Margaret, Maid of Norway

Last updated

Margaret
Margaret, Maid of Norway imaginary.jpg
Imaginary portrait of what Margaret may have looked like if she had become a grown woman.
Queen of Scots
Disputed reign1286–1290
Predecessor Alexander III
Successor John (1292)
BornBetween March and 9 April 1283
Tønsberg, Norway
DiedBetween 26 and 29 September 1290 (aged 7)
Orkney Islands, Norway
Burial
House Sverre
Father Eric II of Norway
Mother Margaret of Scotland

Margaret (Norwegian : Margrete, Scottish Gaelic : Maighread; March or April 1283 – September 1290), known as the Maid of Norway, was the queen-designate of Scotland from 1286 until her death. As she was never inaugurated, her status as monarch is uncertain and has been debated by historians.

Contents

Margaret was the daughter of King Eric II of Norway and Margaret of Scotland. By the end of the reign of her maternal grandfather, King Alexander III of Scotland, she was his only surviving descendant and recognized heir presumptive. Alexander III died in 1286, his posthumous child was stillborn, and Margaret inherited the crown. Owing to her young age, she remained in Norway rather than going to Scotland. Her father and the Scottish leaders negotiated her marriage to Edward of Caernarfon, son of King Edward I of England. She was finally sent to Great Britain in September 1290, but died in Orkney, sparking off the succession dispute between thirteen competitors for the crown of Scotland.

Infancy

Margaret, Maid of Norway, was the only child of King Eric II of Norway and his first wife, Margaret, daughter of King Alexander III of Scotland. [1] She was born in Tønsberg, a coastal town in southeastern Norway, [1] between March and 9 April 1283, when her mother died, apparently from the complications of childbirth. [2] Aged fifteen and possessing little royal authority, King Eric did not have much say about his daughter's future. The infant Margaret was instead in the custody of the leading Norwegian magnate, Narve, Bishop of Bergen. Margaret's upbringing in the city of Bergen shows that her future marriage was expected to be important to the kingdom's foreign policy. [1] The 1281 treaty arranging the marriage of Eric of Norway and Margaret of Scotland specified that the Scottish princess and her children would succeed to the throne of Scotland if King Alexander died leaving no legitimate sons and if no legitimate son of King Alexander left legitimate children. [2] It also stated that the couple's daughters could inherit the Norwegian throne "if it is the custom". The Scottish party seems to have been deceived because the succession law of Norway, codified in 1280, provided only for succession by males, meaning that the Maid could not have succeeded to her father's kingdom. [3] [nb 1]

Alexander, brother of Margaret's mother and the last surviving child of the King of Scotland, died on 28 January 1284. The Maid was left as the only living descendant of Alexander III. The King did not wait to discover whether his son's widow, Margaret of Flanders, was pregnant. [3] Already on 5 February he had all thirteen earls, twenty-four barons, and three clan chiefs come to Scone and swear to recognize his granddaughter as his successor if he died leaving neither son nor daughter and if no posthumous child was born to his son. [4] By April it had presumably become clear that the young Alexander's widow was not expecting a child and that Margaret was the heir presumptive. [5]

Alexander III's wife, another Margaret, sister of King Edward I of England, had died in 1275, and the oath he exacted strongly implied that he now intended to remarry. [4] When Edward expressed his condolence to Alexander III that month for the death of his son, the latter responded that "much good may come to pass yet through your kinswoman, the daughter of your niece ... who is now our heir", suggesting that the two kings may have already been discussing a suitable marriage for Margaret. Alexander and his magnates may have hoped for an English match. [6] The King took a new wife, Yolanda of Dreux, on 14 October 1285, hoping to father another child. On the evening of 18 March 1286, he set out to meet with Queen Yolanda, only to be found dead with a broken neck the next day. [6]

Lady and queen

Following the unexpected death of King Alexander, Scottish magnates gathered to discuss the future of the kingdom. They swore to preserve the throne for the right heir and chose six regents, known as guardians of Scotland, to govern the country. Although the succession had been laid out by the time King Alexander III died, Margaret's accession was not yet assured: Her stepgrandmother, Queen Yolanda, was pregnant and the child was expected to succeed to the throne. [7] There was a dispute in parliament in April involving Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale, and John Balliol, Lord of Galloway. Bruce may have opposed the Maid's succession, [8] or the two men may have both claimed to be next in line to the throne after Yolanda's child and Margaret. [9] Queen Yolanda delivered a stillborn child in November, [8] and within a few months King Eric's most prominent councilor, Bjarne Erlingsson, arrived in Scotland to claim the kingdom for Margaret. [10] Bruce raised a rebellion with his son, Robert, Earl of Carrick, but was defeated in early 1287. [11] The precariousness of the situation made King Eric reluctant to see his three-year-old daughter leave Norway for Scotland. [12]

The Great Seal of Scotland used by the government of the realm after the death of King Alexander III Government2.jpg
The Great Seal of Scotland used by the government of the realm after the death of King Alexander III

