Macbeth, King of Scotland

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Macbeth
Macbeth of Scotland (Holyrood).jpg
King of Alba
Reign1040–1057
Predecessor Duncan I
Successor Lulach
Mormaer of Moray
Reign1032–1057
Predecessor Gille Coemgáin
Successor Lulach
Bornc.1005
Died(1057-08-15)15 August 1057
Lumphanan or Scone
Burial
Spouse Gruoch
Father Findláech

Macbeth (Medieval Gaelic: Mac Bethad mac Findlaích; Modern Gaelic: MacBheatha mac Fhionnlaigh; nicknamed Deircc, "the Red King"; [1] c.1005 – 15 August 1057) was King of Scots from 1040 until his death. He was titled King of Alba [ citation needed ] during his life, and ruled over only a portion of present-day Scotland.

Scottish Gaelic Celtic language native to Scotland

Scottish Gaelic or Scots Gaelic, sometimes also referred to simply as Gaelic, is a member of the Goidelic (Gaelic) language branch of the Celtic languages native to the Gaels of Scotland. A member of the Goidelic branch of the Celtic languages, Scottish Gaelic, like Modern Irish and Manx, developed out of Middle Irish. Most of modern Scotland was once Gaelic-speaking, as evidenced especially by Gaelic-language placenames.

, or commonly ríg (genitive), is an ancient Gaelic word meaning "king". It is used in historical texts referring to the Irish and Scottish kings, and those of similar rank. While the Modern Irish word is exactly the same, in modern Scottish Gaelic it is rìgh, apparently derived from the genitive. Cognates include Gaulish Rix, Latin rex/regis, Sanskrit raja, and German Reich.

Contents

Little is known about Macbeth's early life, although he was the son of Findláech of Moray and may have been a grandson of Malcolm II. He became Mormaer of Moray – a semi-autonomous lordship – in 1032, and was probably responsible for the death of the previous mormaer, Gille Coemgáin. He subsequently married Gille Coemgáin's widow, Gruoch, although they had no children together.

Findláech of Moray was the King or Mormaer of Moray, ruling from some point before 1014 until his death in 1020.

The Mormaerdom or Kingdom of Moray was a lordship in High Medieval Scotland that was destroyed by King David I of Scotland in 1130. It did not have the same territory as the modern local government council area of Moray, which is a much smaller area, around Elgin. The medieval lordship was in fact centred on both the lower Spey valley and the environs of Inverness and the northern parts of the Great Glen, and probably originally included Buchan and Mar, as well as Ross.

Gille Coemgáin or Gillecomgan was the King or Mormaer of Moray, a semi-autonomous kingdom centred on Inverness that stretched across the north of Scotland. Unlike his two predecessors, he is not called King of Scotland in his death notice, but merely Mormaer. This has led to some speculation that he was never actually the ruler of Moray, but merely a subordinate of Mac Bethad mac Findláich..

In 1040, Duncan I launched an attack into Moray and was killed in action by Macbeth's troops. Macbeth succeeded him as King of Alba, apparently with little opposition. His 17-year reign was mostly peaceful, although in 1054 he was faced with an English invasion, led by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, on behalf of Edward the Confessor. Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan in 1057 by forces loyal to the future Malcolm III. He was buried on Iona, the traditional resting place of Scottish kings.

Donnchad mac Crinain was king of Scotland (Alba) from 1034 to 1040. He is the historical basis of the "King Duncan" in Shakespeare's play Macbeth.

Killed in action (KIA) is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own combatants at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to hostile attack. KIAs do not come from incidents such as accidental vehicle crashes and other "non-hostile" events or terrorism. KIA can be applied both to front-line combat troops and to naval, air and support troops. Someone who is killed in action during a particular event is denoted with a (dagger) beside their name to signify their death in that event or events.

Siward, Earl of Northumbria 11th-century Earl of Northumbria in England

Siward or Sigurd was an important earl of 11th-century northern England. The Old Norse nickname Digri and its Latin translation Grossus are given to him by near-contemporary texts. Siward was probably of Scandinavian origin, perhaps a relative of Earl Ulf, and emerged as a powerful regional strongman in England during the reign of Cnut. Cnut was a Scandinavian ruler who conquered England in the 1010s, and Siward was one of the many Scandinavians who came to England in the aftermath of that conquest. Siward subsequently rose to become sub-ruler of most of northern England. From 1033 at the latest Siward was in control of southern Northumbria, that is, present-day Yorkshire, governing as earl on Cnut's behalf.

