Instigator / Pro
Points: 7

Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" unjustly defames Scotland's Robert the Bruce


The voting period has ended

After 1 vote the winner is ...
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Time for argument
Two days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Characters per argument
Required rating
Contender / Con
Points: 2
Quickie debate on one of oromagi's favorite hobbyhorses: the movie Braveheart is quite anti-historical.
RESOLVED: Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" unjustly defames Scotland's Robert the Bruce
Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" is the 1995 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture and Best Director.
unjustly [adverb, comparative form of unjust]
unjust [adjective] is not fair, just, or right.
just [adjective] is factually, rationally, or morally right.
defames [verb- third-person singular simple present] is to harm or diminish the reputation of; to disparage.
Scotland's Robert the Bruce was "King of Scotland from 1306 until his death in 1329. Robert was one of the most famous warriors of his generation, and eventually led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England. He fought successfully during his reign to regain Scotland's place as an independent country and is today revered in Scotland as a national hero."
BURDEN of PROOF is shared
PRO must demonstrate defamation
CON must demonstrate no defamation
- RULES --
1. Forfeit=auto loss
2. Sources may be merely linked in debate as long as citations are listed in comments
3. No new args in R3
4. For all relevant terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the rational context of this resolution and debate
Round 1
Seems I'm always thanking billbatard these days.  Thanks for accepting my forlorn debate.

RESOLVED: Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" unjustly defames Scotland's Robert the Bruce


  • Braveheart is generally acknowledged as a profoundly ahistorical film: if you google "least historically accurate movies" Braveheart appears somewhere on each of the first 9 lists.  I'm troubled that the 1995 Academy Award Winner of Best Picture, a popular and well-received film should prove so counter-factual and false in the presentation of a known truth to which the movie lays claim. 

  • I won't take the time to lay out all the fake news but the film besmirches many real people's reputations, not just Bruce.  I
    • Isabella of France, who is remembered now as the "She-Wolf of France" for her active rulership as Queen Regent of England for three years is depicted a smitten turncoat surrendering to William Wallace's sexual magnetism, making the future Edward III a bastard by treason and not incidentally, delegitimizing the rule of all successive English monarchs. In truth, Wallace was executed for treason when Isabella was still a child in France.  T
  • There are many more examples if CON wishes an excess of evidence.

  • I think we can agree that we possess something of a moral obligation to our ancestors to tell their stories with a certain interest in accuracy.  If we assert, as most people do today, that a person's biography is one's own, then that biography deserves credit and truth, within the boundaries of artistic license, even centuries after death.  If someone should tell your story again some seven hundred years from now, wouldn't you hope you received credit where credit was due, that your depiction was, if not flattering, at least true?

  • Likewise, Robert the Bruce,
    • the winner of the First Scottish War of Independence,
    • 'the victor of the Battle of Bannockburn,
    • the restorer of the Scottish monarchy and
    • King Robert I has much of his hero's glory stolen and given instead to William Wallace. 
  • Essentially, what we have is the second most important figure of the First Scottish War of Independence, Wallace,  recast as the first most important figure.  Wallace is falsely clothed in some of the reputation of the first most import figure, Bruce.

  • The deepest injury is the theft of Bruce's famous epithet, "The Braveheart."  Although King Robert I died of leprosy at 54;
"Robert had requested that his heart be taken on a tour of the Holy Land and presented before God at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre before ultimately being buried at Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire. The heart was given to Sir James Douglas in a metal urn to be worn on a necklace. However before Douglas and his company of knights could undertake the heart’s holy tour, they were called to fight against the Moors attempting to take Spain—the heart went along with.
Sir James Douglas was killed in a surprise attack, but before the confronting his attackers he is said to have thrown the heart urn ahead of him and shouted, “Lead on brave heart, I’ll follow thee.” Robert the Bruce’s heart was carried along with Douglas’ remains back to Scotland. " [1]
The traditional Braveheart of Scottish history refers to the embalmed heart of Robert the Bruce, now a Scottish relic and a national emblem..  Although Robert I was probably never called"Braveheart" during his lifetime, the epithet is his, in honor of his cherished memory.

