1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Macbeth

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MACBETH, king of Scotland (d. 1058), was the son of Findlaech, mormaer or hereditary ruler of Moreb (Moray and Ross), who had been murdered by his nephews in 1020. He probably became mormaer on the death of Malcolm, one of the murderers, in 1029, and he may have been one of the chiefs (the Maclbaethe of the Saxon Chronicle) who submitted to Canute in 1031. Marianus records that in 1040 Duncan, the grandson and successor of Malcolm king of Scotland, was slain by Macbeth. Duncan had shortly before suffered a severe defeat at the hands of Thorfinn, the Norwegian earl of Orkney and Caithness, and it was perhaps this event which tempted Macbeth to seize the throne. As far as is known he had no claim to the crown except through his wife Gruach, who appears to have been a member of the royal family. Macbeth was apparently a generous benefactor to the Church, and is said to have made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1050. According to S. Berchan his reign was a time of prosperity for Scotland. The records of the period, however, are extremely meagre, and much obscurity prevails, especially as to his relations with the powerful earl Thorfinn. More than one attempt was made by members of the Scottish royal family to recover the throne; in 1045 by Crinan, the lay abbot of Dunkeld, son-in-law of Malcolm II., and in 1054 by Duncan’s son Malcolm with the assistance of Siward the powerful earl of Northumbria, himself a connexion of the ousted dynasty. Three years later in 1057 Malcolm and Siward again invaded Scotland and the campaign ended with the defeat and death of Macbeth, who was slain at Lumphanan. Macbeth is, of course, chiefly famous as the central figure of Shakespeare’s great tragedy.

See W. F. Skene, Chronicles of the Picts and Scots (1867) and Celtic Scotland (1876); Sir John Rhys, Celtic Britain (1904).