The Real Macbeth


Macbeth was an 11th Century Scottish King.  His reign was a lengthy 17 years, but his achievements have been clouded by the pen of Shakespeare.  The play's portrayal of Macbeth as a murderer and tyrant lead to his long association with bad luck.  Macbeth was born Mac Bethad mac Findlaich, meaning Son of Life, in Dingwall in 1005. Macbeth became king in 1040 when King Duncan I died in battle.  While Shakespeare suggests Macbeth kills King Duncan, there is no historical indication of this. These were violent times.  Macbeth's cousin and about 50 followers were burned to death in their stronghold prior to his rule.  However, history portrays Macbeth's rule as a more just rule than the later Dark Ages in Scotland.  Macbeth belonged to the House of Dunkeld rulers, whom ruled Scotland from 1034 to 1286.  He was crowned at Scone (pronounced skoon) Palace, where many other early kings had also been crowned.  As a Scottish monarch, his nickname became "the Red King", for his ruddy face.  Macbeth imposed law and order.  He encouraged the development of Christianity.  Macbeth made a 6 month pilgrimage to Rome in 1050.  It is speculated that there had to be considerable political stability for such an extended absence without a challenge to the throne.  During his rule, he also made successful military advancements into Northumbria, England.  Macbeth was defeated and captured in battle in 1057.  This battle was in the name of returning the old King Duncan I's son, Malcolm Canmore, to the throne.  Close to the village of Lumphanan is a small cairn marking the spot he was beheaded by Malcolm Canmore, who became the future Malcolm III.  In military terms, Macbeth was regarded by ancient highland Clans as the last great Celtic ruler in Scotland.  He had a reputation as a brave leader.  He gained power and ruled in a fashion accepted in the time.  His reign over Scotland was regarded as peaceful and prosperous.

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