William Wallace was never called the "Braveheart" until the 1995 film stole the Bruce's credit and gave it to Wallace, a false and unjust usurpation. 


  • Would it be fair to make a movie called "Lionhearted" about John I on crusade?   No, that would be giving the wrong King credit. 

  • Would a movie about Grant's presidency call "Honest Abe" be just?  

  • Well then what about a movie that takes credit for victories not earned? 

  • Imagine if an American Purple heart was given to one man but credited to another unearned- would not that be a wrong worthy of correction?


  • In the movie, Bruce is shown as actively betraying William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk by siding with Edward Longshanks of England.  The actual Bruce fought alongside Wallace at Falkirk, or more accurately Bruce and Wallace fled English capture together after Wallace's plan collapsed.  
  • In truth, it was Wallace who was dishonored at Falkirk and in the wake of that failure Wallace resigned his titles as Guardian of Scotland in favor of Robert the Bruce. [2] 
  • After Falkirk, Wallace left Scotland for Europe and remained gone for as much as six years while Robert stayed and improved his Scottish rebellion until redemption was achieved at the Battle of Bannockburn sixteen years later, long after Wallace was finally captured  and then executed for treason.
  • Further, the movie takes the tactics employed by Bruce at Bannockburn and depicts them as used instead by Wallace at the Battle of Stirling, which was more of an ambush on a prone army in transit than a pitched battle pitting Scottish pike vs. English horse and bow.

Given these cases of stolen valor, I think the memory of William Wallace is unjustly improved at the expense of the memory of Robert the Bruce and his descendants.  We might note that the current Princess of Wales is a direct descendant of the Bruce, as will be any future English monarchs by her. [3]

Here is a minor wrong. Perhaps a major wrong in the realm of history on film but a minor wrong in the hierarchy of global suffering and so PRO propose sa minor act of contrition- giving credit where credit is due. 

I look forward to discovering what objections Con might offer.

Its a holly wood movie it can no more defame a historical figure than larry flynt could defame jerry fallwell in a parody or cartoon in hustler, no one goes to a hollywood movei to study history almost everyone knows what holly wood is, a dream factory nothing it does can be taken seriously, yes they got everything wrong hoolywood is famous for that it is alsmost expected they will take aburd license to make the story interesting to an uadiance with a limitied attention span
Round 2
thanks, billbatard, for the concision of your reply

RESOLVED: Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" unjustly defames Scotland's Robert the Bruce


  •  CON drops- extend

  • CON drops- extend

  • CON does answer questions or address analogies- extend

  • CON ignores- extend

  • CON counters :
  A Hollywood movie can no more defame a historical figure than larry flynt could defame jerry fallwell
  • CON is thinking of the specific legal - charge defamation of character.  This debate defines defames as "to harm or diminish the reputation of; to disparage" as laid out  in the debate description above.  Falwell may not have had his character defamed in the ordinary legal sense but his reputation was certainly diminished when Flynt was done with him.  Falwell was defamed but perhaps Falwell's' defamation was just.  King Robert did nothing to deserve to have his reputation, his famous accomplishments and greatest award taken from his name and given to an also ran because the writer didn't like the truth about his subject,  so some finer example was robbed of good but also falsely accused of cowardice and uncertainty, when these were never true.  I call that disparagement, diminishment.  I call that harm.
no one goes to a hollywood movei to study history almost everyone knows what holly wood is, a dream factory nothing it does can be taken seriously,
Well... that's quite wrong.  Many highly accurate documentaries are made in Hollywood.  There does seem to be a sort of informal protocol for this sort of thing: if you're not bothering to try to get the history right, then you should change the names to fictional names- so people don't mistake the offering for historical biography.  If you're going to blur the accomplishments of heroes, be sure to change the hero's name.  Master and Commander is a good example of movie that tries hard to get the details of naval warfare in the Napoleonic Age but spares us any claim to true history by using entirely fictional names and event.

