but McFadzean's army, which includes "hardy and stout" Irishmen, is so strong that for a time there is doubt who will win. For two hours the battle rages on, with many falling from the craigs and two thousand others drowning. McFadzean's Scots born men fall to their knees, begging mercy from Wallace who gives them quarter. He issues the command that all Scots in McFadzean's army are to be spared.

McFadzean flees with fifty men to Craigmore where he takes shelter in a cave. Duncan of Lorn asks Wallace's permission to pursue. Wallace grants permission and sends him off with a small force who kill McFadzean's men and return with McFadzean's head. They carry the trophy atop a spear throughout the field; Campbell plants the pole with McFadzean's head atop Craigmore, as the Scots of McFadzean's army that Wallace spared swear their loyalty to him. They depart with Campbell for Lorn.

Wallace, as Warden of Scotland, calls a council in Ardchattan where he bestows all of Lorn on Duncan, and other lands and titles upon other loyal Scots. Wallace's army returns to the field where the battle took place to claim the arms and other spoils. Wallace tells them to take his share; he fights only for honor.

Read Book VII, Chapter II in its original dialect.

Book VII, Chapter III

Wallace, now having defeated McFadzean, settled Lorn and Argyll, and cleared the Highland coast of English turns his attention to St. Johnston (Perth.) He calls Ramsay aside and tells him that it's time to clear the English out of Perth. Ramsay agrees and says that the town walls are low, but the ditch is deep; however, they have a thousand men and they can quickly fill it, and take the town from the English. Pleased with Ramsay's assessment, Wallace rides with him to Dunkell.

They stay in Dunkell organizing their attack before moving their men and equipment to Perth. Once there, they quickly fill the ditch with soil and stones and make timber ladders, which they use to scale the walls. The English respond by throwing stones with trebuchets, but the Scots are already in their midst with swords in hand. Ramsay and Graham take the turret gate, with the help of a squire named Ruthven, admitting a thousand Scots into the town. The Scots kill two thousand men; Sir John Stewart and sixty others flee by barge to Dundee.

Wallace appoints Ruthven as the captain of the town and sends word to Aberdeen that Scots men should meet there. He then rides south toward Cupar, meeting up with Bishop Sinclair along the way at Glamis. They stay the night at Brechin and in the morning Wallace vows, before the nobles of the area and the Scottish standard, to kill all English, wherever they can be found. He assembles his army and marches through Fife; the English retreat before him, gathering at Dunnottar Castle on the coast.

As many English as can take sanctuary in the church; the others flee up the crags that overlook the sea. The Bishop Sinclair attempts to bargain with those in the kirk, telling them their lives will be spared if they return to England. They don't believe him and remain in the church. The Scots set fire to the church and the English who have taken sanctuary there die within.

The Scots now turn on those who had retreated up the crags; with the sea at their backs, they have nowhere to go. Some leap into the sea, some fall, and the Scots archers are called in to pick off the survivors. When all the English have been killed, the Scots turn to Bishop Sinclair for absolution. Wallace laughs, saying their fault is small, and to remember Ayr and to think of what pity the English showed the Scots barons there.

Wallace and his army now head to Aberdeen, where the English are preparing to flee. The harbor is full of ships; when the tide is right Wallace and his men go out to the ships, remove the people and goods and set the ships on fire. Back on land, they kill the men, but spare the priests, children, women and young men, letting them leave with nothing but their lives.

Wallace then makes a circuit through Buchan, where the English Earl Beaumont flees before him, then to Cromarty where he slays many English, and back to Aberdeen, arrriving on Lammas evening, 2 August. He gathers his army and marches to Dundee.

Read Book VII, Chapter III in its original dialect.

Next page: Synopsis continued

Top of page

This is the text-only version of Exploring the Middle Ages. To visit the mirror-site, which uses Java scripts and graphics, go to: www.mostly-medieval.com/explore/index.htm.

Copyright © 1998, 2008 Susan Wallace. All rights reserved.
Hosted by NetMagick Web Hosting.