Margaret, Duchess of Touraine

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Margaret Stewart, Duchess of Touraine, Countess of Douglas and Lady of Galloway and Annandale.

Princess Margaret Stewart Douglas, Lady of Galloway was born between 1367 and 1385. She was the eldest daughter of Robert III Stewart, King of Scotland and Annabel Drummond. She married Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas before 1390.

Their union transcended mere marriage; it was a fusion of power and purpose. Archibald, keeper of Edinburgh Castle and Lord Warden of the Marches, was no ordinary nobleman. His valour had earned him the title of Duke of Touraine from the French king, bestowed in gratitude for his role in defeating the English army at Beaugé in 1421.  Margaret became his Duchess.

As a widow, she was given the lifegrant of Galloway, which she governed from Threave for 23 years.  Her son, Archibald, then Earl of Wigton, as well as Earl of Douglas, inherited the title Duke of Touraine, but not the lands as they had been given, by letters-patent in Bourges on 21 October 1424, to Duke Louis III of Anjou.

She died between 26 January 1450 and September 1456 at Threave Castle, Galloway, Scotland and was interred at Lincluden Collegiate Church.

The Enduring Tomb of Margaret Stewart
While the tomb of King James I and his queen is lost to history, like many others destroyed during the Reformation, other monuments offer clues about how Scottish royalty and nobility were honoured in churches.

One such example is the magnificent tomb of Margaret Stewart, sister to James I. Margaret, married to Archibald, the 4th Earl of Douglas, held high status as both a princess and the wife of a powerful noble. This is reflected in her tomb's location and design. Her final resting place is within the choir of Lincluden Collegiate Church, originally positioned in a rural area within her husband's lordship.

This church, founded by her father-in-law, served as a place where prayers were said for the deceased's spiritual well-being. Notably, it was intended to be a family mausoleum. Margaret's tomb was designed to be a shared resting place with her husband. This impressive structure is built directly into the church wall, positioned near the high altar for maximum visibility.

Unlike the hypothetical tomb of James I, which would have been central and almost a participant in services, Margaret's tomb occupies a more traditional spot while still benefiting from the clergy's prayers. The remaining structure is a beautifully sculpted recess, framed by elaborate friezes and decorated with religious imagery and angelic figures symbolizing the passage to heaven. A tomb chest juts out from the recess, adorned with armorial shields showcasing the lineages of Margaret and her husband. This serves as a powerful statement of their status and connections.

On top of the chest lies Margaret's effigy, though unfortunately weathered. Originally, it would have been vibrantly coloured and adorned with details like gilding and jewels. Her husband's effigy was never added, as he died in battle and was buried elsewhere.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the absence of her husband's remains, Margaret's tomb remains a testament to her high rank and a valuable example of how Scottish nobility were honoured in churches.

The Duchess's seal
The seal design of Margaret Stewart, Countess of Douglas, Lady of Galloway and Annandale was found during the 1974–8 excavation of Threave Castle.  Her seal shows Quarterly France, Douglas, Annandale, Galloway impaling Scotland, and the title of Duchess of Touraine (on a document dated 1425; Laing).  Read more...

Bladnoch Bridge, Wigtonshire
It was considered an act of piety to maintain the bridges and roads on the pilgrimage routes to Whithorn. In 1441, Margaret, Countess of Douglas, made supplication to the Pope for her to be granted an indulgence for offerings made in support of rebuilding the bridge over the River Bladnoch. The single track, packhorse bridge over the river stood for over 400 years.

•  In 1426, Margaret, the Fair Maid, Duchess of Touraine (sister of William, sixth Earl of Douglas, and afterwards the wife of William, the eighth Earl) bestowed upon William Douglas of Leswalt the lands of Cruggleton, &c., as compensation for Lochnaw, which was confirmed by James I. in a charter dated March 1427. This exercise of power arose from the Douglas family having been created Lords of Galloway.

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024