CON is correct that many, many movies get history fairly wrong but as PRO pointed out at the top- even in that set of often wrongs, Braveheart is usually singled out as the bottom of an often wrong pack.

yes they got everything wrong hoolywood is famous for that it is alsmost expected they will take aburd license to make the story interesting to an uadiance with a limitied attention span
Well just because Hollywood is famous for some injustice and does it all the time does not improve the act in justice.  In fact, multiple injustices are usually considered to have increased injustice.

Why does inaccuracy improve attention?  I don't think that's so.  I think a movie is more entertaining if it pays close attention to small detail.  I think it is lazy to say you can't tell true stories about history without boring your audience- that is just and excuse for lazy research, lazy writing.

PRO conceded in R1 that harm was minor but the question is was Gibson justified in fibbing?  If not, then injustice is proved.
Wallace got quite famous after Braveheart.  Fans built statues, toured at Stirling Bridge, etc.  Shouldn't the actual descendants of the real "Braveheart" Bruce be enjoying renewed interest in their families famous feats instead of nobody because the real William Wallace left no progeny?  Isn't that diminishment  of family fame?

I look forward to CON's R2 reply.
Granted everything you say bravehar is  shit e history but it isnt a history lesson is it? its a movie meant to entertain, it is imposible for it to be libelous because everyone knows Hollywood produces fantasy and fiction even when it pretends to base it s movies on real life if this was produced as a documetary youd have a solid win here.. it was made as a movie to entertain everyone knows most of it is inaccurate.. people know what hollywood is about making money and dreams.. dreams dont have to be historically accurate  aks around everyone knows this
Round 3
thanks, billbatard, for discussing with me one of my favorite topics

RESOLVED: Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" unjustly defames Scotland's Robert the Bruce


  •  CON concedes in R2:
"Granted everything you say bravehar is  shit e history"
  • but also counters:
 'but it isnt a history lesson is it?"
Why isn't any story that claims to recount history a history lesson?  Many movies are often taken for history lessons, even when they make no claim on actual events.  Many movies wish to communicate an accurate history and their credibility is harmed by exactly CON's perception.  That perception could easily change if Hollywood would agree to an historical minimum standard:  if movies use the names of actual people, places, and events then they have a responsibility to accurately depict those people, places, and events.  If accuracy is too expensive or boring then movies ought to depict events with fictional names.  PRO believes that the movie Braveheart would be greatly improved had it used fictional names- call the movie, "Freedom!" and the main character William Walleye for example.

If you are taking the names of real people to make your story then yes, you are in the business of history and you have a responsibility to get history right.


  • CON drops- extend

  • CON does not answer questions or address analogies- extend

  • CON ignores- extend

  • In R1, CON argued :
  A Hollywood movie can no more defame a historical figure than larry flynt could defame jerry fallwell
  • PRO argued that CON was thinking of defamation of character and asked CON to stick to the agreed definition of defame.
  • In R2, CON tries a different legal standard:
it is imposible for it to be libelous because everyone knows Hollywood produces fantasy "
  • CON is changing the accusation to libel but continues suggesting a legal standard that PRO has not offered for this debate.  We are not interested in whether Hollywood has any legal culpability or meets US legal standards of defamation or libel.  If the reputation of Robert the Bruce is in any way lessened or diminished by Gibson's very public depiction of Bruce as more cowardly and less loyal to Scotland that Wallace when the truth is that  Wallace fled after the Wallace's failures of Falkirk- which which Gibson scapegoats Bruce unjustly.
if this was produced as a documetary youd have a solid win here."
  • Then I should have a solid win, period.  You're saying that if Mel Gibson had told the same lies about Robert the Bruce using still shots and voice-overs than the injustice would be manifest but because Gibson acts out his lie with tears and melodramatic flourish, his lies ought to be overlooked.  Documentaries are held to higher standard of truth because they claim the truth.  When Gibson conjures an historical time and place and employs real people's memories and deeds for profit, Gibson has a duty of some degree of accuracy and fairness whether CON or Hollywood or moviegoers acknowledge that duty.  There are no special rules for biography told in a documentary style from which the narrative style is immune.  If CON genuinely finds that the same lies put into a documentary would qualify as an injustice, then CON must explain the injustice goes away once actors start telling the same story.