Macbeth was initially succeeded by his stepson Lulach, but Lulach ruled for only a few months before also being killed by Malcolm III, whose descendants would rule Scotland until the late 13th century. Macbeth is today best known as the main character of William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth and the many works it has inspired. However, Shakespeare's Macbeth is based on Holinshed's Chronicles (published in 1577) and is not historically accurate.

Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin was King of Scots between 15 August 1057 and 17 March 1058.

The House of Dunkeld, in Scottish Gaelic Dùn Chailleann, is a historiographical and genealogical construct to illustrate the clear succession of Scottish kings from 1034 to 1040 and from 1058 to 1286. The line is also variously referred to by historians as "The Canmores", and "MacMalcolm".

Macbeth (character) character in Macbeth

Lord Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, is the title character and titular main protagonist turned primary antagonist of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. The character is based on the historical king Macbeth of Scotland, and is derived largely from the account in Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), a history of Britain.

Name

Macbeth's full name in Medieval Gaelic was Mac Bethad mac Findlaích. This is realised as MacBheatha mac Fhionnlaigh in Modern Gaelic, and anglicised as Macbeth MacFinlay (also spelled Findlay, Findley, or Finley). The name Mac Bethad, from which the anglicised "MacBeth" is derived, means "son of life". [2] Although it has the appearance of a Gaelic patronymic it does not have any meaning of filiation but instead carries an implication of "righteous man" [2] or "religious man". [3] An alternative proposed derivation is that it is a corruption of macc-bethad meaning "one of the elect". [2]

Filiation is the legal term for the recognized legal status of the relationship between family members, or more specifically the legal relationship between parent and child. As described by the Government of Quebec:

Filiation is the relationship which exists between a child and the child’s parents, whether the parents are of the same or the opposite sex. The relationship can be established by blood, by law in certain cases, or by a judgment of adoption. Once filiation has been established, it creates rights and obligations for both the child and the parents, regardless of the circumstances of the child’s birth.

Royal ancestry

Some sources make Macbeth a grandson of King Malcolm II and thus a cousin to Duncan I, whom he succeeded. He was possibly also a cousin to Thorfinn the Mighty, Earl of Orkney and Caithness. Nigel Tranter, in his novel Macbeth the King, went so far as to portray Macbeth as Thorfinn's half-brother. [4] However, this is speculation arising from the lack of historical certainty regarding the number of daughters Malcolm had. [5]

Thorfinn Sigurdsson, also known as Thorfinn the Mighty, was an 11th-century Earl of Orkney. He was the youngest of five sons of Earl Sigurd Hlodvirsson and the only one resulting from Sigurd's marriage to a daughter of Malcolm II of Scotland. He ruled alone as earl for about a third of the time that he held the title and jointly with one or more of his brothers or with his nephew Rögnvald Brusason for the remainder. Thorfinn married Ingibiorg Finnsdottir, daughter of Finn Arnesson, Jarl of Halland.

Nigel Tranter Scottish writer

Nigel Tranter OBE was a Scottish author. He was a prolific author of architectural and history books about castles, and also of deeply researched historical novels that cover centuries of Scottish history.

Mormaer and dux

When Cnut the Great came north in 1031 to accept the submission of King Malcolm II, Macbeth too submitted to him:

... Malcolm, king of the Scots, submitted to him, and became his man, with two other kings, Macbeth and Iehmarc ... [6]

Some have seen this as a sign of Macbeth's power; others have seen his presence, together with Iehmarc, who may be Echmarcach mac Ragnaill, as proof that Malcolm II was overlord of Moray and of the Kingdom of the Isles. [7] Whatever the true state of affairs in the early 1030s, it seems more probable that Macbeth was subject to the king of Alba, Malcolm II, who died at Glamis, on 25 November 1034. The Prophecy of Berchán , apparently alone in near-contemporary sources, says Malcolm died a violent death, calling it a "kinslaying" without actually naming his killers. [8] Tigernach's chronicle says only:

Máel Coluim son of Cináed, king of Alba, the honour of western Europe, died. [9]

Malcolm II's grandson Duncan (Donnchad mac Crínáin), later King Duncan I, was acclaimed as king of Alba on 30 November 1034, apparently without opposition. Duncan appears to have been tánaise ríg, the king in waiting, so that far from being an abandonment of tanistry, as has sometimes been argued, his kingship was a vindication of the practice. Previous successions had involved strife between various rígdomna  men of royal blood. [10] Far from being the aged King Duncan of Shakespeare's play, the real King Duncan was a young man in 1034, and even at his death in 1040 his youthfulness is remarked upon. [11]

