Saint Margaret of Scotland

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Saint Margaret of Scotland (circa 1045 - November 17, 1093), Edgar Atheling's sister, married King Malcolm Canmore.

The daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile or "Edward Outremer", son of Edmund Ironside, Margaret was probably born in Hungary. The provenance of her mother Agatha is disputed: certainly related to the kings of Hungary, she was either a descendant of Emperor Henry III or a daughter of Yaroslav I of Kiev.

When her uncle, King Edward the Confessor, died in 1066, she was living in England where her brother, Edgar Atheling, had decided to make a claim to the vacant throne. After the conquest of England by the Normans, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumberland with her children and return to the Continent, but a storm drove their ship to Scotland where they sought the protection of King Malcolm Canmore. Malcolm was a widower, and taken with Margaret's beauty and viture. The marriage of Malcolm and Margaret soon took place and was followed by several invasions of Northumberland by the Scottish king, probably in support of the claims of his brother-in-law Edgar. These, however, had little result beyond the devastation of the province.

Far more important were the effects of this alliance upon the history of Scotland. A considerable portion of the old Northumbrian kingdom had been reduced by the Scottish kings in the previous century, but up to this time the English population had little influence upon the ruling element of the kingdom. Malcolm's marriage undoubtedly improved the condition of the English to a great extent, and under Margaret's sons, Edgar, Alexander I and David I, the Scottish court practically became anglicized. Margaret was very religious, and saw to the building of churches and the preservation of sacred relics. She rebuilt the monastery of Iona, and provided a free ferry and housing for pilgrims coming to visit the shrine of Saint Andrew. She was a lavish alms-giver, and paid the ransoms of English hostages held by the Scots.

Margaret and Malcolm had eight children, six sons and two daughters:

  1. Prince Edward of Scotland, killed 1093.
  2. King Edmund I of Scotland
  3. Ethelred, Earl of Fife
  4. King Edgar I of Scotland
  5. King Alexander I of Scotland
  6. King David I of Scotland
  7. Edith of Scotland, also called Matilda, married King Henry I of England
  8. Mary of Scotland, married Eustace III of Boulogne

Her husband Malcolm and their eldest son Edward were killed in battle against the English in November 1093. Her son Edmund was left with the task of telling his mother of their deaths. Margaret was ill, and she died on 16 November, 1093, four days after the deaths her husband and her eldest son.

She was canonised in 1251 by Pope Innocent IV on account of her great benefactions to the Church. The Roman Catholic church formerly marked the feast of Saint Margaret of Scotland on June 10, but the date was transferred to November 16 in the liturgical reform of 1972.

See Chronicles of the Picts and Scots (Edinburgh, 1867) edited 1876, by W. F. Skene; and W. F. Skene, Celtic Scotland (Edinburgh).

Original text from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. (with minor corrections)


Acta SS., II, June, 320; CAPGRAVE, Nova Legenda Angliae (London, 1515), 225; WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY, Gesta Regum in P.L., CLXXIX, also in Rolls Series, ed. STUBBS (London, 1887-9); CHALLONER, Britannia Sancta, I (London, 1745), 358; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 10 June; STANTON, Menology of England and Wales (London, 1887), 544; FORBES-LEITH, Life of St. Margaret. . . (London, 1885); MADAN, The Evangelistarium of St. Margaret in Academy (1887); BELLESHEIM, History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, tr. Blair, III (Edinburgh, 1890), 241-63.

  • Parsons, John Carmi. Medieval Mothering, 1996

simple:Saint Margaret


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