  • Mel Gibson's "Braveheart" unjustly defames Scotland's Robert the Bruce who fought more bravely and survived far more battles than William Wallace in the War for Scottish Independence and was awarded the Throne for his achievements and the nickname "Braveheart," which Gibson's movie co-opts to give his character greater glory.  I, for one, would mind it greatly if hundreds of years from now some film maker or other story teller decides that John Adams is not heroic enough so he rewrites the tales of Valley Forge and Yorktown as Adams' victories while Washington cowers off-stage. Even then, I doubt my reaction would be a matter for lawsuits or public protest but that doesn't make it right.  Everybody, even actors, should give credit where credit is due and are rightly criticized for making a buck by besmirching better men.

  • CON ignored much of my argument but seems to accept the facts as laid out- only arguing the degree of injustice and the I suppose the question of relative concern.  CON does not address PRO's definition of defamation but mostly seems to to want to establish a legal definition that can be argued down.  Since CON never challenged definitions or fought for some new definition,  CON's approach must fail.
  • PRO does not see much cause for rewarding source, grammar, or conduct points either way.
Thanks again to CON for accepting this debate.

Thanks to VOTERS for their kind consideration.

I look forward to CON's conclusion.

Please VOTE PRO!

it is just a movie no one ever said movies have to be accurate, and on top of that its a Hollywood movies people automatically assume that anything hollywood makes is going to be require "artistic" license, Hollywood makes dreams not reality people assume automatically it has little to do with acurate history people know that!
--> @oromagi
That is really cool, actually. I might watch the movie, in fact. Sorry a troll accepted :/
its only a bloody movie, movies are allowed license
--> @bmdrocks21, @Christen
Well, it is not a sin because only Mel Gibson is getting screwed and God hates Mel ever since he Mad Maxed Jesus in The Mashin' of the Christ. But it might be a teenie tiny little crime. Please don't crime on my debate. Also I will probably keep trying for a Braveheart debate so folks should look out for an opportunity to re-watch. It is certainly entertaining as hell. I don't need to re-watch because I re-live Braveheart in my head every time I get my hand stuck in the garbage disposal.
Fun fact: I have two second cousins from Ireland who were extras in the two big battle scenes in Braveheart.
--> @Christen
Public domain takes 95 years. (Thank you Disney)
It is highly improbable that the site could afford the copyright and then give it out for free.
It was more of a joke about the link.
--> @bmdrocks21
Are you the copyright owner? If not, then how do you know it's copyrighted and not in the public domain? What if the copyright owner gave permission for that website to allow people to download it, or what if that torrent site bought the copyright themselves so that they can they can legally allow people to download the torrent?
Also, I'm pretty sure copyright laws just says I can't HOST the copyrighted material. It doesn't say I can't LINK to it.
--> @Christen
The FBI doesn't really enforce those laws because so many people do it. They mainly go after people that create those sites and/or sell copyrighted material.
--> @Christen
Well torrenting is the illegal download of copyrighted material. Then you provided a link, which would probably count as distributing it.
--> @bmdrocks21
What laws specifically am I violating?
--> @Christen
You seem to be violating piracy laws. Imma tell the NSA!
--> @oromagi
The film can be downloaded as a torrent from this website:
Once you download the "Braveheart (1995) [BluRay] [YTS.LT].torrent" file, you need a software like utorrent or bitorrent to extract the torrent and acquire the MP4 video file for the movie to watch.
--> @Christen
or just turn AMC- sometimes it's like the 24/7 Braveheart channel
--> @oromagi
I would have to download the entire film via torrent and watch it before doing this debate with you.
I love debates like these
Debate #666
I might also consider making "Braveheart" vs. "Gladiator" but I'd still mostly argue historical accuracy.
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Pro uses history lessons to prove his case (bad history, stolen titles, and some really funny analogs), whereas con does not challenge any of it and makes a weak case around defamation not mattering. If it matters or not, is not what is in question, so arguments to pro. Sources to pro, largely for connecting the historical figure to currently living people (I had no clue Meghan Markle was from that line...), making the harm (mild as it may be) a sound argument and pre-refuting the contention that it doesn't matter.