Leadership in the Movie Braveheart

Leadership in Braveheart

Braveheart is a historical drama/war film based around a 13th century Scottish warrior who led the Scottish people in First War of Scottish Independence. William Wallace- played by Mel Gibson- watches the people of Scotland suffer under the wrath of King Edward, and after the death of his brother, the death of his father, and ultimately the attempted rape of Wallace’s wife, he is driven to the point of no return and plots revenge against the King of England.

King Edward is a notorious murderer and known for his temperamental nature- conquering the king would be no easy feat for Wallace. “He gathers an army of a few thousand men and not only defeats the English but takes the war into his own country” (Wallace, 2002). But the support of his fellow men did not last long, and the king soon regained strength and control of England as the Scottish patriots Wallace had recruited began to back away from the king in fear. Wallace still did not stop.

While Wallace is captured by England he gains word that the King of England is planning an invasion of Scotland. With the help of one of the king’s lancers, Wallace is led back to England safely against the orders of the king. There he kills two men for betraying him on behalf of the English and then wages a guerrilla war against the English. The movie ends with Wallace being hung for treason by the English- but even as he is being killed, instead of crying or repenting, Wallace looks up at the crowd and shouts “Freedom!” right before he dies.

William Wallace provides an excellent example of leadership in the movie Braveheart through his relentless, passionate drive to pursue freedom for Scotland. Despite facing countless trials and obstacles, Wallace continued to fight for Scotland’s honor. Even in his death, Wallace died a proud man- knowing that he did all he could to revenge the death of his brother and his father.

When the time came for Wallace to rise up against King Edward, William created an army and defeated the English. When Wallace was conquered, he was still focused on how he could take down the king. By winning the trust of Isabella and the Bruce, Wallace was led to safety back to England where once again he was able to create a guerilla army to fight the king. Despite being betrayed by the nobles, captured by the king and sentenced to death, Wallace exemplified leadership qualities even while he was being hanged.

The reception of Braveheart also speaks to the convincing leadership qualities Wallace possesses in the movie. “The upsurge in debate about Scottish identity, national autonomy and heritage in response to the film testifies to the power Wallace had. Braveheart was the fifth biggest grossing film in the UK in 1995 and Scotland provided 28% of the total audience for the film” (Edensor, 1997).

William Wallace was a strong figure in Braveheart who exemplified many leadership qualities, even while facing overwhelming obstacles. The rage and passion in the character of William Wallace fueled his need to seek revenge for his family and Scotland as a whole. William Wallace proved that he would fight for freedom at all costs, never compromise on his values and live each day like it was his last.

Wallace’s most famous quote from Braveheart, which embodies the true essence of leadership, was when he said “every man will die eventually, not every man will truly live.” Wallace truly lived right up till the moment the English decided to hang him for his actions. Ultimately, Wallace was killed for his leadership, his passion for his country, and his never-ending drive to free the Scottish people.


Works Cited:

Wallace, Randall. “Braveheart Summary.” Penguin Fact Sheets. Penguin Publishing, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013.


Edensor, Tim. “Reading Braveheart: Representing and Contesting Scottish Identity.” Scottish Affairs, Summer 1997. Web. 30 May 2013. <http://www.scottishaffairs.org/backiss/pdfs/sa21/sa21_Edensor.pdf>.

“Braveheart (1995) – Synopsis.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 30 May 2013. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112573/synopsis&gt;.

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