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ALL HAIL MacBETH


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Post #1 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 06:25 AM

Macbeth is one of the greatest plays ever written, and in fact it’s my personal favorite of all Shakespeare's many great works, but his depictions of the principal characters bear little resemblance to the historical truth.

The real Macbeth lived in a time of constant battle between the areas of Scotland that had relatively recently been incorporated into the Kingdom; Strathclyde, Moray, Dalriada, etc. There were still Viking raids to contend with, in fact vast tracts of Caithness and Sutherland were in reality small Viking Kingdoms -- and there was the English Kingdom of Northumbria constantly fishing in troubled waters as well.

 

Macbeth and Duncan were both grandsons of King Malcolm II, but when the King named Duncan as his successor, it caused great resentment throughout the older Celtic Kingdom of Alba, where MacBeth was already Thane of Moray and had enormous influence north of the River Tay, resulting in a protracted low-level warfare between both factions. When Duncan proved to be a weak and particularly useless King, the stage was set for a final struggle that would come to define Scotland and its people for generations.

 

So, first of all let’s take a look at Shakespeare's version of events.

 

We start off with three creepy witches stirring the unspeakable contents of some cauldron, cackling about "hubble bubble toil and trouble", and some guy named "Macbeth" and then we cut to this Macbeth dude himself.

He's prancing home on a dark and stormy night after fighting King Duncan's enemies and kicking some serious ass in battle, showing off all his skilled “enemy-disemboweling” moves. Understandably, he's feeling pretty chuffed with himself. Just then, as they cross "the blasted heath", he and his good pal Banquo run into the three "Weird Sisters", who rhymingly claim that Macbeth will be named....(guess what?)....Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scots.

 

macbeth01.jpg

 

Just as Banquo is sulking and pouting about being left out, the three hags tell him that he'll be father to a long line of future kings of Scotland, which kind of perks him up a bit.

When MacBeth gets home, he finds that the Thane of Glamis died in battle -- and he gets to be the new one! Yay! That takes care of the first prophecy. 

The next thing we know, some guy called Ross shows up to say that, since the old Thane of Cawdor turned out to be a traitor and is about to have his decapitated head displayed on a spike, Macbeth gets to take his place as Thane of Cawdor. Sweet! That takes care of the second prophecy. 

 

While Macbeth is waiting around for "chance" to come along and make him king, he starts getting restless. His ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth, prods him into acting like a "man" and nags him into killing King Duncan when the poor guy comes to Macbeth's castle looking for a spot of free bed & breakfast.

 

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Macbeth stabs the venerated old has-been to death -- in his bed -- plus the sleepy guards at his bedchamber door -- then conveniently accuses them of murdering the king. When Duncan's kids, Donald Ban and Malcolm Canmore, find out what's happened, they hightail it out of Scotland so they don't get murdered too.

Macbeth is named king and it’s all gravy. All three prophecies fulfilled!

 

MacBeth%20a.jpg

 

Except, wait.

Macbeth starts to worry about the witch's prophecy that Banquo's heirs will be kings. He's not about to let someone bump him off the throne so he hires some hit-men to take care of Banquo and his son, the unfortunately named Fleance.

Banquo is murdered, but Fleance escapes.

 

Things now go rapidly downhill for Macbeth. He pops in on the Weird Sisters for another prophesy, which comes in three parts:

 

(1) Watch out for Macduff of Fife;

 

(2) No man born of woman can kill him;

 

(3) Don't worry until Birnam Wood, (a forest), moves to Dunsinane, (a castle).

 

Macbeth breathes a sigh of relief with #2 and #3, since those are obviously fantasy situations and mean that he's effectively safe. The one about Macduff has him a little concerned though, so he promptly kills off Macduff's family. Naturally.

 

By now, people are starting to get a little suspicious about all these rather convenient fatalities.

Macduff and Malcolm pay a visit to the awesome English king, Edward the Confessor, and start plotting with the English how to save Scotland from Macbeth's tyranny. Oh, and Lady Macbeth? Well, she's not doing so hot. In fact, she starts hallucinating about blood on her hands that she can't wash off, and basically dies of guilt.

 

Macbeth3.jpg

 

But Macbeth is safely shut up in his castle at Dunsinane, right? Hmm, not so fast.

