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Lubeck Letter

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ScotlandProject > Scottish Clans Teams > Lubeck Letter

The Trial and Execution of Sir William Wallace


After their success at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, William Wallace and Andrew Moray were made Guardians of Scotland. They wanted to tell the cities of Europe that Scotland was back open for business.

This letter, dated October 1297, tells the merchants of Lubeck, in Germany, they can come safely to Scotland "...because the kingdom of Scotland, thanks be to God, has been recovered by war from the power of the English."

During the Second World War Lubeck was bombed, and its archives moved to a saltmine for safekeeping. After the war, documents were taken east by the Russian army. They were later returned to Germany, but the medieval documents - including the Lubeck letter - were missing, presumed lost. Amazingly, in the 1970s, Lubeck's medieval manuscripts turned up in a Soviet archive and in 1990 were returned to their home city.

The Lubeck letter is the only surviving original document issued by Wallace, and bears his seal.kept at the national Archives Scotland. Dated November 7, 1300, and penned in Latin, the French king’s letter corroborates reports of Wallace’s mission to France and hints at what he planned to do next. In the note, Philip addresses a group of unnamed French royal agents posted at the papal court in Rome, writing, “We command you that you 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.”

The nature of Wallace’s intended business with Pope Boniface VIII has puzzled scholars since the document surfaced 180 years ago, particularly since there is no evidence that he ever made it to Rome. It is also unclear whether the Scottish warrior carried the note himself, although a panel of academics who investigated it last March concluded that he probably did. Some experts, including British historian Geoffrey Barrow, have theorized that the letter was one of several “safe conducts” known to have been in Wallace’s possession when the English arrested him in 1305; this could explain how the document wound up in London—the site of Wallace’s brutal execution—in the first place.

Translates as:-

"Andrew of Moray and William Wallace, leaders of the Scottish army, and the community of the same kingdom send to the prudent and discreet men, our good friends, the nobles and the commoners of Luebeck and of Hamburg greetings and a continuous increase of sincere affection. We have been informed by trustworthy merchants of the said kingdom of Scotland, that you on your own part have been friendly and helpful in counsel and deed in all things and enterprises concerning us and our merchants, even though we did not merit this. We are therefore the more beholden to you, and wishing to prove our gratitude in a worthy manner we ask you to make it known among your merchants that they can now have a safe access with their merchandise to all harbours of the Kingdom of Scotland, because the Kingdom of Scotland has, by the grace of God, been by war recovered from the power of the English. Farewell. Given at Haddington in Scotland on the eleventh day of October in the Year of Grace one thousand two hundred and ninety seven.

We also pray you to be good enough to further the business of John Burnet and John Frere, our merchants, just as you might wish that we should further the business of your merchants. Farewell. Dated as above."

Lubeck Letter Seal

front Back

Scottish lion rampant on the front. The back or reverse shows a bow and string with a protruding arrow. It is thought that the inscription reads: William, son of Alan Wallace.

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Categories: Scottish Clans