01.01 The Lubeck Letter

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The Lubeck Letter

The only surviving document issued by William Wallace is not in Scotland, but is located in Germany. The letter known as "The Lubeck Letter by William Wallace" was sent by Wallace and Andrew Murray in 1297 to the mayors of Lubeck and Hamburg. After Scottish forces led by William Wallace and his northern ally Andrew de Mornay (aka Andrew Murray) won the Battle of Stirling Bridge on September 11, 1297, Wallace wasted no time trying to get the Scottish economy back on track.

The British had captured Scottish ports the year before and severely curtailed trade. Exactly a month after Stirling Bridge, Wallace felt secure enough to write to the Hanseatic League towns of Hamburg and Lübeck alerting them that Scotland’s ports were open for business again. (Mornay was mortally wounded at Stirling Bridge, although it appears he lived for a short time afterwards and Wallace continued to include his name in correspondence until his death.)

Recently a motion has been made in parliament asking that the letter be released from Lubeck's National Archives and returned to Scotland. "I would welcome the day when Scots are able to see the Lubeck Letter and the emblem of William Wallace in their country", said Murdo Fraser, the Mid Scotland and Fife MSP. "The letter is a link to a pivotal point in Scotland's history and gives an insight into William Wallace as the statesman and politician. William Wallace is rightly remembered as a hero to Scots for his great victories on the battlefield but this letter reveals another side to him which is not always mentioned in the history books."

Attached to this letter is also the only surviving example of Wallace’s personal seal. It has a Scottish Lion rampant on the front and a strung bow with arrow on the reverse.

Lubeck seal front.jpg      Lubeck seal back.jpg
Translation of the Letter
Andrew Moray and William Wallace, leaders of the army of the Kingdom of Scotland and the Community, to their worthy and beloved friends, the Mayors and citizens of Lübeck and Hamburg, greeting. We have been told by trustworthy merchants of the Kingdom of Scotland that you are giving help and favour in all business concerning us and our merchants for which we thank you. We ask that it be made known among your merchants that they will now have safe access to all ports in the Kingdom of Scotland, since Scotland, blessed be God, has been rescued from the power of the English by force of arms. Given at Haddington in Scotland, on the 11th day of October in the year of grace one thousand two hundred and ninety seven.

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