Historical Events In Macbeth

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Changes In The Name of History: An Exploration Into The Historical Characters of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, turned what people knew as Scottish history into a powerful act of betrayal; a madman murdering a good king out of greed. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth for reigning king of England, King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) who had a strong belief in all things dark and supernatural, like witches. Macbeth includes multiple historical characters, all previous kings of Scotland; but why? Shakespeare uses the characters King Duncan, King Macbeth, and King Malcolm to explore the royalty of Scotland throughout time and to appease the king with a dark story about history.
Macbeth begins with King Duncan on the throne. He is portrayed as a strong, wise and elderly king, with only the utmost respect for his military leader, Macbeth. He says,
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Historically, Duncan I’s son, Malcolm III, took the throne after Macbeth’s stepson and rules Scotland from 1058 - 1093. Following his father’s murder, Malcolm III was forced to seek safety in the the court of his mother’s relatives. They later aided him in slaying Macbeth at the Battle of Lumphanan. Lulach, Macbeth's stepson, succeeded to the throne briefly before he too died at Malcolm's hands in 1058. With the death of Lulach, Malcolm became King of Scots.
The reigning king of the time, King James I had written two books on Divine Right, one, Basilikon Doron, for the edification of his son Prince Henry (1594-1612) and the other, The True Law of Free Monarchies , was a simple explanation of his theories for the general literate public. In these books he details some traits he expects of divine kings. Shakespeare’s portrayal of Malcolm is a perfect example of these traits expected by the King. Not only would this appease King James, but it restored a fictional good and rightness after useless Duncan I’s
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