Margaret of Denmark

Five hundred thirty-nine days ago today, Scotland took possession of the islands of Orkney and Shetland, which were given by the king of Denmark in order to raise money for a dowry for his daughter, Margaret, who was engaged to the Scottish king, James III.

Like most royal marriages of the time, this was arranged. In this case, the arranging was done by the King of France in order to end the feud between Denmark and Scotland over the taxation of the Hebrides Islands. King Christian I of Denmark pawned the two islands to the King of Scots for a total of 58,000 Rhenish guilders, including a clause in the contract which gave the future kings of Norway the right to redeem the islands for 210 kilograms of gold or 2,310 kilograms of silver. In July 1469, 13-year-old Margaret married James at Holyrood Abbey; the marriage produced three children, including the future James IV. Margaret went on to become a popular queen, and died in 1486, at the age of just 30. Although the Danish government attempted to redeem the islands in the 17th and 18th centuries, Orkney and Shetland remain part of Scotland to this day.

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