Reading and writing St Margaret of Scotland from Turgot’s Vita to the Blackadder Prayerbook
in Aspects of knowledge
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Emily Wingfield’s chapter examines treatments of Queen Margaret of Scotland (d. 1093), beginning with the Life written by Turgot, prior of Durham, at the request of Margaret’s daughter the English queen Matilda, a work that highlights Margaret’s literacy and learning; Margaret’s role as reader and writer is shown to be emphasised also in later treatments. The subject of this chapter is thus not a branch of knowledge but the perceived learning of an important female individual and the significance of that learning in constructions of her as a saint. The chapter examines the way in which books function as vehicles for Margaret’s sanctity and political power and suggests that the Life itself is designed to model the life of a learned and holy queen for Margaret’s daughter, Matilda. Wingfield then considers how later verbal and visual accounts of Margaret develop this tradition so that she comes to function as an advisor of princes as well as princesses, her sanctity being shown to inhere ‘quite specifically, in her literacy’.

Aspects of knowledge

Preserving and reinventing traditions of learning in the Middle Ages

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