 

Macduff and Malcolm show up with their army and order the troops to cut the branches from the trees in Birnam Wood for camouflage.

Remember what the Weird Sisters said about Birnam Wood moving to Dunsinane? Okay, then you know where this is headed.

Macduff corners Macbeth; calls him a "hell-hound"; tells him that he, Macduff, was "untimely ripped" from his mother's womb, i.e. delivered via C-section rather than being "born; and then cuts off the tyrant’s head.

 

l_efdv-5456.jpg

 

So much for the phony King of Scots then.

 

TO BE CONTINUED -- WITH THE HISTORICAL VERSION



Post #2 Guest_Jazzeum_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 07:54 AM

This is excellent. I also love the play. I look forward to the historical version.

Post #3 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 08:25 AM

This is excellent. I also love the play. I look forward to the historical version.

 

Somehow or other, in my mind it's a very "modern" play, and the basic plot has been ripped off many, many, times by Hollywood - as has most other of Will's stuff.

Think I got things wrong though as I don't reckon the Weird Sisters predicted anything about the Thane of Glamis after all.

The prophesies on "the blasted heath" were;

"All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor" and "All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!" 

 

Have to say I'm immensely looking forward to the new movie;

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2884018/

 

Historic MacBeth coming up.... :)



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Posted 25 October 2015 - 09:08 AM

Okay, before I get down to the historical MacBeth, lets deal with some of Shakespeare's myths;

 

Myth #1 Macbeth murdered Duncan in bed – “Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall sleep no more.”

Fact Macbeth did kill Duncan, but it was in a battle at Pitgaveny, near Elgin. This was the time-honored way in which the Kings of Scots came to the throne in this period, so it’s rather unlikely he lost much sleep over it.


Myth #2 Lady Macbeth was childless and is portrayed as a lady, not a queen.

Fact Lady Macbeth was a Royal Princess in her own right, as well as Macbeth’s Queen (she’s actually the first named Queen in Scottish history!) 
She had already had a son by her first husband. That boy, Lulach, became king immediately after the death of Macbeth. However, it is true that she and Macbeth seem to have been childless, though that was presumably not her fault!

       
Myth #3 Banquo’s sons were the lineage to James Sixth of Scotland and First of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Fact Banquo is not likely to have been a real historical character, though the Stewarts/Stuarts, including James Sixth and First, did believe that they were descended from him until, in the nineteenth century, it was discovered that the Fitz Alans (the original name of the Stewarts) actually came from Brittany. 

         

 

Myth #4 Macduff was Thane of Fife and made a pact with Malcolm III (Canmore) and his Uncle Siward to regain Scotland from Macbeth.

Fact We don’t really know much about the mormaers, or earls, of Fife during the 11th century, though they are certainly around in the following century. The MacDuffs (the family name of the earls of Fife) were supposedly descended from a 10th Century King of Scots, called Dubh (which means ‘black’ in Gaelic). 

 

It's possible that Lady Macbeth, whose real name was Gruoch, was actually a member of the Fife family. They may have been forfeited in the reign of Malcolm II (Duncan’s grandfather) because they had a very good claim to the throne -- which Malcolm II wanted for Duncan. 
If so, it is entirely possible that members of the McDuff family were trying to restore their position during Macbeth’s reign. They certainly managed to achieve it under Malcolm III, who eventually killed Macbeth. Siward was a real historical figure, the earl of Northumbria who defeated (but did not kill) Macbeth in 1054. We don’t know that he was Malcolm’s uncle though.


Myth #5 The play is not specific about the time Macbeth spent in power but it seems to be a short reign.

Fact In reality, Macbeth reigned for 17 years, a pretty long reign, considering most Scots Kings reigns were less than a decade. He also managed to leave the country to go on pilgrimage to Rome in 1050 (the first Scottish King known to do so). Not something you do if you’re worried someone’s going to try to get you off the throne.


Myth #6 Duncan is portrayed as “A noble old soul”.

Fact Duncan was probably in his thirties at the time (he certainly had fairly young sons). He had proved to be a rather ineffectual King, being beaten by the English in a siege at Durham in 1039. 

He then went to seek out Macbeth in his territory, perhaps because he knew that people were thinking of replacing him, or maybe because he wanted to pick on someone to show he was a strong King. 


