Saint Margaret of Scotland (with E.K. McAlpine)

In a long-awaited crossover between pale-skinned history nerds with glasses and long reddish hair, whose cats like to make guest appearances in their content, Hepburn and I are joined by I’m joined by E.K. McAlpine (and Minnie) to talk about her all-time fav: Saint Margaret of Scotland!

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Vulgar History Podcast

Saint Margaret of Scotland (with E.K. McAlpine)

March 20, 2024

Hello and welcome to Vulgar History, a feminist women’s history comedy podcast. My name is Ann Foster and by popular demand – which is largely just me excitedly messaging E.K. and asking her to be on the podcast – my guest today is the iconic, E.K. McAlpine who you may know from her Reels on Instagram, her account is called @ItsLikeHistory, and she does hilarious Reels. Especially during the Mary, Queen of Scots season, I was resharing almost every one of them because she’s done a lot about Margaret Tudor, Marie de Guise, Mary, Queen of Scots, the Tudors. She’s been recently recording her reaction as she watches The Tudors, the TV series.

Also, the very first time that I found out about her was one of you, one of the listeners, sent me one of her Reels and was like, “I thought this was you for a minute,” and I was like, “I also thought that was me for a minute,” because she and I are both glasses-wearing white people of Scottish heritage with long, red hair. Anyway, I did take a picture of her and I recording to prove that we are not the same person. I don’t just put on an accent and make Reels, we’re very different people.

E.K.’s person, the person of her heart, is Saint Margaret who is a real person. I guess I’ll say it’s a real people but we’re talking about Saint Margaret of Scotland, AKA Margaret of Wessex. We’re talking about her life and then eventually she was named a saint, after the fact. So, she’s a person who was known as Saint Margaret of Scotland, also Margaret of Wessex, her story is international; born in Hungary, she’s an English princess, she ends up going to Scotland and it’s a real different story from other foreign-born people we’ve heard about coming into Scotland. This is pre-Scottish asshole lords era, she actually did really well for herself. I was so excited to have E.K. on the show, we had the most fun recording, I could have talked to her forever. Basically, just enjoy.


Ann: So, I’m joined today by my doppelganger, E.K. McAlpine. Welcome, E.K.

E.K.: Hello. I’m your cross-Atlantic counterpart. And technically, we will never have been in the same room. So, could we still be one person?

Ann: [laughs] Could it be one person changing accents, asking themselves questions? Entirely possible.

E.K.: It could be.

Ann: I’m such a fan, I’m so excited you’re here. And you’re here to talk about the person of whom I think you are the biggest fan, which is Saint Margaret, or do we call her Margaret of Scotland?

E.K.: Well, there are so many Margarets of Scotland. Kind of because of Saint Margaret, it ended up becoming a really common, popular name. Technically, she is Margaret of Scotland but she’s also Margaret of England because she was not Scottish, but I won’t spoil it too much.

Ann: But if we go with Saint Margaret, that’s just… Well, there are probably other Saint Margarets but there are probably less Saint Margarets than there are Margarets of Scotland.

E.K.: Yeah, and I think in Scotland, most people when they hear Saint Margaret, they would assume that Saint Margaret. Outside of Scotland, she is somewhat known but I had never heard of her, as I will elaborate on later, her having some links to kind of where I’m from. But yeah, it wasn’t until I had started studying Scottish history in Scotland that somebody was like, “Hey, have you heard of this woman?” And I was like, “No. But I am prepared to become obsessed.”

Ann: Well, let’s begin there. What was that introduction to her like? How did the obsession begin?

E.K.: It was twofold, and I didn’t realize that the first bit happened until the second bit. My best friend lives in Edinburgh and we became best friends, and I visited her pretty regularly. We’ve done lots of the history tourism and we went to Edinburgh Castle, obviously, which is incredible, highly recommend. There is a chapel dedicated to her in Edinburgh Castle, it’s very, very small and very quiet but it’s the oldest building in the entire city. So, I’d kind of heard vaguely that there was this woman called Saint Margaret who was famous. And then there was a book sale on Palgrave Macmillan (which is one of the big publishers) and my best friend got me this book, which is called Saint Margaret Queen of the Scots: A Life in Perspective. It was basically like an academic monograph; I think it’s taken from the woman’s PhD thesis.

So, I’d kind of heard of her vaguely and then when I started doing my master’s degree in Edinburgh about medieval Scotland. On one of my first courses, it was to do with medieval sources, and there were loads of different options you could take, and I took one on medieval narratives. We looked at a few things but one of the things we looked at was Saint Margaret’s biography that was written in the medieval period, and I was like, “Oh, I’ll write it about her.” And then remembered, “Oh, I already have that book about her and I kind of vaguely know who she is.” It was a really interesting class and I think Margaret kind of primed me for how I then ended up throughout my entire master’s degree because I wrote two papers about her in total and studying her and the sources around her taught me a lot about how I approach history, kind of thing. So, she’s had a big impact.

In both of the essays I wrote on her, I did well. I did promise, when it was the second one and I was waiting for the result, I was like “Saint Margaret, I’m repping you the hardest on the earthly plane right now. If you can hook a girl up with a decent grade, I’ll come and visit your shrine.” And she did and I did. [laughs] But I’m very much like, “I’m here. I’m out here representing you, Margaret. It’s been a long, long time since you were alive, I’m doing the best I can.”

Ann: We’re going to talk about her lie story and stuff but as a saint, is she the saint of a certain thing?

E.K.: Scotland.

Ann: She’s the saint of Scotland.

E.K.: So, obviously Saint Andrew is kind of the big name, patron saint of Scotland. But I think now, we very much see saints and all stuff to do with sanctity as very fixed. One of the books I’ve been reading, doing research about saint stuff more generally, was talking about medieval saints and was like, whenever we, as historians, come to something about medieval saints, we always, for some reason, go by what now is the criteria for becoming a saint. The writer was like, “Why do we do this? It doesn’t make any sense. We wouldn’t do it in any other situation.” Because the papal rules, the idea that the papacy was the only people allowed to grant sainthood is a 12th-century thing, which was, like Margaret, it was a papal canonization, stamp of approval. But the idea of one person being the patron saint of one thing is quite new, it’s quite a modern thing. So, obviously, Saint Andrew is considered, in the UK, the official patron saint of Scotland but Margaret is also very much, even though it’s not like, on the Wikipedia page, she’s still kind of a big one. And I think, like, Andrew never went to Scotland. I want to say he was in Turkey, what is now modern-day Turkey and his bones ended up in Scotland, but he never went.

Ann: He doesn’t deserve that!

E.K.: Margaret went! She ruled that country and you’re telling me she has to be the secondary one? Absolutely disgraceful.

Ann: Sexism. Sexism. The patriarchy.

E.K.: Even though she was kind of a fan of Saint Andrew so maybe she’d be like, “Oh, fine.”

Ann: [chuckles] She is a saint, I’m sure she’d be very forgiving. I have this massive spreadsheet of every woman I’ve ever talked about on this podcast and I’m like, where does she fit? And she fits right in the middle of nobody I’ve ever talked about.

E.K.: Yeah, outside of Scotland and even inside of Scotland, I don’t think people know all about her story, it’s not common knowledge but it’s pub quiz knowledge. If you went to a pub quiz in Scotland and there was a question about, “What was the name of the Queen of Scots who is now a saint?” People would be like, “It’s probably Margaret, innit?”

Ann: What I will say is that she was born in I believe 1045, which is about 50 years before Empress Matilda, who we’ve talked about on the podcast and there’s a connection there, right?

E.K.: Yes, Empress Matilda is Margaret’s granddaughter.

Ann: Right. So, there’s that connection. For the listeners, or for me honestly, so I can cling to, is this connected to any story I’ve ever read before? That one. Okay. Great. There’s also, that whole period, I don’t know, it’s like everyone is called Matilda for a while and I just get really confused.

E.K.: Well, there’s a reason for that, not that everyone gets called Matilda, but the impact that Margaret has on like, Empress Matilda and then the rest of English history is huge and so I think listeners will be like, “Oh, so that was because of that,” and Margaret very much was that kind of, almost like a sliding doors moment, where even though in her life… I always say, the most interesting (sorry to Margaret for this) but the most interesting and exciting stuff happens after she dies. And yeah, she’s very much the beginning domino, as it goes, down.

Ann: Well, that’s exciting because we have talked at length on this podcast about the Mary, Queen of Scots scenario and we’ve gotten a lot into Scottish history so it’s nice to take a step back into much earlier Scottish history. So, you know what, this is your girl so take it away. Tell her story. Who is she? Where was she born? Who were her parents? What’s the situation?

E.K.: So, she was born in Hungary, or what is now Hungary.

Ann: Okay, that’s surprising to me already. [laughs]

E.K.: Yeah. [laughs] But the kind of situation, the preamble for that that is happening in England at the time of her birth which is around 1045, Edward the Confessor is King of England, he’s been the king since 1042 and he is a distant descendant of the 9th-century king, Alfred the Great who is the only English monarch to get epithet “The Great.” Alfred the Great was part of the royal house of Wessex.

Ann: Oh! This is, I know, Æthelflæd was his daughter.

E.K.: Yes, yes!

Ann: We talked about Æthelflæd on the podcast. Okay, another connection.

E.K.: She’s iconic, she’s iconic. And so, what was then Wessex, we now kind of call the West Country these days and that’s where I live so that’s my little connection to Margaret as well. So, Edward the Confessor is married to a woman called Edith of Wessex, but they’ve not had any children so Edward, he’s scouting, he’s ready to recruit another heir for his successor. So, he invites his nephew to court. This nephew is called Edward, there are a lot of Edwards in this story.

Ann: Oh god. Yeah, yeah.

E.K.: But conveniently, a lot of them seem to have nicknames, so we’ve got Edward the Confessor and then his nephew is Edward the Exile, so see if you can guess what happened to him. [Ann laughs] So, he was the son of a king called Edmund Ironside who was the half-brother of Edward the Confessor. King Cnut who was Danish – I think he was king of Denmark and king of Norway, I don’t know where he was from – seizes the throne of England in 1016 and Edward the Exile, and he has a brother called Edmund, they are sent away, they are exiled by Cnut. And there’s disagreement as to how and why this happened but the kind of vibe you get from a lot of the chronicles is that Cnut kind of was hoping that they would be murdered after leaving England but for whatever reason that did not happen, and they end up escaping to Hungary.

Edward the Exile’s brother Edmund dies, leaving Edward who kind of makes a life for himself in Hungary. He marries a woman of very mysterious lineage called Agatha and by mysterious lineage, nobody can agree on who she was related to. The academic monograph that I will mention several times by Catherine Keene, she has an entire chapter to it and then there’s like, a biography of her written by an academic and the writer just gives up. He’s like, I have no idea who this person is related to. There’s a quote where he said:

Agatha was arguably the daughter of King Stephen of Hungary or of Bruno, brother of the German emperor Henry II, or of a half-brother of the emperor, Henry III, or of none of them.

[laughs] Nobody knows where this woman has appeared from but wherever she is from, she has three children with Edward, she has a daughter called Cristina who is born around 1040, Margaret is born around 1045 and then Agatha and Edward have a son called Edgar who is born around 1051.

Ann: Can I just pause to appreciate the fact that in the middle of all these people who are called Edgar and Edward… Cristina?

E.K.: I don’t know a huge amount about central/Eastern European history at this point. I think possibly it was maybe a popular name in that period.

Ann: I love it. Everyone else’s names are just blurring for me in this mound of names starting with A and E and Æ but oh, Cristina! Yeah, I’ll remember her.

E.K.: Yeah, Cristina and then Margaret, there’s lots of debate about why Margaret was named Margaret. There could be lots of reasons. In the story, they are the only three with those names, Edgar, Cristina, and Margaret, that are completely related to this. So, thank you to mysterious Agatha for giving us this variety. But also, sorry that nobody knows who you are, so sorry about that, babes.

In 1057, Edward the Exile, he’s been invited by Edward the Confessor, so he returns to England with all of his family and it’s kind of assumed that Edward the Confessor was then going to kind of groom Edward the Exile for the throne as his successor and that might have worked except Edward the Exile immediately dies after they arrive in England, like immediately. So, it’s like, “Oh no, what do we do now?”

There’s nowhere else for the family to go so they end up staying in England and Margaret and Cristina spend a fair amount of time hanging out in the West Country, or Wessex as it was once called, which is where I am. And even though their family situation is kind of precarious, they would have still had a privileged nice upbringing, their royal status was clearly recognized. But none of them, Edgar or the girls, are given any lands, so they don’t have much economic power or independent means. Catherine Keene reckons that Margaret and Cristina were educated at Wilton Abbey and Edward the Confessor’s wife, Edith of Wessex had been educated there and she had had the abbey, it was built in wood and she had it rebuilt into stone. Edith of Wessex, she was quite controversial, she kept beefing with people. There was, she had a disagreement with the monastery because she kept kind of, relieving various religious houses of their most important relics, so she was a little bit controversial.

