William Wallace was a Scottish knight in the late 13th century and an instrumental figure during the Scottish wars for independence. Some of the biggest questions people often ask are what really happened to William Wallace, and how did William Wallace die? In 1297, he defeated an English army and was subsequently named Guardian of Scotland. A few years later, in 1305, he was captured and sentenced by King Edward I of England for treason and other crimes.
The death of William Wallace was brutal. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered. William Wallace's execution was featured in the 1995 film Braveheart, which was directed by and starred Mel Gibson. However, what happened on film was very different than what happened in real life. The Braveheart inaccuracies include Wallace's death scene, which was severely toned down and did not portray the torture and pain that the real Wallace endured before crossing over into whatever it is that comes next.
Wallace Was Dragged Naked For Six Miles Through The London Streets
According to legend, Wallace's enemies took him from Westminster Hall and forced him to remove all of his clothing. From there, they strapped his naked body to a hurdle, and horses dragged him approximately six miles away to Smoothfield.
While he was being pulled by the horses, bystanders threw garbage, excrement, and other objects at Wallace as he made the journey to the gallows. They also hit him with sticks and whips. In the film, the crowd at the gallows pelted Gibson with rotten food and other objects, but he is wearing clothes and definitely not covered in human excrement.
He was drawn in this manner for the crime of treason.
Then, He Was Hung – But Not To Death
After being dragged – naked – through the streets of London, Wallace was hanged. He was hanged as punishment for robbery and homicide. However, dying in this traditional way definitely wouldn't have been adequate punishment for Wallace's purported crimes in the eyes of the British monarchy. Rather, being strung up from the gallows was just another step in an unbelievably drawn-out execution.
The Executioner "Emasculated" Him And Burned His Intestines In Front Of His Face
Once Wallace was secured, his executioner sliced off both his penis and his testicles (this is called emasculation). Then, the executioner removed his intestines (known as disembowelment or evisceration) and burned them, making sure Wallace witnessed the act.
In Braveheart, Gibson's face is shown contorted in pain, but whatever happens below the waist is not shown on film. There is a shot of several knives on a table and another one of the executioner ripping off Gibson's shirt with a bladed weapon, but the viewer never sees how they are used.
After The Disemboweling, Came The Heart Ripped From The Chest... While Still Beating
The mark of a truly exceptional executioner was that they could not only pull the heart out of a criminal's chest, but they could also do that and keep it beating the whole time. While there's no record of Wallace's hangman's success in terms of keeping his heart beating, Wallace did have his heart removed after his entrails and bollocks. In all likelihood (based on the official procedures for such events), the hangman then declared: "Behold the heart of a traitor" as he held it up for the crowd to see.