Born and brought up in Hungary, she didn’t arrive in England until 1066 after the death of Edward the confessor. Margaret’s brother Edgar Atheling made a claim to the English throne, this was to be a failed one as the English nobles preferred Harold of Wessex, but later that year Duke William of Normandy made it all a rather moot point by invading England andcrowning himself king.
After this many members of the English nobility sought refuge in the court of King Malcolm the 3rd Canmore of Scotland, who himself had been in exile in England during the reign of Macbeth. Among these refugees were Margaret and her brother Edgar, after a long courtship King Malcolm subsequently married Margaret in 1070 to make her Queen of Scotland.
She was only the wifeof the king; yet she came to have the leading voice in changes which affected the social as well as the spiritual life of Scotland. It was Malcolm's adoration of his wife which gave her this power with him. Her selflessness influenced him the more that his own nature was undisciplined. To come in contact with a saint is always a disconcerting experience. Malcolm realised that Margaret drew herinspiration from sources unattainable to him, but news of the celestial country, "a temper rather than a place," reached him through her. "Whatever pleased her, he loved for love of her. Although he could not read he would turn over the books she used for her devotions, kissing them and taking them in his hands ...Sometimes he sent for a worker in precious metals whom he commanded to ornament thatbook with gold and gems and when the work was finished the king himself used to carry the volume to the Queen as a proof of his devotion." This adoration was to be the best tool she had to influence for example the church.
The ancient Celtic church had, as we have seen, long passed the zenith of its scholarship and spirituality: with most of its great monasteries in ruin and cut off from the mainbody of Christendom by the Viking invasions, it had become illiterate and provincial; it held on to antiquated customs, which had long since been revised and corrected by the universal church; it had developed some rites which strangers considered unusual and barbarous, and, during the dreadful tenth century, it sank into that lethargy, degradation and secularisation which were almost universal inEurope at that time.
Under Queen Margaret's leadership Church councils promoted Easter communion and, much to joy of the working-class, abstinence from servile work on a Sunday. Margaret founded churches, monasteries and pilgrimage hostels and established the Royal Mausoleum at Dunfermline Abbey with monks from Canterbury. She was especially fond of Scottish saints and instigated the Queen'sFerry over the Forth so that pilgrims could more easily reach the Shrine of St. Andrew.
In setting the agenda for the church in Scotland Queen Margaret also ensured the dominance of the Roman Church over the native Celtic Church in the north of the country.
In the late 11th century the first cathedral was built at St Andrews. It was called St Rules, after a Greek monk called Regulus (Rules inEnglish), who, according to legend, brought St Andrew's relics to Scotland from Constantinople.
With its tall square tower, the cathedral was a beacon of light to weary pilgrims who travelled from near and far to visit the building and its saintly contents - believing that such a journey would ease their journey to heaven when the time came.
It was extensively funded by Queen Margaret - later SaintMargaret. She provided a jewelled cross for the high altar, where pilgrims would have seen the Mòr Breac - the portable reliquary of St Andrew - which contained part of his relics - three fingers of the right hand, a knee cap, an arm bone and a tooth.
Mass was also changed from the many dialects of Gaelic spoken throughout Scotland to the unifying Latin. By adopting Latin to celebrate the Mass...