But Wilton Abbey was part, there was a really large network of female religious centres in this part of the world, in this era. I’d love to do more research into that. There’s Wilton, Shaftesbury Abbey, which is now in ruins, and then Amesbury Abbey and Romsey Abbey. Romsey Abbey comes up again later. Most of these haven’t survived, Romsey does have, there’s like a parish church that is still there, and you can go visit but all of the abbey buildings are gone. And then Wilton Abbey is also gone. I think there are a few bricks left but a huge stately home was built on top of it. Also built on top of it was an adventure playground, not at the time, obviously, [Ann laughs] this is a recent thing. So, I mean, sorry about the Reformation and all that, Henry VIII you got your divorce, and I got entire afternoons of my childhood careening about so I will allow them to have Wilton Abbey.

Ann: I like that she was there as a child being educated and you were there as a child playing.

E.K.: Exactly!

Ann: You know, it’s got a really youthful energy.

E.K.: Yeah, she was looking down being like, “Oh, this random girl, [Ann laughs] great things are in her future.” My biggest memory of that adventure playground was they had steppingstones that turned really fast and me and my sister were there with our grandmother, and she wasn’t quite looking while we were on these and I have no idea how we survived it, it was so dangerous. We had to agree not to tell our grandmother because if she found out, she’d be cross with us that they were too dangerous, so we had to just play it off like, “Oh, it was fine.” It wasn’t fine, it was scary. [Ann laughs] So…

But yeah, Margaret was not, she wasn’t doing too much of that, but she was definitely spending her formative years in these religious houses that were very much associated or patronized or founded by royal and noble women.

Ann: I’m assuming based on your knowledge of saints and things… How long had Christianity been there in England?

E.K.: So, in England… I absolutely should know this.

Ann: I’m going to say, I’m going to guess something like 500 years. I’m just looking at my handy chart.

E.K.: Yeah, probably.

Ann: Brunhild of Austrasia was the person who funded the first missionary and that was somewhere around the year 600.

E.K.: Yeah. The gap in my knowledge is that Margaret is the earliest I’ve studied so I risk sometimes coming at it as somebody who is mainly in kind of, 15th and 16th-century Scotland. But yeah, England is a Christian country at this point, so are Scotland and Ireland. Ireland’s Christianity predates, slightly, England. And then Scottish Christianity at this point was a little bit more of the Irish flavour. But that comes up later actually because Margaret had ideas, some of the controversy around her is about those etiquettes. I mean, there were royal female saints at this point, so Edith of Wessex was obviously like a matriarch in Margaret’s life but then there’s Edith of Wilton who was a few hundred years before who was at Wilton Abbey. And then Edith of Wessex was quite a big fan of Edith of Wilton who was a princess, so there’s kind of, not like a legend but “This is how royal women act in terms of their religious devotion,” that’s being passed down through the centuries and generations. And now, Margaret is receiving that as well.

So, Catherine Keene talks about what languages she might have learned in this period because the royal family of England was very multilingual at this point. So, Edith of Wessex spoke English but also French and Danish and Edward the Confessor spent a lot of his childhood in Normandy and so he was fluent in Norman French and may have had a little bit of a Norman French accent. So, Margaret might have known like, certainly would have known what was then old English, and almost certainly knew Latin but she might have spoken a bit of Danish and French as well, so that’s exciting for her. She’s living her best life, she’s educated, she’s learning about piety from all these other women.

And then in 1066, Edward the Confessor dies. So, Margaret’s younger brother Edgar had been given the title Ætheling, which is one of the “Æ” words and it just means “king worthy.” There were some nobles in England who were like, “We want you to succeed Edward the Confessor.” But at this point, Edgar is like, a teenager, which puts you at kind of a disadvantage when you are trying to seize a kingdom. So, the real contenders for the throne at this point are Edith of Wessex’s brother, Harold Godwinson, and Duke William of Normandy. Obviously, William defeats Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and William is then crowned on Christmas Day of that year.

Ann: Oh wait, wait, wait. So, this is… I’m putting pieces together, William the Conqueror, yes?

E.K.: Yes.

Ann: That’s this. Okay, the Norman invasion. Okay, okay.

E.K.: This is the Norman Conquest.

Ann: These are phrases I’ve heard and you’re putting them in context, thank you.

E.K.: I mean, 1066 is something that most teenagers, you learn about it in school over here. 1066 is the big year and I’m sure you’ve seen bits of the Bayeux Tapestry. When I was in secondary school, we did a trip to France and went to see the Bayeux Tapestry and I was like, 13 and did not, I did not understand how important it was, I did not appreciate it in any way. Now, as the person I am today, I’m yelling at 13-year-old E.K. and being like, “Show it some respect. It’s really important!” Whereas at the time I was like, “Augh, this is so boring.” [both chuckle] But there we are.

So, William, he’s come, he’s seized the throne and he has kind of a complicated relationship with Margaret in her siblings. They are treated well, and they’re brought into the king’s peace but it’s very clear that William is aware that Edgar potentially has a claim. There’s a point in the next year, in 1067, William kind of nips over to Normandy and Edgar is one of the nobles chosen, or perhaps compelled, to accompany him like Edgar could still be a bit of a threat.

William is kind of in a difficult situation. He can’t really dismiss Edgar’s claim because Edgar’s claim comes from the House of Wessex and comes from the fact that Edgar is related to the previous king, Edward the Confessor. Even though William, he is William the Conqueror, he has established his right to the throne by conquest, William is also bolstering his claim to the throne by the fact that he is also kind of related to Edward the Confessor. So, Edward the Confessor’s mother was William’s great aunt so if William kind of diminishes and dismisses the importance of Edgar, Margaret, and Cristina’s relationship to Edward the Confessor, it risks kind of discrediting his own, it’ll be cutting off his nose to spite his face, somewhat. So initially, there’s a peace and William is treating certainly the children, and Agatha I assume, with respect.

But the Norman Conquest, it happens very– It can seem from the south of England to have happened very quickly but actually, there was huge opposition to the Normans in the north and eventually, Edgar becomes involved in this resistance so in 1068, her family, Saint Margaret, Cristina, Edgar and Agatha, they flee north and they end up in Scotland where they meet with Malcolm III who was the King of Scots.

Malcolm has a very interesting background. His father Duncan was killed by Macbeth.

Ann: Oh my god, I was just saying, those are the names from Macbeth, Duncan, Malcolm.

E.K.: Yeah, the Macbeth.

Ann: Literal Macbeth.

E.K.: The Shakespeare play, I don’t think, is pretty much devoid of historical accuracy but it was one of my favourites at school, so I was really excited about this. [laughs] I was like, “It’s that Duncan, that actual Duncan.” So, because Macbeth is killed, Malcolm’s father, Duncan, Malcolm spends some of his adolescence also in exile at the English royal court when Edward the Confessor was still alive. So, he might have met either Margaret, Cristina, or Edgar but I don’t think anyone suggests they did meet but they may well have done, like they were both in England at the same time. But in 1054, when Edward the Confessor is still alive, obviously, he funds a campaign to invade Scotland led by an early from Northumbria and the plan is to overthrow Macbeth and install Malcolm as a king.

Ann: I can’t believe that Macbeth is a person.

E.K.: I know, I know. There are some elements of the way Macbeth was defeated in battle, you can see where Shakespeare was taking inspiration from where you’re like, “Oh yeah, I guess that kind of makes sense.” But having knowledge of the plot of Macbeth did not help me to understand, unfortunately, all of the stuff that happened.

So, Malcolm and his mate, the Earl of Northumbria, defeat Macbeth militarily but he stays on the scene until 1057. Malcolm then kills Macbeth, Macbeth has a stepson who rules for like, five minutes, Malcolm then kills the stepson so finally in 1058, Malcolm has now been crowned king. So, love that for him.

And then in 1068, Margaret and her family turn up. There’s some debate about whether Margaret and her family were trying to get to Scotland or if they were possibly trying to return to continental Europe but ended up being wrecked off the Scottish coast. Either way, however they get there, they get there, and it is agreed that Margaret will marry Malcolm. Her biographer, Catherine Keene, sums it up quite well, “This is where Margaret firmly enters the historical record through her marriage to Malcolm, King of the Scots.” We have to take a step back and momentarily consider what that historical record means because one of the key texts we have that focuses on Margaret’s life is written by a monk named Turgot just after she dies. So, she dies in 1093 and then in the early 1100s, he writes this biography of her.

Turgot is… When I was going through my notes for this, I was like, slagging Turgot off about how boring he was and how annoying I found him. But then I was going over his biography and I was like, “Oh, sorry babes, you were quite interesting.” So, sorry to him. He’s from Lincolnshire in England and like, at some point he gets held hostage and Lincoln Castle by the Normans, he then bribes somebody to escape, ends up in Norway for a bit and hangs out with the royal court in Norway. And he’s been interested, “Maybe I should become a monk,” but nothing ever really happened. And then when he’s coming back from Norway to England, his ship sinks and he loses all his stuff and he’s like, “Oh, guess this is a sign, I better become a monk.” [Ann laughs] Which is like, okay, I bet you have some stories to tell. He actually beefs a little bit with Malcolm III at an early point in this because Turgot is trying to set up a religious community at Melrose in Scotland and Malcolm doesn’t want to allow them to do this because Turgot and his mates won’t swear fealty to Malcolm. So, there’s that kind of friction but then in the 1080s, Turgot becomes part of the community of Durham and Malcolm is a big fan of Durham and Margaret is a big fan, so they patch things up eventually.

But the text that Turgot writes about Margaret is a spiritual biography that’s called a vita, which is just Latin for ‘life’ so sometimes you will hear the book called, The Life of Saint Margaret and these texts are explicitly written to promote a case for canonization. It’s emphasizing how pious she is, how holy and oh, she’s got sanctity coming out of her ears. It’s a whole genre called hagiography that is preparing someone’s legacy; hopefully, they will be venerated and eventually canonized. And Turgot’s work isn’t the only source that we have for Margaret, there are some charters, there’s a few letters that Margaret wrote, and she also appears in some of the versions of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which like, you ain’t special, everybody was. So, it’s lucky for Margaret that she had Turgot because The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is so full of stuff that I would understand if she slipped through the cracks. But Turgot’s is definitely, it’s very detailed and it is apparently taken from first-hand experience. He’s always hyping up about “Oh, the fun we had together. I remember when she told me about this and wasn’t she amazing when I saw her do this.” As a result, his work is the most influential on her legacy and how her afterlife shapes out.

But like, we have to take, as we do with all historical sources, but with Turgot’s work, we have to take it with a wheelbarrow of salt because he wants Margaret to be canonized, that’s the entire reason for this. So, he spends a long time, pages and pages, outlining the ancestry of Margaret, her paternal ancestry, the maternal ancestry stuff is, as we said, very complicated because we don’t know who Agatha is. And then Turgot mentions about Edward the Exile, he’s arrived in England and then finally, Margaret appears centre stage when she is married to Malcolm. In this scene, Turgot says that Margaret did not want to marry Malcolm and that she didn’t want to marry anyone. He says that her brother Edgar only consented to the match because he was harangued into it. He writes that Edgar was, “Surrendering her more by the will of his people than by his own, or rather, by the decree of God.”

It may be that that’s how it happened, but I think like a good jumping-off point of how you need to be suspicious of Turgot is he wants her to be canonized and what better way to hype up her holiness than by portraying her as “She didn’t want to get married, she wanted to be a nun.” And then the other more practical skepticism on this incident is even though obviously the fortunes of her family had been really up and down, Margaret had been raised in royal courts as a princess and she was the daughter and the sister of would-be kings, even though none of that really panned out. But I think she would have known that she would be expected to marry according to her status and the political strategies of her family.

So, even though Malcolm had kind of been installed on the throne of Scotland by Edward the Confessor and Edward the Confessor at that point wanted Malcolm to rule according to English interests, that didn’t last, that didn’t stick. Malcolm said, “No, I’m not going to do that anymore.” So, Malcolm is constantly beefing with England and after the Norman Conquest when it’s William the Conqueror, it makes sense for Edgar and for Malcolm that the two would want to ally because Edgar’s family are now in opposition to the current English king, Malcolm is just in opposition to England when it suits him. So, that alliance makes complete sense. I would understand why that marriage would happen and as I said, we can’t say, “Oh, Margaret was definitely really happy to marry,” if Turgot is protesting too much. But I think Margaret would have been reconciled to it eventually.

