Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 3 of 8 from 1860 edition -online book

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From Percy's Settques, i. 81.
The event upon which this ballad is founded, if it has been rightly ascertained, belongs to a remote period in Scottish history. Margaret, the daughter of Alexander HI., was, in the year 1281, betrothed to Eric, prince of Norway. The bride was conducted to her husband by a splendid convoy of knights and nobles, and in the month of August was crowned queen. In returning from the celebration of the nup­tials, many of the Scottish escort were lost at sea, and among those who perished was Sir Patrick Spence, we are to suppose.
It is in conformity with this view of the origin of the ballad, (the suggestion of Motherwell,) that in Buchan's version the object of the voyage is said to be to take the king's daughter, now " a chosen queen," to Norway. In Scott's edition, on the other hand, Sir Patrick is deputed to bring home the king of Norway's daughter. To explain this circumstance in the story, Sir Walter is forced to suppose that an unsuccessful and unrecorded embassy was sent, when the death of Alexander III. had left the Scottish throne vacant, to brine the only daughter of Eric and Margaret, styled by historians the Maid of Norway, to the kingdom of which, after her grandfather's demise, she became the