Saint Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093)
Saint Margaret of Scotland married King Malcom III of Scotland
Margaret was born in Hungary, possibly in 1045 or 1046.
Her father was Edward the Exile (1016 – 19 April 1057), also called Edward Ætheling, and was the son of King Edmund Ironside. Her mother was Ealdgyth. Edward spent most of his life in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary following the defeat of his father in England by the Danish king, Cnut the Great. Margaret and her family returned to England in 1057.
Following the death of King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Margaret's brother Edgar Ætheling was elected King of England but was never crowned as the barons considered that he was too young. Harold Godwinson was appointed king instead. When the Normans arrived in England and defeated King Harold and his troops, Margaret's family again left England, this time seeking refuge in Scotland. Despite the different countries associated with Margaret's early life, her family is very much associated with the Anglo-Saxon families of Wessex.
After she and her family fled north, Margaret married Malcolm III of Scotland by the end of 1070.
Margaret was King Malcolms second wife. Margaret and Malcolm had eight children, Edward, Edmund, Ethelred, Edgar, Alexander, David, Edith (Matilda) and Mary. Edgar, Alexander and David later became kings of Scotland. Edith married King Henry I of England and changed her name to Matilda while Mary married Eustace III of Boulogne.
King Malcolm's marriage to Margaret and his alliance with her English family was not considered a popular move by the Normans. Eventually, in 1072, King Malcolm signed the Abernethy Agreement, a peace agreement with England.
Margaret's popularity was mixed. She was considered by many in Scotland to being the instigator of many English ways into the country. In reality, Malcolm had spent much of his early life in England, not returning to Scotland until 1054. However Margaret probably introduced a number of English and European court customs, including ideas of display, art, clothing, and even hairstyles to the royal court.
With the queen being a devoted supporter of the Catholic church, the position of the Gaelic church in Scotland was affected. Having lived her early life in Hungary and England Margaret regarded some of the practices and organisation of the church in Scotland as rather backward. A number of English monks and priests were therefore invited to live in Scotland to spread the faith and establish monasteries.
Margaret was known for her generosity to the poor and she established endowments and funding to construct places of rest for pilgrims. She also gave grants to several churches, particulalry at Laurencekirk and Iona, the traditional burial site for Scottish monarchs.
King Malcolm III was killed during a raid on Northumberland on 13 November 1093. Malcolm and Margaret's son Edward died in the same incident. Queen Margaret was in Edinburgh Castle when she heard the news. She died three days later on 16 November.
Queen Margaret was buried at Dunfermline in a small church which later became part of Dunfermline Abbey. A shrine was built in her honour in the mid-13th century. Margaret had provided the funds for constructing the original church.
|Chapel of St Margaret at Edinburgh Castle|
The Norman chapel at Edinburgh Castle was built to honor Margaret. Margaret's
daughter, Queen Matilda of England arranged for a Benedictine monk, Turgot of Durham (c.
1050-1115), to write a biography about her mother.
In 1250 Margaret was made a saint by the Catholic Church in
recognition of her efforts to spread Roman Catholicism and her charity
work for the poor in Scotland. Since then she became known as Saint Margaret of Scotland. The feast of Saint Margaret of Scotland is remembered on 16 November, the day of her death.