Margaret "Maid of Norway" Eiriksdottir Queen of Scotland 1788
- Born: 9 Apr 1283, Tønsberg, Vestfold, Norway
- Died: 26 Sep 1290, Died at Sea at age 7
THE MAID OF NORWAY, the last of the line of Scottish rulers descended from King Malcolm III Canmore (ruled 1058-93).
Margaret's father was Eric II, king of Norway; her mother, Margaret, a daughter of King Alexander III of Scotland (ruled 1249-86), died in 1283. Because none of Alexander III's other children were alive at the time of his death (March 1286), the Scottish lords proclaimed the infant Margaret as their queen. In 1290 her great-uncle, King Edward I of England, arranged a marriage between Margaret and his son Edward, later King Edward II of England. On the voyage from Norway to England, however, Margaret fell ill and died. The death of Margaret left Scotland without a Monarch and at the mercy of Edward I. Although the marriage treaty had specified that Scotland was to maintain its independence of England, Edward now proclaimed himself overlord of Scotland; the Scots resisted, and for more than 20 years Scotland suffered foreign domination and civil war. Thus begun the first Interegnum, and the contest between 13 claimants.
Margaret, Maid of Norway (1283 - 1290), was Queen of Scotland (1286 - 1290). The infant Margaret was the last ruler of the House of Dunkeld.
With the sudden death of Alexander III, Scotland was left without an obvious heir to the throne. At first, Margaret's step-grandmother Yolande declared that she was pregnant with a legitimate heir, countering the claims of two powerful nobles, Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale (grandfather of the future Robert I of Scotland) and John Balliol, each of whom wanted the throne for himself. When it was discovered that Yolande was not really pregnant, it was decided that Alexander's only surviving descendant, his three-year-old granddaughter Margaret, would ascend to the throne under a regency of six nobles.
Margaret was born on April 9, 1283 at Tønsberg in Norway. She was the daughter of Eric II of Norway and his wife Margaret, daughter of Alexander III, who died in childbirth. Fearing that a young and powerless queen would invite civil war between the rival claimants to the throne, the Scottish nobles appealed to Edward I of England to intervene. Eager to extend his own influence in Scotland, Edward arranged the Treaty of Birgham (1290), by which Margaret was betrothed to his son the Prince of Wales (later Edward II of England), in return for an assurance of Scottish independence (though he would serve as ward for the young queen).
Margaret set sail from Norway to her new realm in the autumn of 1290 , but took ill during the stormy voyage and died soon after reaching the Orkney Islands around September 26 . (The voyage is possibly alluded to in the ballad Sir Patrick Spens.) With her death, the House of Dunkeld came to an end. Her corpse was taken to Bergen and buried beside her mother in the stone wall, on the north side of the choir, in Christ's Kirk at Bergen.
In the two years that followed, Scotland was left with 13 claimants to the throne . Once again, Edward was asked to intercede. His efforts to exert his own authority over the country eventually led to the First Scottish War of Independence .
In Norway, this was not the end of Margareth's story. In 1300, one year after the death of King Eirik, a woman arrived at Bergen, claiming to be the Princess, and accusing several people of treason. The city people and some of the clergy supported her claim, in spite of the late King Eirik's identification of his dead daughter's body, and the fact that the woman appeared to be about 40 years old. "The false Margareth" and her husband were convicted for fraud: he was beheaded and she was burnt at the stake in 1301. The story of the betrayed Princess was spread through a popular ballad, and a local martyr cult occurred in connection with a small St. Margareth Church near the place of the execution.
North Sea (off the Orkneys) en-route to Scotland
• Acceded: Queen of Scots, 1286-1290. 1788