Queen Margaret of Scotland

Daily Reading for November 16 • Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093

The Norman Conquest of England could not fail to exercise a deep and lasting effect also on the northern kingdom, and it was the immediate cause of the introduction of English ideas and English civilization into Scotland. The flight to Scotland, after the battle of Hastings, of Edgar Atheling, heir of the Saxon Royal house, with his mother and his sisters Margaret and Christina, was followed at no great distant date by the marriage of Margaret to King Malcolm, as his second wife. A greatniece of St. Edward the Confessor, Margaret, whose personality stands out clearly before us in the pages of her biography by her confessor Turgot, was a woman not only of saintly life but of strong character who exercised the strongest influence on the Scottish Church and kingdom, as well as on the members of her own family. The character of Malcolm III has been depicted in very different colours by the English and Scottish chroniclers, the former painting him as the severe and merciless invader of England, while to the latter he is a noble and heroic prince, called Canmore (Ceann-mor great head) from his high kingly qualities. All however agree that the influence of his holy queen was the best and strongest element in his stormy life.

Whilst he was engaged in strengthening his frontiers and fighting the enemies of his country, Margaret found time, amid family duties and pious exercises, to take in hand the reform of certain outstanding abuses in the Scottish Church. In such matters as the fast of Lent, the Easter communion, the observance of Sunday, and compliance with the Church’s marriage laws she succeeded, with the king’s support, in bringing the Church of Scotland into line with the rest of Catholic Christendom. Malcolm and Margaret rebuilt the venerable monastery of Iona, and founded churches in various parts of the kingdom; and during their reign the Christian faith was established in the islands lying off the northern and western coasts of Scotland, inhabited by Norsemen. Malcolm was killed in Northumberland in 1093, whilst leading an army against William Rufus; and his saintly queen, already dangerously ill, followed him to the grave a few days later.

From The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIII; http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13613a.htm

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