Myth #7 The battle from which Macbeth and Banquo emerge as victors is against the Norwegian fleets.

Fact
 Perhaps not so much of a myth. The Norse were certainly a very important aspect of Scottish (and English and Irish) politics in this period. 
Orkney and Shetland were the centre of a Norse earldom, which also encompassed Caithness and Sutherland, the Hebrides and parts of the western Scottish mainland, as well as the east coast of Ireland and the Isle of Man. 
The Norse were always looking to expand their territory, and Moray, Macbeth’s own earldom, was therefore on the frontline against them. Macbeth’s father, Earl Finlay, had certainly fought a battle against them, and it is entirely possible that Macbeth also sent his galleys north to defend Scottish territory.


Myth #8 Lady Macbeth dies after suffering madness and regret – “Can'st thou not minister to a mind diseased? Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow.... ”

Fact Sadly, we don’t know when Gruoch, Macbeth’s Queen, actually died. However, she has perhaps been maligned by history even more than her husband. We do know that, along with Macbeth, she gave lands in Fife to the monastery of St Serf’s in Loch Leven, a traditionally pious thing for a queen to do.  


Myth #9 Macbeth ascribes to supernatural beliefs in that he consults the Weird Sisters for prophecies – “I conjure you by that which you profess. How e’er you come to know it, answer me.”

Fact In the medieval Scottish chronicles, Macbeth does meet three Weird Sisters in his dreams. These are essentially the Norns, or Fates, who feature in Norse mythology with an ability to tell the future. But this is all part of the process of blackening Macbeth’s name by the descendants of Macbeth’s successor, Malcolm III.


Myth #10 Macduff kills Macbeth in his castle as revenge for Macbeth killing his wife and children.

Fact It was Malcolm III (Canmore), Duncan’s son, who is credited with killing Macbeth in battle at Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire in August 1057. He then killed Lulach, Macbeth’s step-son and immediate successor, five months later, before becoming King himself.

 

 

DOUBLE FACT

Malcolm Canmore's second wife was Margaret, sister of Edgar Aethling of England. An English Saxon by birth and grand-daughter of Edmund Ironsides, she had been exiled to Hungary as a child where she was brought up by relatives in the devout royal court.

She was the only Scottish Queen that's ever been canonized by the Catholic Church (as Saint Margaret).



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Posted 25 October 2015 - 09:18 AM

I don't know why but I always found the three witches fascinating. I guess Shakespeare is neither the first nor the last writer to chsnge historical facts to make a better story. For instance, I had no idea Macbeth ruled for 17 years. It is obviously more dramatic if his rule is short.

Post #6 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 09:31 AM

I don't know why but I always found the three witches fascinating. I guess Shakespeare is neither the first nor the last writer to chsnge historical facts to make a better story. For instance, I had no idea Macbeth ruled for 17 years. It is obviously more dramatic if his rule is short.

 

Absolutely agree that old Will messed around with facts so he could dream up a better story. Screenwriters do it all the time.

MacBeth was the first Scots King known to have visited Rome, and yes, he ruled from 1040AD to 1057AD



Post #7 Larry_B

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 10:04 AM

All hail HarrytheHeid and his lore! All hail HarrytheHeid and his gore!


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Posted 25 October 2015 - 10:54 AM

All hail HarrytheHeid and his lore! All hail HarrytheHeid and his gore!

 

Oh, err -- thanks for that.... B)



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Posted 25 October 2015 - 10:59 AM

Macbeth's Scotland

 

Before the Scots migrated from Ireland in the 6th century, the land they were to occupy was inhabited by many diverse tribes known to us collectively as the Picts. Pictland was divided, however, into a northern and southern kingdom. When the Scots invaded on the western fringe of Pictland, they called their holdings Dalriada.

 

Three centuries later, when Kenneth MacAlpin united Dalriada with Pictland -- by fair means or foul -- he called the combined country Alba. That was the name it still had in Macbeth's day, although all its inhabitants were called Scots by now.

Please note; Alba was the country north of the Clyde estuary to the west and the Forth estuary to the east. The Kingdoms of Strathclyde and Lothian below the boundary of these two great estuaries were still to be assimilated into the country we now know as Scotland.

