Skip to comments.Braveheart letter to Pope returns to Scotland
Posted on 01/16/2012 1:49:00 PM PST by NYer
.- A 14th-century letter asking Pope Boniface VIII to look favorably upon the Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace during his visit to Rome has been returned to Scotland.
This document is an enigma, said George MacKenzie, head of National Records of Scotland at the unveiling ceremony in Edinburgh on Jan. 12.
Its a letter from the French king to his officials at the Vatican mentioning Wallace, but we don't know what his business was with the Pope. What we do know is that the document still fascinates, 700 years after it was written.
The life of Sir William Wallace was famously portrayed by Mel Gibson in his 1995 Oscar-winning film Braveheart. Until Jan. 12, the letter about the real-life Wallace was held in England, since being discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s.
The letter was originally written in 1299, when Wallace traveled to the court of Philip IV of France to try and persuade him to support the Scots against Edward I of England. A year after Wallaces arrival, Philip IV wrote the letter in question to his agents in Rome.
The letter, begins, Philip by the grace of God, king of the French, to his beloved and loyal people appointed at the Roman Court, and commands the French officials to ask the Supreme Pontiff to consider with favor our beloved William le Wallace of Scotland, knight, with regard to those things which concern him that he has to expedite. It is signed at the royal castle of Pierrefonds on the Feast of All Saints, Nov. 7, 1300.
We do not have a lot of tangible links with Wallace as most of the documentation has been destroyed, so to have something that Wallace actually touched is a massive boost for Scotland, said Duncan Fenton of the Society of William Wallace, who had campaigned for the return of the letter.
The document suggests that Wallace intended to visit the papal court of Pope Boniface VIII, but it is unknown whether he actually reached Rome.
Wallace was later betrayed and captured by English forces near Glasgow in 1305. He was then taken to London where he was executed following a show trial at Westminster Hall. Scotlands freedom was subsequently secured, however, when Pope John XXII recognized the countrys independence in 1320.
I am delighted to welcome the Wallace letter back to Scotland, said Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop. To have it here in Scotland, where it can be viewed by the Scottish public, is very significant indeed.
The historic document will now go on public display this summer at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, alongside another rare letter associated with Wallace that dates back to 1297.
Well, would have been nice if they’d translated the full letter for context. It sounds like an endorsement or letter of recommendation of sorts...to further Wallace’s aims in country. A rally of support?
All Saints’ Day is November 1st—someone must have misread the number. I don’t know if they would be using Arabic numerals this early (where it would be easy to misread a 1 as a 7).
Very cool! Thanks for posting!
Perhaps someone can find Scotland’s lost spine and return it to them.
Is it possible that the discrepancy is due the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars?
Can I first say post
If they were counting days in the Roman fashion, the first day of November would be the Kalends of November and the 7th day of November would be the 7th day before the Ides of November.
We may have to wait until a full copy of the text is made available.
The document was written a week after the Feast of All Saints. Here is the Latin and the translation from the National Archives:
Ph[ilippus] dei gra[tia] Franc[orum] Rex dil[ec]tis et fidelib[us] gentib[us] n[ost]ris ad Roman[am] Cur[iam] destinatis, s[a]l[u]t[em] et dil[ectionem]. Mandam[us] vob[is] quat[enus] Sum[m]um Pontificem requiratis ut dilectum n[ost]r[u]m Guill[el]m[um] le Walois de Scotia militem reco[m]mendatum habeat in hiis q[ue] ap[ud] eum habu[er]it expedire. Dat[um] ap[ud] Petrafontem die Lun[e] post festum Omn[ium] Sanctor[um]. [Endorsed]: Quarta l[itte]ra R[egis] Franc[ie].
Philip by the grace of God, king of the French, to his beloved and loyal people appointed at the Roman Court, greetings and favour. We command you that you ask the Supreme Pontiff to consider with favour our beloved William le Wallace of Scotland, knight, with regard to those things which concern him that he has to expedite. Dated at Pierrefonds on the Monday after the feast of All Saints [7 November 1300]. [Endorsed]: Fourth letter of the King of France.
Billy here is a friend of ours from the other side
and he and his associates can help us with our English “problem”.
Weren’t there two popes at the time? One under the thumb of Phillip the Fair in Avignon and the other in Rome?
No, Boniface VIII was the only pope at the time. He’s one of the most controversial of the medieval popes. Shortly after his pontificate the popes began to reside at Avignon. The Great Schism when there was one pope in Rome and another in Avignon is later, after 1378.
I consulted the perpetual calendar in The World Almanac and November 1, 1300, was on a Tuesday, so they have the date November 7 right. The journalist who reported on the story obviously did not know that November 1 is the feast of All Saints and misinterpreted the translation to mean that 7 November was the feast rather than the Monday after the feast.
Gawd I love that. Yo, take care of my homeboy.
I second the Very Cool!
Wha’ hae, Scotland!
One of the first patriot fighters...
I thought it was a GREAT movie though I don't watch it anymore....way too sad.
Pope John XXII secured Scotland’s freedom in 1320 when Scotland was recognized as a sovereign country.
However, many of its children who immigrated to this country, and who seem to post here on FR, seem to have forgotten that fact.