Shakespeare's Globe

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Macbeth - A True Story


Fiona Watson


The name Macbeth has become a byword for political amibition realised by bloody violence. However, Fiona Watson has uncovered, buried beneath layers of myth, a history that it is entirely different from, but just as extraordinary as, that recounted by Shakespeare.


As ruler of Alba (Scotland) between 1040 and 1057, Mac Bethad mac Findlaich sat on one of the oldest and most establised thrones in western Europe. It is true that he killed Duncan, the previous king, but this was the normal (if undesirable) method of regime change in Dark Age Scotland. The reality is that Macbeth quickly established himself as an effective and popular ruler. As a Celtic warrior-king, he was responsible for the maintenance of his people's dominance of northern Britain. He was also the first Scottish ruler known to have made a pilgrimage to Rome. A friend to the Church and valiant protector of his people , the real Macbeth epitomised the contemporary model of vigorous medieval kingship.


His remarkable story is done full justice in Fiona Watson's authoratative and compelling narrative: she sets Macbeth and his reign in the full political, social, cultural and ecclesiastical context of his era to create a comprehensive picture of a shadowy but fascinasting period of Scottish history.