What was happening when Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth?

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Macbeth was written in 1606, three years after Queen Elizabeth died, and King James I (James VI of Scotland) assumed the throne of England. James was a supporter of the theater, and thus a patron of Shakespeare himself. Macbeth is often seen (through its treatment of the character Banquo in particular) as a sort of homage to James, who claimed descent from the line of kings that began with Banquo. James was also a believer in royal absolutism and the divine right of kings, and some scholars have observed that this fact might explain why the murder of Duncan—the legitimate king of Scotland—and Macbeth's plot more broadly, are portrayed as not just evil deeds, but unnatural ones that disrupt the order of things and unleash chaos on Scotland. Macbeth can also be understood in the context of the famed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which a group of Catholic conspirators led by Guy Fawkes unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate James and destroy Parliament by an explosion. This dark play occurred at a very tumultuous time in English history.

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