Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Matilda of Scotland

Matilda was born around 1080 in Dunfermline. She was the daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret. Matilda spent much of her life in a convent. Her original name was Edith but she became Matilda when she married Henry King of England in 1100. It was a good strong Norman name after all. Matilda was a very active queen and was even considered for sainthood. She died on 1 May 1118 at Westminster Palace and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Malcolm’s Gaelic name was Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (Modern Gaelic: Maol Chaluim mac Dhonnchaidh,) He was nicknamed Canmore, "Big Head" and Long-neck. His second wife was Saint Margaret of Scotland, but Malcolm himself was not very pious. In 1034, Malcolm’s father Duncan I became king when Malcolm II, Duncan’s maternal grandfather died. Duncan was killed by Macbeth and his sons were sent away to safety. Malcolm was sent to England and likely spent most of Macbeth’s 17 year reign at the court of Edward the Confessor. Lulach, Macbeth’s stepson, succeeded him and Lulach was killed by Malcolm in 1058. And so Malcolm became king.

In 1068, he granted exile to English fleeing William I, among them Agatha, widow of Edward the Confessor’s nephew and her children Edgar and his sisters Margaret and Cristina. By the end of 1070, Malcolm had married Margaret. On 13 November 1093, Malcolm was killed at the Battle of Alnwick.

Malcolm and Ingebjorg had three sons – Duncan II of Scotland, Donald and Malcolm. With Margaret, he had eight children – Edward, Edmund of Scotland, Ethelred Abbot of Dunkeld, King Edgar of Scotland, King Alexander I of Scotland, King David I of Scotland, Edith of Scotland (aka Matilda) and Mary of Scotland.

Saint Margaret was the daughter of Edward the Exile, English prince and son of Edmund Ironside. She was born in Hungary, maybe at Castle Reka and raised in its court. Her father had settled there in his exile. She had two younger siblings, Edgar and Christina. At this time, the Hungarian court was a very religious environment. Margaret died on 16 November 1093, three days after the deaths of her husband and eldest son.

She was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1250 in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Church, work for religious reform and charity. After her cononisation, her remains were moved to Dunfermline Abbey. Her feast day is November 16, the day of her death. She is also a saint in the Anglican Church.

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