Saturday, 8 April 2023

Medieval Queens in the Family Tree - Saint Margaret of Scotland

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.

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

Medieval Queens in the Family Tree - A costume for a school project

During first term the Year 8 students at the school attended by my grand-daughter learned about life in medieval England. Towards the end of term the students were taken by bus to Montsalvat where they had a dress-up day with the students dressing as different characters from medieval times. My grand-daughter was to dress as a medieval queen.

Due to her extremely busy schedule we had only one weekend to make the costume though I had previously planned how the project should be tackled. I made a list of the steps required including items we needed to purchase, items we already had that could be used plus a step by step guide as to what needed to be done.

The aim of our project was to make an outfit that might have been worn by a medieval queen or a lady of high status. Many fabrics available today were not available in medieval times when ladies in the court would have worn silk, wool,velvet and taffeta - cotton and synthetic fabrics were definitely not available. The garments were often elaborately embroidered. The colours of fabrics used in clothes were usually dark green red, dark blue, purple and gold.

We decided to utilise fabrics that were easy to sew but still looked approriate. The costume was to be an outfit for the queen to wear when she was outside the castle. We also needed to make an outfit that was easy to put on as 'the queen' on this occasion did not have a large staff to help her dress.

Researching websites provided an idea of what costumes possibly looked like. The royal ladies would have worn many layers of clothes but I decided that a full skirt and an over garment would work.

I found a long skirt that I had worn in the 1970s. It was dark green and made of a soft cotton fabric that looked like wool. There was a printed pattern of small cream flowers and squiggles on the fabric which, with imagination, could look like embroidery. In medieval times many ladies would have spent days embroidering patterns on fabric for the queen's wardrobe. This was to be used as the over garment after I removed the zip and opened up the seam.

We went shopping and purchased two metres of 'royal purple' poplin to make the gathered skirt. Some of the fabric was also used for the head-dress. We also purchased half a metre of white lawn for the wimple and some gold braid to decorate the head-dress. A white skivvy with cuffs removed completed the outfit.

There are a number of images of medieval queens on the internet but these images were usually representations made many years later of what the queens may have looked like. However they can be useful as a guide.

Some of the outfits have a bodice or bib which is narrow at the waist and wider at the top. This idea was used for making the outer garment for this costume using excess material from the skirt. It was also designed as something easy to put on and wear for the school project. 

The head-dress was based on some images of medieval royalty. A simple wimple was added to the head-dress – a full wimple would have extended under the neck of the wearer and would not have been as easy to put on without assistance. The head-dress itself was made from a circle of cardboard covered with layers of fabric. Another piece of fabric formed the top of the hat. Two rows of gold braid were stitched to the head-dress.

My grand-daughter and I shared the sewing, both machine and by hand, in this project. With more time we would have done some things differently but the costume we made worked on the day and, more importantly, my grand-daughter enjoyed wearing it and had an enjoyable Medieval Day at school. 

Some online references

Medieval wimples and head-dresses

Clothes in Medieval England

A very easy medieval head-dress

The cheats guide to medieval head-dresses

Medieval queens clothing

The medieval period covered hundreds of years and there would have been many fashion adaptions over the years.

Saturday, 1 April 2023

Medieval Queens in the Family Tree - Philippa of Hainault

Philippa of Hainault (1314-1369)

Philippa of Hainault married King Edward III. 

The actual date of the birth of Philippa of Hainault is uncertain but it is thought she was possibly born in February 1314. Her father was Willem, Count of Hainault (in modern-day Belgium), Holland, and Zeeland in the Netherlands. Her mother was Jeanne de Valois, the sister of King Philip VI, who ruled France from 1328–1589. 

When she was twelve Philippa was promised in marriage to the future Edward III of England. This was an arrangement between Philippa's father and Edward's mother, Queen Isabella of England. Isabella required both soldiers, ships and money to fund her campaign to defeat her husband, King Edward II, and remove him from power. The marriage between  Philippa and Edward was arranged as part of the exchange for the Count of Hainault assisting Isabella.

Philippa arrived in England in 1327, 11 months after the forced abdication of Edward II. On 25 January 1328, she married Edward III in York. He was fifteen and she was almost fourteen. After Edward took control of the country from his mother in 1330, Phillipa was crowned Queen and was granted land and her own income.

Edward and Philippa had thirteen children. Nine survived childhood - Edward (the Black Prince), Isabella, Joan, Lionel (1st Duke of Clarence), John (1st Duke of Lancaster), Edmund (1st Duke of York), Mary, Margaret and Thomas (1st Duke of Gloucester).

Philippa worked tirelessly for the country, maintaining balance between royal duties and family duties. However she loved clothes and jewells and spent extravagent sums of money on these items. Nevertheless she was widely loved and respected as a queen by her English subjects

As the financial demands of the Hundred Years' War were enormous, Philippa advised the King to take an interest in the nation's commercial expansion as a method for recovering expenses. She established the textile industry in Norwich by encouraging Flemish weavers to settle there and promoted coal mining in Tynedale.

Philippa accompanied Edward on expeditions to Scotland and part of Europe in the early campaigns of the Hundred Years War, where she won acclaim for her gentle nature and compassion

In 1346 Philippa served as regent of England when her husband was overseas. During this time there was a Scottish invasion and Philippa gathered the English army to fight the Scots at the Battle of Neville's Cross near Durham. Before the battle, on horseback, she rallied the English soldiers. The  English victory resulted in the Scottish King David II being taken prisoner.

On 15 August 1369, Queen Philippa died at Windsor Castle. She was given a state funeral six months later on 9 January 1370 and was interred at Westminster Abbey. Eight years later, Edward III died and was buried next to Philippa. It would appear that their forty-year marriage had been happy.

Tomb of Edward and Philippa