Ann: Do you know how old she was when she was married?

E.K.: So, they probably got married around 1070 and if she’s probably born around 1045 then she would have been about 25.

Ann: Okay, so an adult-aged person.

E.K.: Yeah. And Malcolm was possibly slightly older than her, but I don’t think… Obviously, she was 25, so she was considered very much of the age to marry. And the fact that she was a little bit older, you might be like, why hadn’t she been married sooner? But I think because things were so up and down for her family, like, an alliance that they made at one point might not stick to the next. So, I think it was quite an eventful and unsettled time. If obviously she wasn’t married until she was 25, maybe that did mean that she wanted to enter the church, but I think it’s always given as if it’s 100% true that she never wanted to get married. And she may not have but I just think Turgot, I’m like, “Hmm, do I trust you? Even though you had an exciting life and bribed your way out of captivity.” I can be impressed by him but that doesn’t mean I have to believe him… That’s life advice, my goodness.

Ann: Yeah, yeah.

E.K.: So, now we can think about Turgot’s role in all this and apply that skepticism to his wider portrayal of Margaret obviously describing her as really pious and there’s this classical medieval hyperbole where it’s like, so extreme everything she does. But the way Turgot presents, the way he chooses to represent her religious devotion is very interesting.

So, he bigs up her involvement massively in the reform of the Scottish Church. So, as we said earlier, the Scottish church had developed in a slightly different line than in England and was more influenced by Irish Christianity. The way Turgot tells it, Margaret is pushing the Church of Scotland more towards the way the papacy wants you to do it. So, she says, “You’re not fasting long enough for Lent. Why aren’t you taking the Eucharist at Easter? You’re meant to do this, you’re meant to do that.” She’s quite bossy I would say, in this, and she does not break any opposition. Sometimes you will get criticisms of her written like, today, as her being quite tyrannical but then you also get the opposite where people are like, “Surely she wouldn’t have been that aggressive and bossy so it must be that she wasn’t actually that involved.” I would say, as is often the case, the truth is probably somewhere down the middle.

But what you’re thinking about how Turgot is presenting it, Turgot himself was very keen on reform of the Church so he’s quite happy to portray Margaret as how Turgot thinks it should be done. Like, how convenient is that, that Margaret just happens to agree with the changes that you think should happen to the church is also how you think it should happen? It’s very convenient. And then Turgot’s portrayal, which ties into all of this, the way he portrays Malcolm because… He portrays Malcolm, and I would put serious money betting that no one could come up with a more accurate description of Malcolm as he’s a himbo. [Ann laughs] He is full-on, golden retriever boyfriend. Apparently, he can’t read but because Margaret loves books, he loves books and the books, I think Turgot writes,

That which she had rejected, he likewise rejected and that she had loved, he loved, for the love of her love. Wherefore the books with which she was accustomed either to pray or to read, this man although illiterate was accustomed to leaf through by hand and to inspect and when he had heard from her, which of them was dearer, this he chose to consider more dearly and often kissed and handled. 

There are a few modern illustrations of Malcolm and Margaret in this romantic forest glen and she’s reading to him, and he might as well just have big heart eyes like, it’s I don’t want to say it’s an emasculating portrayal. I think the motivation behind Turgot showing Malcolm as just a big himbo who is just a golden retriever is I think Turgot struggled to fit Margaret into existing models of what sainthood among women should look like. I think he had kind of a couple of models to consider and he tried to cobble together a few of them.

The big example of female sanctity in this era is the Virgin Martyr model, it was incredibly popular in the medieval period, especially in the later medieval. Most of the stories about it were from the early medieval period and basically, Virgin Martyr saints do what they say on the tin. Christianity is overflowing with these stories of young women; they are always beautiful, they are always young, they are always super, super Christian and they love Jesus and then there will be another figure who is always male, often non-Christian and sometimes is the girl’s father or their husband or a potential spouse who really fancies her. And this Pagan spouse or whatever says, “No, you can’t be Christian anymore, you need to convert.” She says no and then the kind of, “too long, didn’t read,” is that she’s then executed, usually in an incredibly gory manner, usually doing a couple miracles before or during her execution. This was the most popular model for female saints in this period, but Margaret isn’t a martyr, and she isn’t a virgin, so I think Turgot is like, “What do I do?”

So, the way he portrays Malcolm is to kind of… If Turgot can’t make Margaret a virgin or a martyr, he can at least make Malcolm one of these Pagan spouses except he’s struggling with that too because Malcolm is a Christian and he’s not asking Margaret to convert from Christianity. So, I think Turgot adopts a dynamic where Malcolm’s Christianity is less refined than Margaret’s and instead of Margaret converting her husband, she is reforming and refining the church as it was in Scotland. That is why I think Malcolm is a himbo, he needed to be less sophisticated, and he needed to need Margaret’s evangelizing presence, so we get this emphasis on, he’s illiterate, he’s not educated. Turgot kind of forces Malcolm into this Pagan spouse role so that Margaret’s sanctity is easier to swallow.

Another element of the Virgin Martyr legend is that the woman in question speaks so eloquently and so persuasively in defence of her faith that she ends up converting some people. And when you look at the passages that Turgot has of Margaret speaking to the clergy about like, “We’re not celebrating Lent properly and you need to do this and you need to do that,” she is arguing really persuasively and all the clergy that she’s speaking to are like, “Oh my god, she’s amazing,” and that’s something you get in Virgin Martyr stories as well. Catherine of Alexandria is the big one where like, the emperor assembles 50 of the wisest scholars to argue with her and she manages to persuade them all that she’s actually right. It’s very extreme, there’s lots of hyperbole, it is very “And then everybody clapped.” That is the vibe. So, I think Margaret is getting that treatment as well.

You also see Turgot struggling to show how Margaret existed in relation to secular power. So, we’ve got lots of royal women in Europe who chose to enter a life of religious seclusion, especially after being widowed, so Edith of Wessex, Ela who was the countess of Salisbury and then there’s Radegund of Poitiers, which is like, 6th century…

   Ann: Oh, we know about Radegund on this podcast. Don’t worry about it.

E.K.: Which Radegund? There are a few Radegunds. Is this the Radegund who became a nun even though her husband was still alive?

Ann: Yeah, and then she was sort of like the queen but from the convent.

E.K.: Yes, iconic. She’s so fun. I did an essay about her in terms of queer history, and it was called “Queerism, Fuck You.” I basically argued that Radegund can be considered queer in this very elaborate structure of what that meant that I wrote, and it was the best name I came up with through all of my time at university so…

But Margaret doesn’t really fit into Radegund and Edith of Wessex because she was only a widow for about three days, and she was a very active queen. So, you get the sense of Turgot being a little bit insecure as like, because he tries to picture us like, “She only wore fine things because she had to as a queen.” I think he got kind of stuck with these models and his solution was “Well, she had kids, she was married, she didn’t disengage herself from secular power. How do I square this circle?” And I think that’s why we get that portrayal.

But then as I mentioned earlier, he spends a long time talking about her ancestry and this is kind of the second, and I think the lasting importance to Margaret’s story, and it takes place after she dies. So, she dies in 1093 at the age of around 53. Her husband and her eldest son are killed at the Battle of Alnwick, she is given the news and she’s like, “Oh okay,” gives a lot of deathbed advice, has lots of prayer, understandably, and then she also dies. And then what happens after, because it’s not just her that’s died, the king has died, and the king’s son and presumable heir has also died. The problem is, Malcolm had been married before he married Margaret to a woman named Ingibiorg Finnsdottir.

Ann: Woah. Okay. She was Scandinavian. [chuckles]

E.K.: Yes. So, she’s pretty mysterious. We know she was married once and presumably by her surname, Finnsdottir, she was presumable the daughter of somebody with the name Finn. There’s debate over whether or not Ingibiorg had died by the time Malcolm married Margaret. Catherine Keene says she reckons that Ingibiorg was set aside, perhaps on the grounds of consanguinity, which is obviously that old faithful that comes out when you don’t want to be married anymore and you say, “Oh, we’re related.” And they were related but somehow it didn’t matter when you got married did it? Hmm, how convenient. But it could have been that Malcolm and Ingibiorg’s marriage was like a common law thing so it wouldn’t have actually mattered whether or not Ingibiorg was alive or not by the time Malcolm married Margaret. But Ingibiorg has had sons with Malcolm who are obviously older than the sons, any children with Margaret. The sons are called Duncan and Donald.

So, Malcolm has a brother, he has two older children with Ingibiorg, and he has eight children, including six sons, with Margaret. Now, at this time, primogeniture had been to settle down, but I do think that our history like with the Tudors and Henry VIII’s obsession with the succession has made us overestimate it a little. So, even though it was a thing that the eldest son probably had rights over the youngest, might can still triumph right at this point. So, it’s not Malcolm, any of Malcolm’s sons that succeeds to the throne at first, it is his brother Donald who comes to the throne as Donald III. Donald is then supplanted by Ingibiorg’s son Duncan, with the assistance of one of Margaret’s sons, Edmund. But then, brother Donald takes the throne from Donald’s nephew, Duncan. A lot of D names in this bit.

However, three years later, Donald, the brother, is overthrown by Margaret’s sons with an army that is supported by the new king of England, William II, who is William the Conqueror’s son, and Margaret’s son Edgar takes the throne. He rules until his death in 1107, Edgar doesn’t have any children so the next son, Alexander rules. He then dies in 1124 and he hasn’t had any kids either, so the crown then passes to Margaret’s youngest son, David. Some of the other sons that Margaret and Malcolm had, one of them who had helped one of the interlopers, we’re not 100% sure what happened to him, but he might have been kind of locked in a dungeon and the key thrown away. Another one of the sons joined the Church and then the eldest son obviously died at the same time as Malcolm.

Ann: So, just to keep track, three of her sons became King of Scots.

E.K.: Yeah, one after the other. So, Edgar, Alexander, and then David. Edgar and Alexander, bless them, they do stuff, but David is the most famous one. But this, to me, is the moment when Margaret is transformed from like, “Oh, she was really pious,” to one of the most important figures in Scottish history because her sons, they then do a lot to buttress her legacy. They expand on a monastic settlement that she set up at Dunfermline which is where she was married and they’re generally just like, big fans of their mother. But it’s Margaret’s daughter who is the fulcrum to everything we now know about Margaret.

So, Margaret has two daughters, Edith and Mary. Both, as children, are sent to England to Romsey Abbey, which I mentioned earlier, because Margaret’s sister Cristina is the abbess there. So, that’s nice, a little family reunion. At some point, Edith’s name is changed to Matilda. People aren’t really sure when this happened or why. I think it’s because they were trying to “Normanize” her name. So, Edith is kind of a slightly old Wessex name and now that the Norman Conquest has happened it’s like, “Let’s change it to Matilda to make you more,” not necessarily appealing, “but to make you assimilate with what has now happened in England.”

It clearly worked because Edith Matilda, as she is usually known by people studying it from a Scottish perspective just because it gets too confusing otherwise, in 1101, Edith Matilda marries the king of England, Henry I. Henry I is a son of William the Conqueror, and she is very popular as his queen and very well loved. And Edith Matilda, when she is queen, commissions Turgot to write this biography. Turgot says in the preamble to the vita: 

You wish not only to hear but also to view unendingly a written life of your mother the queen. So, although you little knew the countenance of your mother, you might have fuller notice of her virtues. 

Edith Matilda didn’t know her mother well because she was sent to England as a child so I do think like, I believe that Edith Matilda would like to know her mother better and thus would commission this work. But all the stuff that happened after Margaret’s death with basically the civil wars between her sons and Malcolm’s previous sons, at this point when Turgot writes, Donald and Duncan, so the brother of Malcolm and his eldest son, have both been defeated.

However, the dust has only just settled, and Duncan has a son. I think he’s only a child at this point but that doesn’t mean he’s not a threat. So, it follows that Margaret’s children would want to really hype up their maternal heritage because their paternal heritage isn’t as useful for taking and keeping the crown of Scotland. So, what if Malcolm was your dad? He was related to them too, you’re not special. Saying, “Oh, well we’re related to this amazing woman called Margaret,” they are outflanking Malcolm’s other descendants.

The other reason that Edith Matilda would have commissioned this biography is because her husband, Henry I of England, has a very vested interest in augmenting the descent via Margaret because Margaret is descended or related to Edward the Confessor. I think this is something that Margaret understood about amping up this kind of old Anglo-Saxon heritage because she did give her children all old English names. So, Henry’s marriage to Edith Matilda would unite the claims of the pre-Norman House of Wessex with the new Norman dynasty, he’s kind of absorbing their line. The historian Stephen Boardman says that Edith Matilda’s commissioning of the vita “Gifted her husband the legacy of the Saxon monarchy.” So, all of this came from the fact that they needed to unite these two dynasties and also amp up Margaret time and time again.