In May 1289, Eric II sent envoys to Edward I as part of the kings' unfolding discussion about the future of Margaret, whom they called "lady and queen". As Margaret was still with her father, the Scots could only observe the negotiations between the two kings. [11] Eric was indebted to Edward, and Edward was determined to make the most of the situation. The guardians, accompanied by Bruce, finally met with English and Norwegian envoys at Salisbury in October. The Treaty of Salisbury was drawn up on 6 November, stating that Eric and Margaret, "queen and heir of the kingdom", asked Edward to intervene on behalf of his grandniece so "that she could ordain and enjoy therein as other kings do in their kingdoms". [13] Margaret was to be sent, by 1 November 1290, to England directly or via Scotland. Once the Scots could assure Edward that Scotland was peaceful and safe, he would send her to them. Edward was allowed to choose her husband, though her father retained the right to veto the choice. At Edward's request, a papal dispensation permitting Margaret to marry her granduncle's son, Edward of Caernarfon, was issued on 16 November 1289. [14] The guardians and other prelates and magnates wrote that they were firmly in favour of the English match for "the lady Margaret queen of Scotland, our lady". [15] It was strongly implied that Margaret's husband would be king, and Edward insisted on referring to Margaret as queen in order to speed up the accession of his own son, [15] though the Scots themselves normally described her only as their lady. [16]

Negotiations about Margaret's marriage, dower, succession, and the nature of the intended personal union between England and Scotland continued into 1290. A lavishly provisioned ship failed to fetch the Maid in May because of diplomatic difficulties. [17] The Treaty of Birgham, agreed on 18 July, provided that Scotland was to remain fully independent despite the personal union [18] and that Margaret alone would be inaugurated as monarch at Scone. [19] By late August 1290, Margaret was preparing to sail from Bergen to the island of Great Britain or was already at sea. The ship was her father's but he did not accompany her; [20] the most prominent men in her entourage were Bishop Narve and Baron Tore Haakonsson. [21] She must have embarked in good health, but became ill during her journey. The ship landed in Orkney, a Norwegian archipelago off the coast of Scotland, on about 23 September. [22] Having suffered there for up to a week from either food poisoning or, less likely, motion sickness, Margaret died between 26 and 29 September 1290 [22] in the arms of Bishop Narve. [21] The Scottish magnates, who had assembled at Scone for the child queen's inauguration, learned about her death in October. [23] Her body was returned to Bergen, where King Eric insisted on having the coffin opened to confirm his daughter's identity. He then had it buried in the north wall of the chancel of Christ Church, now destroyed. [24]

Legacy

Lerwick Town Hall stained glass window depicting "Margaret, queen of Scotland and daughter of Norway" Margaret, Maid of Norway.jpg
Lerwick Town Hall stained glass window depicting "Margaret, queen of Scotland and daughter of Norway"

Margaret was the last legitimate scion of the line of King William the Lion. [22] Thirteen men laid claim to succession, most notably Bruce and Balliol. [25] King Eric half-heartedly claimed the Scottish crown as well, and died in 1299. [26] In 1301 she was impersonated by a German woman, False Margaret, who was burned at the stake. [27]

Historians debate whether Margaret should be considered a queen and included in the list of Scottish monarchs. She was never inaugurated, [1] and her contemporaries in Scotland described her as queen very rarely, referring to her instead as their "lady". She was called Scotland's "lady", "heir", or "lady and heir" during the deliberations of the Great Cause after her death. [16] On the other hand, documents issued from late 1286 no longer refer to the "king whosoever he may be", indicating that the throne may have been regarded as already occupied by Margaret. Pope Nicholas IV considered Margaret to be the monarch of Scotland and treated her as such, sending to her a bull regarding the episcopal election of Matthew the Scot. [18] In modern historiography she is nearly unanimously called "queen", and reference books give 19 March 1286, the date of Alexander III's death, as the start of her reign. [16]

Family tree

Margaret's family ties resulted from the marital diplomacy that sought to ensure peace among the three kingdoms on the North Sea Norway, Scotland, and England, [1] and placed her at the centre of the Scottish succession intrigues. [28]

Notes

  1. Eric II was survived by one child from his second marriage, a daughter named Ingeborg, but was succeeded by his brother, Haakon V. When Haakon V died, he was not succeeded by his daughter Ingeborg but by her son Magnus VII. [3]

Related Research Articles

Alexander III of Scotland King of Scots from 1249 to 1286

Alexander III was King of Scots from 1249 until his death. He concluded the Treaty of Perth, by which Scotland acquired sovereignty over the Western Isles and the Isle of Man. His heir, Margaret, Maid of Norway, died before she could be crowned.

Malcolm III was King of Scotland from 1058 to 1093. He was later nicknamed "Canmore". Malcolm's long reign of 35 years preceded the beginning of the Scoto-Norman age. Henry I of England and Eustace III of Boulogne were his sons-in-law, making him the maternal grandfather of Empress Matilda, William Adelin and Matilda of Boulogne. All three of them were prominent in English politics during the 12th century.

