Macbeth, also known as Maelbeatha, was born in 1005 in Moray Scotland. He was the son of Princess Donoda of Scotland and Findleac Macrory, Mormaer of Moray. Macbeth was the grandson of Malcolm II, king of Scotland and in some eyes, including his own, had more right to the throne than the chosen successor, Duncan I, who was the son of Malcolms second daughter (cousin of Macbeth). The legend of Macbeth was later used as basis of a story written by William Shakespeare.
The life of Macbeth was filled with death, war and feuding- all within his own family. The history of his family can be confusing at times but nonetheless a deceitful and corrupt one. Macbeth married Gurouch, his third cousin on his mothers side and also the widow of his cousin on his fathers side (See family tree in back). By marrying Gurouch, more known to history as Lady Macbeth, he inherited a family feud that goes back centuries when his grandfather (Malcolm II) killed Kenneth II (grandfather of Gurouch).
After forming an alliance with Thorfinn (also a cousin), Macbeth killed King Duncan in battle on August 14,1040, unlike Shakespeares account by murdering Duncan in bed. He succeeded his cousins rule in Scotland and remained king for seventeen years. Macbeth was a strong king and ruled over a kingdom that was stable enough for him to leave for several months on a pilgrimage to Rome. It was noted in the Chronicle of Melrose, in his time there were productive seasons His reign was also noted as a time of great wealth and prosperity for the people of Scotland; however, in 1054, his power as king was challenged.
Duncans oldest son, Malcolm Canmore, fled from Scotland at the time of his fathers death and took refuge in England. Edward the Confessor supported the exiled prince and in 1054 sent Sinward, Earl of Northumbria, into Scotland with an army to capture the south from Macbeth. It is believed that this is the time when Malcolm became ruler of southern Scotland. Malcolm Canmore continued this war and practically drove Macbeth out of Scotland before killing him in battle near Aberdeenshire in 1057.
As king of Scotland, Macbeth ruled the northern one third of the kingdom of England. Connected to England on the south (this border went much further south than the southern border of modern-day Scotland), and bordered by three bodies of water, Atlantic Ocean on the north, North Sea on the east, and North Channel on the west, the climate in Scotland is moderately cool all year long, ranging from 30F to 60F. Scotland is most recognized by its abundance of streams, rivers and lakes (lochs). The longest river of Scotland is the Tay; the Clyde, however, is the principal navigational stream, this is where the port of Glasgow is located. Other main rivers in Scotland include the Forth, Tweed, Dee, and Spey.1
Now mostly an industrial and commercial nation, Scotland has always been an important part of the economy of the United Kingdom. More than three-fourths of the land is used for agriculture, both farming and livestock raising, but the economy is also driven by money producing manufacturing, mining, forestry, and fishing industries. The most important crops grown were wheat, oats, and potatoes. Other crops included barley, turnips, and fruit. Sheep were raised in both the Highlands and island groups and the Southern Uplands. Even today, Scotland is still known for its beef/dairy cattle as well as its dairy products.
Christianity became a force in Scotland with the arrival of St. Columbia from Ireland in 563 AD. It is possible that he was a political exile from the tribal wars in Ireland, and seems to have been a tough individual even for a saint: he established himself as a powerbroker in the politics of the kingdoms, and the Celtic church he established in Scotland was dominant for several hundred years until it was replaced by the Roman Catholic Church that spread north. The Celtic church had a less hierarchical structure than the Catholics, and was independent of Rome. 2
Government at this time was at that of earliest England. The King and his council (which included both the warlords and the church) would decide policy and try to apply it as best as possible. In addition, early diplomacy would often be attempted in a basic, but often-effective manner, by offering “homage” to neighboring, more powerful “courts”.
As a contemporary of Macbeth, I do not think my views about him would change whether I was a citizen or a noble as he was. As seen in many books and websites, Macbeth was a great ruler to the Scottish people. As an equal of Macbeth or a lower class individual I would have thought him a very brave man, doing anything he could to get what was rightfully his-the throne of Scotland.
Seeing the family background that Macbeth comes from changes my view of him. Had I not known about the deceit and feuding involving his family, I might have though him a very power-hungry man. Now knowing of the murdering and battles that occurred for the throne of Scotland, I would have supported Macbeth in his beliefs for succession of the Scottish throne.
three old women went and stood by the wayside, in a great moor or heath near Forres, and waited till Macbeth came up. And then, stepping before him as he was marching at the head of his soldiers, the first woman said, All hail, Macbeth- hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. The second said, All hail, Macbeth- hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. Then the third, wishing to pay him a higher compliment than the other two, said, All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King of Scotland.
-Tales of a Grandfather, Chapter II
1″Scotland,” Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Funk & Wagnalls Corporation. All rights reserved.