Duncan's early reign was apparently uneventful. His later reign, in line with his description as "the man of many sorrows" in the Prophecy of Berchán, was not successful. In 1039, Strathclyde was attacked by the Northumbrians, and a retaliatory raid led by Duncan against Durham turned into a disaster. Duncan survived the defeat, but the following year he led an army north into Moray, Macbeth's domain, apparently on a punitive expedition against Moray. [12] There he was killed in action, at Bothnagowan, now Pitgaveny, near Elgin, by the men of Moray led by Macbeth, probably on 14 August 1040. [13] [14]

High King of Alba

On Duncan's death, Macbeth became king. No resistance is known at that time, but it would have been entirely normal if his reign were not universally accepted. In 1045, Duncan's father Crínán of Dunkeld (a scion of the Scottish branch of the Cenél Conaill and Hereditary Abbot of Iona) was killed in a battle between two Scottish armies. [15]

John of Fordun wrote that Duncan's wife fled Scotland, taking her children, including the future kings Malcolm III (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada) and Donald III (Domnall Bán mac Donnchada, or Donalbane) with her. On the basis of the author's beliefs as to whom Duncan married, various places of exile, Northumbria and Orkney among them, have been proposed. However, E. William Robertson proposes the safest place for Duncan's widow and her children would be with her or Duncan's kin and supporters in Atholl. [16]

After the defeat of Crínán, Macbeth was evidently unchallenged. Marianus Scotus tells how the king made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1050, where, Marianus says, he gave money to the poor as if it were seed.

Karl Hundason

The Orkneyinga Saga says that a dispute between Thorfinn Sigurdsson, Earl of Orkney, and Karl Hundason began when Karl Hundason became "King of Scots" and claimed Caithness. The identity of Karl Hundason, unknown to Scots and Irish sources, has long been a matter of dispute, and it is far from clear that the matter is settled. The most common assumption is that Karl Hundason was an insulting byname (Old Norse for "Churl, son of a Dog") given to Macbeth by his enemies. [17] William Forbes Skene's suggestion that he was Duncan I of Scotland has been revived in recent years. Lastly, the idea that the whole affair is a poetic invention has been raised. [18]

According to the Orkneyinga Saga, in the war which followed, Thorfinn defeated Karl in a sea-battle off Deerness at the east end of the Orkney Mainland. Then Karl's nephew Mutatan or Muddan, appointed to rule Caithness for him, was killed at Thurso by Thorkel the Fosterer. Finally, a great battle at Tarbat Ness [19] on the south side of the Dornoch Firth ended with Karl defeated and fugitive or dead. Thorfinn, the saga says, then marched south through Scotland as far as Fife, burning and plundering as he passed. A later note in the saga claims that Thorfinn won nine Scottish earldoms. [20]

Whoever Karl Hundason may have been, it appears that the saga is reporting a local conflict with a Scots ruler of Moray or Ross:

[T]he whole narrative is consistent with the idea that the struggle of Thorfinn and Karl is a continuation of that which had been waged since the ninth century by the Orkney earls, notably Sigurd Rognvald's son, Ljot, and Sigurd the Stout, against the princes or mormaers of Moray, Sutherland, Ross, and Argyll, and that, in fine, Malcolm and Karl were mormaers of one of these four provinces. [21]

Final years

In 1052, Macbeth was involved indirectly in the strife in the Kingdom of England between Godwin, Earl of Wessex and Edward the Confessor when he received a number of Norman exiles from England in his court, perhaps becoming the first king of Scots to introduce feudalism to Scotland. [citation?] In 1054, Edward's Earl of Northumbria, Siward, led a very large invasion of Scotland (Duncan's widow and Malcolm's mother, Suthed, was Northumbrian-born; it is probable but not proven that there was a family tie between Siward and Malcolm). The campaign led to a bloody battle in which the Annals of Ulster report 3,000 Scots and 1,500 English dead, which can be taken as meaning very many on both sides, and one of Siward's sons and a son-in-law were among the dead. The result of the invasion was that one Máel Coluim, "son of the king of the Cumbrians" (not to be confused with Máel Coluim mac Donnchada, the future Malcolm III of Scotland) was restored to his throne, i.e., as ruler of the kingdom of Strathclyde. [22] It may be that the events of 1054 are responsible for the idea, which appears in Shakespeare's play, that Malcolm III was put in power by the English.

