William Wallace, Peasant Leader
The central character of Braveheart is William Wallace. In the film, he’s shown as a man of humble background who goes to war after the love of his life is murdered by English invaders.
In reality, Wallace was part of the lesser Scottish nobility. His family was too obscure to leave detailed information about his origins, but we know enough to get a picture of his lifestyle.
Far from being raised as a farmer, he was raised to be a minor noble, and trained in the arts of war from a young age.
Men of his standing lived off the rents paid by peasants for living on their lands, and by fighting. When a war came up, this meant serving under the lord above him.
Case studies from northern England have shown how, in times of peace, these skills were often turned to banditry and local feuds.
As part of his education, he was sent to Rome for a time before returning to Scotland, and this is referenced in the movie.
Wallace was no peasant patriot. He was a member of a warrior aristocracy who excelled at the life he was given.