Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


10.8.11
  King Eirik's Scottish Marriages

And other dynastic messes lol. When researching all that fun about Alv Erlingsson, King Eirik of Norway, and those Ingeborgs, I realised that Eirik was married to Scottish ladies twice, which is unusual, considering the often strained relationship between Scotland and Norway. So I took a closer look into the dynastic tangles and those marriages (dates are lifetimes). The illustrations to this post will consist mostly of pictures of Bergen which was Eirik's main seat, with some Dunkeld and Dunfermline thrown in as well.

(Remains of Dunkeld Cathedral; main nave)

Among others, I hunted for a connection between King Eirik II Magnusson of Norway (House Hairfair) and King Edward I of England (House Plantagenet), and after drawing some diagrams and using the new marker function of Word 2010, I managed to find one.

Ok, let's go back a bit. Edward I (1239-1307, son of Henry III ∞ Eleanor of Provence) was married in first marriage to Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290; House Burgundy), daughter of King Fernando II of Castile and Leon, and Jeanne of Ponthieu. But Fernando had been married before to Beatrice of Swabia (also called Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen, † 1235), and with her he not only had Alfonso X of Castile, his successor as king, but several more sons, among them a Felipe (1231-1274). This Felipe was married to Christina of Norway (1234-1262), sister of Magnus Lawmender King of Norway (∞ Ingeborg of Denmark), who in turn was the father of Eirik II (1268-1299) and Håkon V (1270-1319).

The marriage between Christina and Felipe remained childless and Christina died only five years after her arrival in Spain 1257, but Edward I and Eleanor had several children, among them the future King Edward II (born 1284).

The father of Magnus Lawmender and Christina was Håkon IV (1204-1263), their mother was Margarete Skuledottir, daughter of Skule Bårdson. Skule and Håkon both claimed the kingship of Norway and in the end settled the conflict by a marriage. But the quarrelsome Skule had a sister, Ingeborg (yes, I know, that's the 4th or 5th of that name we've come across) who was married to the grandfather of our dear friend Alv Erlingsson, the pirate (~1260-1290). Which makes Alv related to Eirik II of Norway, and Eirik related to King Edward I of England, but spare me to actually name the degrees of relations here.

Edward I had a sister, Margaret (1240-1275) who was married to Alexander III of Scotland. (1241-1286; House Dunkeld). Alexander in turn was the grandson of William the Lion of Scotland (1143-1214, ∞ Ermengarde de Beaumont --> Alexander II ∞ Marie de Coucy). Alexander III and Margaret of England had a two sons who died childless (David in 1281, Alexander in 1284) and a daughter, another Margaret.

This Margaret, whose father was King of Scotland and whose grandfather (Henry III) had been King of England, married King Eirik II Magnusson of Norway in 1281. OK, can anyone besides Kathryn (who's written about Margaret of Scotland here) still follow this? Good, that's an A for all of you. :)

Sigil of Eirik Magnusson (Bryggens Museum)

When King Magnus Lawmender died in 1280, Eirik ascended the throne at the age of 12 and thus a minor. A guardianship board was established, led by the influential noblemen Audun Hugleiksson (~1240-1302) and Bjarne Erlingsson (~1250-1313; not related to Alv Erlingsson) who already had served as advisors of King Magnus; Audun even as marshal. Eirik's mother Ingeborg of Denmark was a member, too, and she brought Alv Erlingsson in as inofficial partifcipant.

Magnus Lawmender had maintained a politics of reconciliation towards Scotland. A long standing military conflict between both nations was ended by the Treaty of Perth in 1266. The Hebrides, which had been formally given to Norway under King Edgar of Scotland (1088) now were returned to Scotland, together with Man, for a financial recompensation of 4000 mark silver and an annuity of 100 mark silver. The Orkneys and Shetland Islands remained in Norway's possession.

But for some reason the Scots stopped paying that annuity, and Eirik and his advisors looked for a way out of the financial troubles of the Norwegian Crown. Marriage to a girl with a good dowry was a solution, and Margaret of Scotland had a good dowry, plus such an alliance would cement the peace between Norway and Scotland. So a marriage agreement was signed in Roxburgh in July 1281. The leader of that delegation may have been Bjarne Erlingsson; he also stood in as one of the hostages until the marriage was consumated. Yeah, this may sound odd, but Eirik (born 1268) was only thirteen at the time the wedding took place, Margaret 20 (born 1261). It turned out though, that the boy was perfectly capable of doing his duty.

The Treaty of Roxburgh also included a provision for Margaret's childern, or herself, to inherit the throne of Scotland should Alexander III die without male issue. Her dowry was 14,000 mark silver, partly in coin, partly as income from lands in Scotland.