Edward I of England King of England from 1272 to 1307

Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. Before his accession to the throne, he was commonly referred to as The Lord Edward. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved from an early age in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons. In 1259, he briefly sided with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford. After reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent armed conflict, known as the Second Barons' War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and defeated the baronial leader Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265. Within two years the rebellion was extinguished and, with England pacified, Edward joined the Ninth Crusade to the Holy Land. He was on his way home in 1272 when he was informed that his father had died. Making a slow return, he reached England in 1274 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Donald III, and nicknamed "Donald the Fair" or "Donald the White", was King of Scots from 1093–1094 and 1094–1097.

Eric II of Norway King of Norway

Eric Magnusson was the King of Norway from 1280 until 1299.

Edmund or Etmond mac Maíl Coluim was a son of Malcolm III of Scotland and his second wife, Margaret of Wessex. He may be found on some lists of Scottish kings, but there is no evidence that he was king. Although Edmund was probably Malcolm and Margaret's second son, he was passed over in subsequent successions as a result of betraying his siblings by siding with their uncle, Donald III.

The House of Dunkeld is a historiographical and genealogical construct to illustrate the clear succession of Scottish kings from 1034 to 1040 and from 1058 to 1286. The line is also variously referred to by historians as "The Canmores" and "MacMalcolm".

When the crown of Scotland became vacant in September 1290 on the death of the seven-year-old child Queen Margaret, a total of thirteen claimants to the throne came forward. Those with the most credible claims were John Balliol, Robert Bruce, John Hastings and Floris V, Count of Holland.

The Treaty of Birgham, also referred to as the Treaty of Salisbury, comprised two treaties in 1289 and 1290 intended to secure the independence of Scotland after the death of Alexander III of Scotland and accession of his three-year-old granddaughter Margaret, Maid of Norway in 1286. They were negotiated and signed by the Guardians of Scotland, who were ruling in Margaret's name due to her age.

Robert de Brus, 6th Lord of Annandale, jure uxoris Earl of Carrick (1252–1292), Lord of Hartness, Writtle and Hatfield Broad Oak, was a cross-border lord, and participant of the Second Barons' War, Ninth Crusade, Welsh Wars, and First War of Scottish Independence, as well as father to the future king of Scotland Robert the Bruce.

Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale

Robert V de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, was a feudal lord, justice and constable of Scotland and England, a regent of Scotland, and a competitor for the Scottish throne in 1290/92 in the Great Cause. He is commonly known as "Robert the Competitor". His grandson Robert the Bruce eventually became King of Scots.

Yolande of Dreux, Queen of Scotland Countess of Montfort

Yolande of Dreux was a sovereign Countess of Montfort from 1311 until 1322. Through her first marriage to Alexander III of Scotland, Yolande became Queen consort of the Kingdom of Scotland. Through her second marriage to Arthur II, Duke of Brittany, she became Duchess Consort of Brittany.

Isabel Bruce was Queen of Norway as the wife of King Eric II.

Margaret of Scotland was Queen of Norway as the wife of King Eric II. She is sometimes known as the Maid of Scotland to distinguish her from her daughter, Margaret, Maid of Norway, who succeeded to the throne of Scotland.

Walter Bailloch Earl of Menteith jure uxoris

Walter Bailloch, also known as Walter Bailloch Stewart, was distinguished by the sobriquet Bailloch or Balloch, a Gaelic nickname roughly translated as "the freckled". He was the Earl of Menteith jure uxoris.

Alexander was an heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of Scotland who never ascended due to his early death.

Margaret of Flanders was a consort of Alexander, Prince of Scotland and later wife of Reinauld I, Count of Guelders.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Oram 2002, p. 107.
  2. 1 2 Duncan 2002, p. 166.
  3. 1 2 3 Duncan 2002, p. 169.
  4. 1 2 Duncan 2002, p. 170.
  5. Duncan 2002, p. 211.
  6. 1 2 Duncan 2002, p. 171.
  7. Duncan 2002, p. 175.
  8. 1 2 Duncan 2002, p. 178.
  9. Reid 1982, p. 76.
  10. Helle 1990, p. 149.
  11. 1 2 Duncan 2002, p. 179.
  12. Prestwich 1988, p. 360.
  13. Duncan 2002, p. 180.
  14. Duncan 2002, p. 182.
  15. 1 2 Duncan 2002, p. 183.
  16. 1 2 3 Duncan 2002, p. 181.
  17. Prestwich 1988, p. 361.
  18. 1 2 Reid 1982, p. 79.
  19. Barrow 1990, p. 135.
  20. Duncan 2002, p. 194.
  21. 1 2 Helle 1990, p. 151.
  22. 1 2 3 Duncan 2002, p. 195.
  23. Barrow 1965, p. 42.
  24. Helle 1990, p. 156.
  25. Prestwich 1988, p. 382.
  26. Helle 1990, p. 152.
  27. Helle 1990, p. 155.
  28. Oram 2002, p. 168, 171, 347.

Bibliography

Margaret, Maid of Norway
Born: 9 April 1283 Died: 26 September 1290
Regnal titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Alexander III
 DISPUTED 
Queen of Scotland
1286–1290
Vacant
Title next held by
John