Margaret of Denmark was born on 23 June 1456 as the daughter of Christian I, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and Dorothea of Brandenburg. She had been named after Queen Margaret I, who had ruled Denmark, Norway and Sweden in her own right. There is very little information on Margaret’s youth.
In 1468, the Scottish embassy to Denmark set out. King James III was in need of a wife. King Christian provided his only daughter with a dowry of 60,000 florins of the Rhine. He couldn’t pay the entire sum at once, so he handed over 10,000 florins and pledged his lands and rights in Orkney and Shetland as security for the rest. The dowry was never paid off in full. In return, James settled upon his future wife Linlithgow Palace, Doune Castle and a third of his royal revenues. The marriage treaty was signed on 8 September 1468.
It was too late in the year for Margaret to travel to Scotland and so her departure was delayed until the next spring. She was brought to Scotland by the King’s brother-in-law, the Earl of Arran. She probably met her future husband for the first time shortly before their wedding in the Abbey of Holyrood on either 10 or 13 July 1469.
They went on progress to the north of Scotland and then settled into a routine of moving between the principal residences of Holyroodhouse, Linlithgow, Stirling and Falkland. Margaret gave birth to their first child on 17 March 1473. He was the future James IV. He was followed by the birth of two more sons in 1476 and 1479.
Margaret was quite the fashionable lady, and there are records that during the years 1473 and 1474 she had at least 15 gowns. Six of them were black, two were purple, and two were crimson.
She probably played an important role in the events of 1482, where James was deprived of his power by his brother for a few months. It was probably Margaret who gave the order to besiege Edinburgh Castle to liberate the King. After these events, they lived mostly separate lives. Margaret preferred to live at Stirling, while James stayed in Edinburgh.
She became ill during the summer of 1486 and died at Stirling on 14 July 1486. She was still only 30 years old. She was buried at Cambuskenneth Abbey, and James endowed daily masses for her soul. He even sent a supplication to the Pope asking for her to be made a saint. He thought about marrying again and had even settled upon Elizabeth Woodville, the dowager Queen of England, but eventually, this idea was let go. He was killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488 and was succeeded by his and Margaret’s son, now James IV. 1