And then Margaret, after she dies, she’s buried at Dunfermline which then becomes a royal mausoleum. So, Malcolm III had been buried in I think Tynemouth Priory, which was closer to where he had died but one of his sons has him reburied and Dunfermline. Edgar, Alexander and David, they’re all buried at Dunfermline. Between 1093 and 1420, 19 monarchs or their close royal family members are buried at Dunfermline which becomes the central focus of devotions at that site. Miracles are said to have been performed there. But [chuckles] the miracles, they’re mainly healing miracles which is kind of the popular ones at this point. My favourite ones are where she yells at people.

Ann: The ghost of Saint Margaret?

E.K.: Yeah. So, at one point a woman turns up and is like, “Will you heal me?” And she sleeps there. And Margaret appears during the night and says, this was recorded and written down by the monks at Dunfermline, “Wake up, wretched woman. Wake up, thoughtless woman. For through me, the heavenly mercy has deigned to hear you favourably.” Can you imagine if you were just like, “Please heal me, I love you, Margaret,” and she appears and calls you a wretched woman? I would not tell the monks in order for it to be written down. I would be telling nobody. I would be taking that to my grave.

Ann: Exactly. If you were like, “Please I want to get a good mark on this paper, Saint Margaret, please help me,” and she’s like, “Listen up, fuck wad…”

E.K.: Yeah. Well, and there’s another one… She doesn’t appear as a ghost for the exciting bit. There’s one where basically, some guy is in love with one of his servants, but his dad is like, “You can’t be in a relationship with her.” But then the dad dies, and the guy gets into a relationship with his servant and then the dad’s ghost appears and punches the servant and then the servant then comes to Dunfermline and is asked to be healed. So, Margaret isn’t the one doing the punching but the way it’s written, they are seemingly connected. So, love that for her.

And then one of the most famous miracles takes place in 1263. The King of Norway, Haakon IV is trying to invade Scotland and a knight who is I think unwell, he sleeps at Dunfermline, on the way to the battle. Margaret appears to him and she’s with like, other men and they’re all kind of ghostly apparitions and the knight is like, “Who are these people?” And she’s like, “I’m Margaret blah blah blah, and this is my husband,” and some of her sons. Margaret kind of promises that they will defeat the King of Norway and his forces and neither Malcolm nor any of the sons say anything, it’s just Margaret who speaks and she declares that Scotland is her kingdom, she says, “Accepted from God and entrusted to me and my heirs forever.” Malcolm is literally just some guy in this. He’s there, he’s around, but that’s about it.

And then there is one miracle that took place before Margaret died. I don’t want to be a hater though I’m great at it, but do not get your hopes up, okay?

Ann: Okay.

E.K.: So, Turgot sets the scene by saying that miracles are fine, but they aren’t as important as good works and virtue, which is probably true, I believe that he believes that. But I think he’s also trying to manage expectations because the miracle that he relates is that Margaret asks for a book to be brought to her, a gospel book, that she especially favours and the messenger drops the book in a river on the way, doesn’t realize until he gets to Margaret and is like, “Oh, I dropped that book,” and they go and get it and are like, “Obviously, it will be ruined because it’s in a river,” and the book is not ruined. That’s the miracle. That’s… It’s not exactly water into wine, is it? Augh, it’s kind of… Yeah, I’m unimpressed with it.

Turgot does say that she prophesized her own death and that she foretold certain future events on her deathbed. She may have foretold her death, but she really pushed her body to the brink with kind of her ascetic practices. It wasn’t a surprise that she was dying, she hadn’t been able to ride…

Ann: Was she doing too much fasting and stuff like that?

E.K.: Yeah. Big on the abstinence, fasting, she used to go pray in a cave which was really cold. It’s obviously going to be cold, it’s a cave in Scotland. Don’t worship in a cave in Scotland, okay? You’ll probably catch a death of cold.

Ann: And she’s probably wearing like a hair shirt at the time and stuff.

E.K.: Yeah, I’m not sure if she really went in for that kind of, the real brutal stuff. But she didn’t look after herself and it was because she was obviously very, very devoted.

Ann: I’m going to say also that she also had had eight children. So, I feel like having eight children now versus then, just in terms of medical care, her body would be affected by all that. And then if you’re also not caring for that body that has given birth to eight children in medieval Scotland… Yeah.

E.K.: She has eight children over 14 years, which is not very long. And I mean, we only ever hear about the eight children that she has, and they all pretty much survive to adulthood. She may well have been pregnant at other times but either couldn’t carry it to term or the child died when it was very, very young. So, she had eight children as a minimum kind of thing.

There is a bit when she’s on her deathbed, she’s kind of… It might be slightly before she dies but basically, Turgot says that Margaret told him that if her sons do ever become kings, Turgot is allowed to tell them what to do and admonish them or argue with them if necessary. Now, bearing in mind, Turgot is writing this in the early 1100s, after Margaret’s sons have, like Edgar is king at that point. It’s very convenient that Turgot is basically saying, “Hey Edgar, King of Scots, your mum told me that I can have a go at you if I want.” Like, that’s a little bit convenient to me, hmm? I’m not quite convinced. But she was canonized in the 13th century.

Ann: And who decides that? He wrote this thing being like, “Look, she should be a saint.” Who is the person who checks off that box to be like, “Yeah, let’s make her a saint.”?

E.K.: So, Turgot writes this vita of her and then it has survived in various manuscript compilations and there are a couple of these compilations that are very much, there’s one called the “Dunfermline Compilation” and it’s basically like, a little pack like “Here Mr. Pope, this is why we want her to be canonized, thank you.” Because by the time she is canonized in the 13th century, the papacy has taken on like, “We’re the only ones who are allowed to do this.” But then the miracles, so the one of her yelling at people and appearing as a ghost, they are put together in… I think it’s mainly in the 12th century and that is written by the monks at Dunfermline who are preserving her shrine. So, it’s all these little things that are then put together to be like, “Please canonize her now. Appreciate that.” For the rest of the medieval period, she remains a dynastic saint, so she is considered the foundress of the Scottish royal line, arguably more than Malcolm was.

Ann: [laughs] It’s just like, he’s just Ken. It’s a real, he’s just Ken vibe.

E.K.: 100%. I think they probably got along well, they certainly had a very productive relationship both in terms of actual children and also what they did and the impacts that they made eventually on Scotland. He’s meant to be a very good warrior and he’s meant to be very noble and all that stuff. But the stuff that you can say about Malcolm, I think you could say about any other king.

Margaret is a little bit more unique and the way she is interpreted by the subsequent generations, there’s a huge emphasis on her relationship to Edward the Confessor because when England and Scotland are beefing, as we are still want to do, it benefits the Scots to point out that “If you’re descended from these illustrious pre-Norman kings, well guess what? So are we. And our dynastic go-between, she’s a saint. None of your monarchs are saints.” Edward the Confessor was canonized but I don’t think any of the others were. I have to look into that, I love learning about this kind of stuff. But you see Margaret’s emphasis to Edward the Confessor because in depictions of Margaret, she is often shown with the coat of arms of Edward the Confessor which is a blue background and then it has a yellow or gold cross and four little birds in each quadrant of the cross. These arms were assigned to Edward the Confessor after the point because heraldic symbols didn’t exist while he was alive, but they then get to be like, “Oh, this is Edward the Confessor’s,” and you see it on Margaret’s, like, most of the depictions of her and like, her dress has the shield with the little birds on. So, it’s always, Edward the Confessor is the key here.

In 1250, she’s canonized and her remains, which are at Dunfermline, are moved to a more important spot at Dunfermline and the King of Scotland at that point, Alexander III and his queen who is a Margaret of England, are at the ceremony. They are children at this point, but I get the sense that the reason Margaret, this little queen Margaret was included is because it’s like, “Hey, maybe you should do like this woman did and be really pious and have loads of children.”

And then moving forward in time at the turn of the 14th century, Margaret finds an incredible champion in Robert the Bruce who is obsessed with her. [laughs] So, at the Battle of Bannockburn, he has I think some of her relics brought out. He patronizes the abbey at Dunfermline, he’s buried at Dunfermline, as are a huge amount of his family and his friends and she has become like a national figure at this point. So, when Edward I of England all but conquers Scotland, he chooses to hear the submission of various clergymen in that chapel dedicated to Saint Margaret in Edinburgh Castle. At one point when he’s overwintering in Scotland, he makes Dunfermline Abbey his military base. So, he clearly knows how important she is and that she’s a key symbol that he can co-opt and use.

You also get in this period, her national significance emphasized by a guy called Walter Bower. He was a monk, and he wrote a chronicle called the Scotichronicon, and he’s basically taking a load of pre-existing work by this guy called John of Fordun, and he adds to it. All of the bits about Margaret, he acts like himself. He gives a description of the ceremony in 1250 that moved Margaret’s remains and he says that when they were moving her coffin toward the high altar, when they tried to move the coffin past where her husband Malcolm III was buried, she wouldn’t move, like, the people carrying her couldn’t carry her any further. So, to Bower, he’s like, “This meant that Margaret refused to be moved to a more illustrious place unless her husband was moved there too,” which is what happens, his remains are moved too.

I find this interesting because it kind of contradicts Turgot’s version of events and I think Bower neutralizes Margaret’s independence in this kind of situation. At one point he says that Margaret and her husband were “Equal in works of charity, both outstanding in the pursuit of holiness,” which is definitely not Turgot’s perspective and I think it’s because Turgot and Bower, they’re at cross purposes. Turgot needs Margaret to be bolder and a little more pious so she can successfully evangelize to her husband whereas Bower just needs like, a saintly foundress with national significance. I don’t think their goals were the same and that’s why we get this discordance. Margaret kind of remains popular; her occult doesn’t ever really drop out until the Reformation, but the later Stuart monarchs are not as focused on her as like, her immediate descendants like Robert the Bruce. So, after the year 1420, none of the Stuart royals are buried at Dunfermline. One of the interesting elements of her occult in this period is the use of her shirt as a relic.

Ann: Her shirt.

E.K.: Yes. So, there are several instances we hear when a queen consort of Scotland has her shirt on hand during childbirth. So, Mary of Guelders did, Margaret Tudor did, possibly Elizabeth de Burgh who was Robert the Bruce’s, I think second wife. So, they had it to help them through childbirth. So, sometimes you’ll see her, like we were saying earlier, she’s the patron saint of Scotland, sometimes people will say that she is also the patron saint for childbirth. I don’t think she is.

Obviously, she’s had all these kids, but we never see her, whether it’s Turgot or later, we never see her as being especially regarded for childbirth and the labour of giving birth, it’s just about her raising and nurturing the children, as she raised and nurtured Scotland, I guess. My view is that the use of this relic is another dynastic expression. It’s not about a woman giving birth, it’s about a queen providing an heir for the royal dynasty because the shirt doesn’t seem to be used on every queen that we know of, and it doesn’t seem to have been used in every instance of childbirth. I think Margaret Tudor only uses it once. And like, Joan Beaufort, who was James I’s queen, had a million children and I don’t think we ever hear of it being used with her. So, I think it’s more about ushering in the next monarch. She has another relic which was her head, just her whole head, and Mary, Queen of Scots had that with her.

Ann: [gasps] Mary, Queen of Scots had the head?!

E.K.: Yeah! So, I think it was when she gave birth, yes, she had the head. And then when the Reformation happened… Oh, the Reformation happened before she gave birth, so hmm, I’d have to check that. But Mary, Queen of Scots definitely had her head, and it was hidden then I guess until after her deposition, it was hidden from the reformist iconoclasts and then it got smuggled to the continent and ended up in France and they were like, “Oh, it’s safe.” And then the French Revolution happened. [laughs] So, it’s like, “Oh no!” And I don’t think we know where it is now.

The shrine, her grave at Dunfermline is now empty. Her remains were probably smuggled out for the Reformation and they’re probably in Spain. Spain took a whole bunch of relics to save them from the Reformation and a load of them are in Madrid in the Escorial Palace but because there are so many there, I don’t think it’s like… Nobody has done an audit, there has not been a stock take done fully so she might be there, she might not. There is a piece of her shoulder bone which is in Dunfermline but it’s not at the abbey, which is now, the abbey is kind of defunct, but it’s still a parish church. Her shoulder bone is at a newer Catholic church in the town, and they bring it out for a parade every year so that’s really nice for her. She would be scarier as a ghost now because she has no shoulder bone and no head. So, if she had appeared to me fully with her head, I wouldn’t have been as scared, but I think if she appeared to me… Which would you be more scared of?

