'The Real Story - Braveheart'
(DVD / NC-17 / 2018 / PBS)
Overview: 'Braveheart' won five Oscars and made William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior, an unforgettable Hollywood character. But how historically accurate is the film?
This brand new documentary examines new archeological evidence, reveals recently deciphered ancient manuscripts, and conducts forensic experiments to uncover the true story of this legendary warrior.
DVD Verdict: For those not in the complete know, Sir William Wallace was a Scottish knight who became one of the main leaders during the Wars of Scottish Independence.
Along with Andrew Moray, Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in September 1297. He was appointed Guardian of Scotland and served until his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298.
In August 1305, Wallace was captured in Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to King Edward I of England, who had him hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason and crimes against English civilians.
Since his death, Wallace has obtained an iconic status far beyond his homeland. He is the protagonist of Blind Harry's 15th-century epic poem The Wallace and the subject of literary works by Sir Walter Scott and Jane Porter, and of the Academy Award-winning film 'Braveheart'.
Here in the simply fascinating 'The Real Story - Braveheart,' out now via Smithsonian Channel / PBS, we learn so much about the man that it should be shown in History classes around the world.
Such as, when Wallace was growing up, King Alexander III ruled Scotland. His reign had seen a period of peace and economic stability. On 19 March 1286, however, Alexander died after falling from his horse.
The heir to the throne was Alexander's granddaughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway. As she was still a child and in Norway, the Scottish lords set up a government of guardians. Margaret fell ill on the voyage to Scotland and died in Orkney on 26 September 1290. The lack of a clear heir led to a period known as the "Great Cause", with several families laying claim to the throne.
With Scotland threatening to descend into civil war, King Edward I of England was invited in by the Scottish nobility to arbitrate. Before the process could begin, he insisted that all of the contenders recognize him as Lord Paramount of Scotland. In early November 1292, at a great feudal court held in the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed, judgment was given in favor of John Balliol having the strongest claim in law.
Edward proceeded to reverse the rulings of the Scottish Lords and even summoned King John Balliol to stand before the English court as a common plaintiff. John was a weak king, known as "Toom Tabard" or "Empty Coat".
John renounced his homage in March 1296 and by the end of the month Edward stormed Berwick-upon-Tweed, sacking the then-Scottish border town. In April, the Scots were defeated at the Battle of Dunbar in East Lothian and by July, Edward had forced John to abdicate.
Some historians, believe Wallace must have had some earlier military experience in order to lead a successful military campaign in 1297. Campaigns like Edward I of England's wars in Wales might have provided a good opportunity for a younger son of a landholder to become a mercenary soldier.
Wallace's personal seal bears the archer's insignia, so he may have fought as an archer in Edward's army. These and other little-known-facts make 'The Real Story - Braveheart' one of the best releases in the series thus far, for my humble penny. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.