What was the historical source for Macbeth? Did a person called Macbeth exist in real life? If so, how did his life differ from Shakespeare's play?

Expert Answers
teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Yes, there really was a king of Scotland named Macbeth; however, Shakespeare's play does not present an accurate picture of the real King Macbeth.  Mac Bethand mac Findlaich was King of the Scots from 1040 to 1057.  Before Macbeth, there was a king named Duncan, and he was killed by Macbeth, but certainly not as described in Shakespeare's play--instead, the real Macbeth slew Duncan on the battlefield during a raid.  After Duncan's death, Macbeth became king and was unchallenged by others in the area.  During the later years of his reign, Macbeth got into a disagreement with England, and Scotland was raided by the English army, headed by Siward.  Macbeth did not survive this raid and was killed by Duncan's son, Malcolm III.

Read the study guide:

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question