 

By ancient tradition, Alba had seven provinces, called Mortuatha (great tribes): Caithness, Moray, Ce, Cirech, Atholl, Fortriu, and Fife. This was more a political division than a geographic one, determined by ties to one regional king (righ) or another. Cattle raiding being a favorite pastime of the Celts and there was continual skirmishing between the various tribes, most notably between Moray and Atholl.

Significantly, Macbeth came from Moray, whereas Duncan was from Atholl.

 

 

Celtic Kingship

 

The Gaelic word translated as "king" is righ or ri, and its meaning is not quite the same as the English word. There was a righ of each Mortuath, or Great Tribe, and in this context the word is sometimes translated as the Latin subregulus or English sub-king. Then there was the ard righ, the over-king or High King of the Scots.

 

A righ was a warlord, and most of his status depended on his prowess in battle, from cattle raids on his neighbors, to fighting off Vikings, to taking Lothian from the English. Each flath, or tribal leader, owed to the righ a "hospitality rent" called conveth. This might be paid by quartering the righ and his entourage (often his warband) for a certain number of days each year, or by sending cattle, grain, and other goods to the righ, similar to Roman tribute.

 

The same principle applied to the ard righ, the High King, who collected conveth from the righs and client kings under his suzerainty. However, if a warlord thought his righ was weak or ineffectual -- or simply distracted -- he might decide not to pay, and then the righ had better be able to come and take his due.

 

But perhaps the most important thing to note about the Celtic office of righ or ard righ is that it was not automatically inherited in a patrilineal fashion, as we think of kingship today. Anyone could be righ who was within four degrees (relationship) of a previous righ: brother, uncle, son, etc., depending on who could gain the most support for his claim. By the 11th century, this selection was subject to the approval not only of the nobles who would serve him, but also of the Church. Furthermore, there were traditionally two royal houses, and the kingship was supposed to be passed back and forth between them. (More on this later).

 

The Celts employed a system of tanistry, wherein each king would name his intended successor. Presumably, this was a way to keep the king on his toes, knowing someone from a rival house was waiting in the wings, itching to take over his job. The effect was to make sure the strongest warlord ruled, for if the king could be challenged and beaten, then he usually was.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED



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Posted 25 October 2015 - 12:33 PM

The Scottish High Kingship

 

In Dalriada, the first nation of Scots established in present-day Scotland, the two ruling houses were the House of Gabhran and the House of Loarn. Kenneth mac Alpin (843 AD) was of the House of Gabhran, and when he united Pictland and Dalriada into the single kingdom of Alba, he shut out the House of Loarn from succession, alternating the kingship instead with his brother Aed's house. This went on for nearly 200 years, until Malcolm II decided to keep the kingship for his own heir, Duncan. How did Malcolm manage this? Apparently, by killing all the eligible claimants from the alternate house.

 

And what became of the House of Loarn after mac Alpin? They moved into northern Scotland, specifically the Mortuath of Moray where, ensconced in their highland fastness, they ruled as kings in their own right. The Book of Kells, source of much history from this time period, refers to the ruler of Moray and the high king of Alba with the same term: King of Scots. Moray was a constant thorn in the side of the Alban high kings, and many battles are recorded between the high king's forces and the men of Moray. In 1040, the righ and foremost warlord of the House of Loarn was Macbeth.

 

 

Macbeth's Predecessors and Contemporaries

 

Malcolm, King of Scots (Malcolm II)

From 1004 to 1034, Scotland was ruled by Malcolm mac Kenneth (Malcolm II). This was an amazingly long rule for a king of Scots, most of whom only lasted a few short years, if that, before being overthrown or defeated in battle -- usually both. But Malcolm held the fractious Scots more or less together by means of a strong army and several astute political alliances. His wife was a daughter of the Irish king Brian Boru, and his daughters were married to the chiefs of Atholl and (maybe) Caithness. There are sources that claim Macbeth's mother was one of Malcolm's daughters, but this information didn't crop up until about the 14th century and is therefore open to speculation.

 

Thorfinn, Jarl of Caithness and the Orkneys

This infamous Norse ruler is known as Thorfinn Raven feeder, and he was Macbeth's northern neighbor almost from boyhood, for Thorfinn was only five when he inherited Caithness, which lies just across the Moray Firth from the MacBeth’s lands. Upon the death of his Norse father, Sigurd the Stout, he was raised by Thorkel Amundson, known as Thorkel the Fosterer. His mother was the daughter of Malcolm II, King of Scots, and Thorfinn owed him allegiance. At any rate, Thorfinn swore allegiance to the Norwegian king at age 16, so his loyalties were, at best, divided.