Ann: I would be most scared if she appeared to me and she was just a shoulder bone, just a ghost of a shoulder bone.

E.K.: Oh my goodness.

Ann: Somehow yelling at me. Yeah.

E.K.: I’m hoping at some point to be in Edinburgh when they do the parade, I think they do it in summer so maybe I’ll go and ask… Obviously, Scotland’s now Presbyterian so they don’t have any relics and things so I might go hang out with the Catholic Church and be like, “Which would scare you more? If it was just a shoulder bone?” I’ll do a little vox pop thing and survey everybody.

Some of the other things we have of hers, in the 19th century, the Bodleian Library at Oxford acquired a gospel book and I think they thought originally that it was from the 14th century but then it turned out it was from the 11th century and it had an inscription that the book was once owned by the king and queen and the inscription mentioned the thing about the river miracle and the pages themselves were consistent with if they’d had a slight amount of water damage. So, this is it! This is her gospel book! We found it so that’s nice.

And then the other parts of her legacy that I think most Scottish people would have some familiarity with is there’s a bridge called the Queensferry Bridge and it refers to the Queensferry Crossing across the Forth, that she set up. She was like, when pilgrims want to go from the south bank of the Forth to St. Andrews, which is across the river and all the way up, we should set up a free ferry for them to go and do that. So Queensferry, she is the queen for which it is named.

And then another Mary, Queen of Scots-associated thing, so obviously there’s Dunfermline Abbey which is related to her but then Holyrood Abbey probably exists, and Holyrood House, because of her. So, she was said to have brought to Scotland a piece of the True Cross or Holy Rood, which you know, a little bit of the crucifix upon which Jesus allegedly met his end. I say allegedly because if you gathered together all of the fragments of the True Cross that were meant to be hanging about Christendom you would have enough materials for a two-bed log cabin. But there was a lot of it about, but she apparently had one and we’re not 100% where it might have come from. It might have come from England, or it might have come from Eastern Europe, but she brings it with her.

After her death, and when her youngest son David is king, he founds an abbey which is just north of Arthur’s Seat at what is now the westernmost end of the Royal Mile, this Abbey is dedicated to this piece of the Holy Rood, that is where we get Holyrood from. The abbey, it’s in ruins now but it was very important. So, James II and his queen Mary of Guelders were buried there, Margaret Tudor was married there and also, I think after the Reformation, everything kind of became defunct with it but the abbey was briefly reconsecrated as a Catholic place of worship by the brother of Charles II, James. He was Duke of York at the time, and he basically was like the king’s lieutenant in Scotland for a bit and he was Catholic, so he had it reconsecrated as a Catholic place of worship but obviously that didn’t last.

And then obviously, Holyrood House, the pleasure palace in contrast to Edinburgh Castle, which of course hosted, among other things, a murder of which Mary, Queen of Scots was witness. So, it’s funny to think even though Saint Margaret had nothing to do with it, it does all get traced back to her. And then, as I mentioned at the top of the show, there was the chapel. This was probably built under David and is in Edinburgh Castle, dedicated to Saint Margaret. It is beautiful, I highly recommend anybody, do not skip it if you’re going to the castle. It’s very small, it’s very peaceful and it has a set of stained-glass windows from the 20th century which shows various figures from Scottish history.

And you will love this. the best bit about the chapel is that it is looked after today by the Saint Margaret’s Chapel Guild and they put flowers in like every week and I think in 1993, they commissioned a new altar cloth to commemorate the millennium of her death. But if you want to be a part of the guild, you have to have as your first or middle name, Margaret. [Ann laughs] I know! You can have institutional membership if your organization has been named for a Margaret, it doesn’t have to be that Margaret.

Ann: Margarets only. Okay.

E.K.: I know! And this was just so adorable, when I wrote my term paper on her, I emailed the Chapel Guild because they have a little booklet, leaflet that you can buy in their chapel and I was like, “Would you be able to send me one?” And when the woman replied to me, in her email signature, had her first name and then in brackets, “(Middle Margaret)” and then her surname. Like, is that not just the cutest thing? [laughs] She was so nice as well! She came and posted me, she was really interested in what I was writing about. It’s so random.

Ann: But first of all, I love this, this league of Margarets who are doing this. But also, I’m like, my name’s not Margaret, can I change my name to Margaret? I’m desperate to join now.

E.K.: I think if you said, “I’ve changed my name to Margaret because I want to join,” I think they’d be like “Yes, you can come in.” It still is quite a popular name in Scotland. If this was in England, you would eventually run out of Margarets but in Scotland, they’re like, “No, we will keep the tradition going.” I highly recommend going into the chapel. The castle generally is kind of hit-and-miss in terms of access. I got my wheelchair stuck in a rockery outside the chapel when I was there and I just kind of had to wait for my mom to come and get me as tourists walked past, which was quite funny to me.

But Scotland does not have the monopoly on Margaret. So, we talked earlier about the fact that she was born in Hungary. When I went to visit her now empty tomb at Dunfermline, there were some flowers and ribbons that had been left there by a group of Hungarian tourists, they were like, “One of us,” kind of thing which I thought was very cool. But Margaret of Wessex, obviously that was her OG family, still very much looms large.

So, as I said, I live in the southwest of England and after I’d written my first paper on her, my mom told me, “In Salisbury Cathedral there is a chapel dedicated to her,” and I was like, “No there isn’t. It will be Margaret of Antioch who…” No shade to Margaret of Antioch, it’s not her fault but when people say like, “Oh, you study Saint Margaret, the one with the dragon?!” And I’m like, “No, the one whose book fell in a river.” [Ann laughs] Not to be a hater to Margaret of Antioch, it’s not her fault but at the same time, I remain salty about it. But my mother was right and there is a chapel dedicated to Saint Margaret of Scotland in the south transept of Salisbury Cathedral. It has occupied my every waking moment finding out how, when, or why this altar is there.

It could have been put in as early as 1407 but it definitely was there before 1445. There is a text that is like guiding somebody around all of like, “When you go to Salisbury Cathedral, these are the chapels you need to look at,” and it mentions her, so we know it was there then. In 1407, a bishop called Richard Mitford was buried in her chapel so it could have been that the chapel was put together for that burial or that it already existed and then Mitford was like, “Please bury me there.” But why is she there? Because all of the other chapels in the cathedral are dedicated to the bigger saints so she’s next to Saint Lawrence and I think the Archangel Michael, I think and then it’s like John the Baptist. It’s kind of your standard big Christian saints.

Ann: Like John the Baptist, yeah. So, like the main ones and she’s like, “Hey, I’m here too!”

E.K.: I think the only explanation even though it’s quite circumstantial, but the current best explanation is she was considered still to be part of the West Country and Wessex. And then allegedly, Bishop Richard Mitford was apparently a fan of Edward the Confessor so it might be that he was like either “Bury me there where her altar exists, her chapel,” or “Let’s put this chapel together and then bury me there when I die.” And every time I’ve been to the cathedral since finding this out, I’m just scouring the place to try and find something… Looking for Edward the Confessor’s coat of arms or is there anything that would suggest why she would be here?

There’s also in Gloucester, which is also part of the West Country, there is a church, a small village church dedicated to her. This one is more confusing because originally, the church was dedicated to a different saint but they’re not sure which. And then it was rededicated in, I think it was 1315, it was rededicated to Margaret of Scotland, and this was during the wars of Scottish independence. So, I’m like, why did they change the patron saint of this church from whoever it was to, like, the key propaganda vehicle of the country with which we are currently at war? Was it trying to reclaim her from the Scots and being like, “No, she’s actually one of us.” Was it that maybe the people in our parish thought that the Scots had a point and were going to do it to show solidarity? I have no idea but both of those things… There was in the descriptions of her miracles, there is a couple of people who have come from England, so you know, there were probably English people who were fans of her. But it’s like why were these dedications happening quite a long time after her death and even after her canonization?

Ann: I have a theory. My theory is that her ghost came and yelled at somebody until they did it.

E.K.: I mean, if you were being haunted by a ghost and all it wanted you to do was like, “Can you dedicate a chapel to me?” It’s a small price to pay.

Ann: To get the ghost of the shoulder bone or person without shoulder bone or with or without head…

E.K.: Exactly!

Ann: You’re just like, “I will do that if you will stop haunting and yelling at me.” Yeah.

E.K.: She did have like, bands in England and I know I mentioned Durham earlier and there was an instance in the 14th century of, allegedly, Durham stole some relics of her from Scotland and smuggled them back. St George’s Church in Windsor Castle apparently has a relic of hers too, it might be, I’m not 100% sure, it might be the Holy Rood thing because I think Edward I took that when he first conquered Scotland and then there was debate over whether he was going to give it back but I don’t think it ever was given back so it might also have been lost in the Reformation or it might be at St George’s in Windsor.

I think the way her relics have been scattered or not or possibly come back I think exemplifies her legacy which I feel like, it’s not sad but I think she’s never been allowed to live her life for herself, it’s always about her as a dynastic intermediary. Her holiness is useful, and her legacy is valuable for what it can do for her subsequent generations. You get the sense that she’s not really in charge of her destiny, but I do think that given the depth of her religious devotion, I don’t know if she’d be that bothered about it. She might see her role as a saint to reveal God’s grace and then her role as a queen is to preserve and protect the kingdom with which she was charged by God. So, even though sometimes I’m like, it’s kind of a lack of autonomy, she might have seen it as, “It’s my purpose that I have been assigned.” But she definitely is not in control of everything that happened after she died. I don’t think she’d be mad about how it all went down but it’s stuff that has like… People and monarchs and whoever have assigned this stuff to her.

Ann: What I find interesting– Well, everything obviously, that’s why you’re on the podcast telling this story. In terms of Scottish women moving to Scotland and marrying kings, this is the best version of that I’ve ever heard. Marie of Guise had a really rough time; Margaret Tudor had a really rough time; even Mary, Queen of Scots who didn’t marry into it, but she was an outsider. But Margaret of Scotland came there, and it seems like everyone is like, “Cool you’re an outsider and you’re marrying our king, we don’t mind.” I find it such an interesting contrast to what I’m used to hearing about people named Margaret coming to Scotland, historically, to me, doesn’t do well.

E.K.: Yeah, at least the version that we have of her from Turgot, she seems to have been quite happy. She was very invested in piety obviously and in the church and she did all the normal things that pious women were meant to do; she fed orphans and all that kind of thing and washed peoples’ feet. I think she ended up becoming an exemplar for later queens in the same position. So obviously, we’ve said about the young Margaret of England going to see her relics being moved. And then obviously Margaret Tudor having her shirt and stuff. So, I imagine that if I was a little English princess growing up to “Okay, you’re marrying a King of Scots,” I would look at Saint Margaret’s story and be like, “Well, I hope it’s like this. I could cope with this. This doesn’t seem too bad.”

My dream museum exhibit, if someone said right, “Here’s a load of money and you’re going to set up an exhibit for a museum,” would be “Princesses of England, Queens of Scots” and it would be talking about all the different English princesses that ended up being Queen of Scotland because there were loads. Obviously, Margaret Tudor that we’ve talked about and there was Joan. But there were two Joans. In the 15th century, you had Margaret of Denmark, Mary of Guelders, you have some European ones but because of the way England and Scotland, the relations and the conflicts that have happened it was very often like, “We’ve had a war and to seal the peace, here’s a daughter. Have at it,” kind of thing.

But it’s also, in a lot of the later examples, there was always a dynastic element, especially with Margaret Tudor because her children represented the potential heirs to England whereas with Margaret and her family, they were in kind of direct opposition to the King of England as kind of William the Conqueror. I think she did okay, and she’s had such a huge impact. I think I made a Reel, it was a while ago now, talking about how Edgar, poor Edgar, her brother, he gets carted off to England really young, his dad dies and then he spends the rest of his life kind of beefing with the King of England because he’s a potential claimant, blah-blah-blah. And then Margaret, she has those bad things happen and then she moves to Scotland and is Scotland’s only canonized royal saint and one of the most famous. Maybe not outside of Scotland obviously, Mary, Queen of Scots is more famous, but in Scotland, she’s probably second fiddle to Mary, Queen of Scots in terms of the most famous and certainly the most influential queens of Scots.

So yeah, sorry Edgar, you didn’t really have a nice time of it necessarily, but Margaret certainly did. And then her daughter obviously married Henry I of England who then had, they obviously had their daughter Empress Matilda and because of Edith Matilda, every monarch of England and then Scotland et cetera, all the way from then is descended from Saint Margaret.

