Updated: Nov 7, 2021
We started this series with the story of one of my favorite strong Scottish women from history--Black Agnes. Now let’s go back in time a bit to the woman who was known by many names, including Margaret of Wessex, The Pearl of Scotland, and eventually ...
An English princess, Margaret was born in exile in the Hungarian Court in c. 1045. Her father, Edward the Exile was approximately 29, her mother, Agatha was a year older. Margaret’s formative years were spent in the Hungarian court where she was considered pious, even from early childhood.
Margaret returned to England with her family in 1057, because her father had a claim to the throne. Unfortunately, he died shortly after landing in England. Margaret’s family did not leave, but stayed at court because her brother was also discussed as a possible king.
After 1066, and the Norman invasion, Margaret and her family attempted to flee to the continent. However, their ship, caught in a terrible storm, was pushed north to Scotland.
There, she and her family were welcomed by King Malcolm III of Scotland, and by 1069 she and King Malcolm were married.
Their marriage produced at least six sons and two daughters. Three of the sons became kings of Scotland with a fourth ruling alongside his Uncle, Donald III. They also had at least two daughters with one marrying Henry the First of England.
If that was not enough to be remembered in the history books, Margaret is credited with conforming the worship practices of the Church of Scotland to those of Rome, and for daily seeking out ways to serve the orphaned and poor through good works and self-sacrifice.
Among many charitable works and religious reforms, she commissioned a ferry across the Firth of Forth for pilgrims travelling to St. Andrews in Fife. This gave the towns of South Queensferry and North Queensferry their names.
Margaret died at Edinburgh Castle in 1093 at 48 years of age, some say only months after learning of her husband’s death in battle. She is buried at Dunfermline Abbey. Her piety and reforms of the church in Scotland led to her being canonized in 1250 by Pope Innocent IV; 157 years after her death. Later in the seventeenth century, she was named a Patroness of Scotland.
You can visit her grave at Dunfermline Abbey
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.