- St Margaret (1046-1093)
Margaret was a descendant of King Alfred>. Her father, Edward, was exiled during the reign of King Canute> and Margaret was born in Hungary. Her brother had a claim to the throne of England but came to terms with William the Conqueror.
The family were headed back to the continent from Northumbria when their ship was blown off course and landed in Fife. The Scottish King, Malcolm III> (known as Canmore) gave protection to the family and married Margaret. Malcolm was devoted to her and as a result she exercised considerable influence. She introduced the English language into the court in place of the Gaelic spoken by her husband. She set the agenda for the church in Scotland and as a result the Roman church made inroads into the Celtic Church in the north of the country.
Margaret was very pious, caring for the poor and orphans and damaged her own health by repeated fasting and abstinence. In 1093, as she lay on her deathbed after a long illness, she was told that her husband and eldest son had been ambushed and killed at the Battle of Alnwick>, Northumbia. She thanked God for the pain this had brought her as it might cleanse her own sins.
She is buried in Dunfermline Abbey and was canonised by the Pope in 1251. St Margaret's Chapel (illustrated above) in Edinburgh Castle> is the oldest surviving building there and was constructed by King David I>, Margaret's son.
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