Few women can have made so great an impact on a country not their own as did Margaret of Scotland, profoundly affecting its whole future and destiny. Great, dominant and powerful women have frequently arisen, such as Elizabeth Tudor and the Empress Catherine of Russia; but Margaret Atheling was nothing like that. She was no amazon nor autocrat, no scheming manipulator of men in the usual sense, although she was beautiful and attractive and clever enough.
To name her gentle would give the wrong impression; but hers was essentially a gentle, friendly and sympathetic nature, with at least an air of actual modesty - to disguise a determination of remarkable strength.
She came to Scotland in 1069 as a refugee of twenty four years of age, a Saxon princess, the sister of the weak Edgar Atheling, who should have been King of England but for William the Conqueror.
How then did Margaret come to impose her mild-seaming influence on warlike Scotland and it savagely - inclined monarch, Malcolm the Third, known as Canmore or 'Big Head', the slayer of Macbeth, and one of the toughest propositions of his tough age?
And not only that, but how did this young woman single handedly change the nation's entire direction? How did she bring about the decline of a religious system which suited the people and which had endured for five hundred years - and for which accomplishment she was to be duly canonised? Even more strange, how did Margaret becomes so beloved by the people who might well have named her a disaster for their ancient nation - and still be revered today even by folk who decry almost all she did and stood for?
Margaret Atheling has presented Nigel Tranter with as great a challenge as any he has ever tackled. Following his enormously successful 'MacBeth the King' in time and sequence, and set against a backcloth of love and violence, treachery, invasion and faith at war with itself, in Celtic Scotland and Norman Conquest England, this book seeks to provide an answer to one of the major question marks of history