So yes, it wasn’t just about her power, it was so much of it was dependent on Edward the Confessor, but she was like, the vehicle for that and then Edith Matilda was as well. And yeah, Edith Matilda was meant to be quite a popular queen. She was raised at Romsey Abbey which has the Saint of Romsey Abbey, I don’t think it’s an Æthelflæd, it’s one of those names. But yeah, so she lived there for a bit and then there was drama over whether or not she had taken vows to become a nun because then Henry I wanted to marry her and there was debate over whether she was allowed. And then it was decided that she wasn’t, so she married him. She was good friends with a guy called William of Malmesbury who was a chronicler and quite a prolific historian and she patronized some of his stuff. She had another vita commissioned as well for an Irish saint I think called Brendan. So, she was interested in literature and commissioning these texts. So yeah, she died relatively young, she only died in 1118 and then Henry I remarried but then didn’t have any children, obviously Empress Matilda’s brother had died in 1120 I think in the White Ship disaster, and so that all obviously set off the anarchy and everything, but Edith Matilda had passed away long before any of that.

So, even though, and I think this is why it resonates, I think, especially when I first started my master’s, it was during COVID, so we weren’t seeing everybody who I wanted to be, so having Empress Matilda, Edith Matilda, and Margaret as these three women that do resemble each other in a lot of ways, who barely knew each other. Like, Edith Matilda was sent off when she was a child, Empress Matilda was sent off to go get married on the continent. So, from the way their lives played out, you would have assumed they knew each other really well they were related, they barely knew each other except through writing and stuff. So, I think Margaret would be proud that even without like, physical contact with her descendants, her legacy was protected and furthered.

In Scotland, understandably there was a lot of emphasis on what she did in Scotland so Dunfermline, it was just made a city to commemorate maybe the Platinum Jubilee? I can’t remember, something like that. So, it’s going to become a city and it’s a very, very small place. It has a palace as well, the ruins of a palace where various monarchs, I think Charles I was born there, I can’t remember.

But yeah, the things she did in Scotland and her legacy in Scotland is pretty interesting, but I find… Edith Matilda was it, if Edith Matilda hadn’t made the decisions that she made, we wouldn’t be talking about her. She put together, she organized… Edith Matilda would use Pinterest and she would have given, she would have been like, “This is how I’m going to get my mum canonized.” And not only did she eventually get her mom canonized, I think what she was doing in that moment of, “I’m going to have this vita written about her,” was, “I’m going to back up what my brothers are struggling with in Scotland.” So, David who was obviously one of the youngest, I think he was the youngest child, lived in England with Edith Matilda when she was Queen, at her royal court for a bit, and that’s another thing I forgot to say about this, when the anarchy happened with Empress Matilda, her uncle David fought on her behalf and was kind of involved.

Ann: And that’s this David, that’s David.

E.K.: Yeah, so Margaret’s youngest son David who is sometimes referred to as Saint David. There’s like a park that’s called like, Royal Saint David but he was never actually canonized. Sorry, only Margaret was. So, sucks to be you guys, I guess. Robert the Bruce was another one that understandably, people wanted him canonized and I don’t know, I’m just like, “You can’t, only for Margaret.”

Ann: [laughs] She’s the only one.

E.K.: Yeah. So, I love that for her. But yeah, the impact that she had, I think is short-term and long-term. I don’t know if she would ever have been like, “I’m going to have that long-term…” If somebody said to her on her death bed, “You’re going to get canonized,” she’d like, “Yeah I know.” [Ann chuckles] Like, I think she backed herself but the way everything would play out, she also would have been like, “What do you mean this happened in 100 years? That’s really distant from me.” She wouldn’t be able to understand what we’re doing now, obviously. But in terms of I think she would know that she would make waves. [laughs]

Ann: I love that she is so remembered in all these ways, still. I love that it’s largely because her daughter commissioned this work. But also, so often women who are like this, queens I guess, who get married and do a good job and have a bunch of children and then die, like, how many queens did that? Lots. But we don’t know about them but her, we do. So, I appreciate that.

E.K.: Exactly. It’s very much almost a chance of fate that we do have so much about her now and I do think, oh yeah, because we’ve got the ratings! I have written down what I think her ratings will be.

Ann: Oh, we’re going to get to the ratings for sure and this will be interesting. I do want to say, I don’t know, it’s interesting, I do the ratings just to compare everyone who I talk about on the podcast to each other in four random areas, it’s very rare for anyone to score highly in all of them. I feel like she’s…

E.K.: Yeah, she… Don’t get excited. It’s that miracle with the book, it’s nothing to write home about.

Ann: Exactly. I will say that the lowest score anyone ever got was 1.

E.K.: Who was that?!

Ann: Queen Charlotte got 1.

E.K.: Oh, bless her.

Ann: She was just a really boring person.

E.K.: I think with a lot of the women that you talk about, I think some of them would want a lower score.

Ann: Yes, exactly. And I think Queen Charlotte would be mad we even gave her one, probably.

E.K.: [laughs] Like, you know, maybe in some ways they’d be like, “Oh no, I understand, I get that.” But I think it’s the opposite of what… But then that’s, I think, that’s the thing about history, isn’t it? We’re seeing it, unapologetically sometimes, through our eyes and they would be horrified and mortified that we have bigged up these things that maybe they would not have wanted emphasis brought upon.

Ann: Exactly. I think Margaret is… Again, the sort of people who we don’t hear about a lot are people who are just married successfully and had children and didn’t do anything scandalous. I think they’d be like, “Good.” I forget where I read this, but someone said, at some point in history, “A woman’s name should only be written down when she’s born, when she’s married, and when she dies.” That means that she lived properly. She got married, she had children then she died.

E.K.: Yeah. That’s the thing because Margaret became… It was so important suddenly to have her have this huge publicity because when you look at it compared to the Malcolm side who were like, “Oh no, we’re going to be king instead,” Margaret’s sons couldn’t say, what was the point in them bigging up their relationship to Malcolm. You ain’t special, those guys are related to Malcolm too. Margaret was the secret weapon, she was the nuclear bomb of the 1090s where it was like, “No, no, no. We have something that you don’t have.” Like, sorry Ingibiorg, who I think– Obviously, we don’t know if she had died before Malcolm married Margaret, but I don’t think we even know when that might have happened. Most of the time, she’s not mentioned in discussions of Margaret, it’s only the stuff where it’s specifically a biography of her that we get Ingibiorg mentioned.

There’s a lot of reverence dedicated to her by Scottish historians, like, throughout the centuries. There’s one, looking at it right now, Michael Lynch, he’s a very, very good historian but he basically doesn’t buy that she was involved in the reform of the Church. What does Hepburn think about it?

Ann: [Hepburn meows] She’s got some real thoughts. What do you think about her involvement in the reform of the Church, Hepburn? [Hepburn meows] Yeah, she’s got lots to say.

E.K.: That’s what I thought she was going to say. You’re so right Hepburn, my god.

Ann: Exactly. I mean, case closed.

E.K.: Exactly, exactly. So, there’s kind of, you get some people kind of being like, “She just rode rough … over everyone, it was so unfair and she just kind of was tyrannical.” And then you’ve got people being like, “She probably didn’t do anything.” So, it’s like, she kind of can’t win in that respect. [laughs]

Ann: So yeah, I mean we’ll get to the scoring, and I mean, again it’s rare for anyone to score highly in all of the categories and that’s why there are four different categories, so everyone has a chance to score highly in at least one.

So, the first category is Scandaliciousness, how scandalous was she in her time? I mean, you have your thoughts you’ve written down. I’ll just say, based on everything that you’ve shared with us, I don’t think that at all, except for her involvement in who is going to be king of England and who is she backing and just her, not her doing anything but just her existence was maybe…?

E.K.: She could have been a problem, I think, from the Normans’ perspective. Edgar was definitely… Edgar did get involved back and forth with different rebellions and they never came to anything. But yeah, the family, they had a claim, whether or not they were ever going to be able to make good on it, they’re always there in the background.

I’ve given her a 1 in terms of scandalicity. I think there’s the point of can we take the reading of her biography at face value? But I think either way, she was very in keeping with how royal piety should look. And even though Turgot did struggle at times to push her into these models of sanctity, she was not doing anything that was super outrageous. When I was going through her biography and stuff, sometimes it’s like, “Wow, this woman did not know how to have fun, she is a killjoy.” She’s always admonishing someone for something. There’s one point where she kind of delivers Malcolm a list of things he’s doing wrong as king and one of them is “You have to stop taking bribes” and it’s like, let people enjoy things. [Ann laughs] If you said, you have to have a weekend away with either Saint Margaret or her eventual descendant, Margaret Tudor, I know who I would be picking. Saint Margaret would be one of those people you go on holiday, and she makes you go for a run in the morning. Whereas Margaret Tudor would be like, “Right, nobody is leaving their bed before 1 PM and then we go to brunch.” Saint Margaret, I don’t think she was particularly entertaining.

Ann: No, she’d be like, “We’re going to go to this cave, this cave in Scotland, we’re going to be underdressed and we’re going to fast.”

E.K.: Yeah. She sounds absolutely insufferable at times, to be honest. But you know, that’s the cost of canonization and is a price I would never be willing to pay.

Ann: No, but if it’s important to you, that’s what you need to do.

Scheminess. So, this is like, not, I mean, I think she’d be horrified that we would ever accuse her of scheminess. I don’t think she did any literal schemes but coming up with plans, doing things, and she did do things. The abbeys and her involvement, whatever it was with Christianity developing…

E.K.: I think she was very organized.

Ann: Mm-hm, exactly.

E.K.: But it was never in kind of like, a subversive way. I think you also said about resilience under this, and I think if we’re talking about how resilient she is, that is a high I would say. She’s randomly born in Hungary, ends up moving halfway across the continent, her dad immediately dies, her brother’s potential claim to the throne is extinguished by an incredibly violent invasion, she ends up fleeing for her life and then somehow ends up becoming Scotland’s only canonized royal. Like, she secured the bag.

Ann: She did. Not everybody in that life would have…

E.K.: I wouldn’t.

Ann: Thrived. No, exactly. Somehow, she had some sort of resilience. So, in terms of scheminess, it’s like, “This happens to me, let’s do this. Let’s flee to here, let’s agree to this marriage.” So, she was making decisions, yeah.

E.K.: That’s why I kind of think that she would have accepted that she had to marry. I think she was… ‘Worldly’ isn’t the right word, she knew what life was about, she wasn’t naïve in any way. Even the way she is in her piety and stuff she’s like, “This is what’s going to happen, this is how, now go and do it.” It’s Turgot being dramatic all the time as well, but he has her basically reading the riot act to different clergy like, “This is how you’re going to do it, and this is why.” And this one bit, [laughs] she’s actually kind of shady. It’s talking about the observance of Lent, and she says, “You’re not fasting for long enough,” and they’re like, “No, we are. We’re fasting for this…” however many days, and she’s like, “Well, according to the book of blah, blah, blah and if you take three away from, and carry the one… Hmm, yeah exactly that’s what I thought.” And they were like, “Oh, okay sorry.” So, she knows what she’s about and I think it’s not scheminess in a subversive way but it’s scheminess in a strategic way.

Ann: Yes. And I think that is what I’m thinking of for this category for her but also, to go there in this very fractured, chaotic world and to be married to the King of Scotland and to be like, “You know what I’m going to do? Change how religion works.” She could have been murdered; she could have been exiled but she wasn’t. So, she must have made… We don’t know this but clearly, she made strategic alliances, she made sure that her husband supported her. So, it’s behind the scenes, she did stuff we just don’t know what it was.

E.K.: There’s also a couple of letters from her and I can’t remember if they’re… I think they’re to her but in response to letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury and it’s basically her setting up that monastery at Dunfermline and it is implied by the letter that she has written and been like, “Can you send me some monks?” And he’s like, “Yeah, send them back when you’re done. Have at it.” [Ann laughs] So, she has an independence from Malcolm in that respect. She was never like, side-lining him at all, but I don’t think, I do not think she ever would have asked his permission to do these things. Or even if she did ask, the expectation, she was like, “And you will say yes.” So, I would say like a 7.

Ann: Yeah, I agree, I agree. I think, you know, her biographer is being very careful to write her in this way but between the lines and things we know that she did, it reminds me of those Frankish queens and stuff where you had to make the right alliances. The fact that he was king, and she was queen, and she had all these children, and nobody usurped him, you know? That doesn’t happen with no effort, you have to be on your game.

