Margaret of Scotland

Queen and Saint, Religious Reformer

Saint Margaret of Scotland, reading the Bible to her husband, King Malcolm III of Scotland.
Saint Margaret of Scotland, reading the Bible to her husband, King Malcolm III of Scotland. Getty Images / Hulton Archive

Known for: Queen Consort of Scotland (married to Malcolm III -- Malcolm Canmore -- of Scotland), Patroness of Scotland, reforming the Church of Scotland. Grandmother of the Empress Matilda.

Dates: Lived ~1045 - 1093.  Born about 1045 (widely varying dates are given), probably in Hungary. Married Malcolm III King of Scotland about 1070. Died November 16, 1093, Edinburgh Castle, Scotland. Canonized: 1250 (1251?). Feast Day: June 10.  Traditional Feast Day in Scotland: November 16.

Also Known As: The Pearl of Scotland (pearl in Greek is margaron), Margaret of Wessex


  • Father of Margaret of Scotland was Edward the Exile. He was the son of King Edmund II Ironside of England, who was in turn son of Ethelred II "the Unready." Her brother was Edward the Atheling.
  • Mother of Margaret of Scotland was Agatha of Hungary, who was related to Gisela, wife of St. Stephen of Hungary
  • Margaret of Scotland's brother was Edgar the Atheling, the only one of the Anglo-Saxon princes to survive the Norman invasion, acknowledged as King of England by some but never crowned.

Early Years of Exile

Margaret was born while her family was in exile in Hungary during the reign in England of the Viking kings. She returned with her family in 1057, then they fled again, this time to Scotland, during the Norman Conquest of 1066.


Margaret of Scotland met her future husband, Malcolm Canmore, when she was fleeing William the Conqueror's invading army in 1066 with her brother, Edward the Atheling, who had ruled briefly but had never been crowned. Her ship was wrecked on the Scottish coast.

Malcolm Canmore was the son of King Duncan. Duncan had been killed by Macbeth, and Malcolm in turn defeated and killed Macbeth after living for some years in England -- a series of events fictionalized by Shakespeare. Malcolm had been married previously to Ingibjorg, the daughter of the Earl of Orkney.

Malcolm invaded England at least five times. William the Conqueror forced him to swear allegiance in 1072 but Malcolm died in a skirmish with the English forces of King William II Rufus in 1093. Only three days later, his queen, Margaret of Scotland, also died.

Margaret of Scotland's Contributions to History

Margaret of Scotland is known to history for her work to reform the Scottish church by bringing it into line with Roman practices and replacing Celtic practices. Margaret brought many English priests to Scotland as one method of achieving this goal. She was a supporter of Archbishop Anselm.

Margaret of Scotland's Children and Grandchildren

Of the eight children of Margaret of Scotland, one, Edith, renamed Matilda or Maud and known as Matilda of Scotland, married Henry I of England, uniting the Anglo-Saxon royal line with the Norman royal line.

Henry and Matilda of Scotland's daughter, widow of the Holy Roman Emperor, the Empress Matilda, was named Henry I's heir, though her paternal cousin Stephen seized the crown and she was only able to win her son, Henry II, the right to succeed.

Three of her sons -- Edgar, Alexander I, and David I -- ruled as kings of Scotland. David, the youngest, reigned for almost 30 years.

Her other daughter, Mary, married the Count of Boulogne and Mary's daughter Matilda of Boulogne, a maternal cousin of the Empress Matilda, became Queen of England as wife of King Stephen.

After Her Death

A biography of St. Margaret appeared soon after her death. It is usually credited to Turgot, Archbishop of St. Andrews, but is sometimes said to have been written by Theodoric, a monk. Of her relics, Mary, Queen of Scots, later had possession of Saint Margaret's head.

Descendants of Margaret of Scotland

Descendants of Margaret of Scotland and Duncan reigned in Scotland, except for a brief reign after Duncan's death by his brother, until 1290, with the death of another Margaret, known as the Maid of Norway.

Related: Anglo-Saxon and Viking Queens of England

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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Margaret of Scotland." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). Margaret of Scotland. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Margaret of Scotland." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).