 

Canute, King of Denmark, Norway and England

Canute was the powerhouse of his day, ruling from 1016 to 1034. In 1031 he made a treaty with Malcolm II which mitigated--but didn’t stop--the constant warfare over the province of Nothumbria and its rich district of Lothian. According to English sources, Malcolm II swore to Canute "to be his man" and to come to his aid by land or sea. Some scholars question whether this constituted a subordinate relationship, or a treaty between equals.

 

Siward, Jarl of Northumbria

Northumbria was the northernmost English province, and it boasted the stronghold city of York. Siward, of Danish descent, was a kinsman of Duncan's wife. Eventually, at the request of Edward the Confessor, he helped Duncan's son Malcolm Canmore defeat Macbeth.

 

Duncan, King of Scots

A grandson of Malcolm II, Duncan was made king of the client kingdom of Cumbria in 1018 and succeeded Malcolm II as ruler of Alba in 1034. His two sons, Malcolm Canmore and Donald Ban, later became kings in Alba, as well. His record in battle was dismal and demonstrates a poor grasp of strategy.

 

 

Okay, that's all the background been dealt with, but it's important to have it handy for reference.

I don't think it's any coincidence that it all sounds like the background notes to one of the Seven Kingdoms in Game of Thrones.

Next up will be a study of the historical MacBeth himself.



Post #11 Larry_B

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 12:44 PM

 

Oh, err -- thanks for that.... B)

I almost added one more verse aimed at some of your fantasy works of feminine art, but then thought that would be taking it a wee bit too far!   :P


Larry
 
 to live in truth to have faith to choose service to others to give proof of humility 
 - to love justice to be merciful to be sincere and wholehearted to stand for principles of love and service
 
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Post #12 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 01:25 PM

I almost added one more verse aimed at some of your fantasy works of feminine art, but then thought that would be taking it a wee bit too far!   :P

 

Something about a door was it? Or perchance you wanted more?

:D  :D  :D



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Posted 25 October 2015 - 01:33 PM

THE HISTORICAL MacBETH

 

I read somewhere that someone has come up with 1005 as a birth year for Macbeth, but I don't honestly know what the source for that is. I like it, though; it fits. This would make Macbeth a few years older than his close relative Thorfinn the "Raven Feeder" of Orkney and a few years younger than Duncan. It would also make him 35 when he came to power in 1040, a man in the prime of his life.

 

His father was Findlay, the Mormaer of Moray, and his grandfather was Ruadhri (pronounced Roary), who was ruler of Moray in his time. Findlay owed allegiance to Malcolm II of Alba, due to Malcolm's intervention in a disastrous campaign led by Findlay to wrest the province of Caithness back from the Norse in about 1007 (the date is unclear); hence his title, or rank, of mormaer, which means "steward." But who was MacBeth’s mother? As I mentioned previously in the background notes, several centuries after his death an account appeared that said Macbeth's mother was a daughter of Malcolm II, and that wouldn't be illogical -- a marriage alliance to ensure Findlay's loyalty fits the pattern of Malcolm II's diplomacy, which included marrying one of his daughters to the leader of Atholl and another to the Viking ruler of Caithness and Orkney, Sigurd the Stout.

 

In 1020, Findlay was challenged for rule of Moray by his two nephews, Malcolm and Gillecomgain, and was killed in battle. Malcolm then became ruler in Findlay's place. If we accept the 1005 birthdate, Macbeth would have been 15 at the time, and quite possibly in wardship somewhere outside of Inverness, the capital of Moray. It was the common practice of nobles to have their sons fostered from age 7 to age 17, the "age of choice." This was the 10 year period of formal education for future warriors and leaders.

Where might Macbeth have been fostered? Given accepted practices of wardship, he might have been stashed with one of his father's loyal supporters somewhere within Moray; or he may have been sent to the ruler of another mortuath. He might even have been sent to the court of Malcolm II at Scone in Perthshire, to serve as a hostage for his father's good behavior.