Håkon's Hall, Bergen
(Håkon's Hall was built as royal banqueting and representation hall by king Håkon IV Håkonarson between 1247 and 1261. It is part of Bergenhus fortress and a fine example of a Gothic hall, influenced by Anglonorman architecture.)

The Lanercost Chronicle says that the marriage was not happy and that Margaret came into a barbarian court and had to teach her husband French and English. Well, said chronicle also manages to mix up Eirik with Magnus and get his age wrong, so I won't consider it the most reliable souurce (and it seems to be anti-Alexander biased, too). Already Eirik's grandfather Håkon had introduced chivalric culture in Norway, had French romances translated and built the above hall in Anglornorman style. Eirik's sigil (photo above) shows him in the same knightly stance you'll find on French or English sigils of the time., Audun Hugleiksson too, depicted himself as knight on his sigil. What Margaret most likely did was to give further impulses to introduce chivalric culture in Norway.

Another point mentioned in the chronicle is that Eirik's mother Ingeborg was against Margaret's coronation as Queen of Noway following the wedding. We don't know why she opposed the coronation, but one proof that the Lanercost Chronicle may have got a point in this case is the absence of Ingeborg's favourite, Alv Erlingsson, from the marriage negotiations. Ingeborg may also have feared that Margaret, who was a grown woman after all, would gain more influence over Eirik than his mother. (This is pure speculation, but maybe Ingeborg would have prefered an English marriage - King Edward had two daughters of suitable age.)

Another photo of the ruins of Dunkeld Cathedral

Queen Margaret gave birth to a daughter, another Margaret, in April 1283, and died shortly thereafter, most likely from a fever. She was buried in the Old Cathedral (also know as Christ's Church) in Bergenhus Fortress.

King Edward I of England seems to have had an early interest in a marriage between his son and little Margaret, who came to be known as Maid of Norway. There is some correspondence between Edward and Alexander to the effect, dating shortly after the birth of Edward II.

When Alexander's son died without issue, the little Maid remained the only heir to the throne of Scotland, and offspring from.Alexander's second marriage to Yolande de Dreux (1285) was still only a chance. So the king summoned the earls and barons of Scotland as well as the leading westcoast chiefs (Alexander of Argyll, Angus Mór of Islay, Alan macRuari of Garmoran) and had them formally recongise the little Margaret as heir and domina. Surprisingly, they agreed.

This agreement would prove important shortly thereafter, since Alexander died of a riding accident im March 1286, and Yolande's baby later turned out stillborn. I dunno what was the matter with riding accidents at the time; King Eirik had one back in 1283 that left him lame and obviously gave him times of pain when he withdrew from most official duties.

(right: Dunfermline Abbey)

Alexander III was buried in Dunfermline Abbey in March 1286, and the magnates and clerics of the realm assembled to select guardians for the three year old Margaret. But the guardians didn't seem particularly eager to call their little queen back to Scotland.

Eirik, who meanwhile had come of age, sent two embassies in 1286, one to Scotland to establish the claim of little Margaret and her father, and one to King Edward. The latter was the one led by Alv Erlingsson - officially to loan 2000 mark silver (I hunted that letter down in the Regesta Norvegica). Things are a bit murky here and some of the too many Danish Eriks got messed up, but it seems that Alv learned of the peace between Denmark and Norway, and the assassination of Erik V Coin Clipper (dowager Queen Ingeborg's nephew) during his embassy to Paris and London, and informed King Edward *. That's just the sort of political information that could lead to marriage negotiations, and we know that Edward was interested (see above).

The negotiations with the Scottish guardians came to naught that time; Robert Bruce 5th Lord Annandale (1210-1295, grandfather of King Robert I) and John Balliol didn't want the girl around - they didn't want each other around either, but there was not much they could do about that. Robert was also mightily miffed that he didn't get a seat among the guardians but his rivals, the Comyns, did.

King Eirik sent another embassy in 1289, this one led by Audun Hugleiksson, and all parties sat down and played nice for a change. Eirik and Edward had already concluded a marriage between Margaret and the crown prince Edward of Wales, and Edward I had seeked papal dispensation (we remember, Ed's sister was Margaret's grandmother and young Edward's aunt). Edward then met with Robert Bruce and the guardians and made it clear to them that they better play along and agree to the marriage, and stop that Bruce / Balliol feuding. So it was concluded in the Treaty of Birgham (October 1289) that Margaret would be sent to Scotland and marry Edward of Wales; and both would rule each their kingdom one day; Scotland would remain independent. I'm not guessing how that would have worked out.

Unfortunatley, little Margaret died on her way to Scotland. Edward had sent a ship, equipped as comfortably as possible, to bring the girl over, but the Norwegians, ol' Vikings that they were, decided to use one of their own ships. The vessel set out from Bergen and came in a nasty storm on its way to the Orkneys. Margaret obviously took ill during that storm and died on the Orkneys in October 1290 (those islands had already proven fatal to another Norwegian ruler, Håkon IV Håkonarson who died there on his way home from the war in the Hebrides, 1266).

