Saturday, November 3, 2012

Andrew de Moray: A Hero Eclipsed

Long before Mel Gibson's 1995 film `Braveheart', the name of William Wallace was synonymous with freedom and the fight for Scottish independence. There is, however, another hero of the First War of Independence in Scotland who is less known and too often overlooked. His name was Andrew de Moray and his contributions to Scottish autonomy have for too long been eclipsed by the greater fame of Wallace. Jane Porter's novel, The Scottish Chiefs, published in 1810, drew heavily on the earlier work of the poet known as Blind Harry, The Acts and Deeds of the Illustrious and Valiant Champion Sir William Wallace, published in 1477 at the court of James IV of Scotland. Harry's work seems to have attributed to Wallace many of de Moray's achievements and, in time, this poetic work of fancy came to be viewed as history.

The theme of Celtic Guide Magazine this month is Celtic Heroes and my piece on Andrew de Moray is among the contributions. I am in no way trying to diminish the accomplishments of William Wallace but, rather, hoping to contribute to the efforts to recognize the heroic sacrifices made by Andrew de Moray, right down to his losing his life after the famous Battle of Stirling Bridge. This battle, a resounding victory for the Scots, has long been considered the work of Wallace's genius when, actually, it seems far more probable it was de Moray's work.  There are many other very interesting pieces in the magazine such as James Blake Weiner's article on Flora MacDonald and Simon Andrew Stirling's piece on King Arthur. The link to the Celtic Guide site is here:

My article begins:

Among the great heroes of Scotland, the name of William Wallace looms large but there is another man, equally deserving of honor, few have heard of - Andrew de Moray. The Battle of Stirling Bridge on 11 September 1297 has come down to us through history as a resounding Scottish victory over the numerically superior English army and credit for this feat has been traditionally attributed to the genius of Wallace. It should be noted, however, that all of Wallace’s triumphs up until Stirling Bridge were guerilla actions, not full-scale field engagements, and that, after Stirling Bridge, he never won another battle. At Falkirk, in 1298, his forces were massacred on the field by the army of Edward I making expert use of the Welsh longbow and, at the Battle of Roslyn in 1303, Wallace refused to command and offered only tactical suggestions which, interestingly, were in keeping with a guerilla fighter, not a field commander. Every successful major siege and field engagement throughout 1297, including Stirling Bridge, was planned and executed by Andrew de Moray...

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