Ermengarde de Beaumont was born around 1170 as the daughter of Richard I, Viscount of Beaumont-le-Vicomte, Fresnay and Ste-Suzanne and his wife, Lucie de l’Aigle. Her father was a descendant of King Henry I of England through an illegitimate line. Her marriage to King William I of Scotland was arranged by King Henry II of England, who also paid for part of her dowry, the wedding and he gave back Edinburgh Castle to make up for the fact that Ermengarde’s status was too low to be a Queen.
They finally married on 5 September 1186 in the royal chapel at Woodstock. They had three daughters in quick succession, Margaret, Isabella and Marjory. He was tormented by the succession as he lay dangerously ill in 1195, but he recovered, and Ermengarde gave birth to a healthy son in 1198. She appears to have acted as a mediator between her husband and King John of England. She showed herself in their discussions, “an extraordinary woman, gifted with a charming and witty eloquence.” Possibly as a result of her efforts, the peace was renewed, and it was decided that her son Alexander was to have an English wife.
After an illness, William died at Stirling Castle in December 1214. Ermengarde was devastated, “in a state of extreme mourning and worn out with grief.” The nobles took Alexander to be crowned at Scone while Ermengarde remained behind with her husband’s body. As a widow, she raised money to found a Cistercian abbey at Balmerino in Fife. When the building was finished, both she and her son often stayed there. When she died on 12 February 1233, she was buried before its high altar.
No contemporary image of her survives.1