This speech was written for an actor portraying the great Scottish patriot at an outdoor history event for high-school aged Boy Scouts.
Hello! I hope we are all met together as friends, this bonny evening. My name is William Wallace, and I’m here tonight to tell you how I helped Scotland become a free nation.
A little more than 700 years ago we Scots had our own king, and we were at peace with our English neighbors. When our king died without leaving any children, we even invited the English King, Edward Longshanks, to help us resolve the problem. Our noblemen thought he’d be a neutral party, but he took advantage of the situation and before we knew it, Edward Longshanks said that he was the king over Scotland! When we rejected his claim, he invaded Scotland in 1296 and conquered our land, making our nobles swear allegiance to him.
We made sure his victory was short-lived. Early the next year small armies of Scots sprang up like thistles growing out of the earth, revolting against the English. The men we led were an unruly mob at first, but I and other Scottish leaders turned them into a real army, maybe the fiercest army the world has ever known. In September, a force of 2,500 Scots went to Stirling Bridge to stop an army of 10,000 English and Welsh.
The fancypants English commander thought we Scots were just a rabble, a bunch of brawlers with swords. So instead of trying to flank us, he sent his men across a bridge that was only about six foot wide. We waited until over 5,000 of them had crossed the river—outnumbering us two to one—before we charged. The enemy dogs who had crossed the bridge were terrified at the sight of thousands of screaming Scots rushing down on them with our huge swords. They fought, but they were no match for us, and when they tried to run, there wasn’t room on the bridge for them. The bridge was too narrow, and other men were still trying to cross it to help them. Some of them had the sense to throw off their armor and swim back across the river, but more than 7,000 of their men fell that day. Longshanks found out that his fancypants commander was no match for the angry Scots whose country he had stolen.
Not every battle went as well. The next year Longshanks himself defeated my army and Scotland fell to the English again. For seven years I was in and out of hiding, fighting a guerilla war and even going to France to ask for their help. Then, in 1305, a Scottish traitor helped the English capture me. They put me on trial for treason, and I laughed, telling them I couldn’t commit treason against Edward Longshanks, because he was never my king. They didn’t think it was funny, and they showed me their dislike of my joke by executing me. Aye, they could have just said they didna’ like it!
But just a few years later our king, my old friend and comrade Robert the Bruce, took another outnumbered army to Bannockburn. He faced an army of 20,000 men led by Longshanks’ son, and after the raging Scots were finished only a handful made it home alive. Scotland would remain free until we willing joined with England 400 years later. Before the battle Robert gave a speech to his men and he honored me by beginning it with these words: “Scots, who fought and bled with Wallace…”
Let me remind you, laddies, before you go: Freedom is always worth the fight. For what can you do without freedom? What can replace it? Think on that!