The Foggy Dew

My goal with these videos is merely an interesting and different way to show a little of Scotland and its history.  The song here is The Foggy Dew, which is actually an Irish song.  The current words are about Ireland's Easter Rising in 1916, although the melody is quite a bit older, originally known as The Moorlough Shore, and was a love song, not a war ballad.

I digress.  I played the song here because its current lyrics reference the North Sea, and this is the Great North Sea behind me.  I'm at Thurso, Scotland, killing a bit of time before heading to the ferry to sail to Orkney, and this has a great deal to do with Scottish history, for it was the North Sea that the tragic Maid of Norway sailed, trying to reach Scotland to take the throne, and it was at Orkney that she died, only seven years old.

Margaret was Scotland's last hope.  In fact, some called her Obi Wan Ke-Margaret.  No....wait!  That's a different Obi Wan!  However, she was the last clear heir to the Scottish throne, when her grandfather, Alexander III of Scotland, died.  (And that in itself is a bit of a tragic love story.)  

Alexander ruled over Scotland's Golden Age.  All was well only a few short years before his death, in 1286.  He was still relatively young, had a wife and three children, including two sons.  However, in very short order, his wife, and all three children died, including his daughter Margaret, married to Eric, King of Norway.  The deaths of his sons left only Margaret, a very young child at the time, as the only heir.

And so, a medieval king does what a medieval king must do, and finds himself a bride, to get...or rather, beget...more heirs.  And so, he was racing home to his new bride, despite the storm, despite the pleas of his councilors, despite the prophecy of Thomas the Rhymer that this would be very bad news for Scotland.  The ferryman pleaded with him not to make the crossing that night.

I can only imagine that Alexander felt a little smug toward the ferryman when they landed safely on the other side.  Sadly, however, the ferry crossing was not the problem.  Alexander took his horse off into the dark and stormy night, still looking forward to Yolande, but somewhere in the dark, the horse slipped.  Alexander was found dead with a broken neck.  It was March 19, 1286.  He was 44 years old.

There was some question as to whether Yolande, Queen of Scotland, was already pregnant.  Stories vary, some claiming she faked pregnancy while others state that she had a miscarriage, or even a stillbirth, with witnesses in attendance who verified this.

Regardless, Margaret, just short of her fourth birthday when her grandfather died, became the heir on the 25th of November, 1286, the date that some sources say Yolande's child was stillborn.

However....this will hardly be a surprise to anyone who knows Scottish history...there arose inter-clan fighting, including between Baliol and Bruce, the Bruce capturing strongholds in the name of Margaret, Maid of Norway.  

And yet, apparently, none of the Scots summoned Margaret to Scotland.  It was her father, King Eric, who raised the question.  In addition, he was discussing with Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, her future marriage to his son, Edward II, Prince of Wales.  Being her father, this was something over which the Guardians of Scotland had no control.

Thus, it was in their interests, finally, to sign the Treaty of Salisbury, agreeing that she would arrive in Scotland before November 1, 1290, and delaying official decisions about her marriage until she arrived in Scotland.

So the seven-year-old Margaret was put on a boat to cross the North Sea.  However, she became ill, and they landed at Orkney.  There, she died, leaving Scotland with no heir.

And the history.

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy some of my other posts of Scottish and medieval music played in Scottish locations: Search the MUSIC label

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