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.
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Thanks NYer. Dang, the mail is slow.
TS — seems like the pope recognized Scotland’s independence in 1305 — when will london recognize it? :)
you're kidding, right? Btw, Gibson sure has a lot of hate for the English -- his movies are about Scots fighting the English, Americans fighting the English and Australians fighting the hated English. Next he should do some movies about the brawe Cymru (Welsh) fighting the English, the French fighting the english, the Dutch fighting the English, the Danes fighting the English, the Russians fighting the English, the Turks fighting the English, the French fighting the English, the Prussians fighting the English, the Germans fighting the English, the Argentinians fighting the English, the Japanese fighting the English, the Chinese fighting the English, the Marathas fighting the English, the Mughals fighting the english, the Bengalis fighting the english, the Jews in Israel fighting the English... man, those English don't seem to get along with anybody! :-P
yup, that’s true.
England recognised it in 1328, then preceded to ignore it when it suited them until 1707, when the two nation joined each other in the United Kingdom.
Unlike the Irish and Welsh, we joined, we werent coerced.
Yet the Act of union is kind of like the joining of many countries to the EU — the majority of the population were against it —> Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath, the only member of the Scottish negotiating team against union, noted that “The whole nation appears against the Union” and even Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was “contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom”
If All Saints’ is observed with an Octave, which I would bet on at the time, then the Monday after the day is another way of saying the Monday within the Octave. If one’s life revolves around the liturgical calendar, this would be a very good way of identifying a day.
I have a Missal published in 1949 which still has November 8 as “Octave-Day of All Saints.” It says “Mass as on the feast” (but the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion are different).
If my memory serves me correctly, Octaves took two big hits in the 20th century, one under St. Pius X and one under Bl. John XXIII. That said, as we are dealing with a time prior to the standardization under St. Pius V, it would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to ascertain the details of the calendar used in the French court.
Force of arms secured Scotland’s freedom.
The octave has to be the eighth day (counting inclusively so Nov. 8 is the octave of Nov. 1).
Freedom was secured by the herculean efforts of Robert the Bruce and the Scots, not by some Pope in Rome.
If it was up to referendum, the English people would grant the Scots immediate independence. Whether the Scots wanted it or not -- and by 2-1 they don't.
After seeing the translation in post 11, I think the only problem is in the original article, which leaves out the “Monday after” part and implies that the writer of the letter observed All Saints’ on Nov. 7. That said, it is somewhat curious that All Saints’ is referred to on Nov. 7, and so the other discussion is worthwhile.
Observing an octave can have two meanings—observing the eighth day or observing eight days. In practice, the two often intersected, with Day one having the biggest splash, day eight having the second biggest splash, and days two through seven having a lesser splash yet. The Octave of Christmas as presently observed is a good example of that.
While all western European countries may have been using the same calendar in the secular sense of the word (though one of the earlier posts brought this into question in an interesting way via ides and calends), I am fairly certain that the variation in liturgical calendar was probably significant. November 1 was certainly All Saints pretty well everywhere in the west, but whether it was observed everywhere with an octave, and the same sort of octave, is not something that I’m particularly confident of—I am a theologian who has taught some liturgical history and so have read a reasonable amount in the field, and I would hesitate to draw or believe conclusions without seeing a fair number of documents from the era or at least copious references to such documents.
All that said, this document would certainly point to observance as an octave in some sort in France.
Then again, only one third of the American population wanted freedom from Britain 1776-1783. A third opposed it, and the latter third sat on the fence. Contrary to the myth an entire nation rose up against the hated British.
Exactly so. In 1307 Robert the Bruce was excommunicated by the Catholic church. 1314 at Bannockburn was the beginning of the end for the English in Scotland. In 1320 the Pope threatened to excommunicate all Scots who failed to kowtow to King Edward II. The peace treaty signed in 1328 finalized Scotland’s independance.
Scotsman will be Free:
That may be true on the milatary side. However, in teh 1300’s, that is 200 years before Fr. Martin Luther fell into dissident thinking and lead started the Protestant Rebellion.
So, the Pope recognizing Scotlands freedom gave it the diplomatic and legal recognition as well as the moral backing of Rome that meant other nation states, we are talking about Catholic Christendom in Western Europe at the time, all then were compelled to recognize Scotland as a free state.
This is a fact of history that Scotlands Reformed and Calvinist don’t want to admit, tsk, tsk,
I suggest that you read a little further as in the Bruce being excommunicated in 1307 and the Pope threatening to excommunicate all Scots who didn’t kowtow to Edward II in 1320. Tsk, tsk.