Margaret of Denmark, Queen of Scotland

1456 - 1486

Margaret of Denmark was born on 23 June 1456, the daughter of Christian I, King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and Dorothea of Brandenburg, herself the daughter of John, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, and Barbara of Saxe-Wittenberg. Margaret was named after Queen Margaret I, who had previously united the Scandinavian countries.

Margaret was betrothed to King James III of Scotland in 1460, their marriage was arranged to end the conflict between Denmark and Scotland regarding the taxation of the Hebrides, a long term conflict that had marked relations between the two countries from 1426. In 1263, the Scots defeated the Norwegians at the Battle of Largs. According to the terms of the resulting Treaty of Perth, King Magnus IV of Norway ceded the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to Scotland. In return, the Scots agreed to pay 100 marks sterling per year and a lump sum payment of 4000 marks, however, the Scots failed to keep up the annual payments owed to the Norwegians, which led to disputes with the Norwegians demanding payment of the debt.

Margaret of Denmark, Queen of ScotlandMargaret of Denmark, Queen of ScotlandJames III. King of Scots

When Margaret reached thirteen, she was married to James at Holyrood Abbey on 13 July 1469. King Christian had agreed to provide his daughter with a large dowry, but since he needed cash at the time the Orkney and Shetland Islands were pledged as security until the dowry was paid. Margaret was crowned Queen of Scotland on 13 July at Holyrood Abbey. In the summer of 1470 the new queen accompanied her husband on a northern progress, where she spent a full month in Inverness.

James III of ScotlandJames III of Scotland

Although her marriage to James III was not always an affectionate one, Margaret proved to be a popular queen and was praised for her praised her beauty, gentleness and understanding and considered very sensible. The couple produced three sons:-

(1) James IV (17 March 1473 - 9 September 1513) married Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.

(2) James Stewart, Duke of Ross (March 1476 - January 1504) Lord Chancellor of Scotland.

(3) John Stewart, Earl of Mar (December 1479 - 1503).

In 1482, when James III was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, Jame's rebellious younger brother Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany visited Margaret at Stirling, where they discussed the education of the young Prince James, and Albany later played a part in releasing King James from captivity. Her suspected collusion with Albany led to James subsequent mistrust of his wife, and there is no firm evidence that the two met again after 1482.

Margaret died at Stirling Castle on on 14 July 1486, poisoning was rumoured at the time but remains unproven. She was buried at Cambuskenneth Abbey near Stirling. After her death, James III made an unsuccessful attempt to have her canonized. On 11 June 1488, her husband was killed at the Battle of Sauchieburn and was buried next to Margaret.