Macbeth did not survive the English invasion for long, for he was defeated and mortally wounded or killed by the future Malcolm III ("King Malcolm Ceann-mor", son of Duncan I) [23] on the north side of the Mounth in 1057, after retreating with his men over the Cairnamounth Pass to take his last stand at the battle at Lumphanan. [24] The Prophecy of Berchán has it that he was wounded and died at Scone, sixty miles to the south, some days later. [25] Macbeth's stepson Lulach was installed as king soon after.

Unlike later writers, no near contemporary source remarks on Macbeth as a tyrant. The Duan Albanach, which survives in a form dating to the reign of Malcolm III, calls him "Mac Bethad the renowned". The Prophecy of Berchán, a verse history which purports to be a prophecy, describes him as "the generous king of Fortriu", and says:

The red, tall, golden-haired one, he will be pleasant to me among them; Scotland will be brimful west and east during the reign of the furious red one. [26]

Life to legend

Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches. Illustration from Holinshed's Chronicles (1577) Macbeth and Banquo encountering the witches - Holinshed Chronicles.gif
Macbeth and Banquo encounter the witches. Illustration from Holinshed's Chronicles (1577)

Macbeth's life, like that of King Duncan I, had progressed far towards legend by the end of the 14th century, when John of Fordun and Andrew of Wyntoun wrote their histories. Hector Boece, Walter Bower, and George Buchanan all contributed to the legend.

William Shakespeare's depiction and its influence

Macbeth and the witches by Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Fussli) (1741-1825) Fuseli - Macbeth and the Witches.jpg
Macbeth and the witches by Henry Fuseli (Johann Heinrich Füssli) (1741–1825)

In Shakespeare's play, which is based mainly upon Raphael Holinshed's account, Macbeth is initially a valorous and loyal general to the elderly King Duncan. After being flattered by Three Witches and his own wife, Macbeth rationalizes that murdering his king and usurping the throne is the right thing to do. Ultimately, however, the prophecies of the witches prove misleading, and Macbeth alienates the nobility of Scotland and is defeated in battle by Prince Malcolm. As the King's armies disintegrate he encounters Macduff, a refugee nobleman whose wife and children had earlier been murdered by Macbeth's death squads. Upon realizing that he will die if he duels Macduff, Macbeth at first refuses to do so. But when Macduff explains that if Macbeth surrenders he will be subjected to ridicule by his former subjects, Macbeth vows, "I will not yield to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet, to be baited by a rabble's curse." He chooses instead to fight Macduff to the death. Macbeth is then slain and beheaded and the play ends with Prince Malcolm planning his coronation at Scone.

The likely reason [27] for Shakespeare's unflattering depiction of Macbeth is that King James VI and I was descended from Malcolm III via the House of Bruce and his own House of Stewart, whereas Macbeth's line died out with the death of Lulach six months after his step-father. King James was also thought to be a descendant of Banquo through Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland.

Macbeth at the fort of Macduff Do you see that white sail far out to sea Yonder is Macduff.jpg
Macbeth at the fort of Macduff

In a 1959 essay, Boris Pasternak compared Shakespeare's Macbeth to Raskolnikov, the protagonist of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Pasternak explained that neither character begins as a murderer, but becomes one by a set of faulty rationalizations and a belief that he is above the law.

Lady Macbeth has gained fame along the way. In his 1865 novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District , Nikolai Leskov updated The Tragedy of Macbeth so that it takes place among the Imperial Russian merchant class. In an ironic twist, however, Leskov reverses the gender roles – the woman is the murderer and the man is the instigator. Leskov's novel was the basis for Dmitri Shostakovich's 1936 opera of the same name.

Other depictions

In modern times, Dorothy Dunnett's novel King Hereafter aims to portray a historical Macbeth, but proposes that Macbeth and his rival and sometime ally Thorfinn of Orkney are one and the same (Thorfinn is his birth name and Macbeth his baptismal name). John Cargill Thompson's play Macbeth Speaks 1997, a reworking of his earlier Macbeth Speaks, is a monologue delivered by the historical Macbeth, aware of what Shakespeare and posterity have done to him. Scottish author Nigel Tranter based one of his historical novels, MacBeth the King , on the historical figure. David Greig's 2010 play Dunsinane takes Macbeth's downfall at Dunsinane as its starting point, with his just-ended reign portrayed as long and stable in contrast to Malcolm's. British Touring Shakespeare also produced in 2010 A Season Before the Tragedy of Macbeth by dramatist Gloria Carreño describing events from the murder of "Lord Gillecomgain", Gruoch Macduff's first husband, to the fateful letter in the first act of Shakespeare's tragedy

Macbeth appears as a character in the television series Gargoyles with the Gargoyle Demona playing a crucial role in both his rise and fall as King of Scotland. He was voiced by John Rhys-Davies.

