How the Beaten Scots Found Their Courage (Hint: Oz Didn’t Give Nothin’ to the Lion That He Didn’t Already Have)

What do you mean I can’t eat it?

The quest for leadership continues. In this post, I mean to share how William Wallace encouraged the hearts of those around him. I intend to focus mainly on the film, but I will also have some comments on history itself, possibly throwing a few bones to other leaders of the time, namely Robert the Bruce, Princess Isabella, and maybe even Longshanks. I mean, you can’t help but admire a man with the ability to commit such great acts of defenestration! (Not to be confused with castration).

Robert the Bruce is talking to his father, trying to make sense of what he has just done. His father attempts to comfort him, as well as share the bitter wisdom he has acquired in the long years of politics. In history, this man was also known as Robert “The Bruce.” In the film, he is a wasted old leper. In history, he was the sixth Lord of Annandale, a veteran of multiple wars. You can read about the Sixth Lord of Annandale here:

It’s so difficult to find suitable images of historical figures from this period. This is one artist’s conception of King Robert the Bruce’s father, also (confusingly enough) called Robert de Brus. If I’m reading all the pied-de-Gris correctly, he would be the sixth of that name to hold the title of Lord of Annandale. His life is as romantic as his son’s. He fought for Henry III and Longshanks both, as they were distant relations. Both his father and himself had made claims to the throne of Scotland. One of his sons won the throne of Scotland, the other the throne of Ireland, and his eldest daughter married the King of Norway to become the Queen. But before all that, Robert the 6th went on Crusade, and his friend died, so he went back home to tell the widow, who fell in love with him and held him, prisoner, till he agreed to marry her. Yeah, I could write a post just about this guy. He was not a leper.

Ok….sorry for the rabbit hole. Anyhow, in the movie we are told by Robert VI that “All men betray. All men lose heart.” And I am afraid that, with the exception of Jesus and maybe a handful of others, this is absolute truth.

But I echo the anguished cry of the son in the movie. “I don’t want to lose heart. I want to believe. As he [William Wallace] does.”

“You’re finally ready to be a king.”

Getting back to the topic, there were three ways Wallace encouraged the Scots.

  • 1) He demonstrated the Scotts were able to beat the English.
  • 2) He taught Robert the Bruce what it meant to lead people.
  • 3) He never gave up.

Let’s go into these practices in more detail.

Often the reason leadership is necessary is simply that people don’t believe something can be done until someone else has accomplished it. “If people were meant to fly we’d have wings!” “If people were meant to run a four minute mile we’d have hooves.” Now these things are (relatively) common place.

Roger Bannister made history as the first person recorded to run a four-minute mile. Nobody believed it possible. Since then 1663 athletes have accomplished the milestone. I’m happy if I just walk a mile in a day. Image from Outside Magazine.

In the film (and to a lesser extent in real life) William Wallace did what he could to take the fight to the English. He knew that if they rested on their laurels after their victory at Stirling the English would just come back with a bigger army and finish what they had started. In real life he basically just raided Northern England, in the movie he actually captures and sacks York. The Scotts who doubted there was any hope in fighting the English could point at what he did to erase doubt. If William can beat them, maybe we can as well.

On a totally different front, we have a cartoon from Punch magazine. In the spring of 1917, British newspapers printed stories about how the Germans were using cadavers from the war to make products like dog food, lubricants and glycerin for explosives. While the hoax was later exposed (Der Massenwahn was the German side of the story, the BBC has an article about it), I wonder how many people went to their graves thinking the WWI Germans were as evil as the Nazis. Well, if Kaiser Wilhelm can do it….

As I detailed in the last post, William taught Robert the Bruce what it meant to be a leader. That people follow courage and not titles (he left out the part about how they follow a winner and not a loser, but perhaps that goes without saying). He taught him to appeal to the hearts desires of his people, and not to try to sell them on mad schemes for his own greater glory. Maybe they needed the nobles, maybe they didn’t, but the person on the battle front had to believe this really was their fight, and that their lives were not being spent in vain.

On that note….Wallace, neither in the movie, nor in real life, ever gave up.

“Do you confess?” “Never in my whole life did I swear allegiance to him.” “Nevertheless, he is your king.” It was not merely taxation without representation, the idea that you deserved any representation for any law had died long ago when the Senate of Rome succumbed to the imperial rule of the Caesars. At this point in history, it was no more than an ember, a spark, a mad man’s dream. This mad man died one of the most horrible deaths imaginable. And you are free today (or were once free) in part due to his sacrifice.

I fear I summed it up pretty well in the caption to the picture. Perhaps my rhetoric is not the best, but surely, if you do believe in and value personal liberties and freedoms, surely you see the point. Not just William, so many thousands have died, at Bannockburn, at Valley Forge, at Gettysburg, at Iwo Jima….the list would be longer than this blog if I merely posted the battles, let alone the names, of the thousands upon thousands who have died so that you could sit in comfort, reading my silly posts, and making fun of Mel Gibson because there were flaws in his film.

That’s all for this post. The next one will finish the series as I discuss how he not only inspired the Scots to act, but he inspired them to act on their own.

Somehow our society keeps throwing people away, unjustly convicting the innocent, and often letting the real offender live in peace. I’m not God, I can’t grant the justice that is denied. But if you listen to this, you will be stirred with the pain that is the mockery of our justice system. I mean no disrespect to the average police or the soldier who strives so hard, I don’t think it is these that cause the injustice. It is those who misdirect them. Those who give unjust commands, unjust laws, unjust verdicts, these are the Powers of Tyranny. Compared to them, the farce that was the Trump administration was a mere flea bite.


  1. xman says:

    “He taught him to appeal to the hearts desires of his people, and not to try to sell them on mad schemes for his own greater glory.”

    Yes, oh, yes, what I would give for a STATESMAN to rise up again! I think there is a possibility that John McCain was one — although he wavered to the advisors on his Presidential campaign.
    Surprisingly, I give the label of Statesman to Liz Chaney. She currently seems to be sacrificing any chance of re-election in order to do what’s best for the United States and expose the “mad King George-ness” of the former President. If she has a bigger scheme, it is a level of 3D chess far beyond my strategims to see.

    “I mean no disrespect to the average police or the soldier who strives so hard, I don’t think it is these that cause the injustice. It is those who misdirect them. Those who give unjust commands, unjust laws, unjust verdicts, these are the Powers of Tyranny. ”

    AMEN! Like the first quote above, when the powers that be can deceive or cajole someone into believing a message, it creates a powerful motivator with the “groundling” that they are not only doing the best thing but that they are doing it for a “righteous” or patriotic reason. It becomes a dangerous combination in the hands of the Deceiver.

    I’m really looking forward to the next post on how outward inspiration became self-driven inspiration.


    1. Curtiswselby says:

      You are too kind. So far four out of five dentists surveyed say my blog is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!


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