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Saint Margaret of Scotland

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Saint Margaret
StMargareth edinburgh castle2.jpg
Queen of Scots
Born c. 1045, Castle Réka, in the region of Southern Transdanubia, Hungary
Died 16 November 1093 (aged c. 48), St Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle, Midlothian, Scotland
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Communion
Canonized 1250 by Pope Innocent IV
Major shrine Dunfermline Abbey
Feast November 16; June 10 (Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite)
Attributes reading
Patronage Dunfermline; Scotland; The Queen's Ferry; Anglo-Scottish relations

Saint Margaret (c. 1045 – 16 November 1093), was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the short-ruling and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. She married Malcolm III, King of Scots, becoming his Queen consort.

Early life

Saint Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, son of Edmund Ironside. She was probably born at Castle Réka, Mecseknádasd, in the region of Southern Transdanubia, Hungary. The provenance of her mother, Agatha, is disputed.

Margaret had one brother Edgar and one sister Christina.

When her uncle, Saint Edward the Confessor, the French-speaking Anglo-Saxon King of England, died in 1066, she was living in England where her brother, Edgar Ætheling, had decided to make a claim to the vacant throne.

According to tradition, after the conquest of the Kingdom of England by the Normans, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumberland with her children and return to the Continent. A storm drove their ship to Scotland, where they sought the protection of King Malcolm III. The spot where she is said to have landed is known today as St. Margaret's Hope, near the village of North Queensferry.

Malcolm was probably a widower, and was no doubt attracted by the prospect of marrying one of the few remaining members of the Anglo-Saxon royal family. The marriage of Malcolm and Margaret soon took place. Malcolm followed it with 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.


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

  1. Edward, killed 1093.
  2. Edmund of Scotland
  3. Ethelred, abbot of Dunkeld
  4. King Edgar 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 III, and their eldest son, Edward, were killed in a fight against the English at Alnwick Castle on 13 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, three days after the deaths of her husband and eldest son.

Margaret and Scottish culture

It is notable that while Malcolm's children by his first wife Ingibjörg all bore Gaelic names, those of Margaret all bore non-Gaelic names.

Later tradition suggests that Margaret was responsible for reducing the importance of Gaelic culture in the lowlands and Scotland in general. She probably intended the forenames of her children to bear her claims to the Anglo-Saxon throne in the period before permanent Norman rule was recognized. Her first group of children were given Anglo-Saxon royal names. But, it is unlikely that Margaret's children were originally seen as successors to the Scottish throne. Malcolm had older (grown) sons by his first marriage, as well as brothers, who were much more likely to succeed him.[dubious ] Furthermore, Margaret freely patronized Gaelic churchmen. The use of the Gaelic language continued to increase in northern Britain.

Nevertheless, Margaret's sons regarded their Anglo-Saxon heritage as important. It was one of the main elements which later Scottish kings used to legitimize their authority in English-speaking Lothian and northern England.

Margaret was known for having invited English Benedictine monks to Scotland, to establish the first holy orders in the nation. She admired their work and learning, and also encouraged Scottish holy men.


Saint Margaret was canonised in the year 1250 by Pope Innocent IV in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Church, work for religious reform, and charity. She attended to charitable works, and personally served orphans and the poor every day before she ate. She rose at midnight to attend church services every night. She was known for her work for religious reform. She was considered to be an exemplar of the "just ruler", and also influenced her husband and children to be just and holy rulers.

The Roman Catholic Church formerly marked the feast of Saint Margaret of Scotland on June 10, because the feast of "Saint Gertrude, Virgin" was already celebrated on November 16. In Scotland, she was venerated on November 16, the day of her death.

St Margaret's (Roman Catholic) Church, Dunfermline

St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline dedicated to her memory

Per the revision of the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1969, the Church transferred her feast day to November 16, the actual day of her death.[1] Traditional Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the feast day of "St Margaret, Queen of Scots, Widow" on June 10 as a Semi-Double feast, or a 3rd Class feast.

