Margaret of England, Queen of Scots, and the death of her esquire

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This article was written by Carol.

Margaret of England was the daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. In 1251 she married Alexander of Scotland and became Queen of Scotland.

Margaret was only 11 years old at the time of her marriage. Alexander the King was only 10. A group of Barons ruled Scotland, and because of the ages of the couple, the Barons housed Margaret separately from her husband. She was apparently very unhappy in Scotland. She wrote to her parents complaining about her treatment and her loneliness. The King and Queen sent a physician to check on her, and he reported that she was kept practically a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle with no companions. The physician loudly complained, and he was dead before he could return to England to report in person. Poison as always was suspected. Henry then sent the Earl of Gloucester and John Mansel, a diplomat, to Scotland. At first, they were denied access to the young Queen. Under disguise, they managed to gain entrance to the Castle where they too confirmed that Margaret was unwell and virtually a prisoner. The Scottish Barons at first refused to let them leave Edinburgh Castle, and the whole group seems to have been locked in together.

In the meantime, Henry and his armies had arrived at the border. Gloucester and Mansel managed to escape and meet up with them. Eventually, a settlement was reached. A new group of Barons were selected to oversee Alexander and Margaret, and it was agreed that the couple could now live together. It was also agreed that the regency would end when Alexander was 21.

In 1260, Margaret and Alexander visited her parents, and she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Margaret, while in England. (The Barons were very unhappy that the child was born in England.) Margaret and Alexander also had two sons, who predeceased Alexander.

One other anecdote about Margaret comes down to us. One of Margaret’s esquires was a young man who had been given into her service by her brother Edward I. He claimed that he was the man who had killed Simon de Montfort, Margaret’s uncle, in the Battle of Evesham. The story goes that one afternoon Margaret and her ladies were relaxing by the river Tay. This esquire went down to the water to wash his hands and as he bent over Margaret could not contain herself. She urged one of her ladies to give him a push, and he fell into the water. According to the chronicler, he good-heartedly called out that it made no difference since he could swim. Suddenly, however, a strong current began to overtake him and as he shouted for help but those on shore thought he was playing. Only his servant seemed to realise the danger and jumped in to help him. Both men were swept away and drowned.

The chronicler reports that the unfortunate incident greatly upset Margaret. Others, of course, claimed that Margaret had deliberately set it up to take revenge on the esquire for the killing of her uncle, Simon de Montfort. Since Simon was killed for having imprisoned Margaret’s beloved father and brother this theory seems weak.

Margaret lived long enough to see her brother Edward I crowned in Westminster in 1274. She died a few months later in 1275. Her daughter Margaret married Eric II of Norway, and she became the mother of the Maid of Norway who was Alexander’s heir when he died in 1286. 1

  1.  Sources:

    The Chronicle of Lanercost

    Thomas Contain, The Magnificent Century

About Moniek Bloks 2742 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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