Radio Times carries a full page article on page 25 headed 'Man or Myth’ by Dr. Fiona Watson of Dundee University in a Q&A format, talking to James Gill of Radio Times. The rationale for commissioning this appears to be a link to ‘Bloody Tales’ screened on Monday next by National Geographic channel.
Dr. Watson’s final comment ‘Braveheart is more fiction than fact ..’ etc. makes reference to Alex Salmond, the SNP, xenophobia, anti-English sentiment and devolution. I have emailed Dr. Watson, a respected historian - whom I am sure has no political motivation in making such comments – to point out that neither Alex Salmond, the SNP nor the independence movement is anti-English or xenophobic and has never sought to endorse or exploit the ‘Braveheart’ film, with all its manifest Hollywood inaccuracies.
I have also observed that the SNP and the independence movement celebrates William Wallace as a great Scottish historical figure (as do most Scots) who is most certainly not a myth, and I have referred her to the words of the great English historian George Macaulay Trevelyan, the great nephew of Macaulay and the last historian writing in the Whig traditions, and the following extract from his History of England(1937) -
“A guerrilla chief of genius, a tall man of iron strength, who suddenly appears on the page of history, as if from nowhere, defeated at Stirling Bridge an English Army under its blundering feudal chief, the Earl of Warenne, of quo Warranto fame. Thence William Wallace broke ravaging into Northumberland and Cumberland.
This unknown knight, with little but his great name to identify him in history, had lit a fire which nothing since has ever put out.
Here, in Scotland, contemporaneously with very similar doings in Switzerland, a new ideal and tradition of wonderful potency was brought into the world; it had no name then, but now we should call it democratic patriotism. It was not the outcome of theory. The unconscious qualities of a people had given it reality in a sudden fit of rage. “