Sunday, October 21, 2007

Just Say No to Braveheart

Lost Worlds - The History Channel -

Instead of watching my usual brain-rotting shows, I flipped to the always awesome History Channel. A flash of the familiar Stirling Castle, the sound of melodic Scottish accents, and I'm suddenly sitting flush to the TV, happily identifying landmarks of the city I lived in for five months. It would be harder to find a happier person at that point.

Until I saw the title of the episode...

"The Scotland of Braveheart"

"Oooooh, no," I breathed, pressing the heels of my hands to my mouth. "No, History Channel, no!"

But yes. Braveheart. Referring to William Wallace. Dear G-d.

For anyone that has ever spent time in Scotland, you know that only peddlers of tourist trinkets relate the Mel Gibson William Wallace to the true William Wallace. You'll find shot glasses with a be-kilted and be-woaded Wallace, which only those who came to Scotland after seeing "Braveheart" buy. As any tour guide or historian will tell you, Wallace was actually a lowland Scot (represent, woot!)-- an aristocrat, in fact-- who probably never wore a kilt a day in his life.

And he was not called Braveheart.

In fact, it's said that the term arose in reference to Robert the Bruce. It was Bruce's dream to go on crusade, but he never got the chance. Instead, after his death, his heart was cut out of his body and taken on the next trip south to the Holy Lady. It is said that during one pitched battle, the man carrying Bruce's heart threw it into the midst of the fight, inspiring the men to victory. It was then that Robert the Bruce was referred to as "Braveheart."

Not Wallace. Bruce.

So it's really getting on my nerves that this show constantly refers to Wallace by that erroneous name. Not only that, they showed the wooden sculpture that sits in front of the Wallace Memorial. The artist gave Wallace the face of Mel Gibson and the kilt and mace that appeared in the movie. Stirling residents were not pleased and someone even went so far as to knock off the statue's nose. The statue now sits behind a ten-foot high fence. "Frrrrreedom" indeed.

All of this rage is not to say that I have a lack of respect for Wallace. I actually am rather impressed by his fighting prowess and height (judging by his sword, people believe that he must have been about 6 foot something, huge for that time period... Gibson is a wee person compared to him). However, I am realistic. I know that he was no highland hero, I know that he wasn't that much of a strategist (Andrew Murray, anyone?), and I certainly know that "Braveheart" is merely entertainment and nothing more.

But seriously, History Channel? Stop calling him Braveheart. I mean it.


Accidentally X-posted to The Write Links.


  1. Good post, Kate! I hate movies and such that pass themselves off as "history", they only serve to confuse.

  2. Thank you!

    The funniest thing about that movie is that when you say "Scotland" to any non-Scot, the Braveheart image is what pops into his or her head. But if you say "Mel Gibson" to a Scot, he'll laugh and tell you that the actor is "a wee bugger." That's what I've experienced anyway.

    Thank you for visiting!