The remains of Margaret were buried beside her mother in the Old Cathedral in Bergen.

St. Mary's Church in Bergen, where Margaret and Eirik married.
(St Mary's Church is the oldest remaining stone building in Bergen, completed about 1180; so Erik's wives would have known it. It is a three naved Romanesque basilica with a Gothic choir that was added after a fire in 1248.)

Let's stay in Scotland for a moment longer. After the death of the Maid of Norway, Scotland was at the brink of civil war between Robert Bruce 5th Lord Annandale and John Balliol. Both claimed the throne by descendance from David of Huntingdon, younger brother of King William the Lion (who was Alexander's ancestor). And soon more claimants crept out of the woodwork, several of them tracing back to illegitimate children of King William, but there was also King Eirik of Norway. In the end there were thirteen.

To avoid civil war, King Edward I of England was asked to abritrate (oh dear, if only the Scots had had a crystal ball that showed them the future). Edward started out with claiming suzerainity over Scotland (at which point Bruce and Balliol should have put their own war to rest and kicked Ed out). After some hackling, the claimants did swear homage and the guardians had to concede.

Eirik knew his claim was not strong, and used it mostly to get financial recompensation, fe. for the lands of his late wife in Scotland. The main contenders were Bruce and Balliol; Balliol claimed the throne by primogeniture, Bruce by the older laws of tanistry. In 1292, Edward decided that Balliol had the better claim, and John Balliol was crowned king in December.

I'm not going into the troubles that would follow. Worth mentioning is the fact that Robert Bruce resigned the lordship of Annandale in favour of his son, another Robert (1243-1304), who was married to Marjorie of Carrick ( † 1292). The couple had a bunch of kids, among them the future King Robert of Scotland, and the second wife of Eirik of Norway, Isobel (also spelled Isabella).

King's Hall in the Rosencrantz Tower
(The Rosenkrantz Tower in Bergenhus fortress dates back to 1270 but has been expanded in Renaissance times. It had been the residence of King Eirik, the last king to hold court in Bergen. Some of the original rooms still remain.)

Isobel traveled to Norway with her father in 1293 (the letter of safeconduct still exists) to marry King Eirik who was 25 at the time; she was 12 (born 1280). I suppose negotations for that marriage were a little side product of the meetings during the succession troubles in Scotland. We know that Audun Hugleiksson was member of the Norwegian delegation there, and he also witnessed the list of Isobel's trousseau, listed in the Diplomatarium Norvegicum (no. 390; where Audun signs as Odoeno Vglaci). Isobel brought an array of robes made of scarlet and other expensive materials, fur lined cloaks and a collection of shinies (among them two little crowns, parue corone) and tableware: 2 golden cauldrons, 24 silver plates, 4 silver salt dispensers; plus three chests for wardrobe, and more.

Isobel and Eirik had a daughter, Ingeborg, in 1297; she would remain the couple's only child.

Somehow, the marriage of Eirik to a Bruce, a family that was going to cause King Edward a lot of trouble, would prove to be fitting in that respect, because the relationship between Norway and England detoriated as well. Main reason seems to have been missing recompense payments that had been agreed upon in 1290; both John Balliol and King Edward sat on their money chests. Things got so bad that Eirik sent the omnipresent Audun Hugleiksson to France to establish an alliance with King Philipp IV 'the Handsome' of France - England's arch emeny. One expected result was that Philippe would use France's alliance with Scotland to force Balliol to pay that money already. But the new alliance never became important because there was an armistice between England and France in 1297 (and the betrothal between Edward of Wales and Isabella, daughter of Phillippe, in 1303).

King Eirik died in 1299 and was succeeded by his younger brother Håkon V Magnusson.

(One of the walks in Bryggen. The quarter of the members of the German Hansa in Bergen, called Tyske Bryggen, was established in 1360, but the timber houses of the town Isobel would have seen didn't look much different.)

Isobel remained in Bergen after her husband's death and didn't return to Scotland even when her brother Robert became king in 1306. One can't blame her - several of Robert's brothers got executed and two sisters imprisoned; Bergen was a much safer place for a Bruce than Scotland. And it rains a lot in both places.

Isobel seems to have had a good relationship with her brother-in-law Håkon and his family. She was a politically active woman; arbitrating peace between a divided family on the Orkneys and in Scotland, and personally negotating the betrothals of her daughter Ingeborg (first with the Jarl of Orkney, Jon Magnusson, who did untimely, and then with Valdemar Duke of Finland (brother of King Birger of Sweden). I mentioned the double wedding in 1312, between Ingeborg Eiriksottir with Valdemar of Finland, and Ingeborg Håkonardottir with his brother Erik of Södermanland, as well as the unhappy fate of both men, in the post about Akershus .

