How historically accurate is Braveheart?

Monument to William Wallace in Stirling, Scotland

Braveheart was a popular movie released in 1995 that won 5 Oscars and featured Mel Gibson as William Wallace. Wallace was a Scottish knight who became a hero in the Scottish rebellions against the English in the late 13th and early 14th century. The movie helped to inspire Scottish national pride while also, to some, represent an early, Medieval warrior who fought for freedom for himself and his people. While much of the story depicted did occur, including the English occupation of Scotland during the time of Edward I, king of England, the depiction of the revolt against the English and other events do not correspond well to historical accounts.

In the movie, William Wallace is suggested to have traveled in Europe during the early years of Edward I’s occupation of Scotland. However, little is known about Wallace’s early years. First, it is assumed Wallace came from a noble family; two villages are often claimed as his birth places (Elderslie and Ellerslie), both on the western part of Scotland. [1] We do know that Wallace was an experienced swordsman and knight, which indicates he may have fought in wars prior to his own rebellion and participation in the wars against the English. In fact, it is he fought with king Edward I as a mercenary during that king’s wars against the Welsh. That may have been the most feasible path for him to have gained fighting experience and possibly learn about English war tactics.[2]

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The Hays Code, Gangsters, and Prohibition: How did 1934 change Hollywood?

Edward G. Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in Little Caesar (1931)

1934 was a pivotal year for the United States. Americans were enduring the fifth year of the Great Depression and the rural population was in an extreme state of suffering that had begun prior to the stock market crash in October 1929. Urban citizens fared little better, yet those who had a nickel to spare spent it at the moves. Particularly popular throughout the decade were gangster films. The films of this genre criticized many aspects of society and portrayed the gangster as a victim of the system. Moviegoers were able to identify with film gangsters as they too were stressed by the task of financial survival.[1] Audiences were enthralled by the characters on screen that were living freely and without responsibility. Due to the great success of these films, primarily shot at Warner Brothers Studios, actors such as James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and newcomer Humphrey Bogart became movie stars. Read more at