Queen Margaret University (founded in 1875), Queen Margaret College (Glasgow), Queen Margaret Union, Queen Margaret Hospital (just outside Dunfermline), North Queensferry, South Queensferry, Queen Margaret Academy (Ayr), St Margaret's Academy (Livngston),Queen Margaret College (Wellington) and several streets in Scotland are named after her.

She is also venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church.


  1. "Calendarium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 126

Further reading

  • Chronicle of the Kings of Alba
    • Anderson, Marjorie O. (ed.). Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland. 2nd ed. Edinburgh, 1980. 249-53.
    • Hudson, B.T. (ed. and tr.). Scottish Historical Review 77 (1998): 129-61.
    • Anderson, Alan Orr (tr.). Early Sources of Scottish History: AD 500-1286. Vol. 1. Edinburgh, 1923. Reprinted in 1990 (with corrections).
  • Turgot, Vita S. Margaretae (Scotorum) Reginae
    • ed. J. Hodgson Hinde, Symeonis Dunelmensis opera et collectanea. Surtees Society 51. 1868. 234-54 (Appendix III).
    • tr. William Forbes-Leith, Life of St. Margaret Queen of Scotland by Turgot, Bishop of St Andrews. Edinburgh, 1884. PDF available from the Internet Archive. Third edition published in 1896.
    • tr. anon., The life and times of Saint Margaret, Queen and Patroness of Scotland. London, 1890. PDF available from the Internet Archive
  • William of Malmesbury, Gesta regum Anglorum
    • ed. and tr. R.A.B. Mynors, R.M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom, William of Malmesbury. Gesta Regum Anglorum. The History of the English Kings. OMT. 2 vols: vol 1. Oxford, 1998.
  • Orderic Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica
    • ed. and tr. Marjorie Chibnall, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis. 6 vols. OMT. Oxford, 1968-1980.
  • John of Worcester, Chronicle (of Chronicles)
    • ed. B. Thorpe, Florentii Wigorniensis monachi chronicon ex chronicis. 2 vols. London, 1848-9
    • tr. J. Stevenson, Church Historians of England. 8 vols: vol. 2.1. London, 1855. 171-372.
  • John Capgrave, Nova Legenda Angliae
    • Acta SS. II, June, 320. London, 1515. 225
Secondary literature
  • This article incorporates text from the article "St Margaret" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Baker, D. "A nursery of saints: St Margaret of Scotland reconsidered." In Medieval women, ed. D. Baker. SCH. Subsidia 1. 1978.
  • Bellesheim, Alphons. History of the Catholic Church in Scotland. Vol 3, tr. Blair. Edinburgh, 1890. 241-63.
  • Butler, Alban. Lives of the Saints. June 10.
  • Challoner, Richard. Britannia Sancta, I. London, 1745. 358.
  • Dunlop, Eileen, Queen Margaret of Scotland, 2005, NMS Enterprises Limited - Publishing, Edinburgh, 978 1 901663 92 1
  • Huneycutt, L.L. "The idea of a perfect princess: the Life of St Margaret in the reign of Matilda II (1100–1118)." Anglo-Norman Studies 12 (1989): 81–97.
  • Madan. The Evangelistarium of St. Margaret in Academy. 1887.
  • Parsons, John Carmi. Medieval Mothering. 1996.
  • Skene, W.F. Celtic Scotland. Edinburgh.
  • Stanton, Richard. Menology of England and Wales. London, 1887. 544.
  • Wilson, A.J. St Margaret, queen of Scotland. 1993.

See also

External links

Preceded by
Ingibiorg Finnsdottir
Consort to the King of Scotland
1070 - 1093
Succeeded by
next known consort:
Sybilla de Normandy</span>
bg:Маргарет Шотландска

ca:Margarida d'Anglaterraeo:Sankta Margareta de Skotlandosw:Margareta Mtakatifu wa Uskoti la:Margarita Scotiae (sancta) hu:Skóciai Szent Margitja:マーガレット・オブ・スコットランド no:Margaret av Skottlandru:Маргарита Шотландская simple:Saint Margaret of Scotland sv:Margareta av Skottland (helgon)

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