Braveheart rocked. It won countless awards the year it was released. But did you know that it was based on a true story, though? Yes, Mel Gibson’s fearless character actually existed. His life didn’t play out exactly the way the movie portrays, but it was pretty similar. Here’s what we know:

A true hero

Sir William Wallace was born somewhere in Scotland around the year 1270. During the first years of the Scottish resistance, he was a renowned leader. In 1297, he was knighted. However, he didn’t have the support of many nobles.

The English were all kind of jackasses who wouldn’t leave Scotland well alone. Edward I was one of the worst. That’s why it must have sucked when Wallace’s men were squashed by Edward’s in 1298. That single battle ruined his military reputation for good.

Humble beginnings

Although his battle strategy eventually failed, Sir William Wallace was still a great war hero. His humble beginnings only added to his great character. He grew up on a small parcel of land in Renfrew.

When Edward I had the Scottish king imprisoned, he decided he wasn’t going to stand for it. In 1297, he gathered 30 men to take back Lanarch. They killed the English sheriff that was presiding over the town. That was the first of many victories that Wallace would go on to claim.

Gaps in history

Unfortunately, we don’t know the entire life story of Sir William Wallace. There are several gaps in the records. For example, there is absolutely no knowledge of his whereabouts from 1299 to 1303. Unconfirmed rumors have it that he was serving as a guerrilla leader in Scotland.

We do know that Wallace died in London on August 23, 1305. He was charged with treason and hanged for it. His last words were: “I could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” He was a true Scot until the end.