"They may take away our lives but they'll never take our freedom." William Wallace (Mel Gibson) may as well have added "freedom to fib" at the end of the famous quote in 1995's award-winning film Braveheart. Truth is, the film is full of falsehoods.
The good news is, William Wallace was an actual Scottish rebel who became a symbol of resistance against the English during the reign of King William I until his execution in 1305. The bad news is, pretty much everything else in Braveheart is wrong. The inaccuracies are everywhere, from the general timeline to the characters themselves.
Whether they were cinematic choices or somebody skipped out on researching, the movie is basically made up. Despite Braveheart's false pretenses, it is undeniably a lovable movie. There are lots of great battles, bagpipes, men in kilts, and epic speeches given by Mel Gibson with a questionable Scottish accent. But, with all respect to the magic of cinema in the '90s, here are all of the insane historical inaccuracies in one of the most plaid-filled movie ever made, even if it is arguably Mel Gibson's best movie ever.
William Wallace Was No Commoner
Throughout Braveheart, the viewer is reminded that William Wallace comes from humble means. The nobles refer to him as a commoner, his burlap outfits are covered in dirt, and the roof of his house is made of straw. This imagining, however compelling, is fiction.
The Wallaces were a longstanding and noble family and William's father, Malcolm, was a knight. William would have had an excellent education and military training. Oh, and he wasn't a Highlander, either. He was from the Lowlands, of the same Anglo-Norman descent as his English rivals.
William Wallace's Death Was Actually Way More Brutal
In Braveheart, William Wallace is hanged by the English, then disemboweled while still alive. It is then that he calls out his final word: "FREEDOM!" This isn't accurate but, oddly, it's inaccurate because it actually downplays his execution. Yes, he was hanged and disemboweled, but he was also drawn and quartered, as well as castrated. He would not have been given the opportunity to ask for a merciful quick death, since the gruesome execution was kind of the whole point.
His last words are unknown. Probably because there isn't much time to speak when you're being killed four different ways at once.
At The Time Of William Wallace, Kilts Were Not A Thing
Admit it: when you think of Scotland, you think of kilts. It's okay, its a cultural phenomenon that has become inseparable from the country. Only thing is, they are far more modern than movies like Braveheart would have you believe. Kilts did not become a significant clothing item for Scottish people until the seventeenth century.
That's a solid 300 years after William Wallace was killing people (not wearing a kilt).
King Edward II Was Not A Gay Stereotype
It's hard to know where to begin with this one, because the modern concept of homosexuality simply did not exist in the thirteenth century. Edward II was incredibly and disastrously biased towards his male companions, but their intimate relationships would not have been questionable at the time. Instead his people were more riled up at Edward's tendency to give titles to non-noble people. Whether he was romantically involved with any of those people is conjecture.
Nor is it likely Edward was disgusted by his wife. The film portrays him as unable to conceive, but in reality he fathered four children with her. Indeed, he was considered by many to be the perfect prince. He was intelligent, athletic, and had a flair for the showmanship that the English monarchy was known for.