Ingeborg must have had some of the Bruce blood of her mother, to come down on the killer of her husband, together with her sister-in-law and both their men, and kick him out of Sweden. Ingeborg, who had no children of her own, continued to live in Sweden after Valdemar's death but little is known of her; she must have been dead in 1357, since her mother inherited after her.

Håkon V died in 1319 (his wife, Eufemia of Rügen, had died in 1312) and was succeeded by the son of his daughter, Magnus Eriksson (who became Magnus VII of Norway and Magnus II of Sweden). Isobel Bruce, dowager Queen of Norway, died in 1358 - she had survived her brother King Robert († 1329).

Isobel had made generous donations to the Church during her life, and set out 20 mark silver in her will for masses to be held and the poor to be fed, and the bells should toll in the morning and eveing as befitting a chieftain. Proud and humble both, it seems.

View towards the old town, with the Bryggen to the left

If we play the What If game Kathryn suggested in one of her blogposts and wonder what would have happened had the Maid of Norway survived and married Edward II of England, and produced a son, my guess would be that instead of a Hundred Year War with France, there would have been big troubles with Norway and the other Scandinavian countries (since they're such an intermarried lot). Since Håkon died without male offspring, a grandson of his older brother Eirik would have had a better claim than his own grandson, and I'm not sure all the Norwegian nobles would have liked an half-English, half-Scottish king. If you look close enough, you can always find other options in those geneaological tangles. ;)

* The Regesta name Erik IV Plowpenny, but that king had died in 1250 and it seems unlikely that it would take 36 years for the news to reach King Edward. The letter also says that Alv was to loan 2000 mark, not 6000. It moreover is interesting to see that Alv obviously had learned about the changed situation in Denmark before he returned to Norway. Maybe he thought it would remain messy and his mercenaries would indeed be needed, even after the Coin Clipper's death.

Sources:
Chronicle of Lanercost 1272–1346, ed. H. Maxwell. Glasgow, 1913
Fordun, Cronica Gentis Scotorum, ed. W.F. Skene. Edinburgh, 1871–72,
Regesta Norvegica online (Norwegian translation)
Diplomatarium Norwegicum online (Latin)
Biographies in the Store Norske Leksikon
 
Comments:
Very complicated, but I just about managed to follow it - do I get an A?:> Actually, I recently read a short article on 'The Maid of Norway' so that helped. No 100 years war with France, eh? Interesting possibility, but then the English have had many disputed with the French, although the issue of salic law would not have arisen.
 
I wonder though whether 'Edward III', as he undoubtedly would have still be been called, would have pursued a claim to the Norwegian throne, when there were other 'better' claimants. It's an intriguing situation that's got me thinking.
 
Anerje, he would have been the best claimant as grandson of King Eirik. Håkon only managed a grandson as well, and he was the yonger brother, so primogeniture would have supported Edward's claim. But that is not to say that not a noble opposition would have formed around Håkon's grandson or someone else with relations to the House Hairfair, no matter how distant - just look at those illegitimate descendants of King William of Scotland that crept out of the woodworks to claim the Scottish throne. Audun Hugleiksson, for example, was related to the mother of King Håkon IV.
 
Great post, and glad to say I definitely followed it (but of course you expected me to, hehe...:). I wrote a post a while ago about Margaret of Scotland, queen of Norway - not sure if you saw it, Gabriele? I'm also fascinated by the possibilities of an English claim to the throne of Norway and no claim to France!
 
Lol, of course I saw it back then and commented. But I missed it this time when I checked your sidebar (found the two posts about Edward II's betrothals and the one about Eleanor of Castile, but missed Margaret *sigh*). I added a link to that post now.

I see you found that messed up passage in the Lanercost Chronicle that gets Eirik's name and age wrong, too. Maybe he wanted to compare the handsome young man to Alexander who, I suspect, this chronicler considered as spwan from hell with a clubfoot and horns. ;)

Eirik had a lot of trouble with the Norwegian Church that wanted more power than he was willing to give them. Since most chroniclers are clerics, he got the nickname 'Priest Hater'. I'm rather on Eirik's side there. ;)
 
Nope...lost me.

Ah well. I love the "what if" games though.

Nice pictures, and I LOVED the little fenicular railway wending its way up the hill!
 
Stag, that's the Fløibanen, the funicular railway to one of the mountains. Very popular tourist attraction. I went up as well, but unfortunately, the weather was very rainy and the view limited.
 
I think, if it was diagrammed out, I might stand a chance on figuring it out, but... :) Interesting interrelations. Makes my family look boring, which I'm glad of.
 
Constance, I did diagraom it out in my files. With different colours. :)
 
I know now what name I'm not going to pick for my daughter if I get one.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK and Scandinavia.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.

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