 

Wherever he went, he would have learned to read and write in Latin, and possibly Greek, and trained with a musical instrument as well as the accepted weapons of war: sword, spear, axe, mace, dagger, and shield -- but not archery. Celts in Ireland and Scotland considered arrows to be cowards' weapons, for they did not require that a man face his enemy in personal combat.

 

Presumably, Macbeth returned to his home upon turning 17; there to gain practical experience both in the art of war and the management of his family's assets: land, castles, cattle, sheep, and grain. Shakespeare tells us his home was in Ross, and that's entirely possible – the Earldom of Ross was probably a district of Moray at the time, although it bordered Norse-held Caithness and may have answered to Thorfinn instead. Wherever his home was, when the summer campaigning began, most likely the young Macbeth was off with his warband. He might have served in the warband of one of his relatives, or he might have led a warband himself, since he was a prince of the House of Loarn that once shared the High Kingship with the House of Gabhran.

 

In 1031, when Canute called upon Malcolm II to attend a council at York, two other persons are mentioned at the encounter, "Maelbaethe & Iehmarc." They’re both usually represented as "other kings." Most scholars are comfortable that Maelbaethe was our Macbeth who later became high king, even though he was apparently not ruler in Moray at that time. His status may have been elevated to make Canute sovereign over three Scottish kings, or the court translator may have mistaken the word "prince" or "nobleman" in Gaelic for "king."

 

And who was Iehmarc, the other king present? Recently it’s been suggested that this was Echmarcach, who was Lord of the Isles at that time. The Hebridian Isles are west of Scotland and were alternately (and often simultaneously) claimed by the Irish, the Scots, and the Norse.

 

In 1029, Malcolm of Moray died in a riding accident, (yeah – right), and was succeeded as mormaer by his brother Gillecomgain.

Gillecomgain married Gruoch and they had a son, Lulach, born in 1031. But the following year, the annals report that Gillecomgain died in a fire with 50 of his men, which suggests a raid by Norsemen – or even by Duncan with the covert connivance of Malcom II.

Macbeth subsequently became ruler of Moray -- and perhaps rather too expediently married the widow, quite possibly to seal the support of Gillecomgain's armed retainers. So somewhat conveniently, almost too conveniently, he now found himself connected by marriage alliance to the "alternate" royal house of Alba – as well as the accepted house by dint of being a grandson of Malcolm II.

 

TO BE CONTINUED



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Posted 25 October 2015 - 06:22 PM

The Killing of Duncan and Accession to the High Kingship

 

So as the year 1040 approaches, what do we have here then?

Well, the present king, Duncan, serves "out of turn" according to the tradition of alternating royal houses. He has suffered an ignominious defeat at Durham with the loss of many Scottish warriors. In the north, there looms a rival warlord who can claim eligibility for the high kingship both through his marriage ties and also through his own royal blood -- most certainly, and if one goes back far enough, probably through the House of Loarn as well. The two come from rival provinces, Moray and Atholl, and Moray has a history of resisting the Alban kings.

 

Hmm, hubble bubble, toil and trouble, right enough.

 

Next we find the two clashing near the town of Elgin, deep in the heart of northern Moray. So what’s Duncan doing there? We can only speculate. Perhaps MacBeth chose to withhold conveth after the disastrous battle before Durham, and Duncan rode north to try to collect.

Perhaps this was a routine "royal progress" which the high king made through his provinces, and Macbeth took advantage of the opportunity to attack Duncan in his own territory.

Whatever the circumstances, Duncan went up against Macbeth and lost. Duncan was buried with previous kings on the sacred Isle of Iona.

 

Macbeth was now the biggest cock on the dungheap, and he rode to the royal town of Scone to claim the high kingship for himself.

Macbeth's claim had to be ratified by the nobles and Church officials, and presumably it was. Either he was considered the most suitable candidate for the job, or he had an army too large to argue with -- possibly both. His only potential rival was Duncan's brother Maldred, who had succeeded Duncan as king in Cumbria, but he seems to have laid low. Duncan's oldest son Malcolm (Canmore) was nine at the time, far short of the 17 years needed for him to hold office under Celtic law.

