The Real Macbeth: King of Scots, 1040-1054

R.J. Adam presents a study of the hostile legends, immortalized in Shakespeare’s tragic drama, that have gathered around the figure of Macbeth.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, king of scots, was a real person; and the historical facts concerning him, as they are given by writers at all close to his lifetime, may be quickly told. He was the dux (or general) of King Duncan, whom he killed—probably somewhere in Moray—in 1040. He succeeded to the throne, ruled for fourteen years, resisted at least one English attack, and in 1050 visited Rome on pilgrimage. In 1054 he was defeated in battle by Siward, the Anglo-Danish Earl of Northumbria, who installed Malcolm, son of Macbeth’s predecessor, as king. Three years later Malcolm defeated and killed Macbeth at Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire; the dead king was buried, as was Duncan before him, in St. Columba’s island of Iona.

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