E.K.: It’s that kind of key role of queens in the medieval period where it’s like, they were a partner, a junior partner. But I remember I did, it was when that audio on Reels and whatever where it was like, “Go ahead, light that candle” or something. But it was basically like, “Go on, say something stupid and I will tell you you’re wrong.” So, I had it as people saying, “Medieval queens had no power,” and I was like, they were partners, they did not have the same power as their husband, but they had a power and those who could, could be clever enough to use it to enormous benefit and I think that’s what she was doing. She allied with her husband, I think Turgot does talk about her welcoming foreign dignitaries and apparently, she was like, “Oh, let’s make being royal nicer, it’s kind of shit, can we have a few more…” Can we do something about the décor, basically. And then she gives him a load of kids and she enables Scotland to have dynastic security after the kind of hubbub after her immediate death and it stays in that dynasty for… Until now really, I guess. You know how it goes. The dynasty is always, and then we’ve got the spindle side and this and the other but yeah, she did that. She did that.

Ann: Yeah, she did the thing. Okay, Significance. I mean…

E.K.: I think this is a high one.

Ann: Yeah.

E.K.: I’ve put a 9. Do you know what? I’ve put a 9 because a 10 seems like overdoing it but I think she’s a 10.

Ann: I think she’s a 10. How much more significance could anyone have?

E.K.: She is, apart from Mary, Queen of Scots, I would say she’s one of the most, she’s had the most impact. I think from the moment she married Malcolm, a series of events was set in motion that made her the foundational matriarch for the Scottish royal dynasty and her image was a pivotal piece of Scottish propaganda. And Robert the Bruce, who is Scotland’s most famous king, was obsessed with her. His body was buried at Dunfermline even though his heart is at Melrose Abbey. Do you know what happened to Robert the Bruce’s heart? It’s quite a fun story.

Ann: No, no, please.

E.K.: So, when he died, he asked his bestie, I think it was James Douglas of the Black Douglases and was like, “Can you take my remains on crusade?” And they were like, “Sure.” And then the Holy land was obviously quite far away and there were crusading activities happening in Spain, so James was like, “I’ll just take the heart,” it had been embalmed and stuff, “I’m going to take it on crusade in Spain.” And apparently, James Douglas, he had it on a reliquary around the neck, and he yeeted it [Ann laughs] at the opposing army. He was killed in this but his body I think was recovered and the heart was recovered and is now at Melrose Abbey.

I can’t remember if Robert the Bruce wanted them to be separate, but I guarantee whoever was in charge of Melrose Abbey now was very glad that that decision was made because pilgrims mean prizes and it’s an excuse; if you’ve got something to do with Robert the Bruce, tourists come. So, I think they’re probably quite glad that they’ve got the bit of his heart. And then yeah, his body was in Dunfermline along with both his wives, I think. And then there’s a list of all the people who were buried there, and it was some of his sisters were and not, I think possibly some in-laws as well, his son-in-law is also buried there. So, he was clearly like, “Everybody, let’s meet at Dunfermline, hopefully, we can appear to some pilgrims and scare them.”

Ann: Like in a big group of ghosts, Margaret can be your spokesperson, and everyone hangs out.

E.K.: There’s also, when I was doing one of my essays on this, I was trying to look something up to do with Malcolm like, he was related to so and so whatever, and it had a family tree of his and one of the people in the family tree was somebody called Princess Katharine or Katarina and I was like, “Oh, that’s not a very common name in that period.” So, I looked into it, and I had accidentally found the fandom Wikipedia page for a cartoon called Gargoyles [Ann laughs] which has a character based on Malcolm III. It was a very strange thing to stumble upon. So, maybe his significance, he would have a significance in that, I think he should get some points on the Significance for being famous enough. He’s in Macbeth and he’s in the children’s TV show Gargoyles.

Ann: Gargoyles.

E.K.: What more do you want?

Ann: Exactly. I mean so many people are not remembered and those are two pretty iconic ways to be remembered. But yeah, 100%, I think the 10 for Significance, like what you were saying about people from Hungary were revering her.

E.K.: Yeah!

Ann: The fact that she’s in this church in Wessex, everywhere she ever… The fact that there’s a parade every year for her shoulder bone… Like…

E.K.: I know. And they changed… So, she died in November, I think it was the 18th of November and they were like, that’s her feast day. But then I think one of the kings changed it because they wanted it to be in the summer or something so the Catholic Church now is like, we do it at some point in June, which is very useful if you are a church in Scotland, I think more people are going to come to a parade in June than they would in November. But yeah, they have it in a reliquary, and they take it on a little parade so that’s nice for her.

Ann: I like that, I love that actually, for her. Now I’m picturing, you know, there’s this ceremonial, people just yet books into a river and then just see which one is the most dry and then you win a prize or something.

E.K.: That would be amazing. [chuckles] Or you could have, I don’t know if you have… you’re in Canada?

Ann: In Canada, yeah.

E.K.: I don’t know if you have the hook-a-duck things at fairgrounds?

Ann: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

E.K.: So, you could have that but it’s a little book and you’re fishing it out.

Ann: Yes, yes!

E.K.: Which, I need to look this up because when I was thinking about this yesterday. So, the book would have been made of vellum or parchment which is animal skin, and I was like, are they not slightly waterproof?

Ann: Yeah, exactly.

E.K.: So, I have to double-check, it might be that the way they’re treated kind of removes any of that property.

Ann: It’s also like, yeah, the book itself exists and it’s like, “Oh yeah, this looks a little water damaged.” It’s like yeah, so maybe it wasn’t at the bottom of the river.

E.K.: This is like a coffee table… Imagine if this was the actual book and I just had it next to me this whole time.

Ann: Cool, that’s cool. So, maybe he dropped it next to the river. There are so many ways where this is potentially not miraculous. Listeners, she’s showing me a picture right now.

E.K.: Yeah, I’ll send you the pictures. This is not from the gospel book. But this is in, do you see that’s the coat of arms of Edward the Confessor, so it’s got these little birds. There’s a whole bunch of, I think they’re called armorials or something and most of the time, when you’re trying to find an image of a medieval Scottish queen, these are later medieval armorials had the royal couples like, drawn so you get her with her little signature as it is. And like, on the little booklet that they gave me.

Ann: Oh, the Society of Margarets.

E.K.: Yeah. And then you can see it’s got, that’s the lion, which is one of the flags of Scotland and then it’s got thing.

Ann: Send me those pictures after and then listeners, there will be a link in the show notes so you can see these all.

E.K.: The chapel itself is absolutely, absolutely beautiful. Highly, highly recommend and, you know, enjoy getting stuck in a rockery, as I did. I was just like, “Mum! Ma!” And then some people, because obviously, I’m in my chair and people are like, “Are you okay?” And I’m like, “Yeah, she’s just coming. It’s fine. This happens all the time.” [laughs]

Ann: The final category to score is the Sexism Bonus and it’s just there for people who could have accomplished more were it not for sexism. I don’t feel like that played a part in her story at all unless…

E.K.: Yeah, the only place where I think it would come up… Arguably, she is written in a way that is in keeping with ideals about gender so the whole Virgin Martyr paradigm and all that kind of thing. And obviously, we don’t know if that is an accurate reflection, 100% of her. So, you could argue that she is being moulded into the ideals of a patriarchal society.

But where I would say she does face the sexism is with Walter Bower who… I’m not like, he’s whatever. But yeah, he kind of invents this idea that she wouldn’t move without Malcolm being moved too and I’m just like, why? Why is that necessary? And when I was writing about it at uni, one of the historians was talking about potentially the ideals of what a queen should be had changed by the time it got to Walter Bower’s era in the 1400s, I think. So yeah, she gets demoted slightly. I think it’s more to do with this cross purpose with Turgot, but it just feels like in all the other literature, Malcolm, he’s just Ken but he’s fine with that and then Walter Bower is like, “No, he wants his mojo-dojo casa house,” and it’s like, could you not have just…? He was fine. He was perfectly happy and then Walter Bower was like, “Poor Malcolm, Margaret has to submit to him slightly and she can’t do anything without Malcolm,” and it’s like, really? He was just there. It was fine.

Ann: Is Walter Bower, the one who also said, “And maybe she wasn’t involved in changing the religion”?

E.K.: Well, I don’t know if he really talks about that. But a lot of the historians who are skeptical about that are modern ones so my man Michael Lynch. Walter Bower is 15th century, yes. So, he wrote the Scotichronicon which is like, it’s a very important book et cetera, et cetera but it’s basically a previous work by this guy John of Fordun and it’s taken, Walter Bower just adds stuff to it. So, he didn’t do as much work as John of Fordun did.

But I just think we get such a view of Margaret as… It’s never like, she’s rebelling. Well actually, so she never rebels against her husband, but she does steal from him. There’s a bit where she keeps stealing his money to go and give it to the poor and Malcolm knows it’s happening and like, pretends like, “Oh, naughty Margaret,” but actually is fine with it, which is kind of a weird dynamic, but I guess it made sense then. And yeah, Walter Bower, he’s the only one… You almost get the perspective that he thinks Malcolm would be upset about not getting like, also credit for all of this. But Malcolm is a himbo, he is a good man and I genuinely think he’d be like, “Aww, good for her.” He’d just be happy for her to do that. He could have come to any of those miracle apparitions, but he only comes to one where it’s the battle is taking place and he doesn’t even speak! If he wanted to speak, he would have spoken. So, I think Walter Bower is assuming too much about Malcolm, unlike me who is psychic and knows exactly what Malcolm would have wanted.

Ann: Exactly, exactly. You get it, he didn’t.

E.K.: Exactly. Exactly. And Saint Margaret, I’m the one who is her now representation. Walter Bower isn’t.

Ann: Exactly. She helped you with that paper, you got the good mark. How many times have you visited her chapel? You are here for her.

E.K.: I think I’ve visited her chapel… I’ve been to Edinburgh Castle three times and visited it each time. And then the time that I got stuck in the rockery, we’d been in it, and then we went around again and then just before we were about to leave, I was like, “Oh, I’m going to go see it again.” And that’s when I got stuck in a rockery.

Ann: That was her being like, “Too much. You can’t visit me this much.” [laughs]

E.K.: She’s like, “Please get a life. Go!” Little did she know, I was going to come back to Salisbury Cathedral and make that– I have to know! It is my Richard III, you know the woman who was obsessed with finding Richard III’s body and then she found it, this is going to be mine. It is going to be the lowest stakes history mystery ever.

I’ve got timelines, I’ve got… It can’t have been earlier than this, it must have been later than that. The chapel there, we have evidence of people giving their money to be like, “Can you say prayers to Margaret for me?” And then there’s a point, I think in 1468, where there’s a record from a bishop who visited to kind of check that everything was going okay and he complained, he was like, “Oh, in whatever year, some money was given, £50 was given,” which is a huge amount of money then, “to say prayers for this person at Margaret’s chapel but nobody’s done it yet so can you get on with it?” So, we clearly know, if somebody is leaving £50 for stuff to be said at her altar, she clearly was popular down there so I’m like, what happened? Was it that she was really, really popular and then she’s been forgotten? Or was it that she was briefly, this one guy was like, “Oh yeah,” and then nothing really happened.

Ann: This one guy really liked her, got the thing commissioned, paid the money, and it was just this one guy who was really into it and then he died, and everyone was like, “Okay, moving on.” Maybe it was that! That would be a great answer.

E.K.: Because yeah, there’s just all of the other chapels, it’s very boring like, I think Catherine of Alexandria is there and John the Baptist. There is Edmund of Abingdon who is the only other UK-based (Abingdon’s near Oxford I think) saint there that you would consider relative to Margaret, possibly. But yeah. And it’s just like, I have bought so many books of Salisbury Cathedral and none of them mention her.

Ann: Okay, so where do we land for the Sexism?

E.K.: I would say a 5 just because Walter Bower yap-yapping and also, I think because it’s a case of, do we know 100% that the version we’ve got from Turgot and from other sources is not also filtered through sexism?

Ann: No, exactly. Yeah, I think what she was like is now so divorced from what she actually was like, and it’s so bound up in these ideas of what a queen should be and what a woman should be.

E.K.: It’s very interesting, her impact on queenship specifically in Scotland. Obviously, we talked about the shirt that she has, that gets used as a relic/her head. Typical Mary, Queen of Scots like, “No, I don’t just want her shirt, I want her disembodied, preserved head.” So, you know, she’s always got to do one better than everybody. But there’s a lot of assessment of whether or not other queens of Scotland learned from her or perhaps, even if they didn’t learn they were clearly encouraged to be like, “This is who you need to be.”

Ann: Exactly. “Look at her, she just had a bunch of babies and was really religious and she didn’t try to lead an army, she didn’t try to start a revolution.” And it’s like, maybe she did, we don’t know.