Notes

  1. William Forbes Skene, Chronicles, p. 102.
  2. 1 2 3 Aitchison, Nicholas Boyter (1999). Macbeth:man and myth. p. 38. ISBN   978-0750918916.
  3. Davis, J. Madison (1995). The Shakespeare Name and Place Dictionary. p. 294. ISBN   978-1884964176.
  4. Knapp, Tom. "Nigel Tranter: Macbeth the King". Rambles.net. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  5. "Scotland Kings". Foundation for Medieval Genealogy. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  6. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ms. E, 1031.
  7. Compare Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, pp. 29–30 with Hudson, Prophecy of Berchán, pp. 222–223.
  8. Hudson, Prophecy of Berchán, p. 223; Duncan, Kingship of the Scots, p. 33.
  9. Annals of Tigernach 1034.1
  10. Duncan I as tánaise ríg, the chosen heir, see Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, pp. 33–35; Hudson, Prophecy of Berchán, pp. 223–224, where it is accepted that Duncan was king of Strathclyde. For tanistry, etc., in Ireland, see Ó Cróinín, Early Medieval Ireland, 63–71. Byrne, Irish Kings and High-Kings, pp. 35–39, offers a different perspective.
  11. Annals of Tigernach 1040.1.
  12. G. W. S. Barrow, Kingship and Unity: Scotland 1000–1306, Edinburgh University Press, 1981, p. 26.
  13. Broun, "Duncan I (d. 1040)"; the date is from Marianus Scotus and the killing is recorded by the Annals of Tigernach.
  14. Hudson, Prophecy of Berchán, pp. 223–224; Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, pp. 33–34.
  15. Annals of Tigernach 1045.10; Annals of Ulster 1045.6.
  16. Robertson, Scotland under her Early Kings, p. 122. Hudson, Prophecy of Berchán, p. 224, refers to Earl Siward as Malcolm III's "patron"; Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, pp. 40–42 favours Orkney; Woolf offers no opinion. Northumbria is evidently a misapprehension, further than that cannot be said with certainty.
  17. However Macbeth's father may be called "jarl Hundi" in Njál's saga ; Crawford, p. 72.
  18. Anderson, ESSH, p. 576, note 7, refers to the account as "a fabulous story" and concludes that "[n]o solution to the riddle seems to be justified".
  19. Roberts, John Lenox (1997), Lost Kingdoms: Celtic Scotland and the Middle Ages, Edinburgh University Press, p. 22, ISBN   978-0-7486-0910-9
  20. Orkneyinga Saga, cc. 20 & 32.
  21. Taylor, p. 338; Crawford, pp. 71–74.
  22. Florence of Worcester, 1052; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ms. D, 1054; Annals of Ulster 1054.6; and discussed by Duncan, The Kingship of the Scots, pp. 38–41; see also Woolf, Pictland to Alba, pp. 260–263.
  23. Moncreiffe, Iain (Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk). The Robertsons (Clan Donnachaidh of Atholl). W. & A. K. Johnston & G. W. Bacon Ltd., Edinburgh. 1962 (reprint of 1954), p. 6
  24. Andrew Wyntoun, Original Chronicle, ed. F.J. Amours, vol. 4, pp 298–299 and 300–301 (c. 1420)
  25. The exact dates are uncertain, Woolf gives 15 August, Hudson 14 August and Duncan, following John of Fordun, gives 5 December; Annals of Tigernach 1058.5; Annals of Ulster 1058.6.
  26. Hudson, Prophecy of Berchán , p. 91, stanzas 193 and 194.
  27. "The History of Scotland by John Leslie, 1578". British Library. Retrieved 8 August 2016.

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References

Further reading

Macbeth, King of Scotland
Born: 1005 Died: 15 August 1057
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Duncan I
King of Scots
1040–1057
Succeeded by
Lulach
Preceded by
Gille Coemgáin
Mormaer of Moray
1032–1057