- Macbeth (1005- 1057)
Most people are aware that the Macbeth of Shakespeare's play was very different from the real man, although some of the events in the play were based on real life incidents.
Since Scotland was just coming out of the "Dark Ages" and the region in which Macbeth lived was in the far north, in Morayshire, his origins are obscure. His name "mac-Bethad" means "Son of Life" and his mother was Donada, a daughter of Kenneth II or III or possibly Malcolm II. His father was Finlay McRory, Mormaer (Lord) of Moray. Macbeth married, Gruoch, a grand-daughter of Kenneth II, king of Alba. She already had a son, Lulach, by a first marriage (to another Mormaer of Moray).
As in Shakespeare, Macbeth was the commander-in-chief of King Duncan's army and he did kill Duncan in 1040 and succeeded him to the throne. Duncan's son, the future King Malcolm III> (called "caen more" or Canmore - large head) fled to England.
Unlike in Shakespeare, however, Macbeth was a powerful and successful monarch who ruled from 1040 to 1057. He was confident enough of his position to go on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1050 and is said to have been so wealthy that he "scattered alms like seed corn".
Macbeth was defeated by Malcolm Canmore, helped by an English army, at Dunsinane in 1054. But Macbeth continued to rule for another three years. A second invasion in 1057 saw his defeat and death on August 15 at Lumphanan, near Aberdeen. He was killed by Malcolm and his English allies led by Earl Siward of Northumbria. Like many of his royal predecessors, Macbeth was buried on Iona.
Lulach, stepson of Macbeth, nicknamed "The Fool", initially became king on his stepfather's death. He was the first monarch known to have been crowned at Scone but he was defeated and killed by Malcolm Canmore at Essie in Strathbogie less than a year later.
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