 

There seems to have been no attempt to force Duncan's widow to flee with her three boys, for it is two years before she arrives at the court of her kinsman, the Earl of Northumbria. Donald Ban—the middle son--appears to have been fostered in the Western Isles, while the youngest boy shows up later in Cumbria. But Malcolm, who came to be known as Malcolm Canmore, went first to Northumbria with his mother, and then south to the court of King Edward the Confessor of England. There he grew to manhood, and eventually found support to challenge Macbeth for the Scottish throne.

 

Little is recorded of Macbeth's high kingship, a fact which in itself indicates that it was relatively peaceful although there were still skirmishes with Northumbria, and Viking raids along the coastlines. Most interesting is a reference in the Book of Kells to a battle "between the Scots themselves" in which Crinan, Duncan's father, was killed. Although some would call this a civil war, tradition hints that a company of Scots from different provinces were en route together to a common destination, perhaps to see off a Viking incursion, when fighting broke out among the different contingents. The location of the battle is in Atholl, west of Crinan's stronghold at Dunkeld. Unfortunately, we can only speculate what sparked the conflict off, but it’s difficult to imagine that Crinan didn’t try to get revenge for Duncan’s death while MacBeth was traveling through Atholl. If so, then the blood feud claimed him and not the high king.

 

The picture we get of Macbeth's reign is a time when Scotland was strong enough to hold its borders against Northumbria, against Thorfinn, and against the Viking overlords being expelled from Ireland. Through treaty or through armed might, Macbeth preserved Alba in relative stability for most of his 17-year reign. Laws were recorded, the beginnings of the parish system are glimpsed, and Queen Gruach donated family lands to the Church. In fact, Macbeth felt secure enough in his authority that he left the country for a time in 1050 to visit Rome, where he is recorded as having distributed silver "by throwing it about," a tradition for visiting heads of state.

 

But in England, Malcolm Canmore was coming of age. His education and upbringing were English, his notion of succession shaped by English customs; the divine right of kings reinforced by the Roman Catholic Church. Even under Celtic law, he was by heritage and training a natural choice to be the next King of Scots.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED



Post #15 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 09:24 PM

Dunsinane

 

The decisive battle between Macbeth and Malcolm Canmore took place on the Carse of Gowrie, west of Dundee, in July of 1054.

Supported by his kinsman Siward of Northumbria, Malcolm brought both a fleet and an army of horse against the Scots. The fleet landed at Dundee and took possession of the town, including much booty from a couple of merchant ships that had just arrived. But how did the army of horse join up with the fleet? To reach the Carse of Gowrie overland, they would have had to come up through Scottish-held areas of Lothian, past Edinburgh, through Fife, and across the River Tay. How did they manage that? In stealth, or with local support?

 

I don’t know. The answer to that one is lost in the mists of time.

 

At any rate, the battle began at dawn on July 27, the Feast of the Seven Sleepers, with the Scots charging down from the hills to meet the Northumbrians on the plain between Perth and Dundee. It was a costly campaign on both sides, but the Northumbrian annals award the victory to their Earl Siward, stating that Macbeth was "put to flight," and Malcolm Canmore was made king.

 

Well, how is it that Macbeth is noted elsewhere as having reigned until his death in 1057? There are several possibilities. One is that Macbeth retreated to his territories in the north, ruling there while Malcolm Canmore held the south, king in fact if not in name. Another is that Canmore was made king, not of Alba, but of the client kingdom of Cumbria at this time, a position that could have been awarded him as part of a peace settlement at Dundee. Cumbria was used as a training ground for future high kings, and the position was tantamount to being named tanist, or successor. A third possibility is that the next three years were spent in continuing skirmishes and battles with each man claiming to hold the high kingship.

 

As for Dunsinane being the final battleground, no-one knows how that tradition got started. Dunsinnan Hill is northeast of Scone in a line of hills that swings down to end above the Carse of Gowrie. There are the remnants of an old hill fort there, much older than the 11th century and probably already in ruins by Macbeth's day. Had Macbeth been in the north, and was he cutting through the hills to reach Canmore, stopping at Dunsinane? Did he withdraw from Dundee after the battle and take shelter in the old hill fort? We simply don’t know.

 

Three years after his defeat at Gowrie, Macbeth's death is recorded at the hands of Malcolm Canmore outside the tiny village of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire, where coincidentally I have family relatives – MacDonalds as it happens.

