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William Wallace - Success and LeadershipWilliam Wallace - Success and Leadership


William Wallace (c.1272-1305)


Leader of the Scottish resistance to English rule (pictured right).

Immortalized by Mel Gibson’s Oscar winning 1995 film, Braveheart (the poster is pictured right below).


Why was he a great leader and successful?

 William Wallace - Success and Leadership

1. Charisma, bravery and determination

From about 1291 onwards, he fought the English, mainly using guerrilla warfare but also facing them in open battle (see point 2).

He was tall, strong, brave and a natural leader, gaining his power by ability and charisma not nobility of birth.


2. The Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297)

This was his greatest victory.

Vastly outnumbered, he routed the English army of 300 cavalry and 10,000 infantry.

He was helped by the bridge’s:

  • narrowness (which allowed only a few English to cross it at one time).
  • collapse (drowning many of the enemy).


3. Heroic deathWilliam Wallace - Success and Leadership

After his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk (1298), and several years in France campaigning for Scottish independence, Wallace was:

  • captured by the English.
  • found guilty of treason against the English king, Edward I (pictured right).

“I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject”, he said at his trial before his horrible execution.

He was hung (but released near death), then quartered, and finally beheaded in Smithfield, London.

His head was placed on a pike at the top of London Bridge.


4. Purpose and passion

He dedicated his life to freeing his country from English rule.William Wallace - Success and Leadership

His clan’s motto was “For freedom”.


5. Inspiration

He has inspired the Scottish people for generations, including Robert Burns (pictured right above), who wrote a poem about him.William Wallace - Success and Leadership

Helped by the Braveheart movie, he has become the national icon of Scottish nationhood, even more so than Robert the Bruce (pictured right).


Key quote on death

Every man dies. Not every man really lives.


Key quote on freedom

Freedom is best...of all things to be won.

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