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Margaret, St

Margaret, St (c.1045–93), queen of Malcolm III of Scotland. Mother of Kings Edgar, Alexander, and David. Her father Edward, son of Edmund Ironside, was exiled from England by Cnut, and ultimately found refuge in Hungary, where Margaret was born. Hungary had only recently converted to Christianity, and it has been suggested that Margaret owed her religious zeal to the atmosphere of the Hungarian royal court. She returned with her father to England where he died soon after. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 left Margaret's brother Edgar as the last hope of the English royal dynasty; but, following an unsuccessful rising in 1070, he and his family took refuge in Scotland, where Margaret was soon espoused to Malcolm III. Her commitment to piety is testified by her support for pilgrims to St Andrews, her help for Iona, her patronage of ascetics, and her foundation at Dunfermline of a cell of three monks from Canterbury—the first Benedictine community in Scotland.

Her sanctity was celebrated soon after her death in a biography written for her daughter Queen Matilda of England. This work may, naturally, have exaggerated her role in reforming the church in Scotland. Her posthumous significance, however, was chiefly that she gave inspiration as well as prestige to the Scottish royal dynasty which, by the time of her canonization in 1250, had made the Scottish throne its own by following her lead in ‘Europeanizing’ its realm.

Dauvit Broun

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