MALCOLM CANMORE—HOW SAINT MARGARET CAME
When Malcolm Canmore had reigned over Scotland for
about ten years, a great event happened in the neigh
bouring kingdom of England. I mean the conquest of
England by William Duke of Normandy.
William Duke of Normandy took possession of all
England, and Edgar, the rightful heir to the throne, fled
with his mother and sisters. They set sail in a ship,
meaning to go to Hungary, where they knew they would
be kindly received. But great storms arose. Their ship
was battered and driven about by winds and waves they
knew not whither, and at last when they had lost all hope
of ever seeing land again, they were driven upon the shores
of Scotland They landed there at a place on the Firth
of Forth which to this day is called Margaret‘s Hope, from
the name of Edgar’s sister the Princess Margaret. The
place at which they afterwards crossed the river is still
called Queen’s Ferry.
When Edgar, who was only a boy, and his sisters and
mother found themselves in Scotland they were uncertain
what to do. They did not know if they would be received
in a friendly manner or not.
The country people gathered round and stared at
these strange ladies. They were astonished, and a little
afraid too at their grand clothes, and at the great size of
the ship in which they had come.
When King Malcolm was told of the beautiful ladies
and fine tall men who had come in the strange ship, he
sent some of his nobles to find out who they were, where
they came from, and what they wanted.
When the nobles came to the ship they were almost
as much astonished as the common people had been at
the splendid men, and beautiful, sad ladies. So the nobles
spoke gently to them, and asked them how it was that
they had landed upon these shores.
Then the lady Agatha and her daughters told their
sad story. ‘ We are English,’ they said, ‘ the relatives of
King Edward. He is dead, and his throne and crown
have been taken by the cruel Duke of Normandy. We
have fled from the country. The winds and the waves
have driven us upon your shores, and we seek the help
and protection of your most gracious King.’
The ladies spoke so simply, yet they looked so beautiful
and so grand, that the nobles felt more and more sorry for
them. They talked kindly to the ladies for some time.
Then they went back to King Malcolm and told him all
that they had learned.
When Malcolm heard that the ladies and their brother
were English, and relatives of the King who had been so
kind to him, he called for his horse and set out to visit them.
Malcolm brought Edgar and his mother and sisters
back with him, gave them rooms in his palace, and
treated them as great and honoured guests. Soon he
came to love the Princess Margaret very much, for she
was both beautiful and good. She too loved the King,
and after a little time they were married.
The wedding was very splendid. Such pomp and
grandeur had never before been seen in Scotland as was
seen at the marriage of Malcolm Canmore and Queen
SAINT MARGARET COMES TO SCOTLAND 57
For the sake of his wife Margaret, King Malcolm
treated all English people kindly. So at this time very
many of the English, who were driven out of their own
country by William of Normandy, came to settle in Scot
land. Malcolm gave these English exiles both land and
money, and thus it came about that in after years many
of the great families had lands both in Scotland and in
These English nobles brought English manners and
customs to Scotland. This greatly displeased many of
the Scottish nobles. The Scots had always been a very
hardy people. They were big and strong—more like
giants than like ordinary people. They ate and drank
little and cared little for fine clothes or fine houses. It
seemed to them that the English cared too much for all
these things. They thought it was a bad day for Scot
land when all these grand knights and nobles came to live
there, and they were angry with Malcolm because he was
kind to them.
They were angry too with Queen Margaret, for she
thought it right that the King of Scotland should be sur
rounded by splendour as befits a great king. So she did
away with all the old simple ways to which the Scottish
people were accustomed. Great knights, nobles, and fair
ladies waited upon the King and Queen. Their meals
were served upon dishes of gold and silver, and the clothes
they wore were beautiful and gorgeous.
Queen Margaret also encouraged merchants to come
to Scotland to trade. They brought jewels and gold and
other beautiful things, and took away woollen cloth and
whatever else the Scots had to sell. It was in the days
of Queen Margaret that the Scottish people first began to
wear the brightly coloured checked cloths which we call
But in spite of all her splendour, Queen Margaret
was a very good and holy woman, and after her death she
was called a saint Every morning before she had her
own breakfast she fed nine httle beggar children. Often
she took them in her arms and fed them with her own
hands. At certain times in the year the King and Queen
would give dinner to three hundred poor, and wait upon
them as they sat at table in the great hall of the palace.
Queen Margaret too used to wash the feet of pilgrims and
beggars, which in those days was thought to be a very
The Queen could not bear to see any one hungry, or
cold, or in misery. She gave all her own money to the
poor, and often, when she had nothing left to give, she
would borrow from her lords and ladies in waiting. They
were always willing to lend to her, for they knew that
they would be paid again more than they gave. Some
times too the Queen would take the King‘s money to give
to the poor. He knew very well that she took it, but he
pretended not to miss it But sometimes he would laugh
and say that he would have her tried and imprisoned for
stealing. Really he loved her so much that she might do
anything she wished.
Queen Margaret was learned too. In those days,
when few people could read, she could read both English
and Latin. The King, although he could speak Latin,
English and Scotch (which were different languages in
those days), had never been taught to read. But he loved
to take Margaret’s books in his hand and sometimes he
would kiss those which she liked the best Sometimes
too he would take away one of her favourites and give it
to a goldsmith, who would cover it in gold and set it with
precious stones. Then Malcolm would bring the book
back again and give it to Queen Margaret as a sign of his
SAINT MARGARET COMES TO SCOTLAND 59
love for her. Malcolm was a good King, but he was
rough and passionate, and sometimes cruel. But however
angry he was, the gentle Queen Margaret could always
soothe and calm him again.
When William of Normandy, who had now made
himself King of England, heard that Malcolm had married
the Princess Margaret, he was very angry. He was afraid
that now the Scottish King would help Edgar to win the
crown of England again. So he sent to Malcolm
demanding that Edgar should be given up to him.
This Malcolm refused to do, and there was bitter war
between the King of England and the King of Scotland.
The northern part of England, called in those days
Northumbria, had always been a ground of fighting and
quarrel between England and Scotland. The boundary
of Scotland was always changing. Sometimes it was as
far north as the Forth ; sometimes as far south as the
Now Malcolm made many expeditions into North-
umbria to help the Northumbrian lords, who hoped to
drive William the Conqueror out of England and to place
Edgar upon the throne instead.
Malcolm ravaged and plundered the whole country in
a fearful manner. The Scots grew rich upon the spoils of
war, and they carried so many captives back to Scotland
that for many years English slaves were to be found in
every town, every village, and every cottage in Scotland.
William, seeing that he could not conquer the
Northumbrians, resolved to make their land a barren
waste. He marched all over it, and what the Scots had
not destroyed, he destroyed, until the whole country north
of the Humber was a blackened, ruined desert ; and the
people who were not killed in battle died of hunger or
escaped into Scotland.
60 SCOTLAND’S STORY
Then William marched to Scotland, resolved to punish
Malcolm for having helped Edgar and the Northumbrians,
but, as an old history says, he and his soldiers found
naught there for which they were the better. So at last
the two Kings made a peace, which lasted until the death
of the Conqueror.
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