Friday, January 20, 2012

Queen Margaret of Scotland

Margaret of Scotland was from the Saxon royal family, which was defeated by William the Conqueror in 1066. She was born in Hungary and traveled with her family as a child to England. She spent some time in a convent and wanted to become a nun. However, when the upheavals in England forced the family to flee, (hoping to return to Europe) their ship was blown off course and foundered off the coast of Scotland. There they stayed as guests of King Malcolm III of Scotland.

Margaret, under pressure from family, reluctantly married the king. Though she would have preferred to enter a convent as a nun, she made it her goal to give her all to being the best wife and queen possible. She became Scotland’s most beloved queen and was later (ca thirteenth century) canonized.

As Queen, she invited the poor villagers to her wedding feast, setting the stage for the rest of her reign. Her life from that point forward was spent helping her subjects, especially the poor. She was known to give her own clothing and many other possessions to them. The king, who reportedly was devoted to her, referred to her as, “my little thief”, because of her repeated ‘withdrawals’ from his treasury to feed and help the poor.

She did much to civilize the king and his court, bringing Scotland into the eleventh century with improving their manners and educating them, as well as making improvements to the royal households.

Margaret did the same for the clergy as well, bringing more of the Benedictine order to Scotland and educating those already there. Her reforms brought the Scottish church in line with the Roman church.

Margaret also was in favor of and worked for educating ALL girls. At that time, most countries gave only minimal education to girls of nobility, and none at all to the poor. Margaret changed that for Scotland. Celtic countries were alone then in their belief of women’s education. She was held up as the epitome of a just queen, and did charitable works for the poor and orphans daily.

Biographies report that the royal couple had a much more loving relationship than was common for that era. The king indulged Margaret in most things and respected her intellect. She was able to influence him in matters of state as well as at home; and was his most trusted adviser. Malcolm was illiterate when they married and Margaret read to him; legend having her teaching him to read.

The queen bore eight children (at least eight reached adulthood) and was a more involved mother than was common among royalty. Her children were raised with a sense of responsibility and were expected to uphold her high ethical standards. She held herself to even higher standards and spent much of her time praying and fasting for her sins. (She more than likely was anorexic, which led to her death in her 40s).

Their children went on to become kings and queens, three of their sons were kings, David reigning for 30 years; and known as one of the best rulers Scotland ever had. Their daughter Edith (Matilda) married Henry I of England.

more here:
Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 – 16 November 1093), also known as Margaret of Wessex and Queen Margaret of Scotland, was an English princess of the House of Wessex. Born in exile in Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the short-ruling and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margar...