Friday, July 20, 2012

William Wallace, the 'Guardian of Scotland' - new exhibition and talks

There's going to be a new exhibition about William Wallace, the'Guardian of Scotland', in the Parliament in Edinburgh from 10th August to 8th September (closed 12th and 13th August and Sundays). Opening times are 10am to 5pm (except 9am to 6.30pm on 4th to 6th September.) Admission will be free. 

The centrepiece of the exhibition will be the letter of 1300 from the King Philip IV of France to his agents at the Papal Court in Rome asking them to assist Wallace in his business before the Pope and the 'Lübeck letter' issued in 1297 in the names of William Wallace and Andrew Moray or Murray, inviting the ports of Lübeck and Hamburg to resume trade with Scotland. 

This is a chance to go beyond the fictionalised version of William Wallace and Scottish history portrayed by the 'Braveheart' film and discover the story behind the real William Wallace. Oddly for such an important man, Wallace's family history isn't clear. I find it difficult to believe that he would have achieved as much as he did without being a good soldier or having personal followers and that's not likely unless he was born into a landowning (and probably noble) family.

Associated with the exhibition is a free talk 'The Attempted Restoration: Wallace's Support of King John, 1299-1302' by Dr Amanda Beam-Frazier of the University of Glasgow. She will talk about the efforts to restore John Balliol as king of Scots after his abdication in 1296 and reflect on Balliol's motivation to return, as well as the political and diplomatic context from 1299 to 1302. The talk is on 24th August at the Parliament from 10am to 11am. Online bookings for 'The Attempted Restoration: Wallace's Support of King John, 1299-1302 or on 0131 348 5405.

There's another event from 11.30 to 12.30 on the same day, 'Sir William Wallace, Scotland and the wider world' - a debate by a panel that includes Dr Fiona Watson, Professor Michael Prestwich and other historians. Members of the audience will get the chance to quiz the panel about Wallace and the momentous decades for Scotland from 1286 to 1306. The debate will be chaired by the Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, MSP. Online bookings for Sir William Wallace, Scotland and the wider world or on 0131 348 5405.

The exhibition and these two talks are part of the Festival of Politics at the Parliament taking place from 17th to 25th August, and there are other talks, exhibitions, concerts. You can download the whole Festival of Politics programme.

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