I have the pleasure of a guest post by author Regan Walker, who shares...
When the King of Scots Married a Saint
By Regan Walker
There once lived a fierce warrior King of Scots who married a young Saxon princess. The love story of Margaret of Wessex and Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm III) of Scotland is truly the story of the beauty and the beast.
Both Margaret and Malcolm are characters in my new medieval romance, Rebel Warrior, set in Scotland in the late 11th century.
When Margaret and her family sought refuge in Scotland after the Norman Conquest, she was in her early twenties; Malcolm was nearly twice her age. Margaret was not only beautiful with flaxen hair and sky blue eyes she was also devout, given to prayer, fasting and charitable works. If she had been given her choice, she would have chosen the cloistered life, along with her younger sister Cristina, who ultimately became an abbess. But it was not to be.
In 1058, Malcolm had murdered his way to the throne. According to St. Berchan, Malcolm was a “vigilant crusher of enemies”. He was also ruthless in his plundering of Northumbria, which he considered to be his (the border between Scotland and England being not so fixed then as it is today).
All this said, when the “beast” glimpsed the “beauty” Margaret, he was smitten and wanted her for his queen. He leaned on her younger brother, Edgar the Atheling (heir to the English throne were it not for the Conqueror), bargaining Scotland’s support for Edgar for Margaret’s hand. Edgar, needing an ally and safety for his mother and sisters, agreed.
We know that Margaret was initially opposed to the marriage. She had been gently bred, first in Hungary where her father was a prince in exile, and then in England where Edward the Confessor summoned her father when Margaret was ten. In England, young Margaret led a devout life, praying and reading the Scriptures in Latin, learning French and busying herself with needlework.
But Margaret ultimately went along with the marriage. Perhaps she believed that God—whose will she ever sought to obey—had a purpose for her life different from that she had first envisioned. (It is so in my story.) That might have been what persuaded her to accept Malcolm’s suit. In any event, in 1070, she became Malcolm’s queen, devoted to her warrior husband and to improving the lot of the poor Scots and Saxons who gathered in Dunfermline around the royal seat. That she left a lasting legacy cannot be denied. In 1250, she was made St. Margaret, Scotland’s only royal saint.
In the more than twenty years they were married (until they died within days of each other), Margaret gave her husband six sons and two daughters. Three would become King of the Scots and one daughter would become a Queen of England.
Margaret was an intelligent beauty, arguing with the Scottish clerics about what she saw as errors in their religious observances. While Malcolm was illiterate and Margaret read to him, she spoke Gaelic poorly and he spoke it well, often interpreting for her when she held councils to debate with the clerics. Because she treasured her copy of the Gospels, Malcolm had it encased in gold and decorated with jewels. Not a bad gift for a beast of a man.
Margaret cared for the orphans and poor, often pillaging her husband’s gold to aid them. This amused, but did not anger, him. He even joined her in ministering to the less fortunate. Clearly he loved her.
Margaret was a devoted wife all the days of her life. I like to think their unlikely match was one made in Heaven. Margaret, I have no doubt, would agree.
I did hundreds of hours of research for Rebel Warrior, many hours devoted to understanding Margaret and Malcolm. I hope you enjoy meeting them!
by Regan Walker
GENRE: Historical Romance - Medieval, Scottish
The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.
The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.
Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.
When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?
“Here,” he said reaching toward her, “take my hand and allow me to help you out.”
There was fire in her eyes but she took his hand while holding on to her shoes, soaked with water.
He pulled her from the stream, sodden and shivering. It was the first time they had touched and even dripping wet, the feel of her skin caused a surge of desire to course through him. The wet gown clung to her body, revealing her nipples hardened to small buds and her curves in vivid detail. Wet, she was even more alluring than before. He wanted to pull her close, to feel her softness, but instead, he merely steadied her with his hands. “Did you not see the moss that grows on the log? ’Tis quite apparent.”
Her brow furrowed. “You might have warned me.”
“You fell before I could.”
Wiping water from her face, she looked up at him. Her eyes were the green of the forest around them. Light filtering through the trees added a soft glow to her pale, damp skin. His gaze dropped to her lips, the color of wild roses. He ached to kiss them.
Bending his head, he moved his lips closer to hers.
Water suddenly dripped from her hair onto her nose, causing her to sniff and step back.
Still holding her shoes in one hand, she shivered. “I… I must look a mess.”
“Indeed not, but you are pale.” Recognizing her predicament, he said, “I wear no cloak to offer you, but I can give you the heat of my body.” Taking the shoes she carried and dropping them to the ground, he pulled her into his arms and held her against his chest, ignoring the water soaking into his tunic. Her breasts pressed into his chest, warming him as his body responded to the nearness of the woman he could not dismiss from his thoughts.
The cover quote:
“Master storytelling transports you to medieval Scotland!” – Paula Quinn, NY Times Bestselling Author
And the others:
“Rebel Warrior is beautifully layered with true historic figures, facts and authentic history of Scotland woven into a creative and intriguing fictional story. A spectacular, riveting adventure … 5 Stars!” –Tartan Book Reviews
“Touching and well written and my favorite by any author. The storytelling and world building are phenomenal and the romance between Steinar and Catrìona will have you cheering as well as shedding a few tears. Very well done!” – The Reading Cafe
“Ms. Walker has written another WOW, Medieval Romance. Fast paced, action packed story of betrayal, passion, destiny, fate, healing, romance and finding peace and a HEA. Walker is a talented storyteller, who pulls readers into the story and holds them transfixed. A page turning Medieval Romance!” – My Book Addiction
“Spellbinding and Expertly Crafted"… “The path to true love is never easy, yet Regan Walker leads the reader to an entertaining, realistic and worthy HEA. Walker’s characters are complex and well-rounded and in her hands real historical figures merge seamlessly with those from her imagination.” – A Reader’s Review
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Regan Walker is an award-winning, bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. She has five times been featured in USA TODAY's HEA column and four times nominated for the prestigious RONE award (her novel, The Red Wolf's Prize won Best Historical Novel for 2015 in the medieval category).
Regan writes historically authentic novels with real history and real historic figures where her readers can experience history, adventure and love. She lives in San Diego with her Golden Retriever who she says helps her to smell the roses every day.
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