This skirmish -- for so it appears to have been -- took place deep in Macbeth's home territory, so either Malcolm Canmore had managed to lead a warband up Strathmore and across the Grampian Mountains, or he had sailed up the coast and sent an expeditionary force inland. It’s possible that Macbeth was in retreat, perhaps going for reinforcements, when he was intercepted by Canmore's men; others suggest Canmore was trying to cut off the southern provinces from the northern, and that a scouting party came across the king's entourage quite by accident.

At any rate, there was a running battle, with Macbeth presumably being cut off and making a last stand outside Lumphanan.

His body was buried with the previous high kings on the Isle of Iona.

 

Macbeth's step-son and nephew, Lulach mac Gillecomgain, appears next in the king lists, but it is likely that he was never actually in control of the southern provinces. He was killed by Malcolm Canmore after only a few months, quite possibly in an ambush. He was posthumously dubbed "Lulach the Foolish."

 

It was the end of the Celtic style of high kingship in Scotland. Malcolm Canmore ruled in the English style, and although the kingship went to his brother Donald Ban upon his death during a raid into Northumbria, it was subsequently passed back to Malcolm's son by St Margaret -- Edgar -- the first of the “Margaretsons” kings.

 

 

For some further info on this period of Scots history – and spilling over into the Norman Conquest, this link provides a good overview.

http://www.davidcros...intMargaret.pdf

 

 

NOT QUITE FINISHED YET -- TO BE CONTINUED



Post #16 Larry_B

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 10:15 PM

Don't truly like that last part, but it is quite an excellent tale! Who do you think you are, Nigel?


Larry
 
 to live in truth to have faith to choose service to others to give proof of humility 
 - to love justice to be merciful to be sincere and wholehearted to stand for principles of love and service
 
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Post #17 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 25 October 2015 - 11:01 PM



Don't truly like that last part, but it is quite an excellent tale! Who do you think you are, Nigel?

 

What particular part didn't you like then Larry?

 

Nope, I could never presume to wear Nigel's mantle -- but I guess you already figured out "MacBeth the King" is one of my favorites from his, perhaps arguably, lesser known books.

B)

Macbeth%20book%20cover.jpg

 

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/0340226021

 

More coming up later today/tonight -- depends on whether today is as slow as yesterday was....

;)

Cheers

H



Post #18 Guest_Harrytheheid_*

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 06:32 AM

And just to demonstrate it's not all dire regicide, dark deeds, foul witchcraft, naked ambition and so on....check the crown they gave Orson Welles to wear in the 1948 movie version....

:lol:  :lol:  :lol:

macbeth-1948-08-g.jpg

 

Presumably the movie cost so much, the wardrobe department only had enough cash left over to go out and buy a cardboard box and some aluminum foil....

:lol:  :lol:  :lol:  



Post #19 Larry_B

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 07:50 AM

This is the "don't like" part:

 

It was the end of the Celtic style of high kingship in Scotland. Malcolm Canmore ruled in the English style, and although the kingship went to his brother Donald Ban upon his death during a raid into Northumbria, it was subsequently passed back to Malcolm's son by St Margaret -- Edgar -- the first of the “Margaretsons” kings.

 

I know it would have eventually happened, but it is interesting to speculate how different things would be if the Celtic culture had stayed dominant for longer.


Larry
 
 to live in truth to have faith to choose service to others to give proof of humility 
 - to love justice to be merciful to be sincere and wholehearted to stand for principles of love and service
 
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Post #20 Larry_B

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Posted 26 October 2015 - 07:51 AM

And just to demonstrate it's not all dire regicide, dark deeds, foul witchcraft, naked ambition and so on....check the crown they gave Orson Welles to wear in the 1948 movie version....

:lol:  :lol:  :lol:

macbeth-1948-08-g.jpg

 

Presumably the movie cost so much, the wardrobe department only had enough cash left over to go out and buy a cardboard box and some aluminum foil....

:lol:  :lol:  :lol:  

He deserves and Oscar for keeping somewhat of a straight face.


Larry
 
 to live in truth to have faith to choose service to others to give proof of humility 
 - to love justice to be merciful to be sincere and wholehearted to stand for principles of love and service
 
Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta
(a.k.a. - Knights Hospitaller)



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