Some Really Great Speeches

Last week, Gail and I were commiserating about something Brendan wrote about the altercation between John the Red Comyn and Robert the Bruce (thank you again, Brendan).  

So we got to talking about this bit of Scottish history and she asked me to fill in the blanks.  We talked about the Bruce and William Wallace before him, and I asked her if she remembered the movie Braveheart.  And then I remembered.  By golly!   This is October and every so often I put out that famous speech by Henry V, immortalized by Shakespeare in his play of the same name.  

So why not go whole hog and put out some of the greatest military speeches of all time?  (All of the clips below are from YouTube and are in the public domain.)

Since she asked about Robert the Bruce, I decided to start with the speech given by Sir William Wallace, right before the battle of Stirling Bridge.  (And yes, I know that Braveheart was mostly mythic, but it was a rollicking great movie, wasn’t it?)

Below is the aforementioned Robert the Bruce, who as the recently crowned King of Scotland, has to pay homage to King Edward II of England:

Here’s one of my faves (from the 2004 version of The Alamo):  Sam Houston rallying the Texicans right before the Battle of San Jacinto:

Here is General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, the very embodiment of Southron chivalry  (from Gods and Generals):

Not all speeches were given before battles.  In this speech, Jackson explains why desertion is a serious crime: 

And here is General Robert E Lee explaining why land is important for Christian civilization to flourish and why, if need be, must be defended, by violence if necessary:

And finally, here is the speech that a wounded (and very ill) Alexander the Great, probably the greatest captain in history, gave to his army at Opis in order to quell a mutiny by his Macedonian army:


“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)








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  1. Yes, these were all great speeches. May I add one more?
    Are we accepting of the North American Union? Tony Blinken thinks we should! Canada + US + Mexico open borders. See what Tucker Carlson has to say:

    We have accepted everything else they have thrown at us without a whimper.

    • John Harrington:
      Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
      Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

  2. Thank you! It’s great to see these inspirational speeches. May we all aspire to such bravery.

  3. I love Brave heart! It’s what started my love affair with Scotland and got me interested in researching my Scottish roots. Yeah there’s plenty of artistic license in there but I actually think they got the overall spirit right. And let’s face it: it’s probably done more for Scotland’s tourism industry than anything else.

    The speech from the movie is a classic. But I even love the real, and much shorter, speech Wallace gave to the friars sent over from the English asking the Scots to capitulate. “We are not here to make peace but to do battle to defend ourselves and liberate our kingdom. Let them come on and we shall prove this to their very beards.”

    • When his position was betrayed to Edward Longshanks
      and his army of pikemen was brought to bay at Falkirk
      by the English heavy cavalry, with the archers coming up;
      he formed his men in circles, spear-points facing outwards,
      and said to them:
      ” I have brought you to the ring. Dance – if you can.”

      • Another great one. I’ve heard it said that the line you quoted might have been meant like “oh well, here we are.” That Wallace didn’t want that battle but was essentially forced into it. But you would probably know better than I.
        As an aside, Brendan, is there a Saint in Scotland that tends to be venerated more than others? Like here, we have At. John of San Francisco. While we have many beloved local Saints, he is probably the most popular. Is there anyone like that there? Just curious.

        • Wallace did not want the battle.
          He had completely out-generalled Edward
          whose troops were mutinous and near-starving.
          Had his position not been betrayed to the English
          he would have run them out of the country
          and their army would have disintegrated in disgrace.
          It would have taken years for Edward to have raised another.
          After the battle, the English had to leave before they starved.
          Wallace had won the campaign, but because he lost the battle
          he was forced to resign by the very aristocracy whose desertion
          at Falkirk and failure to scatter the archers cost him the fight.

          As for Saints, it is Kentigern/Mungo in Glasgow;
          but in the Gaeltacht (and beyond), above all others it is:
          Colum Cille Columba of the Church

  4. Nate Trost says

    It was less than a minute long, but in the history books of the 21st century, Zelensky’s February 25th speech from the streets of Kyiv will be mentioned in the same way “We shall fight on the beaches” was in the 20th.

  5. Rob Roy from the Highlands cam,
    Unto the Lawlan’ border,
    To steal awa a gay ladie
    To haud his house in order.
    He cam oure the lock o’ Lynn,
    Twenty men his arms did carry;
    Himsel gaed in, an’ fand her out,
    Protesting he would many.

    ‘O will ye gae wi’ me,’ he says,
    ‘Or will ye be my honey?
    Or will ye be my wedded wife?
    For I love you best of any.’
    ‘I winna gae wi’ you,’ she says,
    ‘Nor will I be your honey,
    Nor will I be your wedded wife;
    You love me for my money.’

    * * * * *

    But he set her on a coal-black steed,
    Himsel lap on behind her,
    An’ he’s awa to the Highland hills,
    Whare her frien’s they canna find her.

    * * * * *

    ‘Rob Roy was my father ca’d,
    Macgregor was his name, ladie;
    He led a band o’ heroes bauld,
    An’ I am here the same, ladie.
    Be content, be content,
    Be content to stay, ladie,
    For thou art my wedded wife
    Until thy dying day, ladie.

    ‘He was a hedge unto his frien’s,
    A heckle to his foes, ladie,
    Every one that durst him wrang,
    He took him by the nose, ladie.
    I’m as bold, I’m as bold,
    I’m as bold, an more, ladie;
    He that daurs dispute my word,
    Shall feel my guid claymore, ladie.’

    Andrew Lang

  6. At the Battle of Maldon in Essex
    Earl Byrtnoth lay dead on the field
    the fyrd had scattered and Godric fled.
    The few huscarls left still held the shieldwall
    as Olaf Tryggvason’s Vikings closed in for the kill.
    Then Bryhtwold, an old warrior said:

    312 “Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
    313 mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað.

    Hand shall be harder heart the keener
    mettle be more as our might fails

    The Battle of Maldon – Interlineal Old English and Translated Texts

    PS: I prefer my version to that of the vikinganswerlady who offers:

    We shall hold our thoughts firmer, our hearts more fierce,
    our courage shall be keener as our strength dwindles.

    but, heigh-ho, there you go…