E.K.: But we then get that miracle of her in that militarized setting where it’s this battle and she basically, I don’t think she has a sword but I think what’s meant to be her husband and some of her sons, they’re in coats of armour I think and then she’s in a white dress but she’s like, “The kingdom of Scotland was entrusted to me and my heirs.” So, she’s not being militaristic, she’s not being militant, but she ends up getting used in a military capacity with the wars of independence and stuff and ends up getting used for that purpose even though she herself didn’t have anything to do with any kind of conquest or anything like that.

Ann: She’s just a multipurpose icon.

E.K.: She ends up becoming all things to all people, she becomes very useful for different purposes, and I guess we are just another level of that, we are just a new iteration of what it is we think of her as.

Ann: Yeah, it’s true. You see in her what one wants to see, there’s a lot of ways you can take it. I just wanted to let you know, her final score then is a 23 out of 40.

E.K.: That’s not too bad.

Ann: No, that’s actually quite good. When I look at the scale, that’s the same score as Boudica.

E.K.: Love that. Redheads unite.

Ann: Exactly.

E.K.: I think Margaret might have been a redhead as well. I’m sure there’s a record we have from the 18th century of somebody who saw her head when it was in France and I’m pretty sure they said she was ginger.

Ann: You know what? That doesn’t surprise me because [chuckles] there’s a lot of badass ginger women.

E.K.: Exactly. I saw a thing that was like, I think it was a quote from Mark Twain about how redheads instead of being descended from primates or whatever, that redheads are descended from cats.

Ann: I would…

E.K.: I hope so!

Ann: I know, I buy it. Hepburn and I, she was talking here earlier, she and I converse constantly.

E.K.: I picked up Minnie and I was like, “Are we related?” I hope so.

Ann: Yeah. Okay so, fabulous. I think a 23 is wonderful, I love that she’s there with Boudica, they can hang out in ghost heaven together.

So, E.K. tell everybody about all the places where they can follow all of your works online and what you’re up to.

E.K.: So, I’m probably most often found on Instagram, I run a little page called @ItsLikeHistory where the goal is to tell people about history in ways that are usually entertaining but always informative, doing little Reels and… what’s the word, the lip syncing to different memes because I believe with all my heart that pop culture is an excellent way through which to learn about history because history is just the pop culture of the past. So yeah, I’m on Instagram @ItsLikeHistory. And then I also have a Patreon that you can donate to which is currently under EKSplaine. I’ve not yet transferred over it to the It’s Like History. I also have a YouTube channel where I do video essays but not particularly frequently. But if you keep an eye on my Instagram and I do post any new video essays, that is where they shall be found.

Ann: I want to just mention that when I was doing my unending Mary, Queen of Scots series, which involved episodes on Marie of Guise and Margaret Tudor, I was scrolling through Instagram and every week I was like, “What’s the best Reel that E.K. has done on exactly this topic?” And people are like, “I understand the references now.”

E.K.: Margaret Tudor especially is like, Paris Hilton, that’s the vibe. Like, it’s so much about pop culture, that is how I approach how I study her because that’s all it is. Pop culture is just people doing stuff today so why would it not be people doing stuff then? So, she is an unending inspiration that I very often– I could fire off Margaret Tudor Reels every other day and I have to be like, “No. You have to make something about somebody else.” But because I generally am found in late medieval western Europe with a particular emphasis on Scotland and yeah, Margaret Tudor is one of the, I would say, she’s one of the most entertaining, I don’t know if you found this. She has sad parts to her story as well but she’s one of those people where the mistakes that she made, you can understand why and how she made those mistakes.

Ann: Was she… I’m just trying to remember, I remember there are so many iconic moments she’s done but wasn’t she the one who her dirtbag husband was trying to come to Edinburgh, and she pointed all the canons at him and then he left?

E.K.: I think that was at Holyrood House. So, she was there, and I think maybe Archibald Douglas the 6th Earl of Angus, he was either coming from outside the city or coming from Edinburgh Castle and she was like, “Put the canons on him, I don’t want to see him.” And then I think one of the English ambassadors or some kind of diplomat is like, “Oh my god, what is she doing?” And Margaret is like, basically, “Go away, don’t involve yourself in this. This has nothing to do with you. Leave, please.” And I don’t think she did ever fire any of the canons.

Ann: I don’t think she did. I think just pointing them and aiming them and him realizing was enough to make him…

E.K.: Yeah. She was very young when she became queen and very young when she became widowed and I think she made a lot of mistakes and she was very proud, she was very wilful. I did find when I watched The Spanish Princess and it was the version of her – I can’t remember her name but she’s Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia – I thought her portrayal was really, really good where she’s kind of a bit of a brat at times, she’s not necessarily the smartest person in the room but she is the most determined. She really tried to make the best of a bad lot at times, and I think she’s very unfairly maligned in Scottish history, usually by men. I can’t remember what you rated her. She would I think get quite a high rating under Sexism especially.

Ann: Let me look. I was really happy that she was on The Spanish Princess because you’ve been watching The Tudors and stuff, but she is so often… People are like, “Oh, Henry VIII’s sister? I didn’t know.” It’s like, they were so fascinating. Let me see, there are so many Margarets.

E.K.: With Margaret Tudor, it’s kind of similar to Saint Margaret of Scotland in that they became this huge dynastic…

Ann: Yeah, retroactively she’s so important. She got a 31.5, Margaret Tudor.

E.K.: That’s fine, I’ll allow that.

Ann: So, almost 10 more. Her daughter Margaret Douglas got a 28. I really leaned into, there are six people called Margaret.

E.K.: They’re everywhere. It’s always her and then Margaret of Antioch is the one that people are very often named after as well who like, she was fine, I guess. “I got eaten by a dragon and then the dragon/demon/serpent spat me out.” I get that that’s more exciting than, “I dropped a…”

Ann: “I dropped a book, and it was miraculously dry!” But back then, books were so valuable. To have a book, you know… [laughs]

E.K.: Exactly. The person, the courier who was bringing the book must have just been like, “Oh my god, thank God.” [Ann laughs] Never mind that being an example of Margaret’s holiness, I think potentially we should be looking at this courier because he had some form of grace on his side.

Ann: We call it her miracle because she wanted to read the book, but it was…

E.K.: He’s the one who drops it.

Ann: Who was he praying to when he went back to get the book?

E.K.: Exactly! Oh my goodness, if he appeared to you, headless or not, as a ghost, I don’t know who I would find more intimidating.

Ann: I don’t know.

E.K.: This random courier.

Ann: The courier might be the one with the secret powers. I don’t know.

E.K., thank you so much for joining me, this was a dream. I’m happy to have you back some other time and I will scheme a way to make that happen.

E.K.: I will make a point of doing so. Thank you very much for having me! It’s been absolutely lovely chatting to you on Instagram as well as now, on here. It’s always nice to make connections and stuff over Instagram. Just as once, I’m sure Margaret would have wanted all her daughters to do, et cetera.

Ann: Exactly. Thank you so much!

E.K.: Thank you. And thank you Hepburn for saying hello.

Ann: And thank you Minnie for being such a pleasant…

E.K.: Yeah. She’s probably gone downstairs by now but yeah.

Ann: But she was very patient and much less noisy than my cat.


So, the first reminder that I wanted to remind everybody about is that all this month, which is Women’s History Month, we are doing a book club online about the book The Tower by Flora Carr which is a historical fiction novel about Mary, Queen of Scots during the time when she was imprisoned in Lochleven, trapped in this tower. Mary Seaton was there, Yung Willy was one of her only allies and how she managed her Ocean’s Eleven escape from there. It’s a novel about that. One of the most exciting and happy endingest parts of the Mary, Queen of Scots saga.

So, this book is available now, it’s been out for a couple of weeks and when you get your hands on a copy, which you can buy from your local bookstore, I have a link in the notes if you want to buy it through, if you use that link then a little bit of money goes to support this podcast and I also have a link on there now, if you buy through Bookshop UK, I have a way that that supports the show too. But also, I’m a big proponent of using your local public library; get your name on that holds list or borrow it if it’s on the shelf. If your local public library doesn’t own the book, I have to say, as a library insider, every library has some way that you can suggest books for them to buy so just go to your library’s website, somewhere there is going to be a “Contact Us” page and just message them and say, “Please buy The Tower by Flora Carr.” And libraries take those requests seriously, is what I have to say.

It’s such a Vulgar History-coded book. I’ll say now, this isn’t a spoiler because this is in all the promotional materials about it, but I will say there is a lesbian romance in this book so… Anyway, we’re talking about that book all month, I’m posting questions every Wednesday, discussion threads basically, on Instagram every Wednesday, and on Patreon every Saturday. The book club on Patreon is free so you don’t need to become a paid member, you just need to become I guess a free member of Patreon to be able to comment there. I also wanted to let you know that next week I’m going to be recording a second, follow-up interview with Flora Carr, author of The Tower where I’m going to be asking spoiler-filled questions, we’re going to have a spoiler-filled conversation. I’m recording it next week and it comes out the week after but I’m telling you this now because the discussion question this week on both Patreon and on Instagram is what questions do you have for Flora Carr? So, let me know what you want me to ask her. We’re on Instagram @VulgarHistoryPod and then you can get to the book club, I guess the quickest way to get to the book club is if you to All these links are in the show notes so you can get there as well.

I also wanted to mention, speaking of the Patreon, so Patreon is my place where you can support me and the podcast and in return, I give you some access to exclusive things. If you support the podcast on Patreon,, for at least $1 Canadian per month, you get early, ad-free access to all episodes of this podcast including past episodes. For $5 or more a month, monthly pledge, you get access to bonus episodes of Vulgarpiece Theatre where I talk about costume dramas with Allison Epstein and Lana Wood Johnson. Most recently we talked about The Brotherhood of the Wolf, we’ve also talked about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and other movies Queen Margot, A Knight’s Tale, Tombstone, various things.

Also, that’s where episodes of So This Asshole are available like, now available, So This Asshole: John Knox, which was… Several months ago when the Patreon membership was getting close to 500, I promised that if I got at least 500 followers on Patreon I would do So This Asshole: John Knox and I have reached that target and I have recorded an episode about John Knox and it might surprise you, there are some moments where I empathize with him and there are some moments where I just call him trash and at the end I have to give him a score. Anyway, you can listen to that if you become a $5/month subscriber on Patreon. Also, from now on, all these exclusive episodes, you can also just buy it. So, if you want to just listen to So This Asshole: John Knox without becoming a Patreon member you can buy that for $5 Canadian on

I also want to mention our brand partner Common Era Jewellery which is a 100% woman-owned business using recycled gold to make beautiful pendants and rings and jewellery all with images of fabulous women from history, mostly classical history, there’s also women from mythology. So, there’s like Medusa, but there’s also Cleopatra, Boudica, Anne Boleyn, that’s why I said mostly classical era, but Anne Boleyn is there as well. She has a whole collection called “The Difficult Women Collection,” which is just women who have been seen in the past as difficult and now we would call them tits-out, basically. These pieces are available in solid gold, as well as in more affordable gold vermeil. Vulgar History listeners can always get 15% off all items from Common Era by going to or using code ‘VULGAR’ at checkout. That’s or using code ‘VULGAR’ at check out.

We also have Vulgar History merchandise available at or if you’re outside the US, you can shop at I’m always happy to hear from you, you can send me a message where I’m on Instagram @VulgarHistoryPod or you can use the form at to message me or just email me directly at with suggestions of people you think would be good subjects for the podcast or if you have thoughts or opinions on episodes or whatever, feel free to do that.

Actually, if you have thoughts and opinions about episodes that are positive, you can always feel free to please post those thoughts and opinions on Apple Podcasts and leave a nice little review like tap on the five stars and write like, “This is a great podcast,” or whatever. I really appreciate those reviews. Sometimes I get mean ones and it’s nice to kind of balance that with nice ones from people who have listened to this much of the podcast and are still listening to these, after-the-episode discussion points. Transcripts of recent episodes are available at, thank you to Aveline Malek for providing these transcripts.

Next week, we’re going to be dipping into South American culture, we’re going to be talking about a legendary figure from the history of Chile and I was really excited to find a person to bring on to talk to about this and we had a really good, very lengthy conversation and that’s what’s going to be coming up here next week. But in the meantime, please post or just share with me, or whatever, message me your questions for Flora Carr about The Tower, I hope you’re all reading it and I hope you’re all loving it. Until next time, keep your pants on and your tits out!

Vulgar History is hosted, written, and researched by Ann Foster and edited by Cristina Lumague.

Transcribed by Aveline Malek at


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