Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wallace Betrayed

'There is something singularly doubtful about the mode in which Wallace was taken. That he was betrayed to the English is indubitable ; and popular fame charges Sir John Menteith with the indelible infamy. " Accursed," says Arnold Blair, " be the day of nativity of John de Menteith, and may " his name be struck out of the book of life." But John de Menteith was all along a zealous favourer of the English interest, and was governor of Dumbarton Castle by commission from Edward the First; and therefore, as the accurate Lord Hailes has observed, could not be the friend and confidant of Wallace, as tradition states him to be. The truth seems to be, that Menteith thoroughly engaged in the English interest, pursued Wallace closely, and made him prisoner through the treachery of an attendant, whom Peter Langtoft calls Jack Short.

" WilliamWaleis is noinen that master was of theves,
Tiding to the King is comen that robbery mischeivs,
Sir John of Menetest sued William so nigh,
He tok him when he ween'd least, on night, his leman him by,
That was through treason of Jack Short his man,
He was the encheson that Sir John so him ran,
Jack's brother had he slain, the Walleis that is said,
The more Jack was fain to do William that braid."

From this it would appear that the infamy of seizing Wallace, must rest between a degenerate Scottish nobleman, the vassal of England, and a domestic, the obscure agent of his treachery ; between Sir John Menteith, son of Walter, Earl of Menteith, and the traitor Jack Short.'
History has ascribed guilt to John de Menteith for betraying William Wallace to the English.  This deed occurred on August 3, 1305.  Menteith was Scottish, but loyal to King Edward I, who'd appointed him Governor of Dunbarton Castle.  Walter Scott includes one Jack Short as a facilitator, based on the chronicle of Peter Langtoft, who was a canon of the Augustinian Priory in Bridlington.  The text above is included in the notes to Canto Second of "The Lord of the Isles", published in "The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott".

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